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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



MEDIA ADVISORY | Coming events in Toronto, Detroit, Montreal

October 3, 2012… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival will be hosting or participating in a number of events over the coming weeks, including the following:

Wednesday, October 10
Twelfth Night screenings
Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas Street East, Toronto

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival will be doing two screenings of the 2011 film of Twelfth Night, directed by Des McAnuff, featuring Ben Carlson, Brian Dennehy and Stephen Ouimette. An afternoon screening is for invited students and teachers from the Regent Park area. It will be preceded by a workshop with two actors from the production, Cara Ricketts and Mike Shara, and followed by a question and answer period. An evening screening will be open to the public and will also be followed by a Q&A with Cara Ricketts and Mike Shara.


11:30 a.m. Pre-film workshop for students with Cara Ricketts, Mike Shara and Andrea Jackson

12:30 p.m. Screening of Twelfth Night for students from schools in the Regent Park area.

3:15 p.m. Post-film Q&A with Cara Ricketts and Mike Shara

7 p.m. Public screening of Twelfth Night

9:45 p.m. Post-film Q&A with Cara Ricketts and Mike Shara

Sunday, October 14, at 3:30 p.m.
Stratford Presents: Twelfth Night
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Film Theater

The Festival presents a screening of the 2011 production of Twelfth Night, directed by Des McAnuff, featuring Ben Carlson, Brian Dennehy and Stephen Ouimette.

Tickets and information:

Thursday, October 25, at 5:30 p.m.
McGill Shakespeare Lecture
Leacock Building, Room 232, McGill University, Montreal

Lucy Peacock will deliver an address titled Work, Prayer, Carnival: My Journey with Shakespeare. Introduction by Prof. Paul Yachnin.

Sunday, November 11, at 2 p.m.
Stratford Presents: The Tempest
Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Film Theater

The Festival presents a screening of the 2010 production of The Tempest, directed by Des McAnuff, featuring Christopher Plummer as Prospero.

Tickets and information:


Christopher Plummer’s A Word or Two starts previews

July 25, 2012…Christopher Plummer, one of theatre’s greatest classical actors, takes us on an autobiographical journey through the literature that has stirred his imagination since youth. The one-man show, which is directed by Artistic Director Des McAnuff, begins previews at the Avon Theatre on July 25.

Written, arranged and performed by Mr. Plummer, A Word or Two is a deeply personal work that focuses on the actor’s love of literature and how it has shaped his life.

“The purpose of A Word or Two is simply to celebrate language which seems to be fast vanishing from our midst,” says Mr. Plummer.  “It is very much a personal stroll through literature, a literature that has long stirred my imagination and that, for one reason or another, I cannot let go. The poetry and prose I have chosen to accompany my journey is both silly and sad, sacred and profane; ranging from A.A. Milne to the Bible; Shaw and Wilde to Coleridge and Marlowe; W.H. Auden and Nabokov to Rostand and MacLeish; Shakespeare and Byron to Nash and Leacock. It is intended not just to show the myriad of colours words can paint, but to illuminate along the way the several phases of my particular moon.”

Mr. Plummer, who this year won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his performance in the film Beginners, is one of the Festival’s most lauded alumni. This production will be the third collaboration between Mr. Plummer and Mr. McAnuff at the Festival; their first two projects, Caesar and Cleopatra, in which Mr. Plummer played Julius Caesar, and The Tempest, in which he played Prospero, have also been captured on film for cinematic release.

“I love working and spending time with Chris. He’s a great collaborator. We have a very free-wheeling kind of creative relationship, and so it’s always a great charge to work with him,” says Mr. McAnuff.

“There’s a tremendous intimacy with this piece. I think he is going to make each member of the audience feel like he’s talking only to them. I hope it stokes the audience’s appetite for great literature, inspiring them to read and, obviously, to continue to go to the theatre to listen to great actors delivering extraordinary words.”

“Christopher Plummer is one of this country’s greatest theatrical treasures and our audiences are always eager to see him on the stage,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino.  “But this production is particularly special because it offers a rare opportunity to glimpse the man himself. It will be an unforgettable and exhilarating experience to witness this deeply personal and affectionate love letter to the writers that have inspired and helped to make him the artist he is today.”

The artistic team for this production includes Set Designer Robert Brill, Lighting Designer Michael Walton, Composer Michael Roth, Video Designer Sean Nieuwenhuis, Sound Designer Peter McBoyle and Costume Consultant Paul Tazewell.

A Word or Two is sponsored by OLG.

Support for the 2012 season of the Avon Theatre is generously provided by The Birmingham Family.  Production support is graciously provided by Nona Macdonald Heaslip and John H. Whiteside.

This year, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival celebrates its 60th season, with 14 productions presented from April 12 to October 28:  Much Ado About Nothing42nd StreetThe MatchmakerHenry VYou’re a Good Man, Charlie BrownThe Pirates of PenzanceA Word or TwoCymbelineWanderlustElektraThe Best BrothersHirsch; and The War of 1812MacHomer, has concluded its run.

Festival marks anniversary with opening of Henry V

July 9, 2012… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival continues to mark its 60th season this week with the world premières of three Canadian plays and the opening of Artistic Director Des McAnuff’s production of Henry V. The Festival has been heralded recently throughout North America as a top destination for travel and culture, giving it even more reason to celebrate.

Henry V, featuring Aaron Krohn in the title role, will open on Friday, July 13, the Festival’s anniversary. Wednesday sees the opening of Wanderlust, a new musical commissioned by the Festival from Morris Panych and Marek Norman, based on the poetry of Robert Service. Daniel MacIvor’s new play The Best Brothers, workshopped at the Festival and directed by Associate Artistic Director Dean Gabourie, opens Thursday afternoon, followed that evening by Hirsch, which celebrates the life and career of former Artistic Director John Hirsch. Developed at Stratford over the past three years, Hirsch was created and conceived by Alon Nashman and Paul Thompson.

“One of my proudest achievements at the Festival is to have mounted a celebratory 60th season that features Canadian works in such abundance,” says Mr. McAnuff, who concludes his tenure as Artistic Director at the end of 2012 and was recently appointed to the Order of Canada. “Fully 50 per cent of the productions on our playbill this year are written by Canadians. They represent an enormous range of dramatic genres, showcasing the talent that has developed in Canada’s rich theatrical landscape since the founding of the Festival 60 years ago.”

“This second round of openings heralds the beginning of the summer season in Stratford,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino, who has been named the Festival’s next Artistic Director. “We have recently been showcased as a top destination by a number of influential media outlets, establishing even further the appeal of this idyllic city. We hope people recognize what an ideal vacation spot Stratford is and include a visit to the Festival in their holiday plans. This year’s productions have won critical acclaim across the board and have been delighting audiences since the season began in April.”

Inspired by the success of Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway, The New York Times visited Stratford this spring and trumpeted the joys of the city and the Festival in its travel section in June. NPR (National Public Radio) in the U.S. has chosen to include Stratford in a feature of five significant cultural destinations in North America, the only one in Canada. Frommer’s included Stratford as a Top 10 Canadian Summer Vacation Destination; Reader’s Digest featured Stratford in its Top 10 Canadian Road Trips; and Trip Advisor named Stratford one of Canada’s Top 10 Cultural Destinations. Stratford has also been chosen as an iconic Canadian experience for travel writer Robin Esrock’s upcoming book The Great Canadian Bucket List.

Next to open this season is A Word or Two, written, arranged and performed by Christopher Plummer, which is being presented as a special 60th season event. Directed by Mr. McAnuff, the production, which begins previews on July 25 and opens August 2, is an autobiographical journey through the literature that has stirred the actor’s imagination since youth. Mr. Plummer, who this year won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his performance in the film Beginners, is one of the Festival’s most lauded alumni, first appearing at Stratford in 1956 in the title role of Henry V. This will be the third collaboration between Mr. Plummer and Mr. McAnuff at the Festival; their first two projects, Caesar and Cleopatra, in which Mr. Plummer played Julius Caesar, and The Tempest, in which he played Prospero, have also been captured on film for cinematic release.

The season’s final offering, Sophokles’ Elektra, translated by Canadian poet Anne Carson, will open August 11, featuring Yanna McIntosh in the title role and Seana McKenna as Clytemestra.

In addition to Henry V, the season features two other Shakespeares – Cymbeline, directed by Mr. Cimolino, which is being praised as one of the finest ever productions of this challenging classic, and Much Ado About Nothing. Three musicals are also on stage – 42nd Street, The Pirates of Penzance, and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown – as well as Thornton Wilder’s comedy The Matchmaker, which is being hailed as the feel-good show of the year. The War of 1812, by Canadian playwright Michael Hollingsworth, opened on Canada Day, and MacHomer, created and performed by Rick Miller, enjoyed a limited engagement at Stratford in May.

The Festival marked its 60th season by publishing Stratford Behind the Scenes, a full-colour book that reveals the complexities of season planning and captures the superb artistry carried out by the Festival’s costumes, props, sets and wigs departments. An ebook of Stratford Behind the Scenes will be launched this summer.

An archival exhibition, Most Rare Visions: 60 Years of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, is open to the public daily at 104 Downie Street, across from the Avon Theatre. It features costumes, unique artefacts and props, plus rare footage and new interviews with key players in the Festival’s history

Since its founding 60 years ago, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival has welcomed more than 25 million visitors. Originally conceived as an economic stimulus for the community, the Festival now generates about $140 million in economic activity annually. It employs 1,000 people and creates 3,000 full-year jobs.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2012 season runs until October 28. To purchase tickets, visit or call 1.800.567.1600.

Festival officially launches 60th season on Monday

May 25, 2012… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival launches its 60th season on Monday, May 28, with a gala performance of Much Ado About Nothing. This is the final season under the artistic directorship of Des McAnuff, and one that promises an array of wonderful theatre for every taste and age group.

“The 60th season is representative of Stratford in all its glory,” says Mr. McAnuff, who is directing Henry V and Christopher Plummer’s A Word or Two, both of which open later in the season. “Embodying Stratford’s hallmark marriage of tradition and innovation, the Cplaybill ranges from the very roots of drama to some of the finest playwrights working in Canada today. Shakespearean comedy, history and romance are complemented by a hilarious contemporary pastiche of Shakespearean tragedy, while the season’s varied musical theatre repertoire acknowledges our own era’s great contribution to the western dramatic tradition. Meanwhile, the strength of our acting company is being showcased not only in Stratford but also on Broadway, with the Tony-nominated Jesus Christ Superstar.”

“As we celebrate our Festival’s 60th season, the glorious heritage of our past provides us with a clear signpost to the way ahead,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “Our pioneering artists and those who supported them sought to create in Stratford nothing less than the finest classical theatre in the world. Thanks to their vision and determination, the adventure that began in 1953 with two productions in a tent is now North America’s premier repertory theatre, featuring 14 productions in five venues. That same spirit drives us today as we explore the classics of the past and give birth to the classics of the future.”

Much Ado About Nothing is directed by Christopher Newton, who was a member of the Festival’s acting company from 1966 to 1968. It features Ben Carlson as Benedick and Deborah Hay as Beatrice.

Five other productions will open during the week: 42nd Street, directed by Gary Griffin and featuring Sean Arbuckle as Julian Marsh, Kyle Blair as Billy Lawlor, Cynthia Dale as Dorothy Brock, and Jennifer Rider-Shaw as Peggy Sawyer; You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, directed by Donna Feore, featuring Stephen Patterson as Snoopy, Erica Peck as Lucy and Ken James Stewart as Charlie Brown; Cymbeline, directed by Antoni Cimolino, featuring Graham Abbey as Posthumus, Tom McCamus as Iachimo, Cara Ricketts as Innogen, and Geraint Wyn Davies as Cymbeline; The Pirates of Penzance, directed by Ethan McSweeny, featuring Sean Arbuckle as the Pirate King, Kyle Blair as Frederic, C. David Johnson as the Major General, and Amy Wallis as Mabel Stanley; and The Matchmaker, directed by Chris Abraham, featuring Tom McCamus as Horace Vandergelder and Seana McKenna as Dolly Levi.

The 60th season will feature a number of special events, including Christopher Plummer’s one-man show A Word or Two, which will run from July 25 to August 26. Most Rare Visions: 60 Years of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is an exhibition of Festival artifacts, including rare footage of our pioneers, at a new space kitty-corner to the Avon Theatre, at 104 Downie Street. A symposium, Interpreting Shakespeare Across Settings and Media, featuring Colm Feore, Norman Lloyd, Dr. Katherine Lowe and the Festival’s Director of Archives, Dr. Francesca Marini, will be held on June 2. A dramatic reading of Edward Bond’s Bingo, about an aging William Shakespeare, will be held on June 15, with the playwright on hand for a Q&A with the audience. Lucy Peacock will hold a number of cabarets – Late Night with Lucy – in the new Studio Annex, in July and August, featuring music and conversation. The Celebrated Writers Series returns with Stephen Marche, author of How Shakespeare Changed Everything; Richard McCoy, author of Faith in Shakespeare; Michael Ondaatje, author of The Cat’s Table; and Margaret Atwood, author of In Other Worlds. Master voice and Shakespeare teacher Patsy Rodenberg will present three special events from July 18 to 22, to mark 60 years of the Festival’s extensive actor training activities. The Festival will launch a special 60th season book on June 2, Stratford: Behind the Scenes, which will available through the Theatre Store. These special events are all in addition to the Festival’s usual enrichment activities.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 2012 season runs until October 28, featuring Much Ado About Nothing; 42nd Street; The Matchmaker; Henry V; You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown; The Pirates of Penzance; A Word or Two; Cymbeline; Wanderlust; Elektra; MacHomer; The Best Brothers; Hirsch and The War of 1812.

Opening Week Itinerary

Sunday, May 27
Garden Party
1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Festival Theatre lobby and gardens

Monday, May 28
Gala Opening of Much Ado About Nothing
Festival Theatre, 55 Queen Street, Stratford
6:30 p.m. Pipe Band parades to front of theatre and performs
7:00 p.m. Red Carpet arrivals
7:30 p.m. Performance of Much Ado About Nothing begins
10:10 p.m. Performance concludes

Tuesday, May 29
11:30 a.m. Book Launch – Festival Lobby
The Adventures of Adrian and Tiddlywinks by the late John Sullivan Hayes, former Producer of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival
Opening of 42nd Street
Festival Theatre
8:00 p.m. Performance begins
10:20 p.m. Performance concludes

Wednesday, May 30
Opening of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
8 p.m. Avon Theatre
9:55 p.m. Performance concludes

Thursday, May 31
Opening of Cymbeline
8 p.m. Tom Patterson Theatre
11 p.m. Performance concludes

Friday, June 1
Opening of The Pirates of Penzance
8 p.m. Avon Theatre
10:35 p.m. Performance concludes

Saturday, June 2
10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Symposium, Studio Theatre (please contact Andrea Smitko to reserve tickets)
1:00 to 1:45 p.m. Book Launch – Stratford: Behind the Scenes. Rehearsal Hall 3, Studio Theatre.
Opening of The Matchmaker
8 p.m. Festival Theatre
10:40 p.m. Performance concludes


It’s official – we’ve started our 60th season!

By:Lisa Middleton

After five months of darkened stages, empty lobbies and frosty evenings, we’ve started our 60th season!  Yesterday 42nd Street took the stage for its first preview, and it was amazing! What a celebratory way to kick things off —a perfect show for our diamond jubilee (sparkle included!). We know that the rest of the season will be just as thrilling. Here are some things to watch for while you plan your visit and some activities and shows you won’t want to miss!

P.S.  Shakespeare’s birthday is just around the corner – 448 years young – and we’re celebrating with a special gift to all our fans. Find out more next week!

Des McAnuff to be honoured with a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award

March 6, 2012… The Stratford Shakespeare Festival extends heartiest congratulations to Artistic Director Des McAnuff, who is the recipient of the National Arts Centre Award of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards in recognition of his extraordinary accomplishments over the past performance year.

“Des is very deserving of this recognition,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “He has indeed had an extraordinary year, directing two large-scale productions at the Festival, filming one and taking the other on to La Jolla and then to Broadway. This is all in addition to his international accomplishments, which in themselves required super-human strength to complete. We all congratulate him on his achievements and this very great honour.”

At the Stratford Shakespeare Festival Mr. McAnuff directed a celebrated production of Twelfth Night starring Brian Dennehy and Stephen Ouimette. His acclaimed production of Jesus Christ Superstar enjoyed an extended run at Stratford, moved to La Jolla Playhouse in California, and is set to open on Broadway this month with its Stratford cast.

Mr. McAnuff opened the second North American tour of Jersey Boys in Philadelphia. He directed a new musical production of Doctor Zhivago, which played in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, Australia, and is now being performed in Seoul with an all-Korean cast. He directed Gounod’s Faust for the Metropolitan Opera starring Jonas KaufmannRené Pape, and Marina Poplavskaya. Mr. McAnuff’s achievements over the past year also include film, with his production of Faust shown in cinemas worldwide and his production of The Tempest, starring Christopher Plummer released in cinemas. (His production of Caesar and Cleopatra, which also features Christopher Plummer, enjoyed a similar release in 2009, while Twelfth Night is scheduled for cinema release this week).

The year 2011 also saw Mr. McAnuff planning Stratford’s 60th anniversary playbill, half of which are Canadian works, including three world premières – Morris Panych and Marek Norman’s WanderlusThe Best Brothers by Daniel MacIvor, and Hirsch by Alon Nashmon and Paul Thompson, about the former Stratford artistic director and legendary theatre artist John Hirsch. Mr. McAnuff will also be directing Shakespeare’s Henry V and Christopher Plummer’s one-man show A Word or Two.

The Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards will be presented in Ottawa in early May.