World Première: Judith Thompson’s The Thrill begins previews

July 25, 2013… Judith Thompson’s spirited new play The Thrill receives its world première in a production commissioned by the Festival. Confronting the weighty issues surrounding the right to die, this inspiring love story begins previews at the Studio Theatre on July 28, 2013, before opening on August 13.

The play centres on Elora, a successful lawyer, fiery activist and self-described “bedpan crip,” who finds her life profoundly changed when she encounters Julian, a popular spokesperson for the right-to-die movement. This first meeting of two passionate souls on opposite sides of a painfully divisive issue has consequences that neither had anticipated, evolving into a love affair that weighs the frailty of the human body against the glory of the human spirit.

“It has been my honour to have full access to this theatre,” says Ms Thompson, “and to be assisted every step of the way, so that the voices inside me can be heard, and the characters can be seen, and the ideas can be debated by the audience, the most sacred character in the live and unique event that is the theatre.

After great success at the helm of Daniel MacIvor’s The Best Brothers in 2012, former associate artistic director Dean Gabourie returns for his 10th season at the Festival to bring another world première to the stage.

“Judith Thompson’s plays, to quote the dramatist Howard Barker, are like ‘the grain of sand in the oyster’s gut’: the questions posed and the truths told ask both the actors on stage and the audience to define their own beliefs concerning some of our society’s darkest issues,” says Mr. Gabourie. “The stakes in Thompson’s writing are always high – matters of life and death, if you will – but this play happens to be about life and death and the quality of both.”

These themes fall in line with Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino’s vision for this season’s playbill, which is built around the idea of community and how we as individuals relate to our fellow human beings, to society and its institutions.

“This season, we’re examining the idea of communities: the bonds that hold them together and the differences that divide them,” says Mr. Cimolino. “In this case, the division is based on physical disability. Judith Thompson is an extraordinary playwright with an uncanny ability to give a voice to the voiceless. The Thrill is a powerful, socially active drama that is both funny and deeply moving. It is an honour to hold its world première on our Stratford stage.”

The cast features Lucy Peacock as Elora, Nigel Bennett as Julian, Patricia Collins as Hanna and Robert Persichini as Francis.

The artistic team includes Designer Eo Sharp, Lighting Designer Itai Erdal, Sound Designer Jesse Ash, Dramaturge Iris Turcott and Stunt Coordinator John Stead.

The Thrill 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 offers theatregoers more ways to discover and examine the themes running through this season’s productions.

The Thrill will be explored through several Forum events, including: Writing About the Right to Die, in which Judith Thompson joins journalist, broadcaster and author Ian Brown, playwright and lighting designer Itai Erdal and author Zoe Fitzgerald Carter in a provocative panel discussion moderated by Alex BulmerHow to Disappear Completely, in which Itai Erdal presents his award-winning solo work which demonstrates his theatrical lighting while also reflecting on the events that followed his mother asking him to take her life; and The Insight of Blindness, in which Alex Bulmer, a Canadian-born writer and theatre artist, shares her experience creating disabled-led art after losing her sight.

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 byThe Walrus. Support for the Speakers Series is generously provided in memory of Dr. Philip Hayman. 

The Thrill officially opens on August 13 and runs until September 22. For tickets, contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit stratfordfestival.ca.

Support for the 2013 season of the Studio Theatre is generously provided by the Parnassus Foundation, courtesy of Jane & Raphael Bernstein and Sandra & Jim Pitblado.

The Festival’s new Toronto bus service Stratford Direct is now available twice daily on performance days for only $20 return. Reservations can be made through the box office.

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)

Julian………………………………………….          Nigel Bennett
Hanna…………………………………………          Patricia Collins
Elora…………………………………………..          Lucy Peacock
Francis…………………………………………          Robert Persichini

Artistic Credits

Playwright…………………………………….          Judith Thompson
Director……………………………………….          Dean Gabourie
Designer………………………………………          Eo Sharp
Lighting Designer…………………………….          Itai Erdal
Sound Designer……………………………….         Jesse Ash
Dramaturge……………………………………         Iris Turcott
Stunt Coordinator……………………………..         John Stead
Producer………………………………………          David Auster
Casting Director………………………………          Beth Russell
Creative Planning Director……………………         Jason Miller
Assistant Lighting Designer…………………..         Tristan Tidswell
Stage Manager…………………………………         Julie Miles
Assistant Stage Manager………………………        Corinne Richards
Production Stage Manager…………………….        Marylu Moyer
Technical Directors……………………………         Robbin Cheesman, Kaileigh Krysztofiak

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PHOTOGRAPHY:

Promotional photos for The Thrill:

http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/imagegallery/imagegallery.aspx?id=20309

Headshots:

http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/imagegallery/imagegallery.aspx?id=14315

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