Festival Theatre magic – for just $35!

by Lisa Middleton

One of the (many) amazing things about the Festival is the variety of shows that theatregoers get to experience.  In the span of two days, you can see four different productions on the very same stage – where else does that happen?! This season, 42nd Street (a splashy tap musical), Henry V (a powerful Shakespearean history play), The Matchmaker (a delicious farcical romp) and Much Ado About Nothing (one of Shakespeare’s  high comedies) can all been seen on the Festival stage within a span of forty-eight hours!

I love seeing the stage transform from

This…  To this…

To this…

To this…

With every changeover, you step into another world!

Join us between August 19 and September 1 and see any show at the Festival Theatre (or all of them) for just $35!* Hurry, this great offer expires on September 1!

To order tickets, follow these simple instructions:

1) Log into our website or Stratford Social Ticketing on our Facebook page with promotion code 45461 (or create an account and log in with the same promotion code)
2)  Select any performance of 42nd Street, Henry V, The Matchmaker or Much Ado About Nothing between August 19 and September 1, 2012
3) Choose “$35 Festival Theatre” as the price type and select your seats in A, B or C seating zones
4) Check out
5) Enjoy the show!

*Offer may expire without notice. Not valid on MMP performances or in conjunction with any other promotion, including SSP, Family Experience, TiXX and PlayOn. Promotion is available online through our website or Stratford Social Ticketing on the Festival’s Facebook page. Offer is only valid for productions on the Festival Theatre stage from August 19 to September 1.  Promotion ends on September 1. Some conditions apply.

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Beat the heat with our midsummer sale!

by Lisa Middleton

“My Oberon! what visions have I seen!/ Methought I was enamour’d of an ass.” — William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Does this hot weather have you seeing crazy things? Then it’s time to get out of the sun with the Festival’s midsummer sale! What better way to beat this heat than with $39 tickets* to selected shows between now and August 4!

Join us on any of the dates below at this special summer rate!

 Here’s how to place your order!
  1. Log into our website with promotion code 44972
  2. Select any performance from the list above on our calendar
  3. Once you’ve selected a date, ensure you have the “promotion” price type selected from the drop-down menu
  4. Select your seats
  5. Complete your orderOR

Purchase your tickets using Stratford Social Ticketing on our Facebook page!

*Offer may expire without notice. Not valid on MMP performances or in conjunction with any other promotion, including SSP, Family Experience, TiXX and PlayOn. Promotion is available through our website and through Stratford Social Ticketing on the Festival’s Facebook page. Some conditions apply.

Celebrate our 60th season with 1953 pricing!

by Lisa Middleton

This Friday we’ll be celebrating the Festival’s birthday! On July 13, 1953, Festival founder Tom Patterson’s “big idea” became a reality when our inaugural performance of Richard III – directed by Tyrone Guthrie and starring Alec Guinness and Irene Worth – took to the stage. Fifty-nine years later, Mr. Patterson’s dream of starting a classical theatre to revitalize a struggling industry town remains one of the most inspirational stories of Canadian theatre!


From its humble beginnings in a tent along the Avon River to its current status as the largest classical repertory theatre in North America (and the second-largest Shakespeare festival in the world) the Festival has come a long way in its sixty seasons. Our five venues have welcomed more than 25 million visitors over the years – and that certainly gives us cause for celebration!

Want to learn more about the Stratford story, starting with that “glorious summer” way back in 1953? Read it here!

Stratford Shakespeare Festival: 1953

Stratford Shakespeare Festival: Present Day

Celebrate our big 6-0 with 1953 pricing!
Buy one full-priced ticket to any performance of Henry V or Much Ado About Nothing in July or August, and receive your second ticket for the rate you would have paid during our first season –  $6 for A+ seating, $4 for A seating, $3 for B seating and $1 for C seating! Hurry, this retro promotion only lasts until our birthday, July 13, at midnight!

Here’s how to order your tickets!
1)      Log into our website with promotion code 44739
2)      Select any July or August performance of Henry V  or Much Ado About Nothing from our calendar
3)      Set the price type to ADULT using the drop-down menu at the top of the “Select Your Seats” page
4)      Select your seats (the promotion will be applied to your order automatically when you choose your second seat)
5)      Complete your transaction
6)      Enjoy the show!

Share a special memory from one of the past fifty-nine seasons in the comment box below!

*Offer may expire without notice. Not valid on MMP performances or in conjunction with any other promotion, including SSP, Family Experience, TiXX and PlayOn. Promotion is available through our Box Office, our website or Stratford Social Ticketing on the Festival’s Facebook page. Offer is only valid for Festival Theatre Shakespeare plays in July and August. Promotion ends on July 13 at 11:59 p.m. Some conditions apply.

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 www.stratfordshakespearefestival.com or call 1.800.567.1600.

Win a pair of tickets to see Henry V on July 7, 2012! CONTEST OVER – TICKETS WON

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO SENT IN ANSWERS!  THE TICKETS HAVE ALREADY BEEN WON! 

We’re giving away 25 pairs of tickets to the evening performance of Henry V on July 7th!  Here’s what you need to do to win!*

1. E-mail socialmedia@stratfordfestival.ca and finish this quote from the Henry V St. Crispin’s Day speech:

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men,________________.

2. Include your first name, last name, phone number and Stratford Shakespeare Festival account number.

If you don’t know your Festival account number, log into our website at www.stratfordfestival.ca.  Once you’ve logged in, select My Account from the top left corner of our home page.  Your account number will be listed on this page under Account #.

We’ll contact 25 luck winners and e-mail you a pair of tickets!

*Submissions that do not include the information requested in part 1 and 2 will not be considered valid entries and will not be eligible to win a pair of tickets.

Photo Credit: Aaron Krohn as King Henry in Henry V. Photo by David Hou.

Beyond the Stage: Lobby Talks | Cuckold-what?

by Madeleine Brown

10:54 a.m. already? I grab my notebook and pencil case and dash down to the Festival Theatre lobby, leaving behind the comfort of my little desk in the Festival’s Advancement Office. Just as I approach the wooden stage opposite the Theatre Store kiosk, I slow my pace. I want to look cool and collected—not awkward. (This is a constant fear when you have assumed the title of “Summer Intern.”) Today I am covering my first Beyond the Stage event: Lobby Talks.

I’m surprised. The chairs arranged around the stage are completely filled with over 60 Festival goers of all ages (I counted). I take a spare chair in the back row. There is excited chatter. It is only the second Lobby Talks of the season and the first on Much Ado About Nothing. It feels like a family reunion: Festival lovers meeting with fellow Festival lovers. With the arrival of July and the opening of a new set of shows just days away, the 60th season is about to kick into high gear.

The audience hushes. David Prosser has arrived.

Mr. Prosser is the Director of Communications at the Festival, and also the presenter of Lobby Talks. He takes his place on the stage after a few moments. The grand piano for the Festival’s Night Music concerts has assumed its territory over the majority of the platform.  Mr. Prosser begins. He uses no notes.

I cannot write fast enough. I feel like I am back in one of the lecture halls at university—minus the feelings of lethargy and boredom.

“We would have heard a very different English to ours in Shakespeare’s day,” Mr. Prosser tells us. In Shakespeare’s English the word “nothing” (as in Much Ado About Nothing) would have sounded like the word “noting” (i.e. to take note of, to eavesdrop, or overhear, or a reference to musical notes). Each of these meanings of the word can be found in Much Ado. The title of the play, it would seem, is indicative of the wit that the audience will see from the famed lovers Beatrice and Benedick.

But of course, before their two hearts can be joined, they must confront their own distrust of marriage and love. Not an easy task in Shakespeare’s day.

“Deep-rooted male fear of marriage and cuckoldry—” Mr. Prosser starts.

Cuckoldry?

I look up from my notebook. He explains, “A cuckold refers to a man whose wife has been unfaithful.” The term, he continues, is symbolized by a set of horns upon the deceived husband’s head. Scholars do not understand the association. There are plenty of theories… with plenty of faults.

Cracks about cuckoldry would have left Shakespeare’s audiences howling; however, nowadays they often go unrecognized. The closest modern-day equivalent to these jokes, Mr. Prosser posits, is the classic prank of making bunny ears behind the head of an unsuspecting individual.

The audience is clearly taken with this topic. At the end of Mr. Prosser’s half-hour “ramble,” he invites us to ask questions; unsurprisingly, people want to talk more about cuckoldry. When the conversation wraps up at 11:45, I gather my belongings and begin to walk through the crowd of excited, chatty patrons back to the office. But before I get there, I pause and reflect. I now fully understand the play’s historical context, themes, plot, characters… and why Ben Carlson, our Benedick, ran rampant around the stage with his index fingers on either side of his head.

Cuckoldry!

Lobby Talks are free half-hour chats presented by David Prosser. They occur at 11:00 a.m. on a selection of weekdays between June and September. This year’s talks cover Much Ado About Nothing and Henry V.

Madeleine is a summer intern in the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s Advancement Office. She is a student at the University of Toronto and Sheridan College who will be blogging about the Festival’s Beyond the Stage events for the month of July.

Des McAnuff’s Henry V starts previews

June 22, 2012… The epic story of King Henry V’s battle with the French during the Hundred Years’ War comes alive on the Festival Theatre stage in William Shakespeare’s historical drama Henry V. The production, directed by Artistic Director Des McAnuff, begins previews on June 24.
 
“We live in an era when war in foreign lands is again very much on our minds,” says Mr. McAnuff, “and Henry V is one of the greatest dramas about war ever written. In part, that’s because Shakespeare doesn’t take sides: this is neither an overtly anti-war play nor a jingoistic celebration of military glory. Instead, it confronts head-on all the paradoxes and ambivalences inherent in warfare and raises the kinds of questions we still struggle with today. When is war justified? What are its rules of engagement? And how do you hold on to your moral compass in the heat of combat?”
 
Though written as the final part of a tetralogy (preceded by Richard IIHenry IVPart 1and Henry IVPart 2), Henry V is a self-contained drama in its own right. It tells the story of the young king seeking to unite his strife-torn kingdom by launching a campaign to seize the throne of France. But after his invasion’s initial success, the king finds himself facing a vastly superior French force on the fields of Agincourt – and with it, the ultimate test of his leadership.
 
“I started my Shakespeare career by directing Henry IV, Part 1 in New York,” says Mr. McAnuff, “and it has long been a dream of mine to tackle the other plays in the cycle. So it means a lot to me to be doing Henry V – especially here at Stratford. This Festival can present these epic plays, these vast canvases, on a scale that most theatres simply can’t match. It is immensely rewarding to be staging this action-packed yet profoundly thought-provoking work with one of the greatest theatre companies in the world.”
 
“Des’s imagination is limitless and he has a way of harnessing the powers and resources of the theatre to create a spectacular production that is both visually and emotionally stunning,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “His production of Henry V this season will be a case in point: our audiences can expect to be held on the edge of their seats and completely engrossed in one of Shakespeare’s most legendary dramas.”
 
The production features Aaron Krohn as the title character. Mr. Krohn made his Stratford debut as Lenny in last season’s production of The Homecoming and appeared in Mr. McAnuff’s production of Twelfth Night. His Broadway credits include The Farnsworth InventionThe Coast of Utopia and Julius Caesar. He has also worked extensively off-Broadway and on television and has performed many voices for several anime films, including Kaji in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Murakomo in Blue Seed and Go in Super Atragon.
 
Mr. Krohn will be joined on stage by Ben Carlson as Captain Fluellen, Juan Chioran as Montjoy, Deborah Hay as Alice, Tom Rooney as Ensign Pistol and Timothy D. Stickneyas the Duke of Exeter.
 
Artistic credits for this production include Set Designer Robert Brill, Costume Designer Paul Tazewell, Lighting Designer Michael Walton, Composer Michael Roth, Sound Designer Peter McBoyle, Dramaturge Robert Blacker, Choreographer Nicola Pantin, Fight Director Steve Rankin and Associate Director Lezlie Wade.
 
Henry V is sponsored by Scotiabank. Production support is generously provided by Claire & Daniel Bernstein, Jane Petersen-Burfield and Family, and Catherine and David Wilkes.
 
This production is dedicated to the memory of John Neville, Artistic Director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival from 1986 to 1989.
 
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 TwoCymbelineWanderlustElektraMacHomerThe Best BrothersHirsch; and The War of 1812.