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

January 15, 2014… As Shakespeare lovers everywhere prepare to mark the 450th anniversary of the birth of the world’s greatest dramatist, members of the Shakespeare Theatre Association gather at the Stratford Festival for their annual conference.

“We are extremely proud to have this prestigious gathering in Stratford during this year of celebration,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, who will deliver the keynote address. “We’ll be joined by theatre professionals from all over this continent and beyond. It’s wonderful to be reminded of the extent and variety of work being undertaken by companies that specialize in Shakespeare. We’re looking forward immensely to this gathering of friends, old and new.”

STA conferences have been a valuable resource to Stratford Festival staff from various departments for almost 25 years.

“Having attended two previous STA conferences, hosted by the Orlando Shakespeare Theater and the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival,” says Executive Director Anita Gaffney, “I know how illuminating and inspiring it can be to share this time with our counterparts at other theatres: fellow artists and staff who share our love of Shakespeare and our passion for bringing his plays to the stage and into people’s lives.”

The theme for this year’s conference, which runs from January 22 to 25 and will be attended by 120 delegates, is “Speak the Speech: The Power of Words.” It will focus on what Shakespeare’s words mean to us today, how they can best be brought alive for new generations, and how their enduring power still shapes and enriches our lives.

Sessions will explore various topics, including:

  • Cross-gender and non-traditional casting.
  • Stage to Screen.
  • Shakespeare’s use of rhyme and prose at different periods of his career.
  • How the Affordable Care Act will affect the way in which U.S. theatres create art.
  • Shakespeare and accessibility.
  • Balancing creativity with restrictions such as time, union regulations and resources.
  • Original Practices.
  • Festival-University partnerships.
  • Romancing the Board.
  • Education and social media.

The conference will also feature a much-anticipated session with members of the cast and creative team of Slings and Arrows.

In the three days immediately preceding the conference, the Festival will host an education practicum. This component gives education staff from STA member theatres an opportunity to train intensively with their colleagues from around the world. It will feature sessions on such topics as:

  • The journey from engagement to comprehension to empowerment.
  • Shakespeare in the classroom.
  • Physical theatre.
  • Hip Hop Shakespeare.
  • Voice.
  • Clowning.
  • Original Practices.
  • Directing Shakespeare.

Since its founding in 1991, the Shakespeare Theatre Association has held its annual conference at member theatres across North America, as well as in the U.K. It was last held in Canada in 2005. The Stratford Festival hosted the event once before, in 1996.

#2014sta

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Crazy Composition Competition – the entries are rolling in!

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

Shakespeare-Contest-Image

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Aidan Ware

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

Minds in madness run, their turmoil cast

To crowds waiting in the darkness for a King

As flickering foes in the distance sing

A dream will dance upon a midsummer night stage
And rage

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

To a vortex of voices vying

In crazed confusion crying
At the edges of reason

Ragged treason

Carried with a snake or knife

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

And plays

Written by: Dana Sorensen

“A Poet’s Madness”

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

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

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

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

Written by: Yvonne Hord

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

Written by: Tom Valcke

I fear
King Lear
Is near.
Oh dear!

Written by: Monica Reid

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

Really.

Written by: David Rose

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

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

Written by: Robin Bennett

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

Written by: Doug Ironside

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

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

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

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

Written by: Paul Knowles

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

Written by: Gary Nichols

A Tender Leaf

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

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

Cupid’s dart was set

The forest shrouded the ensconced ones

There true love radiant among the verdure

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

Written by: Anastasia K. Nakis

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

Written by: Sheila Brown

The Madness of Driving

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

Written by: Sookie Mei

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Shannon Murray

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

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

All blinded, all misguided, all transformed.

But madmen, lovers, dreamers meet in this:

Through suffering alone we catch at bliss.

Written by: Vince Kennedy

EmmEmmExeEyeVee

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

Written by: Shadi Hanna

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

Written by: Michelle Ecker

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

Written by: Anne Sigrist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Donna Latham

CRAZY FOR YOU, FESTIVAL

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Daniel Coo

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

Written by: Meg Cormack

MMXIV

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Kylene Walker

Alone

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

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

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

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

Written by: Jeremy Gretton

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

Written by: E. Gay Gretton

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Janine Marley

A Sonnet for Stratford 2014

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

Written by: Danielle Eyer

Consume Me, Madness

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

Written by: Jessica Seguin

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

Written by: Laurie Blackley

Let Madness Reign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by: Nikki McQueen

Abyss

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

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

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

Infinite, chaotic

Extinguish the maddening and intermittent pathos

Temper the raging beast within.

Written by: Hannah Hoogendam

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

Written by: Dallas Gow

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

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

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

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

Written by: Emma Smith

Now let us find the point of connection

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

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

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

What is it really, if not delusion?

Written by: Jacob Bildy

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

August at The Forum

We’re sharing The Forum with our whole Festival audience, even those who are unable to make the events! Check out our livestream channel and join the conversations as they happen. You’ll find us at new.livestream.com/stratfordfestival.

August-Forum-Social-Media-Facebook-Poster

The Forum is a new series that showcases some of the world’s greatest thinkers and entertainers in activities and events designed to make a visit to Stratford an immersive, all-encompassing cultural experience. These events are an exciting way to discover and examine the themes running through this season’s productions, and we don’t want you to miss out!

The month of August offers seven sessions for you to enjoy in the comfort of your living room, on your laptop or even on the bus using your mobile phone. If you’re not able to tune in for the real-time streaming, you can always catch the archived recording after the event.

This month’s livestream sessions include:

Shawn A-in-chut Atleo: First Nations and the Future of Canadian Citizenship 
Avon Theatre, Saturday, August 10, at 10 a.m.
The 11th Annual LaFontaine-Baldwin Lecture, delivered by the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Introduced by John Ralston Saul.

The Foreign Exchange, with Donna-Michelle St. Bernard 
University of Waterloo, Stratford Campus
125 St. Patrick Street
Sunday, August 11, at 5:30 p.m.

Honorary “Foreign Ministers” are invited to illuminate and ignite candid conversations about race and culture.

Writing About the Right to Die 
Studio Theatre, Thursday, August 15, at 10:30 a.m.
With journalist, broadcaster and author Ian Brown (The Boy in the Moon), playwright and lighting designer Itai Erdal (How to Disappear Completely), author Zoe FitzGerald Carter (Imperfect Endings) and playwright Judith Thompson (The Thrill). Moderator: Alex Bulmer.

Stanley Wells: Sex and Love in Verona, Venice and Vienna 
Studio Theatre, Friday, August 16, at 5 p.m.
Stanley Wells is Honorary President, Life Trustee and former Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, emeritus professor of Shakespeare studies at the University of Birmingham and general editor of the Oxford and Penguin Shakespeares.

Stephen Lewis: Disability, Disillusion and Self-Discovery 
Avon Theatre, Saturday, August 17, at 10 a.m.
Leader of Ontario’s New Democratic Party in the 1970s, Stephen Lewis later became Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations and the UN’s special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. He is currently the Board Chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Alex Bulmer: The Insight of Blindness 
University of Waterloo, Stratford Campus
125 St. Patrick Street
Saturday, August 17, at 5:30 p.m.

Canadian-born writer and theatre artist Alex Bulmer, now based in the U.K., shares her experience creating disabled-led art after losing her sight. Her work includes Breathe, a multidisciplinary performance piece that opened the sailing events at the London Olympics.

What’s Past Is Prologue: Classical Theatre in our Times 
Studio Theatre, Sunday, August 18, at 10:30 a.m.
With artistic directors Antoni Cimolino, Jackie Maxwell (Shaw Festival), Peter Hinton (recently of the National Arts Centre) and others. Chair: David Prosser.

Join the conversation online using hashtag #sfForum.

For a full listing of all of the Forum events you can get involved with this month, visit our website!
August At the Forum

Two Kinds of Tradition | Jr. Guest Blogger Adam Leung

by Adam Leung

On May 11, I spent the day at the Stratford Festival and I saw the plays Fiddler on the Roof and Romeo and Juliet. The day was quite a long one and I was extremely tired at the end of it, but it was definitely worth it since the plays were great!

Adam Leung (right) with his brother, Josh, and dad outside the Festival Theatre

Adam Leung (right) with his brother, Josh, and dad outside the Festival Theatre

Music has many uses in a play. In Fiddler on the Roof it is used to explain the plot and the characters’ feelings and opinions. For example, Tevye explains in the opening scene with song “Tradition” why he believes tradition to be so important in their lives. He then sings part of this song in the second act to explain why his daughters should not marry men of their own free will but instead should consult the town’s matchmaker.

The song “If I Were a Rich Man” is about what Tevye would do if he owned a fortune. According to Tevye, he would build a big tall house in the middle of the town with plenty of rooms. There would be three staircases in his house, each one more impressive than the last. He also wants to keep several fowl in his yard, to prove that he is extremely rich. While I was listening to “If I Were a Rich Man,” I realized that it is very much like the song “If I Had a Million Dollars” by Barenaked Ladies – right down to the title. Both songs mention what sort of house they would have, what sort of pets they would own, what they would get for their wives and what they would do instead of working all day. So maybe, just maybe, Barenaked Ladies just might owe some credit to Fiddler on the Roof!

Watch Scott Wentworth – Tevye – perform “If I Were a Rich Man”!

The production of Romeo and Juliet at Stratford this year is presented in a style that is similar to how it would have been presented at the Globe Theatre in London, in the 1590s, in mid-afternoon in winter. The lights are left on and ever so slightly dimmed, no spotlights are used to follow the actors and no sound system is used to amplify the actors’ voices. Music is used only as background music or as part of a scene since the Globe Theatre did not have an orchestra pit, and the musicians play old-fashioned instruments from Shakespeare’s time.

In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye is torn between following the standard marriage tradition and letting his daughters marry men they choose and love. Personally, I believe that the daughters are right in the sense that if they let their parents and the matchmaker choose, then the community is almost a dictatorship since no one has a free choice in marriage. I think the best way would be for Tevye to recommend his daughters to avoid certain husbands instead of making the marriage mandatory.

In Romeo and Juliet, there is a very obvious tradition that both the Montague and the Capulet families follow: you MUST hate the other family. If you don’t follow this tradition, you are shunned by your family for the rest of your life. In Fiddler on the Roof, tradition is changed because the outside world is moving on with time. However, in Romeo and Juliet, tradition is changed because of tradition itself. Romeo and Juliet are fed up with tradition (think Motel and Tzeitel from Fiddler on the Roof) but this tradition results in their deaths. It is not until after their deaths that the two families end the mini-war that they have been waging and call a truce.

In most plays, the props and sets are a vital part of the story, since they help tell where the scene takes place and what the characters are doing. Fiddler on the Roof uses lots of props like the milk cart, suitcases, dishes, cleaning supplies, to show what the characters are doing and where they are. Fiddler on the Roof also uses sets that are made up of objects that are only found in certain obvious places, like a bed in the bedroom or a stove and table in the kitchen.

Romeo and Juliet uses lots of props but is very different to Fiddler on the Roof since the play doesn’t use any major set changes (which is the way plays in the Elizabethan time were presented). Instead, the audience has to watch attentively so that they can see the subtle changes in props and character movement, such as when Paris is searching with the lantern or when Juliet is on the balcony and Romeo is right under her nose.

In Romeo and Juliet, one of the most confusing characters is Friar Laurence, since you don’t learn much about him except that he is a monk who knows everything there is to know about plants and their properties, both poisonous and helpful. I believe that Friar Laurence is a “good guy” since he helps Romeo and Juliet by marrying them in hopes of ceasing the quarrel that has been going on between their families. Plus, he never tells anybody about their marriage since if he was to mention it, it would cause disaster and make the fight between the Capulet and the Montague families even worse.

Fiddler on the Roof and Romeo and Juliet are about two completely different stories which take place in very different times, but they both have similar themes: love, change, tradition and tragedy. If I had to choose a favourite play, I would say neither, since they’re both amazing plays. I hope you get to see them as well!

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Like what you read? 12-year-old guest blogger and theatre enthusiast, Adam Leung, is a regular contributor to the Stratford Festival’s blog. Read his other entries here and here!

Stratford Festival launches its new Forum with a Shakespeare Slam in Toronto | Torquil Campbell, Adam Gopnik and Rufus Wainwright will debate and entertain

February 25, 2013… The Stratford Festival invites you to see Shakespeare in a whole new light, channeled through the remarkable perspectives of some of Canada’s most provocative thinkers and performers, Torquil CampbellAdam Gopnik and Rufus Wainwright.

On Shakespeare’s birthday, the Festival will be in Toronto to present the Shakespeare Slam, a thought-provoking and irreverent event to mark the launch of the Festival’s newest initiative, The Forum. This celebration of culture – both classical and pop – will look at how Shakespeare continues to entertain and inspire in today’s world. Like The Forum itself, the evening will offer insightful debate, along with music and other entertaining explorations.

“The Shakespeare Slam brings together three of the most original, lively and unpredictable talents we could find,” says Antoni Cimolino, the Festival’s Artistic Director and creator of The Forum. “They each have a love for Shakespeare and a passion for creating new work that is on the most thoughtful edge of contemporary culture. I, of course, have money on the outcome and predict it will be a monstrously entertaining evening.”

To start the evening, one of Canada’s most famous essayists, New Yorker staff writerAdam Gopnik, will face off against the country’s favourite hipster Torquil Campbell, lead singer of the indie rock band Stars and cultural contributor to CBC’s Q. The subject of their polemic: classical or pop culture – which has the reigning impact on our world?

Rufus Wainwright, singer, songwriter and composer extraordinaire, will take the evening to new heights with a performance of some of his own songs set to Shakespeare’s words.

The Slam will also feature a musical performance by Torquil Campbell, accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Julian Brown. They will perform Stars hits that are part of a new theatrical work, currently described as a reflection on Hamlet, which Mr. Campbell is developing for the Stratford Festival with Ann-Marie MacDonald and Alisa Palmer.

Mr. Cimolino is launching The Forum in this, his first season as Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival, as part of a new direction – one he hopes will make a visit to Stratford an all-encompassing, stimulating and immersive cultural experience.

“Through the diverse offerings of The Forum, I hope that we can offer transformational experiences that will allow our productions to resonate more deeply and personally with each patron,” says Mr. Cimolino.

“We have to offer audiences more ways to explore the work on our stages, to make the connections between the great classic plays and life today,” he says. “As part of that, it is critical to have contemporary voices alongside those of ancient times: it anchors our current experience to the bedrock of hard-won knowledge of those who came before us. The Shakespeare Slam will provide a taste of what is to come at Stratford, with diverse perspectives that stimulate, provoke and challenge our perceptions and assumptions about our work and our society.”

The Shakespeare Slam will be held at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23, at Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor Street West, Toronto.

Tickets, priced from $30 to $45, $20 for students, go on sale Tuesday, February 26, and are available through the Stratford Festival box office, at 1.800.567.1600, or Koerner Hall’s Weston Family Box Office, at 416.408.0208.

Support for the inaugural season of The Forum is generously provided by Kelly and Michael Meighen, with media sponsorship provided by The Walrus.

The Stratford Festival’s 2013 season begins on April 23. It features Romeo and JulietFiddler on the RoofThe Three MusketeersThe Merchant of VeniceTommy,Blithe SpiritOthelloMeasure for MeasureMary StuartWaiting for Godot and two new Canadian plays, Taking Shakespeare and The Thrill, along with more than 150 Forum events.

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37 Shakespeare quotes contest! CONTEST OVER

by Christi Rutledge

Happy New Year! We’re all looking forward to another wonderful season and can’t wait to share our twelve productions and new Forum events with all of our fans!

What better way to start off the New Year than with a ticket give-away! Now that you have all had a chance to “Brush up your Shakespeare,” we’re putting your knowledge to the test.

Last summer our Shakespeare School students helped us create an amazing video in which they recited 37 famous Shakespeare quotes from all 37 Shakespeare plays in less than two minutes – amazing!  We want you to let us know which play each of these quotes is from. If you answer correctly, you’ll receive a pair of tickets to any performance of our 2013 production of Romeo and Juliet between May 1, 2013, and May 25, 2013.

Here’s what you need to do to enter:

In an email addressed to socialmedia@stratfordfestival.ca

1) Make a list from 1-37. Beside each number write the name of the play that the quote in the video comes from.

2) Write your first name, last name, email address, phone number and Stratford Festival account number (to locate your Stratford Festival account number, log in to our website and click “My Account”);

3) Let us know which day you would like to see Romeo and Juliet:

  • May 1, 2013, 2:00 p.m.
  • May 4, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
  • May 7, 2013, 2:00 p.m.
  • May 11, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
  • May 15, 2013, 2:00 p.m.
  • May 17, 2013, 2:00 p.m.
  • May 22, 2013, 2:00 p.m.
  • May 24, 2013, 2:00 p.m.
  • May 25, 2013, 2:00 p.m.

All entries must be received before the contest closes on Sunday, January 13, 2013, at midnight! Please make sure to include all of the information requested above; submissions without any of the requested information will not be considered.

We look forward to seeing your submissions!

What’s your favourite line from Shakespeare? Let us know in the comment box below!

*UPDATE JANUARY 17, 2013: Please note that all submissions have now been responded to via e-mail, if for some reason you did not receive an e-mail, please contact socialmedia@stratfordfestival.ca. Thank you, to everyone who participated!

The winner of our ‘Brush up your Shakespeare’ contest is…

Thank you to everyone who took the time to send us your amazing and creative photos reading Shakespeare as part of our “Brush up your Shakespeare” contest – we loved all of them!  We had a difficult time selecting just one winner, so we’ve decided to offer a second and third place prize as well!

In third place, winning a pair of tickets to any preview performance of  Othello or The Merchant of Venice, is Tracy Messenger! We loved this photo of you reading King Lear upside down on the static trapeze!

Tracy
In second place, winning a pair of tickets to any preview performance of  Othello or The Merchant of Venice, is Nikki Pasqualini!  We absolutely adored your entry as you read The Complete Works of Shakespeare on a Merry-go-round in France! Adorable!

Nikki
In first place, winning the grand prize of a pair of opening night tickets to Romeo and Juliet and a Shakespeare Lover’s diary, is Sarah Ball! We admire your commitment to reading more Shakespeare as you enjoyed a polar bear dip in the Pacific Ocean – sans bathing suit!

Sarah
To view all of the amazing entries we received, click here!

Congratulations to all of our contestants and thank you for participating! We’ll have more contests starting again in January – keep watching for them!