Second annual Shakespeare Slam features Paul Gross, Steven Page, Hawksley Workman | Toronto event offers an evening of music and spirited debate

March 10, 2014Paul Gross, Steven Page and Hawksley Workman are headlining the Stratford Festival Forum’s Shakespeare Slam on Wednesday, April 23, at Toronto’s Koerner Hall. This celebration marking Shakespeare’s 450th birthday will be hosted by Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, and will showcase the Festival’s 2014 season theme of Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge.

Two teams of spirited debaters will square off on whether madness is inherent in the artistic process. On the one side are actor Paul Gross, famed for his portrayal of Slings and Arrows’ mentally overwrought artistic director Geoffrey Tennant, and Lisa Brown, founder and executive/artistic director of Workman Arts, which celebrates and promotes the work of artists living with mental-health and addiction issues.

Opposing them are Juno Award-winning musician, Festival composer and renowned troubadour Steven Page and the Festival’s resident Rhodes Scholar, the hilarious and erudite David Goldbloom, who, in addition to being past chair of the Festival’s Board, is the senior medical advisor for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto and the chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Once they’ve hashed things over, the music begins! Hawksley Workman takes centre stage with his own brand of musical performance that is certain to leave you wanting more – which you’ll be able to find in Stratford, September 11 to 20, when he presents his Bacchae-inspired cabaret The God That Comes at the Forum.

Steven Page will also offer up one of his exuberant musical performances, featuring songs combining humour and pathos in a memorable exploration of the evening’s theme.

The event culminates in a truly joyous grand finale, featuring Slam headliners and members of the Festival company.

Tickets for the Shakespeare Slam go on sale March 11. They are priced from $39 to $54, with a student price of $29. To purchase, call the Stratford Festival box office at 1.800.567.1600. Tickets are also available through Koerner Hall.

The Shakespeare Slam serves as the launch of the Stratford Festival Forum, which will present more than 200 events this season, including featured speakers Margaret Trudeau, Jian Ghomeshi, Muhammad Robert Heft and Camille Paglia, as well as concerts, comedy shows, screenings and performance showcases exploring the playbill and the theme of Minds Pushed to the Edge.

The Stratford Festival Forum is very pleased to welcome Bell Let’s Talk as a new partner and the Host Sponsor for the Shakespeare Slam as well as selected Forum events that focus on mental health throughout the 2014 season.

Sustaining support for the Forum is generously provided by Kelly & Michael Meighen and the T.R. Meighen Foundation.

Support for the 2014 Forum is generously provided by Nandita & Julian Wise.

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You’re invited to our Forum launch – the Shakespeare Slam!

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

ShakespeareSlam

A CELEBRATION OF CULTURE

On April 23 (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.

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS & SNEAK PEEKS

New Yorker staff writer and acclaimed essayist ADAM GOPNIK will face off against indie rocker  TORQUIL CAMPBELL of Stars in the debate “Pop Culture vs. Classical Culture: Which has the reigning impact on our world?”

TORQUIL CAMPBELL and multi-instrumentalist JULIAN BROWN will perform songs from the work that Mr. Campbell is developing at the Festival with playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald and director Alisa Palmer.

Read more about this new collaboration here!

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT, singer, songwriter and composer extraordinaire, takes the evening to new heights with a performance of some of his own songs set to Shakespeare’s words. LUCY PEACOCK joins him with relevant readings from the Bard.

The evening will be filled out by original Shakespeare-inspired haikus by company member ROY LEWIS, accompanied by GEORGE MEANWELL, original screenings and other entertainment.

Listen to Rufus Wainwright sing Sonnet no. 29

Plus, we’ll be looking at some of the ways in which Shakespeare has infiltrated contemporary pop culture:

THE DETAILS

Date: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 (Shakespeare’s birthday)

Time: 8:00 – 9:45 p.m.

Location: Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor Street West, Toronto

Tickets:  $30 to $45 and $20 for students

RESERVE YOUR SEAT TODAY

To order your tickets, contact the Stratford Festival Box Office at 1.800.567.1600, the Koerner Hall’s Weston Family Box Office at 416.408.0208 or online.

On Facebook? Join our Shakespeare Slam event page and watch for updates – or invite a friend of family member who would be interested in attending this one-time event!

For more information on upcoming Forum events and activities, click 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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