Press Release | Christopher Plummer’s A Word or Two to open in Los Angeles

January 22, 2014 … The Stratford Festival’s production of Christopher Plummer’s A Word or Two opens at the Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles today.

The production, directed by Des McAnuff, was originally presented in 2012 as a special event to mark the Stratford Festival’s 60th season.

“I am thrilled to have the Stratford Festival represented in Los Angeles by Christopher Plummer in A Word or Two,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “He worked long and hard assembling this wonderful script and, together with Des, he has created a terrific evening in the theatre. We thank our friends and colleagues at CTG for their interest in this production.”

“I had the chance to see the show over the weekend in Los Angeles,” says Executive Director Anita Gaffney, “and audiences at the Ahmanson Theatre are in for a real treat. Christopher Plummer dazzles with his wit and story-telling mastery. The show played to sold-out houses in Stratford and the creative team that mounted that production has been reassembled for this special engagement.”

A Word or Two runs in Los Angeles until February 9.

The Stratford Festival is garnering great interest in productions developed on its stages. Hirsch, by Alon Nashman and Paul Thompson, developed through the Festival’s new play department and originally produced at the Studio Theatre in 2012, was presented at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre last year, and will open at Vancouver’s Chutzpah Festival next month. The Best Brothers, by Daniel MacIvor, another 2012 production developed by the Festival, was presented at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre and Winnipeg’s Prairie Theatre Exchange in 2013. The Little Years, commissioned by the Festival from John Mighton, based on an earlier script, was originally produced in 2011 and was re-mounted at Tarragon Theatre in 2012, winning Dora Awards for Best Director for Chris Abraham and Best Actress for Irene Poole. The 2009 production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum moved on to a Toronto run later that year with Mirvish Productions.

The 2009 production of The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by and starring Brian Bedford, moved to Broadway in 2011, winning a Tony Award for Best Costume Design for Desmond Heeley and Tony nominations for Best Revival of a Play and Best Actor for Brian Bedford. The 2011 production of Jesus Christ Superstar moved to Broadway in 2012, winning Tony nominations for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actor in a Musical for Josh Young.

The latest Festival commission, an English version of Michel Marc Bouchard’s Christina, The Girl King, translated by Linda Gaboriau, will open this summer at the Studio Theatre. Work continues on a number of other commissions, which the Festival hopes will soon come to fruition in Stratford and beyond.

The 2014 Stratford Festival season runs from April 21 to October 12, featuring King Lear; Crazy for You; two versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; The Beaux’ Stratagem; Man of La Mancha; Alice Through the Looking-Glass; Hay Fever; King John; Mother Courage and Her Children; Antony and Cleopatra; Christina, The Girl King; and more than 150 events in The Forum. Tickets are available through the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or online at www.stratfordfestival.ca.

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Press Release | Stratford Festival dedicates productions to the memory of Jean-Louis Roux, Suzanne Turnbull and Jack Merigold

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.

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The Beaux’ Stratagem: laugh-out-loud comedy

For sheer, laugh-out-loud fun, look no further than The Beaux’ Stratagem! The first Restoration comedy produced by the Festival since 1995’s The Country Wife, this deliciously hilarious romp will keep you laughing from beginning to end.

Whether you’re an avid fan of the genre or have never seen – or, heard – of a Restoration comedy before, there are many reasons to rush to the front of the line for tickets to The Beaux’ Stratagem, and we’ve come up with just a few for you today.

A cast overflowing with Festival favourites

If you only need one reason to see this play, our brilliant cast speaks for itself. The charming leading men, Colm Feore and Mike Shara, team up to play the titular conniving beaux, Archer and Aimwell, with award-winning Martha Henry returning for her milestone 40th Festival season as Lady Bountiful. Joining them are many Festival favourites who hardly need any introduction, including Bethany Jillard as Dorinda, Lucy Peacock as Mrs. Sullen and Scott Wentworth as Mr. Sullen.

An incredibly gifted director

One look at Antoni Cimolino’s track record and you’ll know that The Beaux’ Stratagem is in very capable hands. Mr. Cimolino has been at the helm of many of the Festival’s most celebrated productions, including The Merchant of Venice and Cymbeline, and, of course, last season’s smash hit, Mary Stuart, which was extended an unprecedented four times.

It’s funny – like, really funny

Yes, it was written in 1707, but with its dark humour and bustling plot full of sexual conquests and amusing antics, audiences should expect a fast-paced, rollicking comedy with themes still relevant in 2014. With hardly a dull moment to be found, The Beaux’ Stratagem is filled to the brim with contemporary wit, bountiful humour and a rich cast of characters that make it must-see theatre. We sure hope to see you there!

Clockwise from left: Bethany Jillard, Lucy Peacock, Colm Feore, Martha Henry, Mike Shara Photography by Don Dixon. Digital Artist: Krista Dodson

Clockwise from left: Bethany Jillard, Lucy Peacock, Colm Feore, Martha Henry, Mike Shara
Photography by Don Dixon. Digital Artist: Krista Dodson

George Farquhar’s The Beaux’ Stratagem follows madly comic antics of two impoverished rakes, who, disguising their identities, arrive in the town of Lichfield seeking to restore their fortunes by wooing wealthy women. As the two connive to relieve ladies of their wealth, they must contend with a suspicious local innkeeper and his band of highwaymen, and with an acquaintance privy to their true identity.

For more information on the production, please visit our website: http://bit.ly/1i1IiH9.

Previews for The Beaux’ Stratagem begin July 31. The play officially opens on August 15. For tickets, please call our box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit our website stratfordfestival.ca.

Press Release | Shakespeare Theatre Association international conference starts next week at the Stratford Festival

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.
  • Voice.
  • Clowning.
  • 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.

#2014sta

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Three Job Opportunities | Chef | Graphic Designer | Major Gift Manager-GTA

Would you like to play a meaningful role with North America’s leading classical repertory theatre? At the Stratford Festival, we attract the world’s finest talent, offering a unique experience for staff, artists and actors alike. If you would like to be a part of this exciting organization, we are looking for someone to fill the role of…

Graphic Designer

We are currently looking for a junior-level graphic designer to join the Festival’s graphic design team, for a one-year contract position. The ideal candidate will have a sound understanding of current Macintosh equipment and Adobe software workflow, using InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat, as well as a working knowledge of the Microsoft Office suite. Applications should have a strong design portfolio as well as experience in a fast-paced electronic studio environment.

Successful candidates will provide creative designs with strong typographic skills and accuracy and be capable of managing multiple projects simultaneously in both an independent and team environment. A proven ability to work within tight schedules and deadlines will be expected, as well as a clear understanding of PDF art files for proofing and print production.

This Stratford position will begin mid-February, 2014.

We recognize that diversity- in our workplace, in our audiences and on our stages- fosters a rich and creative environment. We are actively engaged in building a more diverse workplace and encourage all qualified applicants to apply by January 15, 2014 to;

Human Resources
Stratford Festival
55 Queen Street
Stratford, Ontario N5A 6V2
E-mail: resumes@stratfordfestival.ca
Subject: Graphic Designer
_________________________________________________________________________

Would you like to play a meaningful role with North America’s leading classical repertory theatre? At the Stratford Festival, we attract the world’s finest talent, offering a unique experience for staff, artists, and actors alike. If you would like to be a part of this exciting organization, we are looking for someone to fill the role of…

Chef-Food and Beverage department

Reporting to the Food and Beverage Manager, you are responsible for leading the Stratford Festival kitchen team in all food service capacities. You must have a solid understanding of all kitchen areas including health and safety, daily food preparation as well as pastries.  A background and interest in banquets of all types, including plated, buffet and reception style events is imperative.  You strive to maintain appropriate food costs and budget control, all while maintaining a friendly, positive atmosphere.

You will be an excellent communicator and have the ability to build and maintain a highly efficient and successful kitchen. Exceptional organizational skills and the ability to work effectively in a unique food service environment are required. Previous kitchen experience in a leadership role is essential.  You have the ability to both direct and motivate your staff in a positive manor.  You are flexible and able to work a variety of shifts including weekends, holidays and evenings.

This seasonal position will start January 2014 and end in October 2014. Successful candidates must be able to fulfill the entire contract period.

We recognize that diversity – in our workplace, in our audiences and on our stages- fosters a rich and creative environment. We are actively engaged in building a more diverse workplace and encourage all qualified applicants to apply by January 23, 2014 to:

Human Resources
Stratford Festival
55 Queen Street
Stratford, Ontario N5A 6V2
E-mail: resumes@stratfordfestival.ca
Subject: Chef
_________________________________________________________________________

Would you like to play a meaningful role with North America’s leading classical repertory theatre? At the Stratford Festival, we attract the world’s finest talent, offering a unique experience for staff, artists and actors alike. If you would like to be a part of this exciting organization, we are looking for someone to fill the role of ….

Major Gift Manager-GTA 

Reporting to the Director of Advancement this position will play an integral role in the achievement of the organization’s strategic plan through participation in the development and implementation of revenue generation programs, including campaigns, membership and other major gift fundraising initiatives. You will assist with the development, formulation and execution of these goals through effective prospect identification; cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of major gift prospects; overseeing and acting as liaison for formal volunteer committees and individual volunteer activities and facilitating personal meetings, telephone and written correspondence with all potential prospects and current donors.

This position is a full time position based in Toronto but you must have the ability to travel to Stratford as required.

You will have advanced knowledge of fundraising, communications and marketing acquired through the completion of a graduate degree in Philanthropy, Communications or Marketing; the work involved the mastery of concepts and theories in the fundraising and marketing field, with at least five years of directly related experience with a proven track record in development with experience in managing Annual Giving Programs ( or components) and Major Gifts; knowledge of professional fundraising theory and practice; excellent communication skills both written and verbal, and effective public speaking experience; ability to develop relationships quickly and sound judgment and diplomacy. Familiarity with or an interest in theatre or the arts is essential.

We recognize that diversity- in our workplace, in our audiences and on our stages- fosters a rich and creative environment. We are actively engaged in building a more diverse workplace and encourage all qualified applicants to apply by January 15, 2014 to;

Human Resources
Stratford Festival
55 Queen Street
Stratford, Ontario N5A 6V2
E-mail: resumes@stratfordfestival.ca
Subject: Major Gift Manager

Crazy Composition Competition – Winners!

We asked you to write us a poem no more than 20 lines, musing on our 2014 season theme of Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge, and the results were incredible.

If you haven’t had a chance to read all of the poems we received, please click here!

We want to thank you for all of your fabulous entries to our Crazy Composition Competition – at moments like this, we’re reminded of just how intelligent and madly creative our group of fans can be!

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for… our winning poet, who will take home the grand prize of a pair of opening night tickets to King Lear along with Shakespeare-lover’s journals and two copies of King Lear!

In first place: congratulations to Kylene Walker!

Alone

‘Nothing will come of nothing’ is what the old man said,
But perhaps the ‘nothing’ that he spoke of was all inside his head.
Staring blankly at the strangers searching, hoping for the traces
Of the people he once saw among the sea of angry faces.
And a hush falls over the crowd as he stands a man alone.

Surrounded by his books the pages slowly come alive,
Wand’ring, tortured, there is one way for a hero to survive:
Beneath the armour of a knight (with a limping horse and mule)
To stand before the giants and all at once become the fool.
And a hush falls over the crowd as the hero stands alone.

Peeling paper, dusty curtains in a large abandoned room
A girl’s reflection changes to reveal an uffish plume.
Trapped beneath the surface of an ever-changing world,
Crying, screaming, and repeating with the hopes of being heard.
And a hush falls over the crowd as the young girl stands alone.

Return now to the old man whose past friends are gone or blind,
Does he teach us of the dangers of a storm-beguiled mind?
Or the hero and the young girl bravely walking hand-in-hand
Is there only so much madness that we’re able to withstand?
And a hush falls over the stage as the crowd now stands alone.

But that’s not all! Since we received SO many beautiful and funny poems, we’ll also be giving away a pair of tickets to each of our 2ndplace, 3rd place and honorable mention winners to any preview performance in April or May.

In second place: congratulations to Meg Cormack!

MMXIV

Thou, the stage, art my goddess as it seems,
Eternity given into our eyes,
Swift as shadows where words become our dreams.

To dream the impossible is what deems,
Beggary in love reckoned through the cries:
Thou, the stage, art my goddess as it seems.

While through the looking-glass surely redeems,
A life of sweet, sweet, sweet poison and lies,
Swift as shadows where words become our dreams.

Through salad days and midsummer night schemes,
The world confesses its everyday ties,
Thou, the stage, art my goddess as it seems.

From queens of hearts to the girl king extremes,
Crazy to fever to courage that flies,
Swift as shadows where words become our dreams.

With lyric and sonnet this season beams,
Themed mortality awaiting reprise,
Thou, the stage, art my goddess as it seems,
Swift as shadows where words become our dreams.

In third place: congratulations to Jeremy Gretton!

Seasoning of madness, you say?  Sounds like trouble brewing, but here’s something to stew over:
An a-salt to the senses, peppered with
King Lear’s mind gone, power gone, daughters gone – ril… but no tarra-gon.  Everything gone, or at least not all there.
Gone. Gone.  Another king, John. And a Queen, Christina – with such power to… bare,
making even Toronto politics seem tame.
Next step in this seasoning game – add just a dash of Antony, and Cleopatra, his flame.
But don’t add too much – she might be hot, but is a pain in the asp.
And Shakespeare’s Bottom, really such an ass.  But enough about Shakespeare’s bottom…
Not enough kick?  The answer?  A dancer!  They’ve got rhythm.  And don’t forget Mother Courage and Her Daughters, by Brecht.  Brecht had rhythm.  Arrhythmia, in fact.
STILL not enough kick?  We already have a donkey!  But Bottom is a bit asinine.
How about Donkey Hoté?  I mean, Don Quixote.  The Man of la Mancha is a true giant of literature.  Or perhaps a windmill, after all.
Add a pitchfork-ful of Hay … Fever.  Nothing to sneeze at, though the playwright’s a bit of a Coward.  Or at least not in his wright mind.
Add Alice to the mix, and see if you can add the March Hare to the stew … but no one could eat the entire hare!  In other words, I’ve never seen someone down the rabbit whole.
Seasoning of madness.  A recipe for disaster.
What’s that?  “Season” of madness?  I misheard?   HAHAHAHAHA. HAHA. HA.
Sorry, but I simply don’t know what a season of madness looks like.  I am play-ful, but not insane.

And our honorable mention goes to: David Rose – congratulations!

I’ve heard that at Stratford next year
Colm Feore will be playing King Lear.
And also it seems
There’ll be two separate “Dreams”
An inspiring season of Shakespeare.

It’s billed as the year of the loony.
But the “Man” being played by Tom Rooney,
King John, Tony and Cleo,
Fever, Alice and The Beaux,
Will be surely worth more than a twoney.
_________________________________________________________________________

Thank you, once again, to all of the contestants! Each and every one of you deserves praise for your poetical odes: in fact, you made choosing a winner a very tricky task. We can’t wait to welcome all of you to the Festival in 2014!