New Forum continues to grow with the addition of more workshops, comedy, panels, debates

April 3, 2013… The Stratford Festival is pleased to announce that comedians Albert Howell, Elvira Kurt and Matt Watts will be part of this season’s Forum, joining the impressive lineup of comics already confirmed for June 13’s Stand Off, featuring Seán Cullen, Chris Gibbs and Sharon Matthews.

The Forum, the new festival within the Festival, continues to expand with such newly confirmed events as Tales Under the Tent, a weekly family offering presented free of charge in partnership with the Stratford Public Library.

“A festival is all about variety,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “With a dozen plays in our season and more than 150 events, the Stratford Festival offers more to choose from than ever before. I am delighted to see some of Canada’s funniest comedians join our roster, and equally pleased that our programmers are developing creative activities that allow our theatregoers to interact with the plays and each other in wonderful new ways.”

Tales Under the Tent, which is scheduled on Wednesdays from July 10 to August 21 in a tent on the Festival grounds before the afternoon performance, invites families with children aged 6 to 12 to gather for stories and activities related to the day’s play. The 2013 season offers a number of titles with appeal to families this season, including The Three Musketeers, Fiddler on the Roof and Romeo and Juliet.

It’s one of a number of interactive activities in the Forum, including these newly confirmed events:

  • Shylock Revisited, a participatory exploration of the co-mingling of anti-Semitism, sexism and The Merchant of Venice, asking: What if Shylock was a she?
    • Tuesday, August 13, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at Factory 163, 163 King Street. Admission $20.
    • Storytelling Workshop. First Nations Storyteller James Adams, improvisational comedian Joanne O’Sullivan and actor and journalist Barbara Budd share thoughts, traditions and approaches to finding the universal myths of your own life.
      • Wednesday, July 10, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Factory 163, 163 King Street. $50 pre-registration necessary.

Other new additions to the Forum lineup include:

  • 2013 Symposium: Honest Villains and Noble Killers: The Iago/Othello Character Dynamic, with Ellen Geer, Artistic Director of the Theatricum Botanicum in Los Angeles, and Dr. Caroline Bicks of Boston College, as well as members of the Festival company.
    • Saturday, September 14, at 9:30 a.m. in the Studio Theatre. Admission $20; $10 for students.
  • The Necessity of Virtue, with University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist and regular contributor to TVO’s Big Ideas. He will examine the necessity of virtue as evidenced in the story of Measure for Measure.
    • Wednesday, June 12, at 11 a.m. in the Festival Lobby. Admission $10.
  • A screening of the film An Unlikely Obsession: Churchill and the Jews. This powerful documentary examines a neglected aspect of one of world history’s most renowned leaders: Winston Churchill’s relationship to Jews and Jewish issues. Drawing on a treasure trove of interviews featuring Churchill family members, Lord Conrad Black, Alan Dershowitz and others, the film explores the origins, implications and results of this world leader’s commitment to his generation’s most vulnerable people. The film will be followed by a discussion with director Barry Avrich and producer Michael Levine.
    • Wednesday, July 10, at 5:30 p.m. at the University of Waterloo, Stratford Campus, 125 St. Patrick Street. Admission $20.
  • The Power of the Pen, a panel of some of Canada’s most political and prolific playwrights including Carmen Aguirre (The Refugee Hotel, Something Fierce; winner of 2012 Canada Reads), Sky Gilbert (Ban This Show, The Emotionalists) and Djanet Sears (Harlem Duet, The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God), who will discuss the drive to write and the theatrical forum.
    • Saturday, July 13, at 5:30 p.m. in the Festival Theatre lobby. Admission $10.
  • Beckett: Longing and Belonging with Beckett expert Sean Kennedy of St. Mary’s University in Halifax, who will look at the themes of identity and belonging in Samuel Beckett’s work, particularly Waiting for Godot.
    • Wednesday, August 14, at 11 a.m. in the Festival Theatre lobby. Free.
  • Othello vs. Otello. Verdi aficionado John Zaretti of the Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan and Othello director Chris Abraham discuss the play and its operatic adaptation and their respective strengths and genius, pitting aria against soliloquy in this face-off of masterpieces. Date to be confirmed.

Geraint Wyn Davies to present reading of Shakespeare’s lost play, Cardenio

Titles have been confirmed for Geraint Wyn Davies’s series, Wordplay, in which he and members of the company will present readings of plays in the Studio Theatre. They are:

  • Becket by Jean Anouilh, which centres on the conflict between Thomas Becket and Henry II of England leading to Becket’s assassination in 1170. June 14, 8 p.m. Admission $25.
  • Cardenio, Shakespeare’s lost play. Based on an episode in Cervantes’ Don Quixote, this thrilling story of a friendship betrayed, disguise, dishonour and deceit plays out in the heat and dust of Andalusia in seventeenth-century Spain. July 9 at 8 p.m. Admission $25.
  • Shylock by Arnold Wesker, which tells the story of The Merchant of Venice from Shylock’s point of view. August 24 at 8 p.m. Admission $25.
  • Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, about a day in the life of a small Welsh fishing village. August 29 at 8 p.m. Admission $25.

Dates set for This Is That and Lloyd Robertson interview

Dates have been set for these previously announced and highly anticipated events:

  • This Is That. Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring, of CBC’s This Is That, bring Stratford audiences a live rendition of the award-winning satirical radio show. Nothing is off limits – politics, culture, justice, religion; if it’s relevant to Canadians, This Is That finds a way to fabricate a story. Subject matter: totally Canadian. Truth factor: totally questionable.
    • Sunday, June 16, at 8 p.m. in the Studio Theatre. Admission $25.
  • The Kind of Life It’s Been. Lloyd Robertson speaks to CTV’s Seamus O’Regan, one journalist to another, about his life behind the headlines, and the world as he sees it now.
    • Saturday, July 13, at 10 a.m. in the Tom Patterson Theatre. Admission $20.

Support for the inaugural season of The Forum is generously provided by Kelly and Michael Meighen and the Province of Ontario, in partnership with the University of Waterloo, with media sponsorship provided by The Walrus. Support for the Speakers Series is generously provided in memory of Dr. Phil Hayman. The 2013 Symposium is generously sponsored by Dr. Jules and Josephine Harris.

The 2013 season begins on April 23 and runs until October 20, featuring Romeo and JulietFiddler on the RoofThe Three MusketeersThe Merchant of VeniceTommyBlithe 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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