Crazy Composition Competition – the entries are rolling in!

We’ve received some amazing entries for our Crazy Composition Competition and there’s still time to submit a poem of your own for a chance to win a pair of opening night tickets for King Lear starring Colm Feore!

Shakespeare-Contest-Image

Here’s what you need to take home this amazing prize!*

In an e-mail to socialmedia@stratfordfestival.ca, please include:

  • A poem of no more than 20 lines about the Festival’s 2014 season playbill and themes. It can take the form of a Shakespearean sonnet, a haiku, a limerick, free verse – you name it!
  • Your first and last name.
  • Your mailing address, e-mail address and phone number.

Check out the amazing line-up of poems entered so far for our Crazy Composition Competition! Don’t forget that that the final day to submit an entry is December 17, 2013 at midnight!
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Written by: Diane Haggerty

This cold night we are all turning into fools and madmen
Life is short; we’re growing older. “Shall we dance, dear King?” said I, or tiptoe out…
In midsummer we have impossible dreams of Red Kings and Bastards and monks with their poison cups
But now we see only mirrors tilting, and kittens.
Load the bountiful cheeses and cherries on the wagon and count to eleven, striking the donkey that jabbers
While four lovers in a closet are dreaming of asps and swords
Perhaps I am a man, perhaps I am a woman – perhaps I am mad
And so, shaking my spear, I end with the overture.

Written by: Aidan Ware

From ancient empire Egypt to the stars of La Mancha’s past
We gaze through our looking glass

Minds in madness run, their turmoil cast

To crowds waiting in the darkness for a King

As flickering foes in the distance sing

A dream will dance upon a midsummer night stage
And rage

Like a wild soul in the blindness of fate
Blistering lovers’ lust lost
Thrones tossed

To a vortex of voices vying

In crazed confusion crying
At the edges of reason

Ragged treason

Carried with a snake or knife

Through the empty words of life
From great Egypt to La Mancha
We gaze
Where madness forces back the curtain

And plays

Written by: Dana Sorensen

“A Poet’s Madness”

With breathe of wind and dark of evening cast
Shrouds a bard as he whispers and writes
Amidst a sea of paper, blank and vast
The cause of many a sleepless night

His thoughts are fleeting, his heart is beating
Grabs at the pool of ideas in his mind
Memory fickle, his body begins heating
And madness overcomes, turns his senses blind

Calm breeze turns storm of storms, nature rages
And sweet release comes in the form of skill
He thought of the crowd, he thought of the stage
As madness seeps through body and pours through quill

He picks up page, with dawn comes mind so clear
A whisper so soft “Here resides King Leer”

Written by: Yvonne Hord

Festival madness
abounds in twenty fourteen.
Who will escape here?

Written by: Tom Valcke

I fear
King Lear
Is near.
Oh dear!

Written by: Monica Reid

Roses are red
violets are blue
bill hut was my 1st Lear
want to see number 2

Really.

Written by: David Rose

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.

Written by: Robin Bennett

Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge – Young love:
“How do I love you?
Take this Earth
And drop it into the night sky.
Wait…for a billion years.
Gather all the starlight
The Earth has seen on its journey;
Collect that starlight in a kiss;
Place that kiss upon your lips.
That is how much I love you.”

Written by: Doug Ironside

Twas Anthony danced with an Egyptian queen,
Playbills extolling an Impossible Dream
Madness of Lear offset by the mildest Colm
More Crazy for You, ‘twixt long legs and… lip balm

And there on the boards, we’ll see the courage of mothers
A tyrannical Rex, obsessed with his druthers…
The fever of Hay, Christina, the King !
On a Mid-Summer’s Night, the play’s indeed, the thing.

And speaking of Queens, we’ll have one crimson red
Calling for Alice and others to lose their dear heads
Stratagems, scheming, love, daring, piety
This new year before us, simply bursting with variety

It’s at Stratford!, kind folks, where you’ll come quite undone
For this season, there’s magic for each, everyone.

Written by: Paul Knowles

The Bard is buried in the Church of the Holy Trinity…
And equally so, deep in our consciousness
In the infinity of idea and dream,
Where life is not at all as it seems it should be,
Unless… life is to be lived as a lunacy,
And we should be watchful for questing souls
And rabbit holes
And cabbages and things that go off in the night.
Ah, then, it would be entirely right
To embrace the strange
And posture as kings
To love to excess;
To discover the range
Of impossible things
Revealed in a jest
To rage at each stage
Of our lunatic lives,
Lived larger than life
On the brightest edge of the brightest knife
That cuts clean through the madness.

Written by: Gary Nichols

A Tender Leaf

Tumbling leaf a rolling along
What a proud tree you are from
Now the breeze indeed determines you must dance
traveling beyond this worldly scene
Oh how angels show up sometimes
in the fall gusts that blow a prancing leaf

Once  two brave and splendid lovers sat under your tree
The cold and rain a coming
They cared not

Cupid’s dart was set

The forest shrouded the ensconced ones

There true love radiant among the verdure

But that was from another long ago age
And the love of my life is gone
The gods have swept you up and turned you to the wind
a gentle leaf a dancing and prancing in the falling gusts
reminds me of our Fall in Stratford where lovers swoon

Written by: Anastasia K. Nakis

If love be merely a madness
Then Stratford be thy true north
In coming year fast approaching
Be one with kings, sprites and ghosts.
Their pain is real as you and I
Their vast expressions never lie
With passion, sex and dreams alike
Their follies do blanket the night.
Though courtship may not be as it seems
The mirror proves illusory
Through eyes of young girl in love
A boy will capture but a dove.
So come be one with heroes and foes
Walk the plank and smell the rose
Though it be madness I must see
How it shapes and animates thee.

Written by: Sheila Brown

The Madness of Driving

The madness of driving
On a Tuesday night
To Stratford with
The Boy and the Girl
Teaching them to love the theatre
The beautiful noise
An enchanted night and then.
Return to home
The same Tuesday night
Richer by far
I roll down the windows
On the highway
The wind takes us home.

Written by: Sookie Mei

Stratford Fest productions in the year twenty fourteen
Will be amongst the CRAZIEST the town has ever seen
The theme of Madness will prevail, with Minds Pushed to the Edge
As if all sanity has gone and jumped off of a ledge!

The Shakespeare fans will marvel at the madness of King Lear
and how the love-mad Antony holds Cleopatra dear
King John will see the lunacy of fam’ly bickering
And “Dream” just makes insanity of every one and thing!

The title says it all in Stratford’s show Crazy For You
La Mancha’s Don Quixote feels the pull of madness, too
The Beaux’ Strategem brings some Restoration lunacy
And Alice, Through the Looking Glass is nuts as she can be!

Remaining characters who feel their minds have gone awry
Are Mother Courage and her kids – with chaos they will lie
Christina tips convention on its head with manic ease
And Hay Fever will drive you mad with efforts not to sneeze!

So, all in all, the newest plays include insanity
Which makes them quite appealing to a crazy girl like me!!
I’m sure the crowds will love the shows, if only just to see
Compared to these mad people, they’re as sane as sane can be!

Written by: Shannon Murray

What common thread unites the varied stories Of lovers, lunatics, and fairy kings, Of greatness lost and falls from former glories, Minds on the edge, the shocks betrayal brings?

Misguided lovers wander through the wood; Youth disappointed, age cut off from aid, The public peace is lost for private good, Monsters disguised as windmills, plots well laid, Eyes gouged, snake bites, and bestial transformation— Some clarity when mind and nature stormed — A ruler’s failings make a failing nation:

All blinded, all misguided, all transformed.

But madmen, lovers, dreamers meet in this:

Through suffering alone we catch at bliss.

Written by: Vince Kennedy

EmmEmmExeEyeVee

White swans will loose their relevance admist the crowds
Pushing forward to see Sullen get pursued
The Church will shudder from the froth of gossip
As Aldonza is assaulted and Alice’s transformation takes a twist
Of the knife, gritty as the bent emotions of Cordelia, daughter
And Polly better have rhythm, and the Blisses a nor’easter bluster
For in Christina who dallies with those she should not
Will be found the bittersweet  of Balzac’s  creamy croc
While Constance continues to tilt for son and pope
The old Man’s accused, he witnessed Hermia elope,
Heard Courage damn her fate and felt the ripples of the Nile
As Cleo stepped onto that royal bark, taking risk sublime
Stratford festoons with senses divine
And burghers sit back, and watch from behind.
All the while, the rivulet runs on, looking for the sea
And the pigeons regret not seeing the toss
Of the last crumbling piece from the Prune’s cake boss.
Infirmity of the mind is the only escape
From present’s tyranny,
And only the mad and the dead are truly ever free.

Written by: Shadi Hanna

The stage lights low, a tale foretold.
A story of a king who once ruled with heart.
A man once rich in bounties and gold.
Three daughters, now each being given a part.
Plot unaware of the dangers ahead.
As our characters strive to live life at its best.
Emotionally scarred, leaving a man’s sanity for dead.
A body remains, God takes all the rest.
A soul-searching journey to find memories gone by.
Tip-toeing a path on the brink of despair.
Sorting through history, the truth and the lie.
Finding place in the world, a glory so rare.
A struggle so common, but historically placed.
The life of King Lear, now truly being faced.

Written by: Michelle Ecker

When, in disgrace with the state of movies, I at home beweep my theatreless state And trouble Shakespeare up in Heaven with my bootless cries And look upon my Elizabethan abridged set and curse my theatreless fate, Wishing me like to one more rich in sophisticated entertainment, Featured like the Avon theatre proscenium stage, like her with Man of La Mancha tickets possess’d, Desiring this man’s money and that woman’s car, With silly comedies and lame comic book movies contented least; Yet in the movie theatre myself almost despising, Happily I think on seeing King Lear at Stratford, and then my state, Like at the first glimpse of a Stratford swan at break of day arising From right here north of Toronto, recites soliloquies at the thought of entering Stratford’s gate; For Colm Feore’s acting remember’d such wealth brings That then I await the thought of sharing the theatre with kings.

Written by: Anne Sigrist

Madness is the theme this year
and will include a king named Lear.

Each play will be its own illusion
of love and lust and self delusion.

So rich a subject to explore,
psychosis, rage and so much more

that’s out of sync, beyond control,
that takes you down the rabbit hole

to question what is dream or true
and analyze all that you knew.

Obsessive thoughts, compulsive deeds.
In spite of you, you know it leads

to mysteries of minds and hearts,
where reason ends and madness starts.

Written by: Donna Latham

CRAZY FOR YOU, FESTIVAL

I’m Crazy for You, Festival.
I’m mad about the plays.
So Fever’d for you, Festival,
I’ll theatre-hop for days.

I’m dotty for both A and C,
A loon for Looking Glass,
Demented for Beaux’ Strategem,
And dream I love an ass.

I’m simply gaga for King John,
Cuckoo for Christina,
Just screaming mad for Shakespeare’s Lear—
You know what I mean-a.

I’m so loco for LaMancha,
Mental for Ma Courage,
Besotted with you, Festival—
Look! There’s Richard Burbage!

I’m Crazy for You, Festival.
I’m howling at the moon.
They’re coming to take me away
To hear your fanfare soon.

Written by: Daniel Coo

Come sit, amidst the swirl of Flibberdigibits and
A giant’s windmilling limbs.
How fearful and dizzy to cast one’s eyes about-
One dame is carting about, another is taking delivery
Of a basket of worms.
I can trust not those cunning waters of mine eyes,
The midway air choked by song
Or carpenters and kings, and
Half way down hangs one who gathers
Muskrose and eglantine.
Those who walk the Avon shore appear like mice
And yond barge soundeth a brassy tune.
I’ll look long, should even my brain turn
And admit not deficient sight nor stopped ears,
But a love resting crazy for thou.

Written by: 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.

Written by: 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.

Written by: 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.

Written by: E. Gay Gretton

It’s a season of madness, minds pushed to the edge
Some comic, some fantasy, tragic
Twelve plays and musicals, souls to engage
And experience Stratford’s fine magic.

There are kings, Lear and John, and Girl King Christina
And Queen Cleopatra from far
Mother Courage and children where virtue brought death
And the Man of La Mancha’s a star.

Come raise a cheer to impossible dreams,
Of men like Bob Child, Don Quixote,
You will see I’ve got rhythm, they’re crazy for you
As long as they don’t think we’re dotty!

Come and dream in midsummer or peer through the glass
Of Alice to see what is there
Or laugh at the folly of Archer and Aimwell
And the Bliss family if you dare.

And you may find this madness has wisdom beneath
And lessons to teach us, each one.
For we are all human with flaws of our own
But it’s perfectly clear – we’ll have fun!

Written by: Janine Marley

A Sonnet for Stratford 2014

The mind plays tricks only our eyes can see,
Blind is the rest of the world to that sight.
How real it seems, how high the cliffs may be,
Or castle walls from which young boys take flight.
The precipice, the void lie straight ahead.
The darkness, all consuming, it calls for
One final victim. For one to be dead
Is for one to need to suffer no more.
But oh! to feel the pangs of true love!
To blush and sigh and sing as lovers do.
To praise the Gods who bless us from above,
And dance with faeries in the morning dew.
Though a merry madness may take us far,
Not all are mad, but the best people are!

Written by: Danielle Eyer

Consume Me, Madness

Consume me, madness, in thy holy flames
that I may rest awhile in thy restraint
and dream Egyptian queens to deadly dames
that they may perish fools, and I, a saint.
Though through the looking glass we drift,
though Cupid prick us with its potent bud,
our mind must be aware, and our feet swift
that madness may not sweep us in its flood.
When th’oceans pale my lips to sickly shade,
or fire flush the iv’ry from my cheek,
avenge me with thy cruel and vorpal blade
that I may flee by cover of mystique.
Though madness may be nigh, a storm to come,
escape reports to others, not to some.

Written by: Jessica Seguin

Theatre life, a form of madness is,
With gowns of seeming silk and backward days;
Despite the changing scene of all show biz,
T’is still a voice for those with things to say.
Within this stagéd world, the lies speak truth;
Behind the gilded curtain of love feigned,
A glimpse of heart and soul for aged and youth;
A mad world, yes, but that’s what makes it sane.
My clouds of acting madness here amassed,
My eyes a-fixed to Stratford’s faméd stage
Where dwell mad Kings and Spanish knights and Glass
Through which a wond’rous land of chess doth rage.
This life of joys and woes, madness may be –
To Stratford, thanks. Such madness is for me.

Written by: Laurie Blackley

Let Madness Reign

First we shall sing about theatre and Polly,
an Impossible Dream that appears as sheer folly.

Now comes the family of wails and kisses;
It may seem like chaos but surely is Blisses.

Next through the glass for an odd game of chess;
Twas brillag with mimsy and strange backwardness.

Now madness for money, woman adored,
Seems tumult of passion but all is Restored.

Ah, here are the fairies magically playing,
confounding the forest with giddily braying.

Desire and lust do unhinge the mind;
destruction of both; in death now entwined.

And where do ambition and fear make rest?
In a cup of poison and a life undressed.

How dare this girl Queen be reckless and bold?
The freedom she seeks only time will unfold.

We see fever of war where children do die;
So grinds away life as unceasing sigh.

And last, behold the madding of his heart:
Lear cradles Cordelia as worlds come apart.

Written by: Nikki McQueen

Abyss

The essence of life becomes fleeting, emotive, ever changing
The illusion becomes a raving, rampant monster of addled lunacy

Our inferno paths burn bright with turbulent, frenzied and wild abandonment

Our dreams of reality become extinguished through the eternal windmills of time

Infinite, chaotic

Extinguish the maddening and intermittent pathos

Temper the raging beast within.

Written by: Hannah Hoogendam

There lies a great town on the Avon
That every summer puts plays on.
I go every year
with friends who are dear
And we share in the joy as we rave on (about how great the plays are).

Written by: Dallas Gow

There once was a girl named Cordelia,
Who refused to expound her regphilia.
She was treated like heck,
‘Til she swung from her neck.
Poor girl had it worse than Ophelia!

There once was an earl from Gloucester,
Whose second son was nearly a foster.
His way smelled to Dover,
To throw himself over,
Lo his first son had been an imposter!

There once was a king of old England,
Who split in two parts his fine kingdom.
He wasn’t so bad,
‘Til he went barking mad,
Then he tore off his clothes and it killed ‘im.

There once was a cruel duke named Cornwall,
Whose ambition did drive him to conquer all.
He gouged out two eyes,
Was stabbed; then he died.
And his widow was knocked off by Goneril.

Written by: Emma Smith

Now let us find the point of connection

A dazzling love affair with the stage
A courage that reaches across the lines
Ambition resonates on the offbeat

Illusion is too quick to be outpaced
Genius dwells among the doomed and the lost
And the redness follows, not far behind

The giddiest heights are reached in the dark
Hilarity diverts the eccentrics
Still, a dream might drown whatever remains

What is it really, if not delusion?

Written by: Jacob Bildy

Next year, you’ll see at Stratford’s Festival,
Tragedies and histories, and some more –
Dramas, comedies here to enthrall,
All those listeners who do adore
Crazy men in suits of gilded armour,
And quaint white rabbits wearing monocles,
Battles and tricks and deceptions and more –
And flittering fairies quite magical.
So different and yet so similar
Are Alice, Antony and Alonso.
All dreamers, all wishers, these titular
Characters, who have goals which, to their woe
Aren’t always easy, but their journey
Is put to words – to script – for all to see.
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*Please note that your poem will be shared on our social channels for others to read. Failure to include any of the information requested above will render your submission null and void. Current Festival staff members are ineligible to submit an entry.

Press Release | Stratford Festival sees largest jump in attendance since 1999

November 20, 2013… With a ticket sales increase of 11% – the largest since 1999 – the Festival regained valuable ground in 2013, exceeding the season’s goals. Attendance reached more than 480,000, generating revenue from ticket sales of $29.7 million. Though it’s very early days, the trend seems to be continuing with advance sales to Members up 11% for 2014.

In addition to being a smashing success at the box office, Antoni Cimolino’s first season as Artistic Director was also a huge critical success, winning acclaim from critics almost across the board. Five of the season’s 12 productions were extended to meet the demand for tickets, including Mr. Cimolino’s sold-out production of Mary Stuart, which was extended an unprecedented four times.

“We feel we’ve made a great start in turning things around,” said Executive Director Anita Gaffney, reflecting on her first season as the Festival’s top administrator. “Antoni programmed an amazing season featuring repertoire with great appeal to our audiences and we implemented a number of initiatives to encourage longer visits, draw new audience members and bring back lapsed patrons. I’m relieved and delighted these initiatives resonated with people and succeeded on so many fronts.”

The new Forum was enormously popular, attracting nearly 30,000 people to the 150 events held throughout the 2013 season. The Forum was conceived to make a visit to the Festival a more immersive experience, giving theatregoers an opportunity to more deeply explore and discuss the themes of the plays. Figures show that 47% of those who attended The Forum bought more performance tickets than they did the previous year. In addition to accomplishing its goal of solidifying the Festival’s relationship with existing patrons, The Forum also attracted a new audience, with 13% of overall attendance coming to the Festival expressly for Forum events. (As The Forum was designed to enhance the Stratford experience, it was budgeted as a break-even project. Neither the $340,000 it generated in revenue nor its attendance numbers are included in the figures quoted above.)

“We are so pleased to see attendance growing once more,” says Mr. Cimolino, “but what has been even more gratifying is our audience’s response to the season. Time and again, people have come to me to thank me for creating an experience that stimulates them not just emotionally but intellectually and spiritually as well; for presenting plays they aren’t able to see elsewhere; and for providing them with a place to discuss the productions through The Forum. To hear that we’re heading in a positive direction and then to see that reflected at the box office makes our work all the more rewarding as we prepare for 2014.”

Growth was seen across the board, with the following notable increases:

  • Lapsed patrons (who have not attended in five years) up 76%.
  • New customers up 46%.
  • School sales up 20%.
  • U.S. attendance up 8% – the first increase since it began to decline in 2003.
  • Canadian attendance up 13%.

In 2013, a number of new initiatives were introduced to make the Festival more accessible to a broader section of the population and to allow a greater number of people to see multiple performances, giving them a richer experience.

“We wanted to make the Festival as accessible as possible,” says Ms Gaffney. “To that end, we introduced the bus between Toronto and Stratford, which not only brought more people to the Festival but also made it easier for people to make multiple visits.

“We also extended special ticket savings as soon as our box office opened rather than waiting to offer last-minute discounts. As a result we saw an increase in the number of shows patrons were attending, as well as an increase in the number of new and returning patrons. There was also an additional benefit: in recent years we had observed a trend toward last-minute ticket purchases, but this year we were encouraged to see slightly earlier buying behaviour. We will be adding to our incentives to bolster these trends.”

The new Stratford Direct bus service running twice daily from Toronto at a price of just $20 round trip was a huge success. Roughly 15,000 people used the service, and they bought $1 million worth of tickets. As hoped, the bus helped attract new patrons – 53% of those riding the bus had not been to the Festival before. It also lured a number of patrons back to the Festival: 13% of riders had not attended in two or more years. Inspired by this success, the Festival is launching a bus service from Detroit three times a week in 2014.

The Festival introduced two-for-one Tuesdays in 2013. This incentive provided an opportunity for almost 12,000 additional people to attend a performance at the Festival, and 32% of people who took advantage of the two-for-one offer were first-time visitors. The offer drove a 30% increase in Tuesday attendance, along with a 6% increase in Tuesday revenue over 2012. As a result of its success, the program will be extended to include Thursdays in 2014.

The Festival also started a loyalty program in 2013, which featured special acknowledgements, perks and selected incentives for its best customers. People targeted by the program purchased $3.7 million more in tickets than they did the previous year.

Meanwhile, existing incentives also saw increased sales, including Play On, which offers 16- to 29-year-olds $25 tickets to selected performances – up 57% – and the Family Experience, which offers $36 tickets to children 18 and younger attending with an adult – up 39%.

In addition to extending two-for-one Tuesdays and adding the Detroit bus, the Festival is introducing the following programs and incentives:

  • Playcare, a weekend afternoon babysitting service for children 4 to 10 years old, offered through the Stratford Y at just $15.
  • A family concierge in the Avon lobby to assist with children’s needs.
  • Sundays with the Bard, $45 tickets for Sunday matinées of King Lear and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Festival Theatre.
  • The Dream Deal, a $99 advance purchase package with tickets to both Chris Abraham’s and Peter Sellars’s versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • The Lucky 29 ticket lottery, sponsored by Sun Life Financial, offering $29 balcony seats to non-musicals at the Festival and Avon theatres.
  • Teacher Ticket Deals, offering discounts for teachers to preview plays for student attendance or enjoy a performance on their own.

The 2013 attendance figure of 480,232 represents an 11% increase over 2012’s attendance of 432,240. In 2011, attendance dipped below 500,000 for the first time in almost 20 years, hitting 455,044.

Tickets for the 2014 season went on sale to Members of the Stratford Festival on November 11. Sales to the general public begin on January 4. For more information, or to place an order, visit www.stratfordfestival.ca or call 1.800.567.1600.

The 2014 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.

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PRESS RELEASE | Playwrights, directors and actors take part in In Vitro: Airings from the Laboratory

October 15, 2013… Join us October 15 to 19 for In Vitro: Airings from the Laboratory, a free series of discussions, demonstrations and dialogue emerging from the inaugural season of the Laboratory, the Festival’s new research and development program for artistic experimentation and exploration.

The Laboratory has provided space for our artists, artisans and staff to participate in master classes with special guest artists and exploratory workshops using rehearsal processes and performance styles from around the world. This special end-of-season series allows our company members to share some of their discoveries. Demonstrations of the work will be accompanied by dialogues and open discussions with the playwrights, directors and actors who have been instrumental in the creative process.

“I believe that exploration and innovation are at the centre of the Festival,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “The idea behind the Laboratory is to provide opportunities not only to experiment with different ways of examining great classic texts but also to explore new large-scale works as well. The Lab is for our artists what the Forum is for our audiences: a transformational experience that provokes curiosity and discussion while enabling us all to enjoy theatre in a deeper and more dynamic way. I am incredibly proud of the work done in this program and cannot wait to share it with the public.”

Join us for a series of informal gatherings hosted by Keira Loughran, Creative Associate for Special Projects, and Bob White, Director of New Plays.

In Vitro: Airings from the Laboratory
Avon Rehearsal Hall 1, enter through the Studio Theatre
10 a.m. – noon, October 15 – 19
Admission is free. Space is limited, so please reserve a ticket through the box office, 1.800.567.1600 or stratfordfestival.ca/invitro.

Tuesday, October 15
Traditions and Trajectories
What is the history of Stratford as a place of innovation? How do we walk the line artistically between tradition and evolution? Join directors and company members, including Patricia Collins and Brian Tree, in an examination of where we – the Stratford Festival – come from and a look at where we – the Stratford Festival – might go to continue to embrace the global diversity of our country and expand our craft.

Wednesday, October 16
The Power of Play
Through moderated discussion with actors and directors and a hands-on demonstration led by Varrick Grimes and Andrew Shaver, this session will examine the role of games and play within a process and within a production. How do they impact the actor’s engagement or responsibility? What is the place of play within a “set” production?

Thursday, October 17
Classic Women in Contemporary Times
Join director Heather Davies and company members, including Carmen Grant, Kate Hennig and Michelle Giroux, in a discussion of the roles for women within the classical canon and the possibilities and challenges offered in cross-gender casting.

Friday, October 18
Original Practices
This session will centre on the reflections and discoveries made through the textual approach used by Tim Carroll in our production of Romeo and Juliet, discoveries made in the Forum event on Original Pronunciation, and Coffee and a Scroll – led by company member Kaitlyn Riordan and Shakespeare in the Ruff, in which company members will explore original staging practices believed to be used in Shakespeare’s time through a spontaneous staging of an edited Henry VI, Part 3. Donations will be taken for the Actor’s Fund of Canada.

Saturday, October 19
The Making of Meaning
Join directors Varrick Grimes, Thomas Morgan Jones, Clare Preuss and Kate Hennig as we explore the diverse processes of devising work; creating work without a script, the job of the actor within that process, the proposition of non-text based narrative, and navigating the means of storytelling.

 

The Stratford Festival’s 2013 season runs until October 27, featuring Romeo and JulietFiddler on the RoofThe Three MusketeersThe Merchant of VeniceTommyBlithe SpiritOthelloMeasure for MeasureMary StuartWaiting for GodotTaking Shakespeare and The Thrill.

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Romeo and Juliet – The Rehearsal Blogs Pt. II

Live theatre is never static. From its early rehearsal days to its grand opening and subsequent run of performances, the life of a show evolves. How do the actors keep each performance fresh, while honouring the director’s vision? The Education Department has asked some actors from this season’s production of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Tim Carroll, to share with us their experiences and discoveries while rehearsing and performing the play.

Skye Brandon plays Benvolio in this season’s production. He shares with us some of his behind-the-scenes experiences during the run of Romeo and Juliet.
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by Skye Brandon

We are now nearing the end of the 2013 season and I’m finding it hard to believe how far our Romeo and Juliet has come since we started rehearsals back in late February. I don’t know that I’ve ever been part of a show that has remained as faithful to the director’s vision, while at the same time grown in leaps and bounds.

From Left: Daniel Briere as Romeo, Skye Brandon as Benvolio, and Tyrone Savage as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet. Photo by David Hou.

From Left: Daniel Briere as Romeo, Skye Brandon as Benvolio, and Tyrone Savage as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet. Photo by David Hou.

One of the biggest changes we had to deal with was the loss of our Lord Capulet. The very talented Scott Wentworth ended up taking on the role of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice when Brian Bedford had to step out for health reasons. For a number of weeks Scott was getting his Shylock ready while still playing Capulet as well as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. You could see the fatigue wearing him down. So eventually the decision was made to release Scott from Romeo and Juliet, which meant Wayne Best took over as Capulet, Robert King became Montague and André Morin became Abraham. There is no doubt in my mind that we were able to make that transition so easily because of the rehearsal process we had with our director, Tim Carroll. He told us, and reminded us throughout the season, that although he gave us specific guidelines in how to approach the text, he still wants us to keep exploring and ultimately have fun while we do it. That approach has prepared the ensemble for anything.

And we have been having fun performing this show, despite the fact that it is a tragedy. No two shows are exactly the same. For me personally, I’ve had a couple of performances where I changed my entrance (when I knew it wouldn’t affect the previous scene); and I had the realization just over halfway through our run that during Capulet’s feast we could ask any lady to dance. We all learned the same choreography, so what was to stop us from asking someone different to dance each show? Something as simple as changing dance partners has prevented that large group scene from becoming automatic. We honestly don’t know how the dance is going to end up.

And there has been nothing automatic about the scenes either. It may not seem different to audience members who have seen the show more than once, but actors are continually exploring the text and trying slightly different approaches to the delivery. All while honouring Tim’s direction.

This production has been an absolute pleasure to be in. It could be a very long time until I get another chance to be a part of a true ensemble.

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Want to read more?

Daniel Briere plays Romeo in this season’s production of Romeo and Juliet. He shares with us his first-day experience of being on the “Tanya Stage,” and the various exercises involved in understanding the power of the narrative and the importance of connecting with the audience and his fellow actors. Click here to read his full blog.

PRESS RELEASE | Berthold Carrière named Director of Music Emeritus

October 7, 2013… The Stratford Festival has named Berthold Carrière to the honorary position of Director of Music Emeritus. Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino made the appointment official at the Festival’s loyal service dinner on October 6, 2013.
 
“Bert has made an enormous contribution to music at Stratford,” says Mr. Cimolino. “It was under his tenure that the performance of musicals became such a source of strength and renown for our Festival. He is also, to my mind, one of the very finest composers for the theatre. He is especially gifted in setting Shakespeare’s words to music. In his settings, the words and their meaning never seemed so clear and touching. And his melodies sweetly stay in your mind as a fond memory to savour.
 
“Bert’s kind personality, his generosity and his care for the Festival have made him not only an important composer and conductor but also a leader who brought humanity to our artistic ambitions. I am delighted to celebrate his contribution by recognizing him as Director of Music Emeritus.”
 
Mr. Carrière, who served as Director of Music from 1975 to 2007, first joined the Festival as a conductor in 1973 and the following year wrote the music for the new Sandra Jones play Ready Steady Go at the Third Stage (now the Tom Patterson Theatre). He went on to compose or arrange the music for more than 80 Stratford productions, including five that were New York-bound: 1984’s The Mikado, 1998’s Much Ado About Nothing and The Miser, 2004’s King Lear and 2009’s The Importance of Being Earnest.
 
With the resurgence of musical theatre at Stratford in the 1980s, Mr. Carrière’s responsibilities expanded to include auditioning of singers, reviewing music projects and working with directors and choreographers such as Brian Macdonald, Michael Lichtefeld and Donna Feore. He served as musical director and conductor for a string of enormously successful Gilbert and Sullivans, including: H.M.S. PinaforeThe Gondoliers and Iolanthe, all of which were broadcast on CBC; The Pirates of Penzance; and The Mikado, which in addition to its run on Broadway also toured to The Old Vic in London, was broadcast across Canada on CBC and on A&E in the U.S.
 
More recently, he was Musical Director for a number of hit musicals at the Festival, including The Sound of Music (2001), My Fair Lady (2002), Oliver! (2006), South Pacific(2006) and My One and Only (2007).
 
Prior to joining the Festival, Mr. Carrière was Music Director at the Banff School of Fine Arts, Theatre London and the Ottawa Little Theatre. He arranged and conducted music for CBC radio and television and taught in the Ottawa area. In 1967, Canada’s Centennial, he conducted for the Dominion Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in the presence of the Queen. He wrote the music for the popular 1982 television miniseries Little Gloria…Happy at Last.
 
Mr. Carrière was awarded a Special Tribute Guthrie Award in 1975; two Doras (for The Boy Friend, 1981, and The Mikado, 1987); and the University of Western Ontario’s Alumni Professional Achievement Award (2000). In 2001 he was named a member of the Order of Canada, and he was given the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003.

A big 2013 thank you!

We’ve had an amazing 2013 season and there are still four weeks left to come out and enjoy some of our theatrical offerings! From fun with our “Brush up your Shakespeare” contest, to a hilarious Facebook social summary of Romeo and Juliet, to our epic Pinballapalooza where we set a Guinness World Record, to a beautiful opening week and a fabulous run of 12 shows to our three social media meet-ups, we’ve had an absolute blast celebrating our 61st season with you! We can’t begin to say thank you enough for all of your support online and in person throughout the past season.

As a small token of our appreciation, we’d like to offer you $29 tickets for any performance of Romeo and Juliet, The Three Musketeers and Blithe Spirit for the rest of the season!

Here’s a look at these three productions!

Blithe Spirit - On The Run 2013
Here’s what you need to do to take advantage of this amazing offer:

1) Log into our website with promotion code 51453.
2) Select any of the performances listed above.
3) Select your seats and check out.

OR

1) Visit our Facebook page and click on the Stratford Social Ticket tab.
2) Select any of the performances listed above.
3) You’ll be directed to the “Select Your Own Seat” page. To take advantage of our $29 ticket price, enter promotion code 51453 in the “Have a Promo Code” box and click “Apply.”
4) Select your seats and check out.

We’ll see you at the theatre!

Bring home a small piece of the theatre with you! Our Theatre Store is having a fantastic 20%-off end-of-season sale – preserve some of your favourite moments with one-of-a-kind mementos! Click here for full sale details.

* Offer is not transferable and may expire without notice. Not valid in conjunction with any other promotion or on previously purchased tickets and excludes group orders (15 tickets or more to one performance date). Tickets available in A, B and C seating zones. Performances, casting, dates and pricing subject to change without notice. All prices exclude tax and handling fees. Offer is only available online or through Stratford Social Ticketing.