January 15, 2014… As Shakespeare lovers everywhere prepare to mark the 450th anniversary of the birth of the world’s greatest dramatist, members of the Shakespeare Theatre Association gather at the Stratford Festival for their annual conference.
“We are extremely proud to have this prestigious gathering in Stratford during this year of celebration,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, who will deliver the keynote address. “We’ll be joined by theatre professionals from all over this continent and beyond. It’s wonderful to be reminded of the extent and variety of work being undertaken by companies that specialize in Shakespeare. We’re looking forward immensely to this gathering of friends, old and new.”
STA conferences have been a valuable resource to Stratford Festival staff from various departments for almost 25 years.
“Having attended two previous STA conferences, hosted by the Orlando Shakespeare Theater and the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival,” says Executive Director Anita Gaffney, “I know how illuminating and inspiring it can be to share this time with our counterparts at other theatres: fellow artists and staff who share our love of Shakespeare and our passion for bringing his plays to the stage and into people’s lives.”
The theme for this year’s conference, which runs from January 22 to 25 and will be attended by 120 delegates, is “Speak the Speech: The Power of Words.” It will focus on what Shakespeare’s words mean to us today, how they can best be brought alive for new generations, and how their enduring power still shapes and enriches our lives.
Sessions will explore various topics, including:
- Cross-gender and non-traditional casting.
- Stage to Screen.
- Shakespeare’s use of rhyme and prose at different periods of his career.
- How the Affordable Care Act will affect the way in which U.S. theatres create art.
- Shakespeare and accessibility.
- Balancing creativity with restrictions such as time, union regulations and resources.
- Original Practices.
- Festival-University partnerships.
- Romancing the Board.
- Education and social media.
The conference will also feature a much-anticipated session with members of the cast and creative team of Slings and Arrows.
In the three days immediately preceding the conference, the Festival will host an education practicum. This component gives education staff from STA member theatres an opportunity to train intensively with their colleagues from around the world. It will feature sessions on such topics as:
- The journey from engagement to comprehension to empowerment.
- Shakespeare in the classroom.
- Physical theatre.
- Hip Hop Shakespeare.
- Original Practices.
- Directing Shakespeare.
Since its founding in 1991, the Shakespeare Theatre Association has held its annual conference at member theatres across North America, as well as in the U.K. It was last held in Canada in 2005. The Stratford Festival hosted the event once before, in 1996.