Friedrich Schiller’s political thriller Mary Stuart starts previews

May 3, 2013… Examining the power struggle between two legendary monarchs, Mary Stuart offers a timely exploration of the often dangerous relationship between religion and politics. Directed by the Festival’s Artistic Director, Antoni Cimolino, Friedrich Schiller’s gripping historical drama, in a new version by Peter Oswald, begins previews on Friday, May 3, at the Tom Patterson Theatre.

For the first time since 2005’s Fallen Angels, two of the Festival’s most celebrated leading women – Seana McKenna and Lucy Peacock – will be sharing the stage. Ms Peacock will play the title role opposite Ms McKenna as Elizabeth I. The cast also features Ben Carlson as Lord Burleigh, Brian Dennehy as the Earl of Shrewsbury and Geraint Wyn Davies as the Earl of Leicester.

This will be the first production directed by Mr. Cimolino since taking over as Artistic Director this season. A celebrated director, he has been at the helm of many of the Festival’s most successful productions, including last year’s hauntingly beautiful Cymbeline. Mary Stuart promises to be a highlight of this season as well, with a quarter of the performances already sold out.

“I have selected a season that I hope will touch both the hearts and minds of our audiences, not only engaging them emotionally but also provoking discussion and debate,” says Mr. Cimolino. “A story about religious extremism, fanatics willing to die for their God, gender politics and a society struggling to find its way to democracy, Mary Stuart serves as a bridge that connects the England of 1587 with the German states of 1800 and with any monotheistic nation in 2013.”

Mary Stuart, former Queen of Scots, is imprisoned in England because her very existence poses a political and personal risk to her Protestant cousin, Elizabeth I. As Elizabeth hesitates over decreeing her rival’s fate, Mary pleads for a face-to-face meeting, and we see how religion can become a tool in the hands of cynical politicians who are willing to sacrifice lives in the supposed interests of the state.

“It’s a great enlightenment play,” says Mr. Cimolino. “I think the point Schiller is trying to make is that it is human to become intolerant – and even to take a force for good, like religion, and twist it. It’s not that you doubt the belief of the people who believe; you just doubt the aims of the people who are telling them who their enemies are and what to do.”

The production’s artistic team includes Designer Eo Sharp, Lighting Designer Steven Hawkins, Sound Designer Todd Charlton, Movement Coach Shona Morris and Fight Director John Stead.

Mary Stuart Forum Highlights 

The Forum, the new festival within the Festival, is a series of activities and events designed to make a visit to Stratford an immersive, all-encompassing cultural experience. Through debates, talks, concerts, comedy nights, hands-on workshops and more, The Forum will offer theatregoers more ways to discover and examine the themes running through this season’s productions.

Mary Stuart will be explored through several Forum events, including: Dear Mary, Dear Elizabeth, in which cast members Seana McKenna and Lucy Peacock present readings of real-life letters between the rival queens Elizabeth and Mary; Ascent of Women: A Remarkable Story of World-Wide Change, in which Sally Armstrong, journalist, author and three-time winner of the Amnesty International Media Award and a Member of the Order of Canada, discusses her latest book, Ascent of Women; and Elizabeth and Mary, Rival Queens: A Study of Leadership Lost and Won, a talk and book signing by Barbara Kyle, author of Blood Between Queens, published in May 2013.

The Forum also includes events led by key cast members of Mary Stuart: Geraint Wyn Davies Presents… “Wordplay”: Becket, in which members of the company join Geraint Wyn Davies for a reading of Becket, Jean Anouilh’s historical drama about an earlier conflict in British history, and Late Night with Lucy, an after-hours cabaret with host Lucy Peacock and special guest performers.

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. W. Philip Hayman.

Mary Stuart officially opens on May 31 and runs until September 21. For tickets, contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit www.stratfordfestival.ca.

Production support for Mary Stuart is generously provided by Dr. Dennis & Dorothea Hacker, Drs. M.L. Myers & the late W.P. Hayman, Alice & Tim Thornton and Diana Tremain.

Support for the 2013 season of the Tom Patterson Theatre is generously provided by Richard Rooney and Laura Dinner.

Stratford Direct, the new daily return private bus service between Toronto and Stratford, began May 1. Departing once daily from May 1 to 25 and October 1 to 20 and twice daily from May 27 to September 29 (on performance days only), the round trip costs only $20.

Support for Stratford Direct is generously provided by The Peter Cundill Foundation.

The Stratford Festival’s 2013 season 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.

Cast (in alphabetical order)

Ensemble……………………………….        Sarah Afful

Officer #1/Sheriff………………………       Nigel Bennett

Amias Paulet……………………………        James Blendick

Ensemble……………………………….        Susie Burnett

Lord Burleigh…………………………..       Ben Carlson

Hanna Kennedy………………………..        Patricia Collins

Earl of Shrewsbury…………………….        Brian Dennehy

Ensemble……………………………….        Carmen Grant

O’Kelly…………………………………       Brad Hodder

Aubespine………………………………       Peter Hutt

Ensemble……………………………….        Ruby Joy

Officer #2/Page…………………………       Josue Laboucane

Mortimer………………………………..       Ian Lake

Elizabeth………………………………..       Seana McKenna

Mary Stuart……………………………..       Lucy Peacock

Earl of Kent…………………………….       Robert Persichini

Drury……………………………………       Christopher Prentice

Understudy……………………………..       Stephen Russell

Bellievre………………………………..        E.B. Smith

Ensemble……………………………….        Dorcas Sowunmi

Melvil……………………………………       Brian Tree

William Davison………………………..       Dylan Trowbridge

Earl of Leicester…………………………       Geraint Wyn Davies

Artistic Credits

Director…………………………………       Antoni Cimolino

Designer…………………………………       Eo Sharp

Lighting Designer………………………       Steven Hawkins

Sound Designer…………………………       Todd Charlton

Movement………………………………       Shona Morris

Fight Director…………………………..       John Stead

Producer…………………………………       David Auster

Casting Director………………………..        Beth Russell

Creative Planning Director……………..       Jason Miller

Assistant Director………………………       Birgit Schreyer Duarte

Assistant Set Designer………………….       Patrice Strate

Assistant Costume Designer……………       Kimberly Catton

Assistant Lighting Designer……………       Sarah Mansikka

Assistant Fight Directors……………….       Geoff Scovell, Anita Nittoly

Stage Manager………………………….       Anne Murphy

Assistant Stage Manager……………….       Holly Korhonen, Kristopher Weber

Apprentice Stage Manager……………..       Kenilee Kehler

Production Assistant……………………        Heather Bellingham

Production Stage Manager……………..       Janine Ralph

Technical Director………………………        Sean Hirtle

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One thought on “Friedrich Schiller’s political thriller Mary Stuart starts previews

  1. Pingback: ‘Mary Stuart’ starts previews in Stratford | Christopher Prentice

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