Tuesday, 18 March 2014

ROBERT LEPAGE TO EXPLORE CITIZENSHIP AND BELONGING Lepage selected as the 12th speaker in the Institute for Canadian Citizenship’s LaFontaine-Baldwin Symposium lecture series

TORONTO, ON, MARCH 18, 2014 – The Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) and the Stratford Festival have once again partnered to present the ICC’s LaFontaine-Baldwin Symposium featuring Robert Lepage, cutting-edge creator and recipient of The Glenn Gould Prize. Marking the 12th event, the 2014 Symposium will take place this fall on Saturday, October 18 in Toronto; tickets are now on sale, visit lafontaine-baldwin.com.

Founded in 2000 by John Ralston Saul, the LaFontaine-Baldwin Symposium is a national event that explores citizenship, belonging and the public good with leading Canadian and international thinkers. It challenges the audience to think about Canada’s big picture by inviting them to add their voice to post-lecture roundtable discussions with the speaker and ICC founders and co-chairs, Saul and the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson. Past speakers include His Highness the Aga Khan, the Honourable Louise Arbour, Georges Erasmus, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin and, most recently, Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

“Each year the Symposium speaker is selected for their ability to push our conversation in thought-provoking directions,” said Saul. “We need this because Canada is the most experimental of countries when it comes to immigration and citizenship. We are at our best when we are open to original and inclusive ideas. Last year, National Chief Atleo asked us to paint a new picture of Canada that includes our First Nations peoples. This year, Robert Lepage will shift our dialogue into the enticingly abstract, referencing his work filled with people who are stateless, moving between countries or belonging to several civilizations. It will be fascinating to see where he takes us.”

“I am both thrilled and honoured to be the 2014 LaFontaine-Baldwin Symposium lecturer,” said Robert Lepage. “I see this as a unique opportunity to celebrate new citizens who have chosen to make our country their own, and to explore how different cultures brought together are shaping our identity and making us all citizens of the world.”

Last year, the launch of the ICC – Stratford Festival partnership saw the Symposium take centre stage in Stratford as a key element of its inaugural Stratford Festival Forum, a series exploring the principal themes found in the Festival’s 12 theatrical productions performed over its seven-month season.

“We are delighted to partner with the ICC to present the Lafontaine-Baldwin Symposium,” said Antoni Cimolino, Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival. “By co-hosting this event in Toronto, we are able to expand the borders of the Stratford Festival Forum, furthering our commitment to providing Canadians with unparalleled opportunities to explore issues crucial to a civil society. No one interested in contemporary theatre should miss this rare opportunity to hear Robert Lepage, one of the most extraordinary directors of our time.”
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Stratford Festival box office 1.800.567.1600 (or 519.273.1600) or by emailing orders@stratfordfestival.ca. Visit lafontaine-baldwin.com for full event details.

12th LaFontaine-Baldwin Symposium lecture by Robert Lepage
Isabel Bader Theatre, 2 p.m. | $30 (HST included), lecture only

Symposium Roundtable Discussion hosted by Lepage, Saul and Clarkson
Gardiner Museum, 4 p.m. | $70 (HST included), lecture and roundtable

Special discounted rates are available for members of the ICC’s Cultural Access Pass program, students and arts workers. Please call 1.800.567.1600.

The Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) is a national, non-profit charity that encourages active citizenship through innovative programs, collaborations and unique volunteer opportunities. Founded and co-chaired by the Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul, the ICC works to: ensure new citizens are welcomed and included as equals; create meaningful connections among all Canadians; foster a culture of engaged citizens; reframe the national conversation on inclusion, identity and citizenship; and celebrate what it means to be Canadian. For more information, visit icc-icc.ca. You
can also follow us on Twitter (@ICCICC).

The Stratford Festival, in picturesque Stratford, Ontario, Canada, is North America’s leading classical theatre, drawing half a million visitors a year. It presents a seven-month season of a dozen plays in four venues, along with a Forum of events to enrich the play-going experience. With the works of Shakespeare at its core, the Festival features classics, contemporary dramas, musical theatre and new plays. It presented its first season in 1953, using an innovative thrust stage that revolutionized Shakespearean performance in our time and inspired the design of several other major venues worldwide. Visit stratfordfestival.ca for more information.

– 30 –

Jess Duerden, Institute for Canadian Citizenship
(416) 593-6998 ext. 225 | jduerden@icc-icc.ca

Ann Swerdfager, Stratford Festival
(519) 271-4040 ext. 2297 | aswerdfager@stratfordfestival.ca

Sylvie Isabelle, Ex Machina
(418) 692-5323 | sisabelle@exmachina.qc.ca

Monday, 10 March 2014

Second annual Shakespeare Slam features Paul Gross, Steven Page, Hawksley Workman

Toronto event offers an evening of music and spirited debate


March 10, 2014… Paul GrossSteven 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 Pageand 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 TrudeauJian GhomeshiMuhammad 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.


Monday, 24 February 2014

Stratford Festival extends two Shakespeares Venue set for Peter Sellars’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream


February 24, 2014… The 2014 season is off to a strong start, with brisk advance ticket sales. To meet demand, the Stratford Festival is adding performances of Antony and Cleopatra and A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play.

“It is encouraging to see such strong endorsement at our box office this early in the season,” says Executive Director Anita Gaffney. “And we’re delighted that the first shows we’ve had to extend are two of our Shakespeare offerings – very fitting as we mark the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth this year.”

“We have presented Antony and Cleopatra just four other times in our history,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “Audience members who have been eagerly awaiting a Stratford Festival production of this title will be justly rewarded. We could not hope for two more passionate and charismatic actors to play the title roles than Geraint Wyn Davies and Yanna McIntosh.

“The demand for Peter Sellars’s re-imagined Dream also speaks to the fact that our audiences are actively seeking out Shakespeare productions that they cannot see anywhere else. The Chamber Dream promises to delight and challenge theatregoers with a new take on a Shakespearean favourite.”

In this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream four actors – Sarah AffulDion JohnstoneTrish Lindström and Mike Nadajewski – will explore the multiple worlds of Shakespeare’s play. It will reflect on Shakespeare’s intertwining of pagan and Christian spirituality and venture into the inner realms of the play’s supernatural elements.

Community-based venue confirmed
for A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play

The Festival has confirmed that A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play will be staged in Stratford’s Masonic Concert Hall, located downtown, at 15 Church Street, across from the library and court house.

“The Masons were very quick to support our use of the venue, and we give them our thanks,” says Ms Gaffney. “They have agreed to complete a number of renovations to make the building accessible, including adding a ramp and accessible washroom, renovations that will be of great benefit to the community and all those who wish to use the facility in the future.”

The idea of presenting the show in a non-traditional venue was central to the vision of director Peter Sellars. He feels that the venue’s location in a combined commercial-residential neighbourhood makes it a perfect choice and he is delighted that the Masons are enthusiastic about making improvements to the building for its future use.

Performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play, directed by Peter Sellars, have been added as follows:
·         Friday, August 1, at 2 p.m.
·         Friday, August 8, at 8 p.m.
·         Thursday, August 14, at 8 p.m.
·         Friday, August 22, at 8 p.m.
·         Thursday, August 28, at 8 p.m.
·         Thursday, September 11, at 8 p.m.
·         Friday, September 19, at 2 p.m.

The following performances of Antony and Cleopatra, directed by Gary Griffin, have been added:
·         Friday, August 22, at 8 p.m.
·         Friday, August 29, at 2 p.m.
·         Friday, September 5, at 8 p.m.
·         Saturday, September 13, at 8 p.m.

Tickets for these additional performances will go on sale to the public at 9 a.m. on February 26, with advance sales to Members of the Stratford Festival beginning at the same time on February 25. Call the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit www.stratfordfestival.ca to purchase.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play is sponsored by BMO Financial Group.

Production support for Antony and Cleopatra is generously provided by M.E.H. Foundation. Support for the 2014 season of the Tom Patterson Theatre is generously provided by Richard Rooney & Laura Dinner.

The 2014 season of the Stratford Festival runs from April 21 to October 12, featuring King LearCrazy for YouA Midsummer Night’s Dream;The Beaux’ StratagemMan of La ManchaAlice Through the Looking-GlassHay FeverKing JohnMother Courage and Her ChildrenAntony and CleopatraChristina, The Girl KingA Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play; and more than 150 events in the Stratford Festival Forum.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction welcomes new participants for 2014 session

February 14, 2014… The Stratford Festival welcomes five new directors to the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction, along with three directors returning to the program for a second year.

New to the workshop are Christine BrubakerJessica CarmichaelBrett Christopher,Krista Jackson and Rona Waddington. Returning for a second season are Kevin BennettMitchell Cushman and Birgit Schreyer Duarte.

The workshop, now in its fifth year, is intended for directors in the early and middle stages of their careers who have had some experience working with the classics, but not at a theatre of the complexity and scope of the Festival.

Participants will serve as assistant directors and are given the opportunity to showcase their work by presenting a classical piece of their own choosing to an invited audience later in the season. They will also participate in classes in text, voice, movement and other disciplines held by the Festival’s Coaching Department.

“I am delighted with the quality of the participants this year,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “They come from across Canada and have diverse backgrounds. What unites them is their love for theatre and a record of early accomplishments, which promises much for the future. I welcome them to Stratford.”

The workshop is overseen by Mr. Cimolino and Theatre Training Consultant David Latham. Associate Producer Bonnie Green is the coordinator of the program.

The Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction is generously supported by Johanna Metcalf, the George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation and The Philip and Berthe Morton Foundation. The Workshop is sponsored by the RBC Emerging Artist Project.

Participants’ Biographies

Kevin Bennett
Second season: Assistant director of King JohnStratfordThe Three Musketeers(assistant director), Macbeth (Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction Directors’ Workshop Presentation). Vancouver: Directing: Measure for Measure (Pacific Theatre);King LearHamlet (The Honest Fishmongers); FalloutTreasure Island (Studio 58); The Loudest Silence7 Stories (Templeton Secondary School); Cold ComfortThe Woman in Black (Yogurt Theatre); The Priory (United Players of Vancouver); MacbethPet Stories(Limbo Circus Theatre); To Sea, or Not to Sea (Burnaby Summer Theatre); Paper Boats(Walking Fish Festival). Assistant director: She Stoops to Conquer (Arts Club); Richard III,Much Ado About Nothing (Bard on the Beach); NiX (The Only Animal, Cultural Olympiad);The Merchant of VeniceHeptademicThe Winter’s TaleLot’s Wife (Studio 58). Training: Graduate of Studio 58; RADA’s How to Rehearse directing course.

Christine Brubaker
Stratford debut: Assistant director of Alice Through the Looking-GlassElsewhere: An award-winning actor, director and teacher, Christine has performed nationally and internationally. She just completed a season in the National Arts Centre’s acting ensemble:TartuffeThe Sound of Music and EnronActingFear of Flight (Artistic Fraud); The Vaudevilles of Chekhov (NAC); The Penelopiad (Dora Award) and The Danish Play(Nightwood Theatre); The Comedy of Errors (Canadian Stage); The Trials of John Demjanjuk (Theatre Asylum); The Babysitter (Theatre Direct – Dora Award); Schoolhouse(Festival Players PEC). DirectingMuch Ado About Nothing (Nightwood Theatre);Madhouse Variations and Doc Wuthergloom’s Haunted Medicine Show (Eldritch Theatre – resident director); Elle (Lab Cab). Assistant DirectorCinderella (YPT), Measure for Measure (Ryerson), Metamorphoses (NAC). Training: National Theatre School, University of Waterloo, MFA Interdisciplinary Arts, Goddard College. Awards: Fox Fellow. Et cetera: Christine is a regular instructor at Humber and Sheridan colleges.

Jessica Carmichael
Stratford debut: Assistant director of Christina, The Girl KingElsewhere: Selected directing: Good Grief (Weesageechak Festival-26 – Native Earth Performing Arts);girls!girls!girls! (co-director, SummerWorks); The Ghost Sonata – an adaptation (Studio Theatre); Juliet – an adaptation, Skylight (UofA); The Sophocles Project (RADA). Assistant directing: Yellow Moon: The Ballad of Leila and Lee (Studio Theatre); Edward the Second(Jerwood Vanbrugh Studio, U.K.). Has acted with such companies as Theatre Junction, ATP, The Only Animal, Suitcase In Point, Northern Light Theatre. Film/TVThe Reporter,I Think I DoHeart of the SunRecordings: The voice of Tiger Lily on The New Adventures of Peter PanTraining: MFA in Directing (University of Alberta), MA in Text & Performance Studies (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art/King’s College London), three-year Acting Program (The National Theatre School of Canada). Et cetera: Artistic Associate with Native Earth Performing Arts.

Brett Christopher
Stratford debut: Assistant director of A Midsummer Night’s DreamElsewhere: Direction:The TempestThe Taming of the ShrewTwelfth NightShakespeare on Love (Theatre by the Bay); The GrandkidRat Snake (Theatre Kingston); Munschapalooza (Thousand Islands Playhouse). Performance: Boeing BoeingThe Clockmaker (TIP); Vigil (Theatre Kingston); I Am My Own WifeDangerous Liaisons (Segal Theatre); Antony and Cleopatra(Shakespeare in the Rough); Much Ado About Nothing (Canadian Stage); Family Stories: BelgradeThe Sea (ARC); A Midsummer Night’s DreamRomeo and JulietAs You Like It(Theatre by the Bay); The Gladstone VariationsAutoshow (Convergence Theatre); Mary’s Wedding (Theatre & Co.). Training: Queen’s University, George Brown College. Awards: Masques Award and a MECCA Award for his performance in I Am My Own Wife, Segal Centre (Montreal). Et cetera: Brett is the Artistic Producer of Theatre Kingston.

Mitchell Cushman
Second season: Assistant director of The Beaux’ StratagemStratford: Assistant director,The Merchant of VeniceElsewhere: Directing: VitalsTerminusMr. MarmaladeThe Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve JobsOh the Humanity and Other Good Intentions(Outside the March); New Jerusalem (Harold Green Jewish Theatre); The Last of Romeo and JulietPossible Worlds (Talk Is Free Theatre); The Cripple of Inishmaan (Studio Theatre, Edmonton); Oh My Irma (Edmonton Fringe); Seeds (touring director, Crow’s Theatre). Training: MFA in Directing, University of Alberta. Awards: Siminovitch Protégé Award; Dora Award for Outstanding Production (Mr. Marmalade); Toronto Theatre Critics’ Award for Best Director; Ken McDougal Award; SummerWorks Prize for Production (Terminus). Online: www.outsidethemarch.ca. Et cetera: Founding Co-Artistic Director of Outside the March; Associate Artistic Director of Crow’s Theatre; resident artist at Theatre Passe Muraille; faculty member at Act 2 Studio at Ryerson.

Krista Jackson
Stratford debut: Assistant director of Mother Courage and Her ChildrenElsewhere: Directing: The SeagullThe Seafarer (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre); Dying to be Thin(Manitoba Theatre for Young People); The Miser of Middlegate (zone41 theatre / Theatre Projects Manitoba); If Men Played Cards as Women DoOvertones (Shaw Festival);Village Wooing (zone41 theatre). Assistant directing: Hedda GablerMisallianceHis Girl Friday (Shaw Festival); The Wizard of Oz (Globe Theatre). Training: Shaw Festival’s Neil Munro Intern Directors Project 2012, Rumble Directors Lab 2013 (Peter Hinton), Ryerson Theatre School. Awards: Gina Wilkinson Prize (2013). Nominated for: John Hirsch Prize (2014), Winnipeg Arts Council’s RBC On the Rise Award (2012). Online: www.zone41.ca.Et cetera: Founding artistic director of zone41 theatre.

Birgit Schreyer Duarte
Second season: Assistant director of King LearStratford: Assistant director, Mary Stuart (2013). Elsewhere: Most recently: Director/translator, Purgatory in Ingleton (Toronto SummerWorks Festival). Upcoming: Assistant director/dramaturge, To a Flame(Swedish/Finnish/Canadian co-production). Director, Little Pea’s Revolution (United Solo, New York); translator, The Test (Company Theatre), Life of Galileo (Small Wooden Shoe); director/translator, Kaspar & the Sea of Houses (SummerWorks); assistant director, The Cosmonaut’s Last Message, intern director, Fernando Krapp Wrote Me This Letter(Canadian Stage). Training: Theatre Ontario Professional Training Program Directing (mentor Josette Bushell-Mingo); University of Toronto (PhD, drama); Munich University (MA, dramaturgy). Awards: SummerWorks Festival Prize for Outstanding Production; nomination, Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize; Government of Canada Research Award. Online: www.birgitschreyerduarte.com. Et cetera: Literary associate, Shaw Festival. Currently: Artistic and dramaturgical consultant, Canadian Stage. Originally from Munich, Germany.
Rona Waddington

Stratford debut: Assistant director of Antony and CleopatraElsewhere: Director: Hamlet(St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival); The TempestKing Lear (upcoming) (New Open Space Company, Paris); Trying (Centaur Theatre); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumThe MousetrapSteel Magnolias (Drayton Entertainment); Dry Streak(Grand Theatre); Apollo of Bellac (Shaw Festival Director’s Project); Oleanna (Sudbury Theatre Centre); Orson’s Shadow (Pilot Group); Chekhov’s The BearThe SantaLand DiariesPower Lunch (Lunchbox Theatre); Driving Miss Daisy (Port Stanley Festival Theatre); The Godot Cycle (Toronto Fringe); The Collected Works of Billy the Kid(American Conservatory Theatre, MFA program). Assistant Director: Age of ArousalThe Women (Shaw Festival); Night and Day (American Conservatory Theatre). Resident director: The Railway Children (Marquis/Mirvish). Awards: Ottawa Critic’s Circle Award, Best Director, Hamlet, St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival.


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Chilina Kennedy withdraws from 2014 season at Stratford Festival

Chilina Kennedy withdraws from season
Natalie Daradich, Robin Hutton step in

February 12, 2014… Chilina Kennedy has had to withdraw from the 2014 season for the happiest of reasons: she and her partner, Jacob James, are expecting a baby. She was to play Polly Baker in Crazy for You and Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, but she is now unable to undertake two such physically challenging roles. Ms Kennedy remains a valued member of the Festival family, and plans are underway to include her new concert as part of the 2014 Forum.

Natalie Daradich, most recently seen as Glinda in the U.S. tour of Wicked, will take on the role of Polly Baker. Ms Daradich, whose career took her to New York after she graduated from the Sheridan musical theatre program with Ms Kennedy more than a decade ago, will make her Festival debut in Crazy for You.
Robin Hutton will step into the role of Aldonza in Man of La Mancha and is also playing Irene Roth in Crazy for You.  Ms Hutton shone in the key roles of Louise in the 2012 production of Wanderlust, Irene in 2005’s Hello, Dolly! and Tzeitel in 2000’s Fiddler on the Roof, a musical she returned to last season, playing Rifka. Her other Stratford credits include TommyJacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in ParisHenry VAs You Like It and The Three Musketeers.

“We are absolutely delighted that Natalie and Robin are able to take on these roles,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “They are both exceptionally talented performers whom we are privileged to have on our stages. Our audiences have a real treat in store. I’m so happy for Chilina and look forward to welcoming her back to the company in future seasons.”

The first rehearsal for Crazy for You, directed and choreographed by Donna Feore with musical direction by Shelley Hanson, is on Monday, February 17. The production starts previews on April 21 and opens officially on May 27, running until October 12.

Man of La Mancha, directed by Robert McQueen and choreographed by Marc Kimelman with musical direction by Franklin Brasz, goes into rehearsal on March 1. Previews begin May 8 and the production opens on May 29, running until October 11.

The 2014 season of the Stratford Festival runs from April 21 to October 12, featuring King LearCrazy for You; two versions of A Midsummer Night’s DreamThe Beaux’ StratagemMan of La ManchaAlice Through the Looking-GlassHay FeverKing JohnMother Courage and Her ChildrenAntony and CleopatraChristina, The Girl King; and more than 150 events in The Stratford Festival Forum. Tickets are available through the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or online at www.stratfordfestival.ca.



I'm a freelance reviewer of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, in Stratford, Ontario (and the odd show elsewhere). I'll also provide links to other national reviews along the side, for those who don't agree with me and who want to know what other people have said. (My apologies if the links stop working - their rules, not mine.)

Here's to a great season of theatre!

P.S. I delete anonymous comments. If it's worth saying, it's worth knowing who said it.

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