Beyond the Stage: Talking Theatre Talking (Thinking, Feeling and Engaging with) Theatre

by Madeleine Brown

Cimolino to Quigley.

Quigley to the crowd.

The crowd to Cimolino and back to the crowd.

No. I’m not recounting last night’s hockey game.

Guess again.

Nope, not a local city hall meeting, either.

You’re getting warmer, though.

It’s Talking Theatre. Talking Theatre is a weekly discussion of the themes in the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s current playbill. General Director Antoni Cimolino and Education Consultant Pat Quigley facilitate the event.

Most people get their thrills from riding roller coasters, watching scary movies or breaking their curfew. Me? I get mine from a good, hearty discussion.

I’m in the right place.

Upon Mr. Cimolino and Ms Quigley’s arrival on stage at the Tom Patterson Theatre, the two hosts introduce the morning’s theme: the power of money to create conflict in love and the creation of art. A light bulb goes off in my head—it’s odd just how many of the season’s plays  tie into the theme, from You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown to The Matchmaker, The Best Brothers and more.

The audience jumps in to participate with their questions and comments. The atmosphere is fun and energetic. I’m in shock at the level of interaction audience members have with someone as high up in the Festival’s administration as Mr. Cimolino. His position at the Festival and the morning’s theme open him up to many questions with regards to the Festival’s programming and finances. He happily and freely responds. Ms Quigley offers up her expertise from years spent working at the Festival, as well.

But the discussion is not all technical.

Audience members bring up points about moral values and metaphors, proving that theatre is about more than having a good time (though it’s about that, too) – it’s stimulating stuff. And what’s clear is that Talking Theatre gives you the space to run rampant and release the inner dialogue that develops as you delve into a piece of art.

After all that mental exercise I’m blissfully exhausted, so I skip my evening workout and enjoy a pastry instead.

I think I’ve earned it.

Talking Theatre is a series of free hour-long discussions on the themes present in the Festival season, led by Antoni Cimolino and Pat Quigley. They occur on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. in July and August.

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