STRATFORD, ONTARIO: With this year marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the Stratford Festival will present shows from the Bard and beyond to celebrate the occasion. The festival, which has been producing shows since 1953, will follow the theme “After the Victory” for its summer repertory theatre season.
“Our 2016 season will look at victories of all kinds—military, personal, spiritual, moral—and explore what we mean by victory—over others, over adversity, over our own complex and imperfect human nature,” said artistic director Antoni Cimolino in a statement.
More than 200 events will explore the festival theme, ranging from shows to workshops and pre-show discussions. Many of the events will be announced at a later date on the company’s website.
After a successful run on the West End, the festival will produce the North American premiere of Shakespeare in Love, based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. Adapted by Lee Hall and directed by Declan Donnellan, this newly imagined biography by Disney Theatricals follows the Bard as he deals with writer’s block.
The festival will also play host to the world premiere of Breath of Kings, adapted by Graham Abbey from works by Shakespeare, and directed by Mitchell Cushman and Weyni Mengesha with Abbey. The play follows the lives, battles, and deaths of kings Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V. The cycle will be presented in two parts, Rebellion and Redemption.
Another world premiere to grace the festival stage will be Bunny by Hannah Moscovitch. Directed by Vanessa Porteous, the play examines postfeminist sexuality by following a woman with normal needs and a not-so-normal upbringing.
Two new translations of classical works, commissioned specifically for the season, will premiere at the festival. Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman, translated from the Norwegian by Paul Walsh, tells the story of a selfish man who refuses to accept responsibility for his actions and eventually tears his family apart. Carey Perloff, artistic director of American Conservatory Theater, will direct. And The Aeneid by Olivier Kemeid, translated by Maureen Labonté, combines the stories of an immigrant making his way to Canada with the Trojan hero who escapes to Rome. The play, directed by Keira Loughran, was conceived in the Stratford Festival Laboratory in 2014.
Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, directed by Martha Henry, will play in the Tom Patterson Theatre. The theatre will be converted to an in-the-round configuration specifically for this year’s festival.
Gary Griffin will return to Stratford to direct Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. The show follows mismatched lovers as they try to make sense of their passions and commitments.
The other musical presented at the festival is the Broadway classic A Chorus Line. Originally choreographed and directed by Michael Bennett, the piece will receive a reimagining by Canadian director Donna Feore on the festival’s thrust stage.
The Bard’s classic comedy As You Like It will be the Shakespearean directing debut of Jillian Keiley, whose past festival directing credits include The Diary of Anne Frank and Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Cimolino will direct two shows for this year’s festival: Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Molière’s The Hypochondriac, adapted by Richard Bean.
The Schulich Children’s Plays will present The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, dramatized by Adrian Mitchell. Director Tim Carroll, whose previous Broadway directing credits include Richard III and Twelfth Night, will direct.