Antoni Cimolino to Replace Des McAnuff as Stratford Shakespeare Festival's Artistic Director


Dr. Lee Myers and members of the Board of Governors announced that Antoni Cimolino will be the next Artistic Director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, following on the tenure of Des McAnuff.

As Chair of the Board, Dr. Myers led a seven-person search committee that included other Board members as well as actor and director Martha Henry. The six-month process included extensive consultations with a large number of internal and external stakeholders that ultimately provided very strong support for Mr. Cimolino’s candidacy. “His visionary presentation to the committee, with its impressive combination of enthusiasm, experience and new ideas, absolutely convinced us that Antoni is the best person to be our next Artistic Director,” said Dr. Myers.

“His artistic vision includes a deep commitment to Shakespeare and classical theatre, great enthusiasm for the development of large-scale new works, terrific ideas about artist training and audience outreach and an inspiring perspective on the Festival’s role within the broader Canadian theatre landscape. We have absolute confidence that he will build on the outstanding accomplishments of Des McAnuff and all of our other great Artistic Directors to further the success of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.”

“This is a day of enormous joy for me,” said Mr. Cimolino. “This great theatre changed my life as it has changed the lives of countless others in its almost 60 seasons. It has given me 25 years of growth as an artist and introduced me to wonderful people, great talents and a world of plays, characters and writing that have brought me as close as any man can be to heaven on earth.

“Today I am being asked to make a new and deeper contribution to the Stratford Festival. I’m thrilled and honoured. I’m indebted to the Artistic Directors who came before me – many of whom I’ve had the pleasure to work with and learn from. I must particularly thank the late Richard Monette for his mentorship and Des McAnuff for his support.

“I have seen that each of my predecessors made their own unique contribution to the Festival. I have also seen that for each one it came at a personal cost – sometimes a great one. So I go in with my eyes open to both the joys and the challenges. But while my eyes are open, they also sparkle with excitement at the opportunities for this Festival. For while we face challenges, we also have an enormous abundance of talent, energy and creativity in our artists, as well as loyal audiences and generous donors.

“I want to build on our current momentum to make the Stratford Shakespeare Festival the world’s leading theatre, presenting the world’s greatest plays performed to the highest standards, because I believe that the artist and the spoken word are the heart of our experience. I see Stratford as a place of new creation and innovation – a place about talent and ideas.

“I want to see a Festival that reaches out to people, engages their hearts and minds, and makes us a force for good in this world.”

In the past, the announcement of a new Artistic Director has been followed by a season of transition, to give the appointee time to become familiar with the organization. In this case, however, Mr. Cimolino’s thorough inside knowledge of the Festival, both as an artist and as its current General Director, makes that transitional season unnecessary. Accordingly, Mr. McAnuff felt it would be fitting to let the celebratory 2012 season mark the culmination of his tenure, and that Mr. Cimolino should assume the artistic directorship for the 2013 season.

“I want to congratulate Antoni on his appointment, which I know is the completion of a long-held dream,” said Mr. McAnuff. “Last June, when I negotiated a contract through the 2013 season, I believed that I was giving the Board a suitable amount of time to conduct a search for my replacement. With the completion of the search process, it has become possible to announce the next Artistic Director several months earlier than I had anticipated. This means that we no longer need so lengthy a transition period.

“Antoni comes from inside our institution and has been my partner for more than four years. Rather than making him wait until 2014 to take the artistic reins, it is much more sensible for the two of us to pass the baton at the end of this, our 60th season.

“I will direct for Antoni in what will become his first season in 2013 and will be in residence through opening week, and I am committed to give him any support he asks for. He and I know that this will be a graceful and elegant transition.

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