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And the Winner Is…

Heartfelt congratulations to our lucky 28 millionth patron!

The Stratford Festival welcomed its 28 millionth audience member on Wednesday, June 27, at the matinée performance of The Music Man at the Festival Theatre with a very special prize: a lifetime of great theatre!

The lucky winner was Festival fan Ann Jeffrey of Brampton. At the conclusion of the curtain call, Executive Director Anita Gaffney took the stage alongside the entire cast to inform the audience that one of them was about to win a theatre-lover's dream come true. Sitting beside her in the auditorium, Mrs. Jeffrey's husband, Keith, said he had "a good feeling" it would be his wife.

Once her name was announced, Mrs. Jeffrey was invited up onto the stage under a spotlight to accept her prize of a lifetime double pass to the Stratford Festival. She thanked Ms Gaffney and lead actors Daren A. Herbert and Danielle Wade with a hug, and took a bow in front of the capacity Festival Theatre crowd.

"I felt pretty important up there," she said with a laugh.

We're thrilled for Ann and Keith Jeffrey on their big win. We wish them all the best, and look forward to welcoming them back to every one of our shows for many, many seasons to come!

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More Stellar Reviews!

Our latest round of official openings has grabbed the attention of critics and audiences alike

At last! The Tempest had its much-anticipated official opening, and we're pleased to say it was a triumph of art and spirit! Two more brilliant productions are now also in full swing: you won't want to miss the moving story of the three famous literary sisters in Brontë: The World Without or the powerful and mind-blowing spectacle of Coriolanus.


The Tempest

 "Director Antoni Cimolino emphasizes the power of the island, unleashing puppetry, lighting effects and otherworldly costumes"

"Seeing it now is a joy"

"Even transcending the poetry of Shakespeare's text, [Martha] Henry delivers"

 - Toronto Star

 
"Martha Henry is dazzling"

"Spectacular stagecraft"

"Captivating performances and stunning design"

"Magnificent production"

 - Postmedia

 
"The Tempest is a moving tribute to Martha Henry's stage magic"

"It's unforgettable."

"The sight of this titanic figure bidding adieu to her art, the poetry emerging from her lips with complete naturalness, is something to behold."

- NOW magazine

"Sparkling special effects"

"Stephen Ouimette displaying complete comic mastery"

"Graham Abbey and André Sills are a riveting double act"

"Martha Henry is most moving…a luminous love pouring out of her"

 - The Globe and Mail


Coriolanus

"4 out of 4 stars"

"a clear and cinematic version that's riveting, invigorating and smart.

"This is one you have to see...it's worth the trip, down the highway, across the country or, indeed, around the world.

- Globe and Mail

 "a visually stunning theatrical experience"

"a stunning visual marriage of classic literature and modernistic technique

"a major hit for the Stratford Festival that will whet the appetites of old and new theatre-goers alike"

- Postmedia

 "Spectacular Production"

"nothing short of epic"

- Broadway World

 "a thrilling and psychologically rich experience"

"masterful...electric world premiere"

"technically dazzling production"

- NOW Magazine


Brontë: The World Without

"Performances are all great"

"Actresses bring life to their characters and have a spot-on sisterly chemistry"

"Fascinating to observe"

"Emotions are all very relatable - each sister's respective struggle resonates with the audience"

- Broadway World

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New Performances Added!

Due to popular demand, we’ve extended two of this season’s hottest productions

Audiences are loving our 2018 Festival offerings so much that we've added extra performances to give everyone a chance to experience these amazing shows.

Come see what the fun's all about with The Rocky Horror Show. Whether it's your very first time, or you can't wait to do the Time Warp again, mark your calendars and grab your tickets now! Don't forget your fishnets!

 
New dates:

August 25 at 2 p.m.

November 1 at 8 p.m.

November 2 at 8 p.m.

November 3 at 8 p.m.

November 4 at 2 p.m.

November 6 at 2 p.m.

November 8 at 2 p.m.

November 9 at 8 p.m.

Two-show date! November 10 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

November 11 at 2 p.m.

 
Witness our gripping production of To Kill a Mockingbird and be swept away by the power of this timeless - and timely - American classic.

 
New dates:

November 6 at 2 p.m.

November 7 at 2 p.m.

November 8 at 2 p.m.

 

Buy now for your choice of the best available seats.

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The Rocky Horror Show Etiquette Tips!

Check out our fun video of audience participation dos and don’ts

We love - nay, we encourage - audience members to get into the spirit of The Rocky Horror Show. Dress up! Shout out! Get involved! But to keep things fun and safe for your fellow audience members and our cast, there are a few rules to keep in mind as you attend this live performance.

We see you shiver with antici…pation about discovering what's cool and what's not by way of audience partici…pation. So, without further ado, we present our very own Rocky Horror Narrator, Steve Ross, to walk you through!

 

To purchase your very own Partici…pation Kit, visit out online shop. Order now, and you can collect your kit from the Festival Shop before the performance!

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Tom Patterson Theatre Centre Live Webcam

We’re excited to share the ongoing progress of our beautiful new theatre centre with you

The ground has been broken and we're on the way. Check out our live webcam and follow along as our glittering new jewel on Stratford's Avon River takes glorious shape! Watch in real time or have a look at our fun time-lapse video. Join us as we cheer on the progress of this magnificent new centre for theatre, innovation and culture.

Watch Now!

For updates and more information about the progress of the new Tom Patterson Theatre Centre, and to learn how you can play a role in its building, click here.

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“They Are All Fire and Every One Doth Shine”

As female actors step into male roles in Julius Caesar, gender parity casting will give all a chance to shine

Gender-bending in casting is not a new concept at the Stratford Festival. In 2011, Seana McKenna headlined as the crookback king in Richard III, and in more recent years, women have played men's parts in productions such as Breath of Kings and As You Like It. This season, Martha Henry stars in the traditionally male role of Prospero in The Tempest, and the late-opening Julius Caesar will take gender parity to a whole new level.

With Seana McKenna in the title role, and with such well-regarded actors as Michelle Giroux and Irene Poole taking on Mark Antony and Cassius respectively, the cast is split equally between male and female performers - giving talented Festival women the opportunity to perform some of Shakespeare's greatest male roles.

Julius Caesar is still a few weeks away from opening, and the actors are deep into rehearsals with director Scott Wentworth - all still making discoveries and trying things out. Though Michelle Giroux has appeared in men's roles before - most recently as Montjoy in Breath of Kings - she sees taking on Mark Antony as a wonderful challenge.

"Breath of Kings certainly gave me a strong foundation for gender parity in casting," says Ms Giroux. "I think that it is all really about losing yourself in the power of Shakespeare's universal language. When I watched Kate Hennig as Gower, I didn't notice or care about the character's gender. What mattered was the role itself and the talent of the actor who played it."

Jonathan Goad - who plays Brutus - couldn't agree more with this assessment. "When we are rehearsing, it never even crosses my mind about which role is played by a man or a woman and how that all works. I find I am only impressed by the excellent calibre of the performers and the stunning quality of the material. There are no gender politics in that regard."

With only two named female roles, Shakespeare's play is a very male-dominated world. Those two female characters, Calpurnia and Portia, never even appear on stage at the same time. The women's voices are always isolated and overpowered by those of the men. The beauty of equally sharing the play between men and women is that no one voice gets to dominate for long. Hearing the familiar text spoken by both male and female voices can bring out different nuances and breathe new life and meaning into Shakespeare's words.

"This experiment brings out and highlights meanings in the play," says Mr. Goad. "For example, over the years, much has been made of the true nature of the love between the characters of Brutus and Cassius. Their love is often viewed in a homoerotic light. With Irene Poole as Cassius to my Brutus, the dynamics between them have shifted, and I am sure audiences will view their relationship on a more hetero-erotic level!"

"Different things strike you when the lines are spoken aloud in a woman's voice," adds Ms Giroux. "For example, there is much talk of male tears being womanish - 'Passion, I see, is catching for mine eyes' - and that feminine attributes are somehow weak and inferior to masculine ones. You can't help but hear and think about that differently in this production."

Though our contemporary world seems more dominated by talk of politics than ever before, there is no updating of the period and no direct comparisons drawn with today's events and world leaders.

"Christina Poddubiuk's design is very lushly Elizabethan, with added hints of Roman dress - like drapery," says Mr. Goad. "It's very much the way it must have been presented in Shakespeare's time, and the two styles blend together quite beautifully. It is not a huge stretch to see a toga-like cloak worn over something recognizably Elizabethan. It's not at all out of place with the sorts of cloaks a gentleman would have worn in this period."

Both actors are immersed in exploring and making discoveries about their respective roles. Ms Giroux is struck by the collision of ideologies that come to the surface after the first dagger comes out.

"I get a sense of Mark Antony as a man with a strong personal agenda," she says. "The assassination of Caesar is so sudden and so brutal - he's taken completely by surprise by the death of his friend - but he is a man who can think on his feet. He is a master of rhetoric. When he stands before the crowd and begins, 'Friends, Romans, countrymen,' it is a wonderfully ambiguous language he chooses. He employs the art of savvy persuasion, and it is hugely compelling and powerful.

"As things wear on, the second half of the story becomes a war play. Mark Antony has set himself on a path from which he cannot veer. He does away with a hundred senators - all very wealthy and powerful - leaving nothing to chance. There's a kind of paranoia at play; a feeling that once he starts to clean house, he must see it through down to the last man."

"I think Brutus's misjudgment of Mark Antony's potential and ambition is the crux of the whole play for me," says Mr. Goad. "He argues that it is too bloody a deed to kill Antony along with Caesar - he thinks Antony is only effective as one of Caesar's arms and that he'll pose no threat after the tyrant's death. He is not a man concerned with his own ego, and doesn't crave any individual power. He truly believes in the goodness of Rome and seems to be a step removed from the world - inwardly seeking and on a sort of spiritual journey.

"Even the assassination is approached in a ritualistic manner, and those ritualistic notions behind the violence are being embraced by our fight director, John Stead, whose work is an essential component to this production. There are big questions being asked: can there ever be a clean act of violence? How far will a man go and what will he sacrifice?"

"With Julius Caesar being a late opener in the repertory, we have some great advantages as a cast," says Ms Giroux. "We've already all been working together on An Ideal Husband and To Kill a Mockingbird. Instead of coming together as a brand-new team, there are already strong, established dynamics between the performers. That is a great gift. We can concentrate on exploring the extraordinary power of speech and the effectiveness of words on another person."

"Julius Caesar is like an epic poem in some ways - packed with poetic power, and yet at times the text is lean and straightforward," says Mr. Goad. "Shakespeare pays such distinct attention to language. There is still much to unpack in the rehearsal process. I think our success will depend upon how detailed we are in the end."

 

Julius Caesar plays at the Festival Theatre from July 31 to October 27.

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

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Expand Your Experience with the Forum

There’s something wonderful for everyone to discover and enjoy with our remarkable Forum series of unique events

Each season, visitors flock to the Festival to see the very best in live theatre. When you're planning your time with us, we invite you to have a good browse through our Forum listings to see what else is happening while you're here. Our Forum events - many of them organized into their own series - offer a myriad of ways in which to enhance your Stratford experience. Here's just a sample of what awaits you!

Throughout July and August, our Festival Theatre lobby comes alive on selected Monday evenings with Night Music, featuring popular jazz concerts and special song-filled evenings with your Festival favourites.

Our Showcases also present some fabulous musical events, such as Steven Page and Art of Time on July 13. Also, on July 23, company members will celebrate legendary composer Stanley Silverman in Songs from Up From Paradise. These afternoon concerts are a great way to enhance the time before a nice meal and an evening of theatre!

Speaking of meals, the Festival offers some Special Forum Meal events. If you enjoy learning about our plays, you'll love our Table Talks in our beautiful Paul D. Fleck Marquee at the Festival Theatre. Combine a delicious buffet meal with engaging dialogue between an artist and academic on one of the season's productions. You'll feed your body and spirit with plenty of time to make an afternoon performance! And there's food-oriented family fun to be had with our Music Man Lunch on July 15 and August 11. Take the whole family back in time for a turn-of-the-century Ice Cream Social, featuring carnival games and crafts, a scrumptious lunch buffet and an Ice Cream Bar with all the fixin's!

There's plenty to explore free of charge with such Free Forum events as Lobby Talks presented throughout the season by Literary and Editorial Director David Prosser or guest speakers. From June through September, you can Meet the Festival in the Chalmers Lounge at the Avon Theatre, where we offer fun and informal morning Q&A sessions with Festival artists and staff. Though both of these series are free, we do ask that you please reserve a place.

As we said at the start, this is just a sample of some of the wonderful things everyone can enjoy with the Forum. We hope to welcome you at one or more of these events this season!

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Playing the Wilde Card

Brad Hodder chats about his role as Lord Arthur Goring in An Ideal Husband

Lord Goring is a definitive crowd-pleaser - a dashing dandy bursting at his bespoke-tailored seams with wit and flair. Audiences adore him for his brilliant observations and fantastic dress sense. For Brad Hodder, he is an utter delight to play.

"An Ideal Husband is my first real experience with Oscar Wilde," says Mr. Hodder. "I'd never really seen or studied anything of Wilde's before - though of course I had a general idea of what he was all about. Once I was cast, I did an awful lot of research.

"My friend Steven Sutcliffe [an actor familiar to Festival fans] played the role at Shaw, and he shared a lot of insights. I watched every bad high school production of Wilde I could find on YouTube, and binged on Downton Abbey to get a sense of living a life of the high style and upper class privilege of a similar era. In a lot of ways, Lord Goring is like Maggie Smith's Violet - he gets all the snappy lines!

"I found Emer O'Sullivan's book The Fall of the House of Wilde to be particularly useful in understanding what made Wilde tick. From his origins as the son of very political Irish parents, to his stellar success, to his terrible downfall, it is a remarkable book. I find that the character of Lord Goring is very much a figure modelled on Wilde - and that seems particularly poignant when you think about what was going on in his real life at the time the play was being written."

In an era when homosexuality was widely outlawed, Oscar Wilde lived a precarious double life as a devoted husband and father whilst maintaining an ongoing love affair with a much younger man, Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas - the son of the Marquess of Queensbury, who publicly railed against the homosexual entanglement.

At the height of his fame and popularity, Wilde made the ruinous mistake of having Queensbury prosecuted for criminal libel, and the subsequent trial led to Wilde being not only forced to drop the charges but also being found guilty of gross indecency. He was left a broken man: sentenced to two years of hard labour, leaving his family and his brilliant career in ruins. Upon his release from prison in 1897, Wilde left Britain for exile in Paris and died there in 1900.

"Of all the characters in the play, Goring seems particularly interested in living the truth and being honest," says Mr. Hodder. "His is very much the voice of morality. It seems to me that it is Wilde himself somehow pining for the life he did not have in reality. He also gives Sir Robert poignant lines, begging his wife to forgive his past transgressions. It seems that perhaps he was thinking of his own situation and hoping that he would be similarly forgiven by his own wife."

With such serious undercurrents at play in Wilde's life, it is no wonder that An Ideal Husband - though hilarious - leaves one with an unsettled feeling at its serious undertones. The play was a personal favourite of George Bernard Shaw, who felt it far superior to the wildly popular and largely frivolous The Importance of Being Earnest.

"Though it is a piece very much of its own period, there are timeless elements that will appeal to audiences on many levels," observes Mr. Hodder. "For example, we all still just want to be loved and live happy lives. And given the state of the world, it's rather interesting to pose the big question, 'Is one responsible for what one has done in one's youth?' against the backdrop of today's #MeToo headlines.

"In our viewpoint, concealing an unsavoury past utterly flies in the face of being responsible for one's actions. But in Sir Robert's case, the option to confess is never even on the table when the past comes back to haunt him. The moral argument is that one bad action in the past had led him into a good and effective political career, and that positive outcome somehow negates the initial damage. It's what leaves us in an uncomfortable place at the conclusion - despite the happy ending. We still set high standards in our expectations of those we love. But if we want perfection, we'll certainly be disappointed!"

A hugely appealing part of this production is the look of the show. With breathtaking sets by Douglas Paraschuk and lavish costumes by Patrick Clark, the audience is swept away into a time of exquisite elegance - a romanticized and sparkling portrait of a society that no longer exists.

"Seeing Oscar Wilde produced on this level is all too rare," says Mr. Hodder. "The Festival's resources make it possible for it to be something truly beautiful and wholly immersive. And the ensemble cast is just brilliant. That's another advantage we have here at Stratford: as an acting company, we form a cohesive and positive creative group. I really enjoy going to work with these people every day! All of Wilde's witty verbal jousting is so juicy to play, and the audience really brings it out of us in every performance. It makes us excited to do it all over again for each new crowd.

"But in the end, it really is all about the play and doing what best serves the story. It's a classic script - there's so much intricate setting up of pins to knock down, and in the second half, Wilde's impeccable rhythm builds up the momentum so that it almost stampedes toward the ending, when all the strings come together at last. It is a really good play, done really well - enormously satisfying for us to perform and for the audience to enjoy. I think they are having a good time watching us, and we most certainly are having a good time presenting it."

An Ideal Husband plays at the Avon Theatre until October 28.

Production support is generously provided by Nona Macdonald Heaslip and by Dr. Robert & Roberta Sokol

Production Co-Sponsor: Bard's on Market Square

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Stratford Festival HD Comes to CBC This Summer!

Missed our Stratford Festival HD screenings earlier this year? Not to worry: all three films will soon be broadcast on CBC television

Our 2016 Stratford Festival HD offerings were a hit in cinemas around the world. Now our glorious 2017 productions of Romeo and Juliet and Timon of Athens are coming to a television screen near you!

Each broadcast will begin at 2 p.m. and will be shown in two parts with a short interval and no commercial breaks.

 
Tune in to CBC-TV on the following dates:

 July 29: Romeo and Juliet
"Must-see theatre" - Postmedia

 August 5: Timon of Athens
"Captivating and heartbreaking" - Broadway World


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.