Stratford Festival Announces MADNESS: MINDS PUSHED TO THE EDGE 2014 Season; Feat. Shakespeare, CRAZY FOR YOU & More
Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino has announced the 2014 season, in which, through the prism of a dozen plays, the Stratford Festival will explore the theme of Madness: Minds Pushed to The Edge.
"What excites me about this playbill is it contains plays in which the protagonists are driven to extraordinary places," says Mr. Cimolino. "Extreme stakes lead to great drama."
"These plays explore minds that are driven out of balance by a variety of forces: love, war, poverty, age, sexuality. In today's fast-paced global community, we are becoming ever more acutely aware of the consequences of such pressures. The issues behind them are interesting in themselves, but what they do to the human mind - to us - is ultimately the most fascinating thing. When the pressures of life become great enough, our minds give way to other realities. The result is often heartbreakingly tragic, but can also be a trigger for comedy."
The season coincides with the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare, and to mark that occasion, Mr. Cimolino has programmed five Shakespeare productions, including two versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, a play that revolves around the madness of young love.
"For the first time in our history, we will examine a Shakespeare play in two different productions within the same season," says Mr. Cimolino. "The first will be directed by one of Canada's most exciting young directors, Chris Abraham; the second by one of the most highly regarded, internationally acclaimed directors of Shakespeare, Peter Sellars: two very different approaches to Shakespeare's text."
The season will also feature King Lear; Antony and Cleopatra; King John; The Beaux' Stratagem; Mother Courage; Hay Fever; Alice Through the Looking-Glass;Christina, The Girl King; and the musicals Crazy for You and Man of La Mancha.
"I'm very excited about the creative teams who'll be working on this season with me," says Mr. Cimolino. "In addition to Chris and Peter, our lineup of directors includes the great Martha Henry and others whose work has captivated Festival audiences in recent seasons: Donna Feore, Tim Carroll and Gary Griffin. I'm also looking forward tremendously to the Stratford debuts of artistic leaders from other major Canadian cultural institutions - Jillian Keiley from the National Arts Centre, Alisa Palmer from The National Theatre School and Vanessa Porteous from Alberta Theatre Projects - as well as Robert McQueen, whose work in opera and musical theatre has been acclaimed internationally."
King Lear | By William Shakespeare | Directed by Antoni Cimolino | Festival Theatre: #sfKingLear
The season will open at the Festival Theatre with the Shakespearean masterpiece King Lear, directed by Mr. Cimolino, whose sold-out production of Mary Stuarthas been the runaway hit of 2013.
King Lear is the ultimate example of a mind pushed to The Edge. When the aging king decides to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, requiring each in turn to publicly profess how much she loves him, he sets in motion a train of events that will rob him of his home, his status and his sanity - everything except the honest love and loyalty of his youngest daughter, Cordelia. Meanwhile, the Earl of Gloucester is falsely persuaded by his illegitimate son, Edmund, that his other son, Edgar, is conspiring against him. Both these fathers pay for their misjudgements by being driven to the very limits of human endurance.
"King Lear speaks to the simple, naked humanity shared by everyone from a monarch to the poorest of the poor," says Mr. Cimolino. "It's from that essential humanity, not the trappings of wealth or power, that we claim our right to exist. After Lear loses everything, he finds that he is no longer who he thought he was. This loss is a liberation. In his subsequent madness he sees his own folly, awakens to empathy and discovers his soul."