January 20, 2014… In the past few months, Canadian theatre has lost some champions, each of whom made a vital contribution to their discipline. The Stratford Festival will commemorate the lives of three of these people, who had close ties to Stratford, through a series of dedications in the 2014 season.
King Lear dedicated to Jean-Louis Roux
King Lear will be dedicated to actor and director Jean-Louis Roux.
“Jean-Louis Roux was a pioneer, creating companies, leading institutions and promoting the critical importance of the arts in our society,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, who will direct the production. “He was a valued member of the Stratford company over many years as an actor as well as a director. I last worked with him at the Festival Theatre along with Colm Feore in Coriolanus. Therefore it is with affection that we dedicate this season’s production of King Lear to Jean-Louis, who was ‘every inch a king.’”
M. Roux turned to acting when he was three years into medical school. He worked and trained in France and on his return to Montreal founded Le Théâtre du Nouveau Monde with a group including Jean Gascon, who would later become Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival. M. Roux served as Secretary General of TNM from 1952 to 1963 and then as Artistic Director from 1966 to 1982. He was involved in the creation of the National Theatre School, where he was Director General from 1982 to 1987. He was a member of the Canadian Senate, Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec, Chairman of the Canada Council and a Companion of the Order of Canada.
He was a member of the Stratford Festival company for six seasons between 1956 and 2006, playing Orleans in the famous bilingual Stratford Festival-TNM co-production of Henry V in 1956 and Burgundy in the re-mount of that production in 1966. In addition to playing the First Roman Senator in Coriolanus in 2006, he also played Don Louis in Don Juan, another Stratford Festival-TNM co-production, which was performed in both French and English. The previous year, he directed The Measure of Love, sharing a lifetime of theatre experience with then-new playwright Nicolas Billon, winner of the 2013 Governor General’s Award for Drama.
King John dedicated to Suzanne Turnbull
King John will be dedicated to acting coach Suzanne Turnbull.
“Suzy Turnbull was an acting coach who had a special gift in developing talent,” says Mr. Cimolino. “She worked in theatres and schools across Canada. Her intelligence, compassion and love for acting made her a great force for good in our art form. Along with Michael Mawson and Richard Monette, Suzy was a driving force in the creation of our Birmingham Conservatory. Suzy’s last production at Stratford was Titus Andronicus at the Tom Patterson Theatre. We dedicate our production of King John in that theatre to her memory.”
A multi-talented theatre artist, Ms Turnbull was a beloved member of the Festival’s coaching staff for many years. She was also the dramaturge for Titus Andronicus in 2011 and The Two Gentlemen of Verona in 2010, as well as the assistant director of The Taming of the Shrew in 2008. Her warmth, generosity and intelligence made her a great resource for the Festival company.
Suzie also worked as an acting coach at major training institutions across Canada, including Western University and the University of Windsor, and she herself had a BFA from the University of Alberta. She was a founding member of the NDWT Company, director of education at Kaleidoscope Theatre in Victoria, and a member of the Kam Theatre cooperative in Thunder Bay.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream dedicated to Jack Merigold
A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be dedicated to stage manager Jack Merigold.
“Jack Merigold was a multi-talented man of the theatre,” says Mr. Cimolino. “He worked as an actor and director but made his greatest contribution as a stage manager. His work in the early years at Stratford with Tyrone Guthrie and Michael Langham brought discipline as well as joy to our creative process. Over many years, his boundless energy and puck-like spirit enlivened our theatres. It is no surprise that he played Puck in a production that toured Ontario early in his career. Therefore it is a great pleasure to dedicate our Festival Theatre production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Jack.”
Mr. Merigold was hired as an assistant stage manager by Tyrone Guthrie for the Festival’s inaugural season in 1953. He soon became Dr. Guthrie’s stage manager and their working relationship stretched beyond Stratford to include 12 productions in New York and four in London.
Mr. Merigold was with the Festival for 16 seasons between 1953 and 1976, in a variety of roles. He was the production stage manager for the Avon Theatre and for opera, and later served as the purchasing agent. He was the assistant to the director on 1960’s HMS Pinafore and 1961’s The Pirates of Penzance, a production in which he also appeared as an actor. In 1974 he directed This Is the Rill Speaking at the Third Stage (now the Tom Patterson Theatre). His acting career included a recurring role on CBC TV’s Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town and appearances on the Wayne and Shuster TV specials.
King Lear opens on May 26, King John opens on May 28, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens on May 31.