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Six plays and five cabarets will be performed at two canopies this summer from June to September
Six plays and five cabarets are on the bill for Stratford Festival’s 2021 outdoor season, to be performed – pending health precautions – under canopies starting in late June. All the works share the theme of metamorphosis, which the festival’s artistic director, Antoni Cimolino, says is significant.
“As butterflies shedding their cocoons, we are poised to emerge from this pandemic,” says Cimolino in a press release today.
“This dream of transformation from our isolated lives informed my choice of theme for the 2021 season,” he continues. “The productions will embody our hope for a transition from lockdown to a new beginning, imbued with much needed social and political change. They examine souls kept apart by social convention, family feuds or racism. Souls that yearn for community, understanding and the union of love. Souls that emerge transformed from their trials into a brave new world of freedom.”
Among the six plays are two Shakespeare works.
Debuting June 22 at the Tom Patterson Theatre Canopy is a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Peter Pasyk, featuring Eva Foote, Craig Lauzon, Trish Lindström, Jonathan Mason, André Sills, Amaka Umeh, Micah Woods and Bahareh Yaraghi. Pasyk was supposed to have directed Umeh in Hamlet at Stratford’s cancelled 2020 season.
Premiering later in the season at the Festival Theatre’s Canopy is director Ravi Jain’s production of Romeo And Juliet, called R + J in this 90-minute version. The cast includes Dante Jemmott and Eponine Lee as the star-crossed lovers, as well as Alex Bulmer, Tom Rooney and Lisa Nasson. The production begins performances on August 12.
The festival’s two new plays are Marcia Johnson’s Serving Elizabeth (August 24 to September 26), inspired by a 1952 trip when Princess Elizabeth visited Kenya, and I Am William (August 4 to September 5), with text by Rébecca Déraspe, with music by Chloé Lacasse and Benoit Landry, an imagined tale with music about Margaret Shakespeare, William’s sister.
Stratford is also presenting revivals of two modern classics: Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women (June 24 to July 25), directed by Diana Leblanc and featuring Martha Henry, Lucy Peacock and Mamie Zwettler, and Tomson Highway’s The Rez Sisters (July 13 to August 15), directed by Jessica Carmichael and starring Jani Lauzon, Brefny Caribou, Nicole Joy-Fraser, Kathleen MacLean, Zach Running Coyote and Michaela Washburn.
Since the festival can’t mount large-scale musicals during the pandemic, it’s presenting five cabarets featuring some of the biggest talent in the country.
Why We Tell The Story: A Celebration Of Black Musical Theatre is curated and directed by Marcus Nance and features Nance, Robert Markus and Vanessa Sears.
You Can’t Stop The Beat: The Enduring Power Of Musical Theatre is curated and directed by Thom Allison and features Alana Hibbert, Gabrielle Jones, Evangelia Kambites and Mark Uhre.
Play On! A Shakespeare-Inspired Mixtape is curated by Robert Markus with Julia Nish-Lapidus and James Wallis (who directs) and features Gabriel Antonacci, Celeste Catena, Jacob MacInnis and Jennifer Rider-Shaw.
Freedom: Spirit And Legacy Of Black Music is curated and directed by Beau Dixon and features Robert Ball, Dixon and Camille Eanga-Selenge.
Finally There’s Sun: A Cabaret Of Resistance is curated and directed by Sara Farb and Steve Ross, and stars Farb, Ross, Noah Beemer and Germaine Konji.
Each cabaret will be performed at the Festival Theatre canopy for two weeks.
For the first time in its history, Stratford will not perform shows in repertory, to ensure artists don’t interact closely with other groups regularly. Each work has a separate group of actors, and no show has more than eight cast members.
Each production will be 90 minutes (Three Tall Women will be performed in two slots – one act per slot). And show times will be 11 am, 3 pm and 7 pm. The canopied spaces accommodate 100 people in distanced groups of between one to four people. If public health guidelines change in the summer, the capacity may be altered.
Last year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the festival cancelled its season, but introduced a very successful Shakespeare film festival spotlighting some of their best-loved productions of the Bard. More recently, on their Stratford @ Home series, they’ve debuted their popular Undiscovered Sonnets and Up Close And Musical series.
Tickets for the 2021 season go on sale starting May 24 at stratfordfestival.ca or 1-800-567-1600.