The Perfect Present: The Gift of Stratford

Sometimes it’s a challenge to find the perfect item for everyone on your list. Why not give them a Festival gift certificate and let them open up a present full of possibility?

Holiday_certificates

Here are our top five reasons to give someone a Festival gift certificate:

#1: Choice – and lots of it!
Festival gift certificates come in any denomination, giving complete freedom on how your dollars can be spent. You can even purchase a gift certificate online and have it delivered straight to your home! For guaranteed holiday delivery by standard mail, please order by December 12. You may also purchase in person at the Festival Box Office until December 24 at 2 p.m.

#2: Experience the ‘Madness’ of 2014’s season
With a gift certificate, you can give the theatre lovers on your list their own special piece of our next season. With shows like Crazy for YouA Midsummer Night’s Dreamand Alice through the Looking-Glass, your loved one will be brimming with excitement at the thought of planning their next trip to the theatre! Click here for our entire 2014 Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge season playbill.

#3: You’ll be able to give back with this gift
Did you know our gift certificates can even be used to purchase a Festival Membership? Donating to the Festival on another person’s behalf shows how much you care – both for them and for world-class theatre! It’s a splendid way to acknowledge that special someone who has touched your life.

#4: Give the gift of exploration
At the Stratford Festival, we operate four different guided tours to give you a taste of life at the theatre. Buy your loved one a gift certificate and they can use it to spend a fun day touring the iconic Festival Theatre, our costume and props warehouse, intriguing archives, or beautiful gardens.

#5: Memories for keeps
Shop anytime at our online Theatre Store and use a gift certificate to purchase any item in stock! You’ll find perfect mementos and goodies to complement your theatre-going experience.

Finish checking off your holiday shopping list with these lovely items that we’ve specially hand picked from The Theatre Store!

Costume ornaments
This is the perfect gift that allows the theatre enthusiast in your life to preserve the memory of a favourite performance. Each unique glass ornament contains actual fabrics and trims gathered from our Costume Wardrobe workshop from productions like Fiddler on the Roof and Tommy.

Stuffed white swan
Purchase this adorable Webkinz white swan for your child, grandchild, niece, or nephew. They’re bound to get along swimmingly! Friendly and loveable, each one carries a secret code and invitation to a virtual world of online fun and adventure at www.webkinz.com.

Waterglobe
Celebrate sixty years of theatre on the thrust stage designed by Tanya Moiseiwitsch. This beautiful glass water globe features a pair of actors on the famous Festival stage, and makes a splendid keepsake for any theatre lover. Every time you shake the globe, the ‘spotlights’ come on in the form of gold glitter –mimicking the performance lights that play over the stage.

Order your keepsakes online at www.stratfordfestival.ca/store!

While online you can also buy your gift certificates in any denomination a twww.stratfordfestival.ca/giftcertificates or contact our Box Office at 1.800.567.1600. For guaranteed holiday delivery by standard mail, please order by December 12, or purchase in person at the Festival Box Office until December 24 at 2 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PRESS RELEASE | Stratford Festival actors visit Michigan to work with students and teachers

October 22, 2013… Artists from the Stratford Festival arrived in Michigan this weekend as part of the eighth annual Michigan residency. Festival teaching artists will be in the area until November 1, visiting Michigan State University as well as schools in Detroit and environs, East Lansing, Grand Rapids and Port Huron, where they will lead student workshops based on bringing Shakespeare’s plays to life.

“The Michigan Residency is one of many educational and enrichment activities we offer to foster in young people a lifelong love and appreciation of theatre,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “Our acting company and artisans create magical worlds on our stages every day. Thanks to the generosity of our Michigan members, we are delighted to bring some of that magic to the students and teachers in the Michigan area, as they work with our artists to explore the joy and inspiration that Shakespeare and classical theatre provide.”

Workshops will teach the Festival’s philosophy of actively learning Shakespeare as participants physically work through a variety of texts in Shakespeare’s canon. A number of topics will be explored, including theatrical play analysis, voice, English language arts, monologue coaching, aspects of technical theatre and design for the theatre, the cultural relevance of Shakespeare and the fundamentals of acting.

During the first week of the residency, 13 artists will visit elementary and secondary schools in Detroit and environs, East Lansing, Grand Rapids and Port Huron. At the end of the week, a Teaching Shakespeare workshop for high school teachers will be held at the University of Michigan Detroit Centre. During the second week, the artists will be working with high school students in the Student Immersion Project at the Wharton Center and with classes at Michigan State University. Workshops will also be held at All The World’s A Stage Acting Studio in the nearby village of Romeo, MI.

Led by Stratford Festival Resident Teaching Artist Edward Daranyi, this year’s group of participating artists are:

Graham Abbey
Skye Brandon
Michelle Giroux
Bruce Godfree
Carmen Grant
Alana Hawley
Brad Hodder
Jacob James
Ruby Joy
Tamara Kutcheran
Anthony Malarky
E.B. Smith
Dorcas Sowumni

Participating Schools:

Detroit and area
Detroit School of Arts
Marian High School
Marine City High School
International Academy of Bloomfield Hills
Willow Wood Public School 

East Lansing and area

Everett High School
Chippewa Middle School
Dansville High School
Grand Ledge High School
Lansing Community College
Mason High School
Sexton High School
Wexford Montessori Academy

Grand Rapids and area

Allegan High School
Aquinas College – Performing Arts Center
Byron Center High School
Grandville High School
Forest Hill High School

Port Huron

Port Huron High School
St. Clair Community College

The Festival extends its gratitude to the Wharton Center of Michigan State University and Michigan Member Executive for their support in making this residency happen, as well as the donors who established the Michigan Educational Outreach Fund in the endowed holdings of the Stratford Festival.

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Job Opportunity | Props Apprentice – Festival Theatre – Production department

The Stratford Festival is North America’s leading classical repertory theatre, entertaining more than half a million people each year. We attract the world’s finest talent, offering a unique experience for staff, artists and actors alike. If you would like to be part of this exciting organization, we are looking for someone to fill the role of…

Props Apprentice – Festival Theatre – Production department

As an apprentice, you will work with some of this industry’s top craftspeople and artisans, learning the techniques and skills required to work in a large-scale repertory theatre. The apprentice position will consist of a 20-week contract over the winter/spring 2014, and will combine a period of training with work on the 2014 season productions.

There is an option for a second year of training starting February 2015.

Applicants should have post-secondary education in Fine Arts. Theatre Arts, or a related field, and have some theatre production experience. Apprentices will be required to interact with other production staff, designers, and craftspeople, therefore good interpersonal skills and the ability to work in a team environment are essential. This position can be physically strenuous and require some heavy lifting.

A portfolio demonstrating skills would be an asset.

This position will begin early February 2014.

We recognize that diversity – in our workplace, in our audiences and on our stages – fosters a rich and creative environment. We are actively engaged in building a more diverse workplace and encourage all qualified applicants to apply by November 8th, 2013 to:

Human Resources
Stratford Festival
55 Queen Street
Stratford, Ontario N5A 6V2
E-mail: resumes@stratfordfestival.ca
Subject: Props Apprentice
Fax: 519-271-0626

Romeo and Juliet – The Rehearsal Blogs Pt. II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Want to read more?

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

PRESS RELEASE | Berthold Carrière named Director of Music Emeritus

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