Stratford Festival is planning a return to something like normal next year, with 10 productions at the repertory and all four of its indoor theaters in operation.
On Tuesday, artistic director Antoine Cimolino announced a 2022 season at Canada’s largest not-for-profit theater company – a slate of shows he plans to increase and do as conditions change in the context of the continuing pandemic.
“There are things you can see right now,” says Cimolino, who notes that 120 artists will be hired at this point for the programming, which is set to run from early April through October.
“But instead of waiting for everything to work out, let’s announce what we are absolutely sure about and revisit it again in months. … let’s start giving people a sense of certainty and optimism.”
The major celebration of Stratford’s 2022 season will be the long-delayed opening of the company’s new $72 million Tom Patterson Theatre.
Richard III, directed by Cimolino and starring Colm Fore in the title role, is still set to open the stage that includes a production all’s well That ends well Directed by Scott Wentworth.
That pair of Shakespeare’s plays has a special significance in Stratford, Ont., as they were the two that originally opened the festival back in 1953.
The choice, which might have seemed overly-nostalgic two years ago, now has fresh resonance as the theater company will actually reinvent itself after a completely canceled season in 2020 and a limited season mostly out in 2021. Due to capacity restrictions, it hosted only 34,000 theatergoers, less than a 10th of the usual attendance.
In a change from what was previously planned for Tom Patterson, however, the new theater will have a third show in 2022. Death and the King’s Horseman, a 1975 postcolonial classic by Nigerian Nobel Prize-winning playwright Wole Soyinka.
Ghanaian-born Canadian playwright Tavia M’Carthy best known for her solo shows obbarima, will direct the production, which was workshopped twice in Stratford and previewed during the pandemic in an audio version produced with Toronto’s Soulpaper Theater Company.
New production from dazzling director Donna Fore, at the Festival Theatre ChicagoThe Fred Ebb and John Kinder musical, about fame and crime in the jazz era, will be the first to be shown on stage at any theater in Stratford in April.
It will be followed on the famous Thrust Stage of the festival small village, directed by Peter Pasik, and produced by Moliarso Miser, directed by Cimolino, both were originally announced for 2020.
Reprogramming these shows at significantly different times, Cimolino says he heeded the advice of Stratford legend Martha Henry, who died at the age of 83, less than two weeks after his final performance in Edward Alby. had died in the fall. three tall women,
“She kept telling me, ‘Don’t worry about it, when you come to these plays, it will be different, it will reflect the times, because that’s how you’ll make it,'” he says.
At the studio theatre, three plays will have their world premiere – an overdue one in the case of Ann-Marie McDonald. Hamlet-911, a new Shakespeare-inspired meta-play from the creators of Good Night Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) He was Originally programmed for 2020.
the other two plays will be every little nook and cranny, a comedy about swingers and suburbia by Sunny Drake that won an award for as-yet-unpublished plays from the Playwrights Guild of Canada; And 1939, a work set in the year of the title by Jani Lauzon and Kaitlyn Riordan, at a fictional church-run residential school in Ontario, where students are tasked with producing a all’s well That ends well To visit the royals.
This leaves the Avon Theatre – which at this time is slated to see only one show on stage: little women, a new adaptation of both the novel of the same name and its sequel by Louisa May Alcott good wives, Jordi Mand is the playwright and Esther June is set to direct.
Just a month ago, Stratford Festival leadership indicated it would not announce the 2022 season until the new year.
But as other companies (such as the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Bard on the Beach in Vancouver and Toronto’s Canadian Stage and Soulpaper Theatre, both with Shakespeare productions planned) have taken the plunge and the next plans have been disclosed. In the fall, the company began to feel it more necessary to lay off artists and attract an audience.
The 2021 season ended in a deficit, as planned, and a return to the black in 2022 will depend on government support that the festival is awaiting details, Cimolino says. Whether all performances next season will be at 100 percent capacity is a decision the festival has been waiting for. Tickets don’t go on sale until March.
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