Festival welcomes new participants into the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction

February 7, 2012… Four new directors will participate in the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction this year, along with seven directors who are returning from previous seasons.

New to the workshop are Andrea Donaldson, Kevin Hammond, Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu and Kristen van Ginhoven.

Returning for a second season are Eric Benson, Heather Davies, Alan Dilworth, Darcy Evans, Varrick Grimes, Rachel Peake and Aaron Willis.

Participants, who come from across Canada, serve as assistant directors on the season’s productions and are given the opportunity to present a classical piece of their own choosing to an invited audience. They also participate in classes in text, voice, movement and other disciplines, held by the Festival’s Theatre Training Department.

The workshop, now in its third year, is designed for directors in mid-career who have some experience working with the classics, but not at a theatre of the complexity and scope of the Festival.

“As one of this nation’s leading arts institutions, it is important for the Festival to offer insight and inspiration to the budding artists of tomorrow,” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff, who will be assisted by Eric Benson on Henry V. “Michael Langham was a true visionary whose approach to classical theatre and Shakespearean text helped lay the Festival’s artistic foundation. This program, enabling us to share the knowledge and skills we’ve gleaned over 60 seasons, is the very embodiment of his philosophy, and we’re delighted with its success.”

“This program was created to provide the hands-on experience that is so crucial to understanding and developing one’s skill as a director,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino, who will be assisted by Heather Davies on Cymbeline. “We’re very fortunate to have directors of this calibre joining the workshop and sharing their talent and experience with us as well. As with any successful training program – especially at this level – the exchange of ideas is mutually beneficial.”

The Michael Langham Workshop is overseen by David Latham, the Festival’s Theatre Training Consultant, and by Associate Artistic Director Dean Gabourie. Assistant Producer Bonnie Green is the coordinator of the program.

Sponsorship for the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction is provided by RBC. Support for the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction is provided by the Department of Canadian Heritage, Karon Bales & Charles Beall, Johanna Metcalf, and The Philip and Berthe Morton Foundation.

Participants’ biographies

Eric Benson

Second season: Assistant director of Henry V. Stratford: Assistant director, Hosanna. Elsewhere: Eric is an associate director of DaPoPo Theatre in Halifax. Director: Sunday in the Park with George, Biography: A Game, What the Tide Brought In (DaPoPo); Black Jack Justice (Electric Vicuña Productions); Krapp’s Last Tape (KTS); Twelfth Night (musical and assistant director – Luna/Sea Theatre). Performer: Various – Café DaPoPo: Freies Museum Berlin and Museum Fluxus+, Cassius – Julius Caesar, Harry Domin – Rossum’s Universal Robots (DaPoPo Theatre); Ghost/Osric – Hamlet (Perchance Productions); Heisenberg – Copenhagen, Simon – Seven Days in the Life of Simon Labrosse (KTS). Et cetera: Eric is working on a new translation of Büchner’s Woyzeck to be produced as a puppet show in 2012 with DaPoPo Theatre. He is pleased to return to Stratford as a participant in the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction.

Heather Davies

Second season: Assistant director of Cymbeline. Stratford: Assistant director, The Merry Wives of Windsor. Director: At The Grand Theatre: Cinderella (main stage); Footloose, Anything Goes, Macbeth (High School Projects); The Little Prince. In the U.K.: Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew (Creation Theatre); Plunder (Watermill/Greenwich Theatre); Copenhagen, Neville’s Island (Watermill); Montagues and Capulets (RSC/Capital Centre). Royal Shakespeare Company: Stratford Talking, The Witch, Desire Under the Elms. Other directing: Toronto Noir (SummerWorks); Educating Rita, Laughing Wild, Blithe Spirit (English Theatre, Frankfurt); Medea (Richmond, Virginia). As Associate and Resident Director: For Propeller, The Winter’s Tale (U.K. and international tour); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (West End); two seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company, including the Olivier Award-winning Jacobethan Season (Outstanding Company Achievement). Training: Ryerson University (BFA, Theatre), York University (MFA, Theatre), Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, U.K.Website: www.heatherdavies.com.

Alan Dilworth

Second season: Assistant director of Elektra. Stratford: Assistant director of The Little Years. Directing: Thinking of Yu (ATP); After Akhmatova, If We Were Birds – SummerWorks Jury Prize, Dora nomination for direction, Governor General’s Literary Award (Tarragon); The Middle Place – Toronto Critics Award for Best Production of a Play, Crow’s Theatre Directing Award (Passe Muraille, Canadian Stage, Belfry, GCTC); The Great Mountain (Red Sky Performance); The Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon (Globe); The Blue Light (DMV); The Bundle (Theatre@York, Ryerson); Iphigenia at Aulis (SummerWorks); The Gladstone Variations – Dora nomination for direction, AutoShow (Convergence); The Unforgetting – SummerWorks Jury Prize, ma jolie, Eustache Wake (Belltower); Mexico City (Belltower/Absit Omen). Training: MFA directing, York University; Urjo Kareda Resident, Tarragon; Soulpepper Academy. Website: alandilworth.com. Et cetera: Alan is co-Artistic Director of Sheep No Wool Theatre Company.

Andrea Donaldson

Stratford debut: Assistant director of The Matchmaker. Elsewhere: Directing highlights include the following Dora-nominated projects: The Atomic Weight of Happiness for Stand Up Dance and Theatre Direct Canada; Montparnasse for Groundwater in association with Theatre Passe Muraille; Offensive Fouls for Theatre Direct; and The Unfortunate Misadventures of Masha Galinski in Winnipeg, Victoria and twice in Toronto. Awards: Andrea has been nominated for numerous awards, including the John Hirsch Directing Award (2008 and 2011), eight Dora nominations for her various projects and the Gina Wilkinson Award for Emerging Female Directors. She has received SummerWorks’ Spotlight Award – Directing, as well as two Dora Awards for Theatre Direct’s URGE project And By the Way, Miss, for which she was a collaborator and performer.: www.sometimesandrea.com. Et cetera: As of fall 2012, Andrea will join Tarragon Theatre in Toronto as Assistant Artistic Director.

Darcy Evans

Eighth season: Assistant director of The Pirates of Penzance. Stratford: Dangerous Liaisons, To Kill a Mockingbird (associate director), Fuente Ovejuna, The Winter’s Tale, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Fiddler on the Roof, Man of La Mancha, Patience, Hello, Dolly! (associate director), The Music Man, The King and I. Elsewhere: Directing credits: I Love You Because… (Canadian première, Angelwalk); Village of Idiots, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (STC/Magnus Theatre); The Most Happy Fella (Theatre Sheridan); Cleopatra (Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Michael Langham Workshop); Lord of the Flies, As Bees in Honey Drown (Company C); Sleeping Beauty (STC). Darcy was associate director of the Broadway production of Little Women, starring Sutton Foster, and the first U.S. national tour, starring Maureen McGovern. Associate director: Heartland (Madison Rep/Dallas Summer Musicals), Not Wanted on the Voyage (Canadian Stage). Training: BFA: directing, University of Victoria.

Varrick Grimes

Second season: Assistant director of Hirsch. Stratford: Assistant director, Titus Andronicus. Elsewhere: Founding member of Number Eleven Theatre: ICARIA, The Prague Visitor, The Lamentable History of Peter Schlemiel. Associate Artist, Theatre Newfoundland Labrador, initiating the Gros Morne Theatre Festival. Puppeteer with Puppet Mongers: The Palace of the Cinnabar Phoenix. Stilt dancer with The Carpetbag Brigade at the UNESCO Forum of World Cultures (Mexico). Director – community-engaged arts: Jumblies Theatre (Toronto), Runaway Moon Theatre (B.C.), Claque Theatre (U.K.), pak siew b’y (Stratford); devised projects: Fixt Point (Toronto), Carpetbag Brigade (U.S.), Runaway Moon (B.C.). Teacher of physical theatre at Grenfell College (Corner Brook) and Humber College (Toronto). Et cetera: He is honoured to work with Paul and Alon and to have this summer with Rosy, Emile and Keira. His work this season is dedicated to his teacher Arif Hasnain.

Kevin Hammond

Stratford debut: Assistant director of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Elsewhere: Current Artistic Director and co-founder of Humber River Shakespeare Co., former Artistic Director of Shakespeare in the Rough (2001-2005). Director: Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, The Comedy of Errors, Henry V, A Christmas Carol, A Shakespeare Cabaret (Humber River Shakespeare Co.). Assistant director: Much Ado About Nothing, The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare in the Rough). Adjudicator: National Shakespeare Youth Festival 2011 (Shakespeare in Action). Recordings: Featured performer for Oxford University Press’s Oxford Next online Shakespeare program. Website: www.humberrivershakespeare.ca. Et cetera: Kevin is directing a touring production of Macbeth this summer for Humber River Shakespeare.

Rachel Peake

Second season: Assistant director of Wanderlust. Stratford: Assistant director: Camelot; director: Pericles (DWP). Elsewhere (theatre): Co-Artistic Director of Solo Collective Theatre. Director: After Jerusalem, The Trolley Car and The Project (Solo Collective Theatre); La Cenerentola (Vancouver Opera in Schools); Le portrait Gooble, Comment devenir parfait en trois jours and Écran de fumée (Théâtre la Seizième); The Glass Menagerie (Arts Club remount); That’s Just Crazy Talk and Head Over Heels (Crazy for Life Productions); Soul Resource and Heptademic (Studio 58). Assistant director: This Is What Happens Next (Necessary Angel/Canadian Stage); Timon of Athens and King Lear (Bard on the Beach); Cyrano (Arts Club); Lifesavers (Ruby Slippers); A Christmas Carol (Vancouver Playhouse); Quasimodo and The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces (Boca del Lupo). Training: Graduate of Studio 58; University of Alberta, BA Honours in drama. Website: www.rachelpeake.com.

Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu

Stratford debut: Assistant director of The Best Brothers. Elsewhere: Dancing to a White Boy Song, Keen (SummerWorks); The Engagement, Softown (African Theatre Ensemble); The Ecstasy of Rita Joe (Canadian Stage Festival of Ideas and Creation); Toast, Byrd Bath (Obsidian Theatre, Mussorgsky project). Assistant-directing credits include Another Africa/The African Trilogy (Volcano/Canadian Stage/Luminato); Until We Say Yes (Volcano); Rock ’n’ Roll and It’s a Wonderful Life (Canadian Stage); The Turn of the Screw (DVxT Theatre); Late/Black Medea (Obsidian Theatre). Training: York University Theatre (directing focus); Canadian Stage BASH Directors Program; apprentice director, Obsidian Theatre, 2008-09 season; BSc Human Biology, University of Toronto. Awards: 2011 Mallory Gilbert Protégé Award. Website: www.ifttheatre.com. Et cetera: Mumbi is also the Artistic and Founding Director of IFT Theatre, a Toronto-based experimental theatre company.

Kristen van Ginhoven

Stratford debut: Assistant director of 42nd Street. Elsewhere: Director: The Attic, the Pearls and Three Fine Girls, Melancholy Play (WAM Theatre); Petticoats of Steel (Capital Repertory Theatre); Footloose (Cohoes Music Hall); Vendetta Chrome (Emerson College). Assistant director: Two Men of Florence (Huntington Theatre, director Edward Hall); Sleuth, Absurd Person Singular (Barrington Stage Company, director Jesse Berger); The Taming of the Shrew (Actor’s Shakespeare Project, director Melia Bensussen). Actor: An Acre of Time (Tarragon Theatre), The Importance of Being Earnest (Sudbury Theatre Centre), As You Like It (Shakespeare by the Sea), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Repercussion Theatre). Training: Dawson College, Dalhousie University (BA), Queen’s University (BEd), Emerson College (MA). Et cetera: Kristen is Artistic Director and co-Founder of WAM Theatre (Berkshires, MA) and works internationally as a theatre artist with ISTA, The International Schools Theatre Association. Website: www.kristenvanginhoven.com.

Aaron Willis

Second season: Assistant director of Much Ado About Nothing. Stratford: Assistant director, Evita. Elsewhere: Directing: Other People (Mutual Friends Co-op); YICHUD (Seclusion); co-directed with Richard Greenblatt (Theatre Passe Muraille/Convergence Theatre); Miss Caledonia, co-directed with Rick Roberts (SummerWorks/Blyth Festival); The Gladstone Variations: The Tearful Bride (Convergence). Acting: YICHUD (Seclusion); Zadie’s Shoes (GCTC); Abattoir (Kaeja d’Dance); The Russian Play (Factory); Wrecked (Roseneath); Well (Tarragon). TV: Flashpoint. Training: George Brown Theatre School; BA Honours Drama, University of Alberta. Awards: Dora nominations for Wrecked (acting) and The Gladstone Variations (directing); Tyrone Guthrie/Jean Gascon Award, 2009. Aaron was nominated for the 2012 John Hirsch Director’s Award. Et cetera: Aaron is co-Artistic Director of Convergence Theatre with his wife, actress/playwright Julie Tepperman; together they created and produced YICHUD (Seclusion), The Gladstone Variations and AutoShow. He has been a teaching artist with the Festival’s Education department since 2008.

This year, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival celebrates its 60th season, with 14 productions presented from April 12 to October 28:  Much Ado About Nothing42nd StreetThe MatchmakerHenry VYou’re a Good Man, Charlie BrownThe Pirates of PenzanceA Word or TwoCymbelineWanderlustElektraMacHomerThe Best BrothersHirsch; and The War of 1812.

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