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!


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

In an e-mail to, 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!

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


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


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


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


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


‘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


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.

*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.

Crazy Composition Competition – Write to win a pair of opening night tickets!

Let the madness of creativity take hold: enter our Crazy Composition Competition for a chance to win a pair of opening night tickets for King Lear!


Anticipation is growing for our 2014 season, and we can’t wait to present the twelve stunning productions this coming year as we explore the theme of Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge. Our Artistic Director, Antoni Cimolino, has carefully selected a playbill that has something for everyone.  Shakespeare lovers will be mad for King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, King John and two wildly different versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, while musical aficionados will go nuts for Crazy for You and Man of La Mancha. The merry madness continues with Restoration comedy making its first return to our stages in over a decade with The Beaux’ Stratagem. Rounding out the lunacy – ranging from the fantastical to the highly dramatic – is Alice Through the Looking-Glass, Hay Fever, Mother Courage and Her Children and Christina, The Girl King.

We will give you and a friend opening night tickets to King Lear on May 26, 2014, two Shakespeare-lover’s journals and two copies of King Lear. All you have to do for a chance to win this unique experience is to put quill to parchment… (Okay, okay – pen to paper or fingers to your keyboard!) …and write a few lines of poetry.

Watch here as Colm Feore discusses the madness of Lear in King Lear!

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

In an e-mail to, 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.

The deadline for submissions is December 17, 2013 at midnight.

Your poems will be read and reviewed by a panel of Festival staff members, and the top submission will win the prize package to be awarded on December 19, 2013.

We have a season full of inspiration and a pair of tickets waiting for you, so sit down, summon up your most maniacal Muse and unleash your inner poet!

*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 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.


PRESS RELEASE | Colm Feore returns to play King Lear | Festival announces key casting for 2014

October 22, 2013… Colm Feore will be returning to the Stratford Festival for the first time in five years, to play the title role in King Lear. Directed by Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, it is the production that will open the 2014 season. Mr. Feore will also play Archer in Mr. Cimolino’s production of The Beaux’ Stratagem.



Mr. Feore joins an outstanding group of lead and principal players, including: Graham Abbey, Sarah Afful, Maev Beaty, Evan Buliung, Ben Carlson, Patricia Collins, Cynthia Dale, Sara Farb, Josh Franklin, Jonathan Goad, Martha Henry, Brad Hodder, Bethany Jillard, Dion Johnstone, Chilina Kennedy, Trish Lindström, Tom McCamus, Yanna McIntosh, Seana McKenna, Mike Nadajewski, Stephen Ouimette, Lucy Peacock, Chick Reid, Liisa Repo-Martell, Tom Rooney, Tara Rosling, Steve Ross, Mike Shara, Brian Tree, Scott Wentworth, Geraint Wyn Davies and Jenny Young.

“I am delighted that Colm is able to be with us to take on the commanding role of Lear,” says Mr. Cimolino. “2014 promises to be a thrilling year onstage. We have in our leading roles a number of actors who are at the height of their powers. This extraordinary ensemble will give us moments of both cathartic sadness and giddy joy as we explore the many faces of madness presented through this playbill.”



Stephen Ouimette to play the Fool to Colm Feore’s Lear


Stephen Ouimette will play the Fool to Colm Feore’s Lear in Antoni Cimolino’s production of King Lear, which will officially open the 2014 Stratford Festival on May 26.

Scott Wentworth, who starred as Tevye, Shylock and Capulet in 2013, will return to play Gloucester. Evan Buliung will play his son, Edgar, and Brad Hodder, his bastard son, Edmund. Jonathan Goad will play the Earl of Kent.

After making her Stratford debut as Shylock’s daughter, Jessica, Sara Farb will take on the role of Cordelia, while Stratford newcomers Maev Beaty and Liisa Repo-Martell will play Goneril and Regan, respectively.

Audiences have been eagerly awaiting Mr. Feore’s return to the Stratford stage since he starred as Macbeth and Cyrano de Bergerac in 2009. In addition to those title roles, he has also played Don Juan, Coriolanus, Hamlet, Romeo and Richard III. In fact, with Lear, he will have played as many title roles at Stratford as the great Christopher Plummer. His talent crosses not only borders but media, with starring roles in film, television and on stage. His television work includes featured roles in The Borgias, Revolution, The Good Wife and Saving Hope, while his film credits include Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, Clint Eastwood’s Changeling and the Oscar-winning film Chicago, which also won the 2003 SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture. He will next be seen in Marc Webb’s upcoming sequel to The Amazing Spiderman.

Josh Franklin and Chilina Kennedy take the leads in Crazy for You


Josh Franklin will make his Stratford debut as Bobby Child and Chilina Kennedy will return to Stratford to play Polly Baker in Donna Feore’s production of Crazy for You. Tom Rooney will play Bela Zangler.

Mr. Franklin is currently starring as Billy Crocker in the first national touring production of Kathleen Marshall’s Tony-winning revival of Anything Goes. His previous credits include the Broadway casts of Anything Goes, Ghost, Legally Blonde and Grease as well as in the first national tours of Jersey Boys, Grease, Disney’s On The Record and All Shook Up. Mr. Franklin has also been seen on television in Gossip Girl, The Tony Awards (2007 and 2011) and A Capitol Fourth alongside Barry Manilow, Aretha Franklin and the Sesame Street characters.

Ms Kennedy will be back on the Stratford stage for the first time since her Broadway run as Mary Magdelene in the Festival’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. She made her Stratford debut in 2009 as Maria in West Side Story and quickly became a Festival favourite, delighting audiences as Evita, Lois Lane in Kiss Me, Kate, Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Rose of Sharon in The Grapes of Wrath. Last winter, Ms Kennedy played Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest at the Neptune Theatre, and recently finished a run of the world première of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, in which she originated the role of Phoebe at Hartford Stage and The Old Globe in San Diego. The play was named best new musical of 2012 by The New York Times. This past summer she played the title role in the world première of Evangeline at the Charlottetown Festival.

Stephen Ouimette to play Bottom, with Evan Buliung and Jonathan Goad sharing roles of Titania and Oberon


Chris Abraham’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring Stephen Ouimette as Bottom, will be set in a Stratford garden in the context of a wedding at which the couple’s actor friends present their own version of the play in celebration. The concept leads to some unconventional casting, including the sharing of the roles of Titania and Oberon by Evan Buliung and Jonathan Goad, Chick Reid as Puck and Tara Rosling as Lysander. Hermia will be played by Bethany Jillard, Helena by Liisa Repo-Martell, and Demetrius by Mike Shara. Scott Wentworth will play Theseus.

Mr. Ouimette will celebrate his 20th season at Stratford in 2014, after delighting audiences this season as Lucio in Measure for Measure and Estragon in Waiting for Godot. Recent highlights of his time here include Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night, Hysterium in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Canon Chasuble in The Importance of Being Earnest and Touchstone in As You Like It. He has directed a number of Stratford productions including Timon of Athens in 2004, and has played the title roles in Hamlet, King John, Amadeus and Richard III, as well as many other leading roles. Mr. Ouimette recently gave an acclaimed performance as Harry Hope in The Iceman Cometh at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago with Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy.

Mr. Buliung was last seen at Stratford in 2011 as Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath and Roger in The Little Years. In his eight Stratford seasons, Mr. Buliung’s highlights include Mac in King of Thieves, Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet and Edgar in King Lear, a role that he will return to in 2014. His outstanding stage career includes originating the role of Khashoggi in We Will Rock You in Toronto and Aragorn in the world première of Lord of the Rings, for which he earned a Dora nomination. His other credits include Hanks in Farther West and Jamie in Long Day’s Journey into Night at Soulpepper Theatre, Macduff in Macbeth at Chicago Shakespeare, as well as numerous leading roles at the Shaw Festival.

Mr. Goad has taken on the role of Oberon before – in the Festival’s 2004 production. Needless to say he has not yet played Titania. Mr. Goad’s 2013 season featured three major roles: Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Porthos in The Three Musketeers and Gratiano in The Merchant of Venice. His previous Stratford credits include Harold Hill in The Music Man, Mark Antony in Julius Caesar, Hippolytus in Phèdre, Iago in Othello and Angelo in Measure for Measure. He also has numerous film and television credits, including Nikita, Heartland and Rookie Blue, as well as the recurring role of Christian Doyle on Republic of Doyle.

Colm Feore to be joined by Martha Henry, Lucy Peacock, Mike Shara in The Beaux’ Stratagem


In addition to playing King Lear, Colm Feore will take a comic turn as Archer in Antoni Cimolino’s production of The Beaux’ Stratagem, the first Restoration comedy presented at the Festival since 1995.

He will be joined by Martha Henry as Lady Bountiful, Lucy Peacock as Mrs. Sullen, and Mike Shara as his sidekick Aimwell. Scott Wentworth will play Mr. Sullen and Bethany Jillard, Dorinda.

Ms Henry, one of Canada’s most celebrated artists, will mark her 40th season in 2014. A Companion of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Governor General’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Ms Henry boasts a career without parallel in this country. Since beginning her Stratford adventure in 1962, Ms Henry has played nearly every female leading role in Shakespeare’s canon, and was seen most recently as the Prof in this season’s beloved production of Taking Shakespeare. Other recent acting credits include Queen Margaret in Richard III, Mme de Rosemonde in Dangerous Liaisons, the Countess of Rosillion in All’s Well That Ends Well and Hecuba in The Trojan Women. Ms Henry is also the Director of the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre.

After her stirring portrayal of Mary Stuart this season, Lucy Peacock will once again collaborate with Mr. Cimolino in 2014. In her 27 seasons, Ms Peacock’s career at Stratford has been studded with extraordinary performances, including Elora in the world première of The Thrill this season as well as Nana in For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, Audrey in As You Like It, Masha in Three Sisters and a tour-de-force performance of all of the characters in The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead. Ms Peacock is also well known as both the Creative Director and host of the popular cabaret series Late Night with Lucy. She will next be seen as Arkadina in The Seagull at the Segal Centre this February.

Since joining the company in 2009, Mr. Shara has quickly become a Festival favourite, with such memorable roles as Roderigo in Othello and Aramis in The Three Musketeers this past season, as well as Cornelius Hackl in The Matchmaker, Christian in Cyrano de Bergerac and Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest. Mr. Shara is a veteran of the Shaw Festival and has performed across the country. His television work includes Murdoch Mysteries, Little Mosque on the Prairie and Queer as Folk.



Tom Rooney to play Cervantes in Man of La Mancha with Chilina Kennedy as Aldonza


Tom Rooney, who in just six seasons has become one of the Festival’s best-loved performers, will play Cervantes in Man of La Mancha. Chilina Kennedy will play Aldonza, in addition to her lead role in Crazy for You. Steve Ross, fresh off his star turns as Uncle Ernie in Tommy and Lazar Wolf in Fiddler on the Roof, will play Sancho.

Mr. Rooney is returning for his seventh season after two acclaimed performances this season, as Angelo in Measure for Measure and Vladimir in Waiting for Godot. Festival audiences have been captivated by his richly drawn portrayals of Ensign Pistol in Henry V, Malvolio in Twelfth Night and Master Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Mr. Rooney also has a storied background in musicals, premièring the role of Robert Service in the new Canadian musical Wanderlust in 2012, and starring as Wilbur in both the Broadway and Toronto productions of Hairspray. His remarkable performance in Kristen Thomson’s Someone Else at Crow’s Theatre this past January earned him the Dora Award for Outstanding Performance.

Trish Lindström to play lead in star-studded Alice


Trish Lindström, last seen at the Festival as Miranda to Christopher Plummer’s Prospero, will return to Stratford to play the title role in Alice Through the Looking-Glass. She will be joined by Cynthia Dale as the Red Queen, Dion Johnstone as the White King, Tom McCamus as the March Hare and Brian Tree as Humpty Dumpty.

In just three seasons at Stratford, Ms Lindström has given many memorable performances in addition to her Miranda, including Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, Louise in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Lucetta in The Two Gentleman of Verona. Her extensive stage career includes Helen in Bloodless: Trial of Burke and Hare at Theatre 20, Catherine Givings in In the Next Room or the vibrator play at Tarragon Theatre and Titania/Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Soulpepper Theatre, as well as Squeaky Fromme in Assassins at TIFT/Birdland and the title role in Mimi at Tarragon, both of which earned her Dora Award nominations.

Hay Fever to feature Lucy Peacock and Cynthia Dale


Lucy Peacock continues her comic bent in 2014 playing Judith Bliss in the sparkling Noël Coward play Hay Fever. Cynthia Dale, last seen as Dorothy Brock in the 2012 hit 42nd Street, will play Myra Arundel.

Throughout her 11 seasons, Ms Dale has played many memorable leading roles including Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Maria in The Sound of Music, Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls, Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, Guenevere in Camelot, Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker and Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew. A true triple sensation, Ms Dale has worked extensively in theatre from Toronto to New York and on screen in countless television and film productions. Her wildly popular cabaret Cynthia Dale in Concert: Outside Looking In was a highlight of the Festival’s inaugural Forum this season.



Tom McCamus to play King John with Seana McKenna as Constance


Tim Carroll’s production of King John will feature Tom McCamus in the title role and will have him once more sharing the stage with Seana McKenna, who will play Constance. The two were seen together most recently in The Matchmaker and Dangerous Liaisons.

Graham Abbey, after his gripping portrayal of Iago in this season’s Othello, will play the Bastard. Patricia Collins, whose 2013 credits include a heart-rending portrayal of Hanna in The Thrill, will play Queen Eleanor.

A stalwart of the Festival stage, Mr. McCamus has given audiences a string of powerful and memorable performances, most recently including Antonio in The Merchant of Venice, Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet, Iachimo in Cymbeline, Tim Casey in The Grapes of Wrath and Le Vicomte de Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons. His beautifully drawn comedic characters include Horace Vandergelder in The Matchmaker, Captain Hook in Peter Pan and Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor. His career at Stratford stretches back to 1994, when he made his unforgettable debut as Edmund Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey into Night.

Seana McKenna to play Mother Courage; joined by Geraint Wyn Davies and Ben Carlson


Director Martha Henry says there aren’t many actresses who can take on the role of Mother Courage, but we are extremely fortunate to have such an extraordinary talent in Seana McKenna. Ms McKenna will be joined in this production by two other exceptional performers, Geraint Wyn Davies, in the role of the Cook, and Ben Carlson as the Chaplain.

After her gripping portrayal of Elizabeth in this season’s sold-out production of Mary Stuart, Ms McKenna will return for her 23rd season in 2014. Her distinguished career includes searing portrayals of some of dramatic literature’s most tragic figures, including Medea, Andromache, Phèdre, Clytemestra and Richard III. Highly regarded for her remarkable versatility, Ms McKenna has also turned in a number of memorable comedic performances, most recently including the hilarious Madame Arcati in this season’s Blithe Spirit and Dolly Levi in The Matchmaker. She has played every one of Shakespeare’s leading ladies, many of them here at Stratford, as well as his wife, Anne Hathaway, in the one-woman show Shakespeare’s Will.

Mr. Carlson will mark his seventh season at Stratford in 2014, after delighting audiences this season as Lord Burleigh in Mary Stuart and Charles in Blithe Spirit. Highlights of his time at the Festival include Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, Fluellen in Henry V, Feste in Twelfth Night, Touchstone in As You Like It, Brutus in Julius Caesar and the title role in Hamlet. He has worked throughout Canada and the United States, and spent 12 seasons at the Shaw Festival, where he is well remembered for his marathon Man and Superman, The Return of the Prodigal and All My Sons, among many other performances.

Geraint Wyn Davies and Yanna McIntosh are Antony and Cleopatra


Geraint Wyn Davies and Yanna McIntosh will once again share the stage, this time as Shakespeare’s great lovers Antony and Cleopatra, under the direction of Gary Griffin. They were last seen together in 2012, as Cymbeline and his Queen, and in 2009, as Julius Caesar and Calphurnia.

The production will also feature Ben Carlson as Octavius and Tom McCamus as Enobarbus.

Mr. Wyn Davies, featured this year as Duke Vincentio in Measure for Measure and the Earl of Leicester in Mary Stuart, as well as in the Forum series Geraint Wyn Davies Presents… “Wordplay,” will return to the Festival for his 11th season. He began his Stratford career in 1986, playing the title role in Pericles and Antipholus of Syracuse in The Boys from Syracuse, and quickly became a true Festival favourite. His most recent triumphs include Cymbeline, Stephano in The Tempest, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Polonius in Hamlet and Dylan Thomas in the one-man show Do Not Go Gentle. His stage career has taken him throughout Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. and he has dozens of film and television credits, including key roles on ReGenesis, Republic of Doyle, 24, Slings and Arrows, Airwolf and Forever Knight.

Returning for her ninth season, Ms McIntosh was last in the company in 2012, with key roles in two of the season’s most highly lauded productions, playing the Queen in Cymbeline and a powerful and highly original Elektra. Her Stratford credits also include Queen Elizabeth in Richard III, Grace in The Little Years, Hermione in The Winter’s Tale, Lady Macbeth, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Helen in The Trojan Woman and Mme. Volanges in Dangerous Liaisons. Ms McIntosh is a Dora and Gemini Award-winning actor, whose Toronto credits include Condoleeza Rice in Stuff Happens and the title roles in Mary Stuart, Hedda Gabler and Belle. She was recently nominated for the Christopher Plummer Fellowship Award of Excellence.


 Newcomer Jenny Young to play Queen Christina

Jenny Young will make her Stratford debut as the androgynous, free-thinking monarch in Michel Marc Bouchard’s Christina, The Girl King, translated by Linda Gaboriau and directed by Vanessa Porteous. The production also features Graham Abbey as Count Johan Oxenstierna.

A graduate of Studio 58 in Vancouver, Ms Young was most recently seen in the critically acclaimed satire Proud, at Ottawa’s Great Canadian Theatre Company. Her other stage credits include Frieda in The Clockmaker at the Thousand Islands Playhouse, Rhoda Dunn in The Age of Arousal at the Shaw Festival, Karen in And So It Goes at the Factory Theatre and a Maid in the world première of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, a co-production between The Royal Shakespeare Company and the Canadian National Arts Centre. She also played Ernestine in The Anger in Ernest & Ernestine at Theatre Columbus, for which she earned a Dora Nomination for Outstanding Performance.

Sarah Afful, Dion Johnstone, Trish Lindström, Mike Nadajewski present the Chamber Dream


This intimate production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, reimagined by director Peter Sellars, will feature a group of four actors playing all of the roles: Sarah Afful, Dion Johnstone, Trish Lindström and Mike Nadajewski.

Returning for her third season, Ms Afful is a recent graduate of the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre. This season, she played Mariana in Measure for Measure and appeared in Mary Stuart. Her previous Stratford credits include roles in Elektra and The Pirates of Penzance. Ms Afful’s other credits include Margaret in Much Ado About Nothing and Octavia/Iris in Antony and Cleopatra at Bard on the Beach, as well as roles in Macbeth: nach Shakespeare at Theatre Conspiracy/Gas Heart, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at Pound of Flesh/Pacific Theatre and The Eighth Land at PI Theatre. Her film and television career includes roles on Smallville, Caprica, Eureka, The Perfect Score and American Dreams.

Hot off his searing portrayal of Othello, Dion Johnstone will return to participate in Mr. Sellars’s innovative Dream project. Audiences will remember him from another Stratford Dream, the 2009 production in which he played Oberon. His other memorable performances here include Aaron in Titus Andronicus, Caliban in The Tempest, Macduff in Macbeth, Edmund in King Lear and Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird. Mr. Johnstone has a vast television career as well, including roles on Flashpoint, Defiance, The Listener and Stargate SG-1.

Mike Nadajewski will celebrate his fifth season in 2014, after delighting audiences as Peter in Romeo and Juliet and Perchik in Fiddler on the Roof this season. His Stratford highlights include Mordred in Camelot, Mike in Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris and Amiens in As You Like It. He will also be remembered for playing Peter in Jesus Christ Superstar, a role which he reprised on Broadway and at La Jolla Playhouse, and Hero in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which he reprised in a Mirvish production in Toronto. A graduate of the Birmingham Conservatory, Mr. Nadajewski is also the co-founder of Talk Is Free Theatre.

Tickets for the 2014 season will go on sale to Members of the Stratford Festival on November 11, 2013, and to the general public on January 4, 2014. To purchase tickets at that time, visit or call the box office at 1.800.567.1600.


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

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.


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.

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.


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.