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On with the Shows

Excited about our season? So are we! Shows begin on April 17

Attention all early birds! It's been a long winter, but spring has finally sprung and our fabulous 2018 season is about to begin. If you're eager to start enjoying the best live theatre around, you can join us for performances as early as April 17. You'll save with spring pricing on performances right up until the season opening night on May 28.

If you're thinking of joining us for the glitz and glamour of our opening week celebrations, be sure to book your seats today, because tickets are selling fast! Here's a quick run-down of what we have in store to usher in the season:

The Tempest gets us off to a magical start at the Festival Theatre on May 28 at 7:30 p.m.*
(*Please note this early start time for our official season opening!)

The Music Man marches gloriously on stage at the Festival Theatre on May 29 at 8 p.m.

Long Day's Journey Into Night begins its intense run at the Studio Theatre on May 30 at 8 p.m.

An Ideal Husband sweeps elegantly onto the Avon Theatre stage on May 31 at 8 p.m.

The Comedy of Errors delivers wild hilarity to the Studio Theatre on June 1 at 8 p.m.

Opening week wraps up with a double helping of drama and decadence on June 2:

To Kill a Mockingbird brings searing drama to the Festival Theatre at 2 p.m.

The Rocky Horror Show struts its weird and wonderful stuff at the Avon Theatre at 8 p.m.

Check out our calendar, and book your tickets for April and May preview performances and opening week or call our Box Office at 1.800.567.1600.

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Innovative, Inventive Shakespeare

Discover and rediscover beloved classics with our four exciting and illuminating takes on Shakespeare!

Whether you're a newcomer to the world of William Shakespeare or a life-long fan, you'll thrill to the imaginative and diverse approaches of each of this season's offerings. All four productions are innovative in their own ways, and all will present us with intriguing variations and challenges.

Yet in each case, Shakespeare's words remain the stars of the show. The poetry of his text and the brilliance of his characters will shine through with clarity and integrity in each of these must-see productions.

The Tempest May 10 to October 26 
Under the direction of Antoni Cimolino, The Tempest is beautifully staged in the 17th-century Caroline era. More radically, it stars the legendary Martha Henry as a female Prospero.

The choice to make Prospero a woman springs from the particular nature of the character depicted by Shakespeare - whose monarch, for most of his life, was Elizabeth I.

"There's a male warrior code, embraced by such characters as Coriolanus or Macbeth," says Mr. Cimolino, "that assumes that the prime requirement for a good ruler is the ability to plant a battle-axe in an enemy's skull. Yet under Elizabeth, a woman, England enjoyed a stability it hadn't seen in hundreds of years of male rule. At the same time, Elizabeth was aware of the precariousness of her position, particularly after someone very close to her, the Earl of Essex, attempted an uprising.

"So it's no accident that, in Prospero, Shakespeare presents us with a ruler who exhibits what have conventionally been regarded as more feminine behaviours: seeking self-improvement through study, spending time with a three-year-old daughter. As a result, Prospero gets deposed by Antonio and Alonso, who are male warrior types.

"In Shakespeare's own day, then, The Tempest questioned male notions of what makes a good ruler - and it has a lot to say to us today about how we treat women in leadership roles. That's why I've made Prospero female - quite aside from the fact that Martha Henry is a great artist who is magnificent in the part."

Coriolanus June 9 to October 20
As world-renowned director Robert Lepage makes his long-awaited Festival debut, he brings his unique visionary style to a boldly exciting modern interpretation of one of Shakespeare's lesser-known masterpieces. With the Avon stage framed on all four sides by black PVC shutter curtains, the effect will be strikingly cinematic. The use of projections will add to this vivid pictorial impact by accelerating the quick changes between scenes and give the forward motion of the play added drive and urgency.

The production team is using the term "temporal doorways" to describe one technique of the production. A scene might look at the beginning as if it is taking place in ancient Rome, but then something is revealed that announces we are in the world of today. It's a way of reminding us that Shakespeare's drama of the workings of democracy and the clash between elitism and populism is mirrored in our own troubled times.

Mr. Lepage notes that the role of the street mob in Caesar's time - or Shakespeare's - has been taken up today by social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. "A fascinating thing I discovered in my research," he says, "is that most social media was inspired by ancient Rome. For example, the iPad is modelled on the Romans' wax tablets - and to write on these tablets, you could only use a certain number of characters, which is the Twitter way of approaching it."

Likewise, he says, the Facebook "wall" had its antecedent in the graffiti on Roman walls, while the spread of Internet memes through social networking is a modern equivalent of the ancient world's relay system of delivering messages.

"Our modern methods are very intimately connected to and rooted in the ancient Roman way of communicating a particular opinion."

Julius Caesar July 31 to October 27
Director Scott Wentworth will present Shakespeare's best-known political drama within the thrilling dynamics of "gender parity" casting, an approach different from that taken in The Tempest. While the charactersin the play remain predominantly male, the performers - who include the remarkable Seana McKenna in the title role - are a 50-50 mix of male and female.

One reason for such a choice is simply to give female actors the opportunity to play characters they normally wouldn't have a chance to portray - but that's not the only advantage, says Mr. Wentworth. "I'm interested in having women give the audience, and the production, information about a masculine experience that a male actor might not explore as fully because of our own blind spots about our own personas.

"One thing the play asks us to question," he says, "is this: if a culture - say, Rome or modern Canada - continues to fetishize male aggressiveness, is democracy even possible? Are dictatorship and tyranny inevitable in a world that extols 'masculine' attributes of competitiveness, aggression and individuality, and says that those are the only 'virtues' that are appropriate to the public discourse while banishing the so-called feminine virtues to the hearth?"

The Comedy of Errors May 15 to October 14
Director Keira Loughran's take on Shakespeare's early comedy of misunderstandings and identity adopts a yet another distinct approach to cross-gender casting. In this production, gender fluidity is inherent in the world of the play itself.

The action takes place in Ephesus, which Ms Loughran has envisaged as a kind of colony of Syracusan outcasts who have set up their own community that celebrates freedom, self-determination and tolerance. 

"This idea of Ephesus made the text resonate in an exciting way and felt very current to me," says Ms Loughran. "We're living at a time of increasing fluidity across traditionally binary ideas that can be challenging and perplexing to navigate, particularly when it comes to identity. So in a play about mistaken identity, and finding yourself in the Other, there is a great capacity in such a world for assumptions and misunderstandings, foibles and failure, all while maintaining great heart.

"When I started to read the play with this in mind, it opened the door to a new reading of the text that was fun and delightful, and more complex and challenging."

Production support for The Tempest is generously provided by Jane Petersen Burfield & family, by Dr. Desta Leavine in memory of Pauline Leavine, by Dr. M.L. Myers, by The Westaway Charitable Foundation, and by Jack Whiteside.

 

 

Production support for Coriolanus is generously provided by Larry Enkin & family in memory of Sharon Enkin, by Sylvia Soyka, and by Catherine & David Wilkes.

Production Sponsor: BMO Financial Group

Production Support by: New Chapter 

 

Production support for Julius Caesar is generously provided by Barbara & John Schubert and by the Tremain family.

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A “Fantastick” Concert with Eric McCormack

One of the Festival’s most successful alumni returns for an unforgettable evening of music

Mark your calendars now! Eric McCormack is coming back in October to perform the lead role in a concert version of the world's longest-running musical, The Fantasticks.

Last year's recipient of the Stratford Festival Legacy Award, Mr. McCormack will take a break from taping his Emmy Award-winning television series Will & Grace to appear as El Gallo in The Fantasticks in Concert. This heartwarming story of a young couple, their bickering parents, a pair of veteran thespians and the dashing narrator who makes everything end happily has been a hit around the globe since its première in 1960, with unforgettable songs like "Try to Remember" and "Soon It's Gonna Rain."

Mr. McCormack will be joined by members of the Festival company for the performance, which will be given at the Avon Theatre for one night only - Tuesday, October 30, at 8 p.m. - as part of the Festival's Forum. Richard Ouzounian, who directed Mr. McCormack as Demetrius in Stratford's 1989 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, will direct this concert version (for which certain language and situations have been changed to reflect the evolving social awareness and attitudes of a 21st-century audience), with musical supervision by Franklin Brasz, the Festival's Director of Music. 

Reserve your spot today for this incredible evening! Tickets, priced from $25, are available through the Box Office at 1.800.567.1600  or online.

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Shakespeare Summer Camps for All

Dive in and have fun this summer with our immersive camps and workshops for Shakespeare lovers

Our wildly popular Shakespeare School sessions offer unique and meaningful opportunities to develop theatre skills, meet students from around the world, interact with and learn from Festival performers and artisans, and attend performances - all while having a blast!

 

Her Majesty's Players (July 2 to July 6) is a summer acting camp for adults! Participants will focus on acting, text, voice and movement. The week will culminate in a short public performance for family, friends and Festival staff and artists.

The Lord Chamberlain's Company Summer Day Camp (July 9 to 13), aimed at Grades 4 through 6, gives students a fun and inspiring introduction to the stories, languages, characters and ideas in Shakespeare's plays through improvisation, games, ensemble-building and a showcase performance.

The Queen's Company Residential Camps  are offered in two sessions: July 8 to 14 or July 15 to 21. Grade 7 and 8 students will take on a rigorous schedule of classes, workshops, discussion, rehearsal and play-going with a focus on acting, voice, text and movement.

The King's Company Residential Camps are a fabulous opportunity for students in Grades 9 through 12 who are keen to explore classic Shakespearean theatre practice or musical theatre. Choose from four incredible two-week sessions:

Session 1: July 8 to July 21 (Shakespeare)

Session 2: July 22 to August 4 (Shakespeare)

Session 3: July 22 to August 4 (Musical Theatre)

Session 4: August 5 to August 18 (Musical Theatre)

Applications are now closed for our Theatre Performance Intensive  aimed at experienced Grade 11 and 12 theatre students who are working towards a career in the performing arts. Please check our website in the fall to apply for 2019.

Join us this summer and release your inner thespian! Space is limited and will be assigned on a first-come-first-served basis. The application deadline for all summer programs is June 1. 

For more information, including costs and registration for our Shakespeare Schools, please visit our website or contact our Education Department at educate@stratfordfestival.ca or 519.271.4040, ext. 2293.

Education Program Partner: Scotiabank

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Timon of Athens – screening across Canada April 22

Stratford Festival HD presents Timon of Athens

The fourth season of our Stratford Festival HD series continues with our critically acclaimed production of Timon of Athens.

"CAPTIVATING AND HEARTBREAKING"
Broadway World

With Joseph Ziegler  - "a superb, nuanced actor" (The Buffalo News) - in the title role, this razor-sharp Timon of Athens, directed by Stephen Ouimette, brings Shakespeare's timeless story into a sleek 21st-century world of smartphones and VR headsets. Filmed in performance before a full audience, Timon of Athens combines the immediacy of live theatre with the close intimacy of cinema, capturing every nuance of this superb production.

Premièring April 22 at selected Cineplex locations across Canada.

Book your tickets today!

MEET THE FILMMAKER AND THE STAR!

A special Q&A event will follow the April 22 screening at Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Eglinton in Toronto. Join Joseph Ziegler, who stars in the title role, along with producer and film director Barry Avrich, in conversation with Paul Kennedy, host of Ideas on CBC.

Visit our website for details on U.S. screening dates.

 

 



Stratford Festival HD is sponsored by Sun Life Financial as part of their Making the Arts More Accessible™ program.

Support for Stratford Festival HD is generously provided by The John and Myrna Daniels Charitable Foundation, Laura Dinner & Richard Rooney, the Jenkins Family Foundation, the Henry White Kinnear Foundation, Ophelia & Mike Lazaridis, The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Sandra & Jim Pitblado, the Slaight Family Foundation, Robert & Jacqueline Sperandio, and an anonymous donor.

Support for Stratford Festival HD has also been provided by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

Canadian distribution is through Cineplex, which specializes in bringing world-class events and performances to the big screen.

Screenings are followed by a broadcast window on CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster.