Press Release: 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 Brubaker, Jessica Carmichael, Brett Christopher, Krista Jackson and Rona Waddington. Returning for a second season are Kevin Bennett, Mitchell 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 John. Stratford: The Three Musketeers (assistant director), Macbeth (Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction Directors’ Workshop Presentation). Vancouver: Directing: Measure for Measure (Pacific Theatre); King Lear, Hamlet (The Honest Fishmongers); Fallout, Treasure Island (Studio 58); The Loudest Silence, 7 Stories (Templeton Secondary School); Cold Comfort, The Woman in Black (Yogurt Theatre); The Priory (United Players of Vancouver); Macbeth, Pet 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 Venice, Heptademic, The Winter’s Tale, Lot’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-Glass. Elsewhere: 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: Tartuffe, The Sound of Music and Enron. Acting: Fear 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). Directing: Much Ado About Nothing (Nightwood Theatre); Madhouse Variations and Doc Wuthergloom’s Haunted Medicine Show (Eldritch Theatre – resident director); Elle (Lab Cab). Assistant Director: Cinderella (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 King. Elsewhere: 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/TV: The Reporter, I Think I Do, Heart of the Sun. Recordings: The voice of Tiger Lily on The New Adventures of Peter Pan. Training: 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 Dream. Elsewhere: Direction: The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, Shakespeare on Love (Theatre by the Bay); The Grandkid, Rat Snake (Theatre Kingston); Munschapalooza (Thousand Islands Playhouse). Performance: Boeing Boeing, The Clockmaker (TIP); Vigil (Theatre Kingston); I Am My Own Wife, Dangerous Liaisons (Segal Theatre); Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare in the Rough); Much Ado About Nothing (Canadian Stage); Family Stories: Belgrade, The Sea (ARC); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It (Theatre by the Bay); The Gladstone Variations, Autoshow (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’ Stratagem. Stratford: Assistant director, The Merchant of Venice. Elsewhere: Directing: Vitals, Terminus, Mr. Marmalade, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Oh the Humanity and Other Good Intentions (Outside the March); New Jerusalem (Harold Green Jewish Theatre); The Last of Romeo and Juliet, Possible 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 Children. Elsewhere: Directing: The Seagull, The 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 Do, Overtones (Shaw Festival); Village Wooing (zone41 theatre). Assistant directing: Hedda Gabler, Misalliance, His 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 Lear. Stratford: 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 Cleopatra. Elsewhere: Director: Hamlet (St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival); The Tempest, King Lear (upcoming) (New Open Space Company, Paris); Trying (Centaur Theatre); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Mousetrap, Steel 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 Bear, The SantaLand Diaries, Power 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 Arousal, The 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.

Press Release | Stratford Festival dedicates productions to the memory of Jean-Louis Roux, Suzanne Turnbull and Jack Merigold

January 20, 2014… In the past few months, Canadian theatre has lost some champions, each of whom made a vital contribution to their discipline. The Stratford Festival will commemorate the lives of three of these people, who had close ties to Stratford, through a series of dedications in the 2014 season.

King Lear dedicated to Jean-Louis Roux

King Lear will be dedicated to actor and director Jean-Louis Roux.

“Jean-Louis Roux was a pioneer, creating companies, leading institutions and promoting the critical importance of the arts in our society,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, who will direct the production. “He was a valued member of the Stratford company over many years as an actor as well as a director. I last worked with him at the Festival Theatre along with Colm Feore in Coriolanus. Therefore it is with affection that we dedicate this season’s production of King Lear to Jean-Louis, who was ‘every inch a king.’”

M. Roux turned to acting when he was three years into medical school. He worked and trained in France and on his return to Montreal founded Le Théâtre du Nouveau Monde with a group including Jean Gascon, who would later become Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival. M. Roux served as Secretary General of TNM from 1952 to 1963 and then as Artistic Director from 1966 to 1982. He was involved in the creation of the National Theatre School, where he was Director General from 1982 to 1987. He was a member of the Canadian Senate, Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec, Chairman of the Canada Council and a Companion of the Order of Canada.

He was a member of the Stratford Festival company for six seasons between 1956 and 2006, playing Orleans in the famous bilingual Stratford Festival-TNM co-production of Henry V in 1956 and Burgundy in the re-mount of that production in 1966. In addition to playing the First Roman Senator in Coriolanus in 2006, he also played Don Louis in Don Juan, another Stratford Festival-TNM co-production, which was performed in both French and English. The previous year, he directed The Measure of Love, sharing a lifetime of theatre experience with then-new playwright Nicolas Billon, winner of the 2013 Governor General’s Award for Drama.

King John dedicated to Suzanne Turnbull

King John will be dedicated to acting coach Suzanne Turnbull.

“Suzy Turnbull was an acting coach who had a special gift in developing talent,” says Mr. Cimolino. “She worked in theatres and schools across Canada. Her intelligence, compassion and love for acting made her a great force for good in our art form. Along with Michael Mawson and Richard Monette, Suzy was a driving force in the creation of our Birmingham Conservatory. Suzy’s last production at Stratford was Titus Andronicus at the Tom Patterson Theatre. We dedicate our production of King John in that theatre to her memory.”

A multi-talented theatre artist, Ms Turnbull was a beloved member of the Festival’s coaching staff for many years. She was also the dramaturge for Titus Andronicus in 2011 and The Two Gentlemen of Verona in 2010, as well as the assistant director of The Taming of the Shrew in 2008. Her warmth, generosity and intelligence made her a great resource for the Festival company.

Suzie also worked as an acting coach at major training institutions across Canada, including Western University and the University of Windsor, and she herself had a BFA from the University of Alberta. She was a founding member of the NDWT Company, director of education at Kaleidoscope Theatre in Victoria, and a member of the Kam Theatre cooperative in Thunder Bay.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream dedicated to Jack Merigold

A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be dedicated to stage manager Jack Merigold.

“Jack Merigold was a multi-talented man of the theatre,” says Mr. Cimolino. “He worked as an actor and director but made his greatest contribution as a stage manager. His work in the early years at Stratford with Tyrone Guthrie and Michael Langham brought discipline as well as joy to our creative process. Over many years, his boundless energy and puck-like spirit enlivened our theatres. It is no surprise that he played Puck in a production that toured Ontario early in his career. Therefore it is a great pleasure to dedicate our Festival Theatre production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Jack.”

Mr. Merigold was hired as an assistant stage manager by Tyrone Guthrie for the Festival’s inaugural season in 1953. He soon became Dr. Guthrie’s stage manager and their working relationship stretched beyond Stratford to include 12 productions in New York and four in London.

Mr. Merigold was with the Festival for 16 seasons between 1953 and 1976, in a variety of roles. He was the production stage manager for the Avon Theatre and for opera, and later served as the purchasing agent. He was the assistant to the director on 1960’s HMS Pinafore and 1961’s The Pirates of Penzance, a production in which he also appeared as an actor. In 1974 he directed This Is the Rill Speaking at the Third Stage (now the Tom Patterson Theatre). His acting career included a recurring role on CBC TV’s Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town and appearances on the Wayne and Shuster TV specials.

King Lear opens on May 26, King John opens on May 28, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens on May 31.

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Press Release | Shakespeare Theatre Association international conference starts next week at the Stratford Festival

January 15, 2014… As Shakespeare lovers everywhere prepare to mark the 450th anniversary of the birth of the world’s greatest dramatist, members of the Shakespeare Theatre Association gather at the Stratford Festival for their annual conference.

“We are extremely proud to have this prestigious gathering in Stratford during this year of celebration,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, who will deliver the keynote address. “We’ll be joined by theatre professionals from all over this continent and beyond. It’s wonderful to be reminded of the extent and variety of work being undertaken by companies that specialize in Shakespeare. We’re looking forward immensely to this gathering of friends, old and new.”

STA conferences have been a valuable resource to Stratford Festival staff from various departments for almost 25 years.

“Having attended two previous STA conferences, hosted by the Orlando Shakespeare Theater and the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival,” says Executive Director Anita Gaffney, “I know how illuminating and inspiring it can be to share this time with our counterparts at other theatres: fellow artists and staff who share our love of Shakespeare and our passion for bringing his plays to the stage and into people’s lives.”

The theme for this year’s conference, which runs from January 22 to 25 and will be attended by 120 delegates, is “Speak the Speech: The Power of Words.” It will focus on what Shakespeare’s words mean to us today, how they can best be brought alive for new generations, and how their enduring power still shapes and enriches our lives.

Sessions will explore various topics, including:

  • Cross-gender and non-traditional casting.
  • Stage to Screen.
  • Shakespeare’s use of rhyme and prose at different periods of his career.
  • How the Affordable Care Act will affect the way in which U.S. theatres create art.
  • Shakespeare and accessibility.
  • Balancing creativity with restrictions such as time, union regulations and resources.
  • Original Practices.
  • Festival-University partnerships.
  • Romancing the Board.
  • Education and social media.

The conference will also feature a much-anticipated session with members of the cast and creative team of Slings and Arrows.

In the three days immediately preceding the conference, the Festival will host an education practicum. This component gives education staff from STA member theatres an opportunity to train intensively with their colleagues from around the world. It will feature sessions on such topics as:

  • The journey from engagement to comprehension to empowerment.
  • Shakespeare in the classroom.
  • Physical theatre.
  • Hip Hop Shakespeare.
  • Voice.
  • Clowning.
  • Original Practices.
  • Directing Shakespeare.

Since its founding in 1991, the Shakespeare Theatre Association has held its annual conference at member theatres across North America, as well as in the U.K. It was last held in Canada in 2005. The Stratford Festival hosted the event once before, in 1996.

#2014sta

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Three Job Opportunities | Chef | Graphic Designer | Major Gift Manager-GTA

Would you like to play a meaningful role with North America’s leading classical repertory theatre? At the Stratford Festival, we attract the world’s finest talent, offering a unique experience for staff, artists and actors alike. If you would like to be a part of this exciting organization, we are looking for someone to fill the role of…

Graphic Designer

We are currently looking for a junior-level graphic designer to join the Festival’s graphic design team, for a one-year contract position. The ideal candidate will have a sound understanding of current Macintosh equipment and Adobe software workflow, using InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat, as well as a working knowledge of the Microsoft Office suite. Applications should have a strong design portfolio as well as experience in a fast-paced electronic studio environment.

Successful candidates will provide creative designs with strong typographic skills and accuracy and be capable of managing multiple projects simultaneously in both an independent and team environment. A proven ability to work within tight schedules and deadlines will be expected, as well as a clear understanding of PDF art files for proofing and print production.

This Stratford position will begin mid-February, 2014.

We recognize that diversity- in our workplace, in our audiences and on our stages- fosters a rich and creative environment. We are actively engaged in building a more diverse workplace and encourage all qualified applicants to apply by January 15, 2014 to;

Human Resources
Stratford Festival
55 Queen Street
Stratford, Ontario N5A 6V2
E-mail: resumes@stratfordfestival.ca
Subject: Graphic Designer
_________________________________________________________________________

Would you like to play a meaningful role with North America’s leading classical repertory theatre? At the Stratford Festival, we attract the world’s finest talent, offering a unique experience for staff, artists, and actors alike. If you would like to be a part of this exciting organization, we are looking for someone to fill the role of…

Chef-Food and Beverage department

Reporting to the Food and Beverage Manager, you are responsible for leading the Stratford Festival kitchen team in all food service capacities. You must have a solid understanding of all kitchen areas including health and safety, daily food preparation as well as pastries.  A background and interest in banquets of all types, including plated, buffet and reception style events is imperative.  You strive to maintain appropriate food costs and budget control, all while maintaining a friendly, positive atmosphere.

You will be an excellent communicator and have the ability to build and maintain a highly efficient and successful kitchen. Exceptional organizational skills and the ability to work effectively in a unique food service environment are required. Previous kitchen experience in a leadership role is essential.  You have the ability to both direct and motivate your staff in a positive manor.  You are flexible and able to work a variety of shifts including weekends, holidays and evenings.

This seasonal position will start January 2014 and end in October 2014. Successful candidates must be able to fulfill the entire contract period.

We recognize that diversity – in our workplace, in our audiences and on our stages- fosters a rich and creative environment. We are actively engaged in building a more diverse workplace and encourage all qualified applicants to apply by January 23, 2014 to:

Human Resources
Stratford Festival
55 Queen Street
Stratford, Ontario N5A 6V2
E-mail: resumes@stratfordfestival.ca
Subject: Chef
_________________________________________________________________________

Would you like to play a meaningful role with North America’s leading classical repertory theatre? At the Stratford Festival, we attract the world’s finest talent, offering a unique experience for staff, artists and actors alike. If you would like to be a part of this exciting organization, we are looking for someone to fill the role of ….

Major Gift Manager-GTA 

Reporting to the Director of Advancement this position will play an integral role in the achievement of the organization’s strategic plan through participation in the development and implementation of revenue generation programs, including campaigns, membership and other major gift fundraising initiatives. You will assist with the development, formulation and execution of these goals through effective prospect identification; cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of major gift prospects; overseeing and acting as liaison for formal volunteer committees and individual volunteer activities and facilitating personal meetings, telephone and written correspondence with all potential prospects and current donors.

This position is a full time position based in Toronto but you must have the ability to travel to Stratford as required.

You will have advanced knowledge of fundraising, communications and marketing acquired through the completion of a graduate degree in Philanthropy, Communications or Marketing; the work involved the mastery of concepts and theories in the fundraising and marketing field, with at least five years of directly related experience with a proven track record in development with experience in managing Annual Giving Programs ( or components) and Major Gifts; knowledge of professional fundraising theory and practice; excellent communication skills both written and verbal, and effective public speaking experience; ability to develop relationships quickly and sound judgment and diplomacy. Familiarity with or an interest in theatre or the arts is essential.

We recognize that diversity- in our workplace, in our audiences and on our stages- fosters a rich and creative environment. We are actively engaged in building a more diverse workplace and encourage all qualified applicants to apply by January 15, 2014 to;

Human Resources
Stratford Festival
55 Queen Street
Stratford, Ontario N5A 6V2
E-mail: resumes@stratfordfestival.ca
Subject: Major Gift Manager

Crazy Composition Competition – Winners!

We asked you to write us a poem no more than 20 lines, musing on our 2014 season theme of Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge, and the results were incredible.

If you haven’t had a chance to read all of the poems we received, please click here!

We want to thank you for all of your fabulous entries to our Crazy Composition Competition – at moments like this, we’re reminded of just how intelligent and madly creative our group of fans can be!

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for… our winning poet, who will take home the grand prize of a pair of opening night tickets to King Lear along with Shakespeare-lover’s journals and two copies of King Lear!

In first place: congratulations to Kylene Walker!

Alone

‘Nothing will come of nothing’ is what the old man said,
But perhaps the ‘nothing’ that he spoke of was all inside his head.
Staring blankly at the strangers searching, hoping for the traces
Of the people he once saw among the sea of angry faces.
And a hush falls over the crowd as he stands a man alone.

Surrounded by his books the pages slowly come alive,
Wand’ring, tortured, there is one way for a hero to survive:
Beneath the armour of a knight (with a limping horse and mule)
To stand before the giants and all at once become the fool.
And a hush falls over the crowd as the hero stands alone.

Peeling paper, dusty curtains in a large abandoned room
A girl’s reflection changes to reveal an uffish plume.
Trapped beneath the surface of an ever-changing world,
Crying, screaming, and repeating with the hopes of being heard.
And a hush falls over the crowd as the young girl stands alone.

Return now to the old man whose past friends are gone or blind,
Does he teach us of the dangers of a storm-beguiled mind?
Or the hero and the young girl bravely walking hand-in-hand
Is there only so much madness that we’re able to withstand?
And a hush falls over the stage as the crowd now stands alone.

But that’s not all! Since we received SO many beautiful and funny poems, we’ll also be giving away a pair of tickets to each of our 2ndplace, 3rd place and honorable mention winners to any preview performance in April or May.

In second place: congratulations to Meg Cormack!

MMXIV

Thou, the stage, art my goddess as it seems,
Eternity given into our eyes,
Swift as shadows where words become our dreams.

To dream the impossible is what deems,
Beggary in love reckoned through the cries:
Thou, the stage, art my goddess as it seems.

While through the looking-glass surely redeems,
A life of sweet, sweet, sweet poison and lies,
Swift as shadows where words become our dreams.

Through salad days and midsummer night schemes,
The world confesses its everyday ties,
Thou, the stage, art my goddess as it seems.

From queens of hearts to the girl king extremes,
Crazy to fever to courage that flies,
Swift as shadows where words become our dreams.

With lyric and sonnet this season beams,
Themed mortality awaiting reprise,
Thou, the stage, art my goddess as it seems,
Swift as shadows where words become our dreams.

In third place: congratulations to Jeremy Gretton!

Seasoning of madness, you say?  Sounds like trouble brewing, but here’s something to stew over:
An a-salt to the senses, peppered with
King Lear’s mind gone, power gone, daughters gone – ril… but no tarra-gon.  Everything gone, or at least not all there.
Gone. Gone.  Another king, John. And a Queen, Christina – with such power to… bare,
making even Toronto politics seem tame.
Next step in this seasoning game – add just a dash of Antony, and Cleopatra, his flame.
But don’t add too much – she might be hot, but is a pain in the asp.
And Shakespeare’s Bottom, really such an ass.  But enough about Shakespeare’s bottom…
Not enough kick?  The answer?  A dancer!  They’ve got rhythm.  And don’t forget Mother Courage and Her Daughters, by Brecht.  Brecht had rhythm.  Arrhythmia, in fact.
STILL not enough kick?  We already have a donkey!  But Bottom is a bit asinine.
How about Donkey Hoté?  I mean, Don Quixote.  The Man of la Mancha is a true giant of literature.  Or perhaps a windmill, after all.
Add a pitchfork-ful of Hay … Fever.  Nothing to sneeze at, though the playwright’s a bit of a Coward.  Or at least not in his wright mind.
Add Alice to the mix, and see if you can add the March Hare to the stew … but no one could eat the entire hare!  In other words, I’ve never seen someone down the rabbit whole.
Seasoning of madness.  A recipe for disaster.
What’s that?  “Season” of madness?  I misheard?   HAHAHAHAHA. HAHA. HA.
Sorry, but I simply don’t know what a season of madness looks like.  I am play-ful, but not insane.

And our honorable mention goes to: David Rose – congratulations!

I’ve heard that at Stratford next year
Colm Feore will be playing King Lear.
And also it seems
There’ll be two separate “Dreams”
An inspiring season of Shakespeare.

It’s billed as the year of the loony.
But the “Man” being played by Tom Rooney,
King John, Tony and Cleo,
Fever, Alice and The Beaux,
Will be surely worth more than a twoney.
_________________________________________________________________________

Thank you, once again, to all of the contestants! Each and every one of you deserves praise for your poetical odes: in fact, you made choosing a winner a very tricky task. We can’t wait to welcome all of you to the Festival in 2014!

Crazy Composition Competition – the entries are rolling in!

We’ve received some amazing entries for our Crazy Composition Competition and there’s still time to submit a poem of your own for a chance to win a pair of opening night tickets for King Lear starring Colm Feore!

Shakespeare-Contest-Image

Here’s what you need to take home this amazing prize!*

In an e-mail to socialmedia@stratfordfestival.ca, please include:

  • A poem of no more than 20 lines about the Festival’s 2014 season playbill and themes. It can take the form of a Shakespearean sonnet, a haiku, a limerick, free verse – you name it!
  • Your first and last name.
  • Your mailing address, e-mail address and phone number.

Check out the amazing line-up of poems entered so far for our Crazy Composition Competition! Don’t forget that that the final day to submit an entry is December 17, 2013 at midnight!
_________________________________________________________________________

Written by: Diane Haggerty

This cold night we are all turning into fools and madmen
Life is short; we’re growing older. “Shall we dance, dear King?” said I, or tiptoe out…
In midsummer we have impossible dreams of Red Kings and Bastards and monks with their poison cups
But now we see only mirrors tilting, and kittens.
Load the bountiful cheeses and cherries on the wagon and count to eleven, striking the donkey that jabbers
While four lovers in a closet are dreaming of asps and swords
Perhaps I am a man, perhaps I am a woman – perhaps I am mad
And so, shaking my spear, I end with the overture.

Written by: Aidan Ware

From ancient empire Egypt to the stars of La Mancha’s past
We gaze through our looking glass

Minds in madness run, their turmoil cast

To crowds waiting in the darkness for a King

As flickering foes in the distance sing

A dream will dance upon a midsummer night stage
And rage

Like a wild soul in the blindness of fate
Blistering lovers’ lust lost
Thrones tossed

To a vortex of voices vying

In crazed confusion crying
At the edges of reason

Ragged treason

Carried with a snake or knife

Through the empty words of life
From great Egypt to La Mancha
We gaze
Where madness forces back the curtain

And plays

Written by: Dana Sorensen

“A Poet’s Madness”

With breathe of wind and dark of evening cast
Shrouds a bard as he whispers and writes
Amidst a sea of paper, blank and vast
The cause of many a sleepless night

His thoughts are fleeting, his heart is beating
Grabs at the pool of ideas in his mind
Memory fickle, his body begins heating
And madness overcomes, turns his senses blind

Calm breeze turns storm of storms, nature rages
And sweet release comes in the form of skill
He thought of the crowd, he thought of the stage
As madness seeps through body and pours through quill

He picks up page, with dawn comes mind so clear
A whisper so soft “Here resides King Leer”

Written by: Yvonne Hord

Festival madness
abounds in twenty fourteen.
Who will escape here?

Written by: Tom Valcke

I fear
King Lear
Is near.
Oh dear!

Written by: Monica Reid

Roses are red
violets are blue
bill hut was my 1st Lear
want to see number 2

Really.

Written by: David Rose

I’ve heard that at Stratford next year
Colm Feore will be playing King Lear.
And also it seems
There’ll be two separate “Dreams”
An inspiring season of Shakespeare.

It’s billed as the year of the loony.
But the “Man” being played by Tom Rooney,
King John, Tony and Cleo,
Fever, Alice and The Beaux,
Will be surely worth more than a twoney.

Written by: Robin Bennett

Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge – Young love:
“How do I love you?
Take this Earth
And drop it into the night sky.
Wait…for a billion years.
Gather all the starlight
The Earth has seen on its journey;
Collect that starlight in a kiss;
Place that kiss upon your lips.
That is how much I love you.”

Written by: Doug Ironside

Twas Anthony danced with an Egyptian queen,
Playbills extolling an Impossible Dream
Madness of Lear offset by the mildest Colm
More Crazy for You, ‘twixt long legs and… lip balm

And there on the boards, we’ll see the courage of mothers
A tyrannical Rex, obsessed with his druthers…
The fever of Hay, Christina, the King !
On a Mid-Summer’s Night, the play’s indeed, the thing.

And speaking of Queens, we’ll have one crimson red
Calling for Alice and others to lose their dear heads
Stratagems, scheming, love, daring, piety
This new year before us, simply bursting with variety

It’s at Stratford!, kind folks, where you’ll come quite undone
For this season, there’s magic for each, everyone.

Written by: Paul Knowles

The Bard is buried in the Church of the Holy Trinity…
And equally so, deep in our consciousness
In the infinity of idea and dream,
Where life is not at all as it seems it should be,
Unless… life is to be lived as a lunacy,
And we should be watchful for questing souls
And rabbit holes
And cabbages and things that go off in the night.
Ah, then, it would be entirely right
To embrace the strange
And posture as kings
To love to excess;
To discover the range
Of impossible things
Revealed in a jest
To rage at each stage
Of our lunatic lives,
Lived larger than life
On the brightest edge of the brightest knife
That cuts clean through the madness.

Written by: Gary Nichols

A Tender Leaf

Tumbling leaf a rolling along
What a proud tree you are from
Now the breeze indeed determines you must dance
traveling beyond this worldly scene
Oh how angels show up sometimes
in the fall gusts that blow a prancing leaf

Once  two brave and splendid lovers sat under your tree
The cold and rain a coming
They cared not

Cupid’s dart was set

The forest shrouded the ensconced ones

There true love radiant among the verdure

But that was from another long ago age
And the love of my life is gone
The gods have swept you up and turned you to the wind
a gentle leaf a dancing and prancing in the falling gusts
reminds me of our Fall in Stratford where lovers swoon

Written by: Anastasia K. Nakis

If love be merely a madness
Then Stratford be thy true north
In coming year fast approaching
Be one with kings, sprites and ghosts.
Their pain is real as you and I
Their vast expressions never lie
With passion, sex and dreams alike
Their follies do blanket the night.
Though courtship may not be as it seems
The mirror proves illusory
Through eyes of young girl in love
A boy will capture but a dove.
So come be one with heroes and foes
Walk the plank and smell the rose
Though it be madness I must see
How it shapes and animates thee.

Written by: Sheila Brown

The Madness of Driving

The madness of driving
On a Tuesday night
To Stratford with
The Boy and the Girl
Teaching them to love the theatre
The beautiful noise
An enchanted night and then.
Return to home
The same Tuesday night
Richer by far
I roll down the windows
On the highway
The wind takes us home.

Written by: Sookie Mei

Stratford Fest productions in the year twenty fourteen
Will be amongst the CRAZIEST the town has ever seen
The theme of Madness will prevail, with Minds Pushed to the Edge
As if all sanity has gone and jumped off of a ledge!

The Shakespeare fans will marvel at the madness of King Lear
and how the love-mad Antony holds Cleopatra dear
King John will see the lunacy of fam’ly bickering
And “Dream” just makes insanity of every one and thing!

The title says it all in Stratford’s show Crazy For You
La Mancha’s Don Quixote feels the pull of madness, too
The Beaux’ Strategem brings some Restoration lunacy
And Alice, Through the Looking Glass is nuts as she can be!

Remaining characters who feel their minds have gone awry
Are Mother Courage and her kids – with chaos they will lie
Christina tips convention on its head with manic ease
And Hay Fever will drive you mad with efforts not to sneeze!

So, all in all, the newest plays include insanity
Which makes them quite appealing to a crazy girl like me!!
I’m sure the crowds will love the shows, if only just to see
Compared to these mad people, they’re as sane as sane can be!

Written by: Shannon Murray

What common thread unites the varied stories Of lovers, lunatics, and fairy kings, Of greatness lost and falls from former glories, Minds on the edge, the shocks betrayal brings?

Misguided lovers wander through the wood; Youth disappointed, age cut off from aid, The public peace is lost for private good, Monsters disguised as windmills, plots well laid, Eyes gouged, snake bites, and bestial transformation— Some clarity when mind and nature stormed — A ruler’s failings make a failing nation:

All blinded, all misguided, all transformed.

But madmen, lovers, dreamers meet in this:

Through suffering alone we catch at bliss.

Written by: Vince Kennedy

EmmEmmExeEyeVee

White swans will loose their relevance admist the crowds
Pushing forward to see Sullen get pursued
The Church will shudder from the froth of gossip
As Aldonza is assaulted and Alice’s transformation takes a twist
Of the knife, gritty as the bent emotions of Cordelia, daughter
And Polly better have rhythm, and the Blisses a nor’easter bluster
For in Christina who dallies with those she should not
Will be found the bittersweet  of Balzac’s  creamy croc
While Constance continues to tilt for son and pope
The old Man’s accused, he witnessed Hermia elope,
Heard Courage damn her fate and felt the ripples of the Nile
As Cleo stepped onto that royal bark, taking risk sublime
Stratford festoons with senses divine
And burghers sit back, and watch from behind.
All the while, the rivulet runs on, looking for the sea
And the pigeons regret not seeing the toss
Of the last crumbling piece from the Prune’s cake boss.
Infirmity of the mind is the only escape
From present’s tyranny,
And only the mad and the dead are truly ever free.

Written by: Shadi Hanna

The stage lights low, a tale foretold.
A story of a king who once ruled with heart.
A man once rich in bounties and gold.
Three daughters, now each being given a part.
Plot unaware of the dangers ahead.
As our characters strive to live life at its best.
Emotionally scarred, leaving a man’s sanity for dead.
A body remains, God takes all the rest.
A soul-searching journey to find memories gone by.
Tip-toeing a path on the brink of despair.
Sorting through history, the truth and the lie.
Finding place in the world, a glory so rare.
A struggle so common, but historically placed.
The life of King Lear, now truly being faced.

Written by: Michelle Ecker

When, in disgrace with the state of movies, I at home beweep my theatreless state And trouble Shakespeare up in Heaven with my bootless cries And look upon my Elizabethan abridged set and curse my theatreless fate, Wishing me like to one more rich in sophisticated entertainment, Featured like the Avon theatre proscenium stage, like her with Man of La Mancha tickets possess’d, Desiring this man’s money and that woman’s car, With silly comedies and lame comic book movies contented least; Yet in the movie theatre myself almost despising, Happily I think on seeing King Lear at Stratford, and then my state, Like at the first glimpse of a Stratford swan at break of day arising From right here north of Toronto, recites soliloquies at the thought of entering Stratford’s gate; For Colm Feore’s acting remember’d such wealth brings That then I await the thought of sharing the theatre with kings.

Written by: Anne Sigrist

Madness is the theme this year
and will include a king named Lear.

Each play will be its own illusion
of love and lust and self delusion.

So rich a subject to explore,
psychosis, rage and so much more

that’s out of sync, beyond control,
that takes you down the rabbit hole

to question what is dream or true
and analyze all that you knew.

Obsessive thoughts, compulsive deeds.
In spite of you, you know it leads

to mysteries of minds and hearts,
where reason ends and madness starts.

Written by: Donna Latham

CRAZY FOR YOU, FESTIVAL

I’m Crazy for You, Festival.
I’m mad about the plays.
So Fever’d for you, Festival,
I’ll theatre-hop for days.

I’m dotty for both A and C,
A loon for Looking Glass,
Demented for Beaux’ Strategem,
And dream I love an ass.

I’m simply gaga for King John,
Cuckoo for Christina,
Just screaming mad for Shakespeare’s Lear—
You know what I mean-a.

I’m so loco for LaMancha,
Mental for Ma Courage,
Besotted with you, Festival—
Look! There’s Richard Burbage!

I’m Crazy for You, Festival.
I’m howling at the moon.
They’re coming to take me away
To hear your fanfare soon.

Written by: Daniel Coo

Come sit, amidst the swirl of Flibberdigibits and
A giant’s windmilling limbs.
How fearful and dizzy to cast one’s eyes about-
One dame is carting about, another is taking delivery
Of a basket of worms.
I can trust not those cunning waters of mine eyes,
The midway air choked by song
Or carpenters and kings, and
Half way down hangs one who gathers
Muskrose and eglantine.
Those who walk the Avon shore appear like mice
And yond barge soundeth a brassy tune.
I’ll look long, should even my brain turn
And admit not deficient sight nor stopped ears,
But a love resting crazy for thou.

Written by: Meg Cormack

MMXIV

Thou, the stage, art my goddess as it seems,
Eternity given into our eyes,
Swift as shadows where words become our dreams.

To dream the impossible is what deems,
Beggary in love reckoned through the cries:
Thou, the stage, art my goddess as it seems.

While through the looking-glass surely redeems,
A life of sweet, sweet, sweet poison and lies,
Swift as shadows where words become our dreams.

Through salad days and midsummer night schemes,
The world confesses its everyday ties,
Thou, the stage, art my goddess as it seems.

From queens of hearts to the girl king extremes,
Crazy to fever to courage that flies,
Swift as shadows where words become our dreams.

With lyric and sonnet this season beams,
Themed mortality awaiting reprise,
Thou, the stage, art my goddess as it seems,
Swift as shadows where words become our dreams.

Written by: Kylene Walker

Alone

‘Nothing will come of nothing’ is what the old man said,
But perhaps the ‘nothing’ that he spoke of was all inside his head.
Staring blankly at the strangers searching, hoping for the traces
Of the people he once saw among the sea of angry faces.
And a hush falls over the crowd as he stands a man alone.

Surrounded by his books the pages slowly come alive,
Wand’ring, tortured, there is one way for a hero to survive:
Beneath the armour of a knight (with a limping horse and mule)
To stand before the giants and all at once become the fool.
And a hush falls over the crowd as the hero stands alone.

Peeling paper, dusty curtains in a large abandoned room
A girl’s reflection changes to reveal an uffish plume.
Trapped beneath the surface of an ever-changing world,
Crying, screaming, and repeating with the hopes of being heard.
And a hush falls over the crowd as the young girl stands alone.

Return now to the old man whose past friends are gone or blind,
Does he teach us of the dangers of a storm-beguiled mind?
Or the hero and the young girl bravely walking hand-in-hand
Is there only so much madness that we’re able to withstand?
And a hush falls over the stage as the crowd now stands alone.

Written by: Jeremy Gretton

Seasoning of madness, you say?  Sounds like trouble brewing, but here’s something to stew over:
An a-salt to the senses, peppered with
King Lear’s mind gone, power gone, daughters gone – ril… but no tarra-gon.  Everything gone, or at least not all there.
Gone. Gone.  Another king, John. And a Queen, Christina – with such power to… bare,
making even Toronto politics seem tame.
Next step in this seasoning game – add just a dash of Antony, and Cleopatra, his flame.
But don’t add too much – she might be hot, but is a pain in the asp.
And Shakespeare’s Bottom, really such an ass.  But enough about Shakespeare’s bottom…
Not enough kick?  The answer?  A dancer!  They’ve got rhythm.  And don’t forget Mother Courage and Her Daughters, by Brecht.  Brecht had rhythm.  Arrhythmia, in fact.
STILL not enough kick?  We already have a donkey!  But Bottom is a bit asinine.
How about Donkey Hoté?  I mean, Don Quixote.  The Man of la Mancha is a true giant of literature.  Or perhaps a windmill, after all.
Add a pitchfork-ful of Hay … Fever.  Nothing to sneeze at, though the playwright’s a bit of a Coward.  Or at least not in his wright mind.
Add Alice to the mix, and see if you can add the March Hare to the stew … but no one could eat the entire hare!  In other words, I’ve never seen someone down the rabbit whole.
Seasoning of madness.  A recipe for disaster.
What’s that?  “Season” of madness?  I misheard?   HAHAHAHAHA. HAHA. HA.
Sorry, but I simply don’t know what a season of madness looks like.  I am play-ful, but not insane.

Written by: E. Gay Gretton

It’s a season of madness, minds pushed to the edge
Some comic, some fantasy, tragic
Twelve plays and musicals, souls to engage
And experience Stratford’s fine magic.

There are kings, Lear and John, and Girl King Christina
And Queen Cleopatra from far
Mother Courage and children where virtue brought death
And the Man of La Mancha’s a star.

Come raise a cheer to impossible dreams,
Of men like Bob Child, Don Quixote,
You will see I’ve got rhythm, they’re crazy for you
As long as they don’t think we’re dotty!

Come and dream in midsummer or peer through the glass
Of Alice to see what is there
Or laugh at the folly of Archer and Aimwell
And the Bliss family if you dare.

And you may find this madness has wisdom beneath
And lessons to teach us, each one.
For we are all human with flaws of our own
But it’s perfectly clear – we’ll have fun!

Written by: Janine Marley

A Sonnet for Stratford 2014

The mind plays tricks only our eyes can see,
Blind is the rest of the world to that sight.
How real it seems, how high the cliffs may be,
Or castle walls from which young boys take flight.
The precipice, the void lie straight ahead.
The darkness, all consuming, it calls for
One final victim. For one to be dead
Is for one to need to suffer no more.
But oh! to feel the pangs of true love!
To blush and sigh and sing as lovers do.
To praise the Gods who bless us from above,
And dance with faeries in the morning dew.
Though a merry madness may take us far,
Not all are mad, but the best people are!

Written by: Danielle Eyer

Consume Me, Madness

Consume me, madness, in thy holy flames
that I may rest awhile in thy restraint
and dream Egyptian queens to deadly dames
that they may perish fools, and I, a saint.
Though through the looking glass we drift,
though Cupid prick us with its potent bud,
our mind must be aware, and our feet swift
that madness may not sweep us in its flood.
When th’oceans pale my lips to sickly shade,
or fire flush the iv’ry from my cheek,
avenge me with thy cruel and vorpal blade
that I may flee by cover of mystique.
Though madness may be nigh, a storm to come,
escape reports to others, not to some.

Written by: Jessica Seguin

Theatre life, a form of madness is,
With gowns of seeming silk and backward days;
Despite the changing scene of all show biz,
T’is still a voice for those with things to say.
Within this stagéd world, the lies speak truth;
Behind the gilded curtain of love feigned,
A glimpse of heart and soul for aged and youth;
A mad world, yes, but that’s what makes it sane.
My clouds of acting madness here amassed,
My eyes a-fixed to Stratford’s faméd stage
Where dwell mad Kings and Spanish knights and Glass
Through which a wond’rous land of chess doth rage.
This life of joys and woes, madness may be -
To Stratford, thanks. Such madness is for me.

Written by: Laurie Blackley

Let Madness Reign

First we shall sing about theatre and Polly,
an Impossible Dream that appears as sheer folly.

Now comes the family of wails and kisses;
It may seem like chaos but surely is Blisses.

Next through the glass for an odd game of chess;
Twas brillag with mimsy and strange backwardness.

Now madness for money, woman adored,
Seems tumult of passion but all is Restored.

Ah, here are the fairies magically playing,
confounding the forest with giddily braying.

Desire and lust do unhinge the mind;
destruction of both; in death now entwined.

And where do ambition and fear make rest?
In a cup of poison and a life undressed.

How dare this girl Queen be reckless and bold?
The freedom she seeks only time will unfold.

We see fever of war where children do die;
So grinds away life as unceasing sigh.

And last, behold the madding of his heart:
Lear cradles Cordelia as worlds come apart.

Written by: Nikki McQueen

Abyss

The essence of life becomes fleeting, emotive, ever changing
The illusion becomes a raving, rampant monster of addled lunacy

Our inferno paths burn bright with turbulent, frenzied and wild abandonment

Our dreams of reality become extinguished through the eternal windmills of time

Infinite, chaotic

Extinguish the maddening and intermittent pathos

Temper the raging beast within.

Written by: Hannah Hoogendam

There lies a great town on the Avon
That every summer puts plays on.
I go every year
with friends who are dear
And we share in the joy as we rave on (about how great the plays are).

Written by: Dallas Gow

There once was a girl named Cordelia,
Who refused to expound her regphilia.
She was treated like heck,
‘Til she swung from her neck.
Poor girl had it worse than Ophelia!

There once was an earl from Gloucester,
Whose second son was nearly a foster.
His way smelled to Dover,
To throw himself over,
Lo his first son had been an imposter!

There once was a king of old England,
Who split in two parts his fine kingdom.
He wasn’t so bad,
‘Til he went barking mad,
Then he tore off his clothes and it killed ‘im.

There once was a cruel duke named Cornwall,
Whose ambition did drive him to conquer all.
He gouged out two eyes,
Was stabbed; then he died.
And his widow was knocked off by Goneril.

Written by: Emma Smith

Now let us find the point of connection

A dazzling love affair with the stage
A courage that reaches across the lines
Ambition resonates on the offbeat

Illusion is too quick to be outpaced
Genius dwells among the doomed and the lost
And the redness follows, not far behind

The giddiest heights are reached in the dark
Hilarity diverts the eccentrics
Still, a dream might drown whatever remains

What is it really, if not delusion?

Written by: Jacob Bildy

Next year, you’ll see at Stratford’s Festival,
Tragedies and histories, and some more -
Dramas, comedies here to enthrall,
All those listeners who do adore
Crazy men in suits of gilded armour,
And quaint white rabbits wearing monocles,
Battles and tricks and deceptions and more -
And flittering fairies quite magical.
So different and yet so similar
Are Alice, Antony and Alonso.
All dreamers, all wishers, these titular
Characters, who have goals which, to their woe
Aren’t always easy, but their journey
Is put to words – to script – for all to see.
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