Saturday, October 25, 2008

Changes to the Festival Stage?

From Laura Cudworth at the Beacon-Herald.

"A scenic carpenter at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is speaking out against any plans that may alter the famous Tanya Moiseiwitsch thrust stage.

"Walter Sugden is concerned the stage will be changed or 'destroyed' if it's modernized to increase the space underneath it. The stage would have to be pulled up for the excavation underneath to allow for larger trap doors and machinery below the stage, he said.

"'My basic feeling is I've worked there for 36 years, I can't consciously feel good with myself if I don't speak out,' he said. 'All I hope to do is make people aware. If they feel like I do, I hope they'll express to the Festival their feelings.'

"He admits he may be 'romantic about it' but he sees the stage as a critical piece of heritage for both the Festival and Canadian Theatre. In his earlier years he worked with Ms. Moiseiwitsch.

"'I love the nicks in the stage that have happened in past productions,' he said noting the likes of Maggie Smith, William Hutt, Nicholas Pennell and Jessica Tandy have all walked across the oak stage.

"The stage is nearly 50 years old, he said.

"General director Antoni Cimolino downplayed the possibility the famous thrust stage would be altered. He acknowledged though an assessment of the Festival auditorium is underway but expects it will take about two years to complete.

"The assessment includes lights, acoustics and the backstage area.

"'Over time stages evolve,' Mr. Cimolino said. 'Pillars, locations of doors change over time but it's not our intention to change the stage.'

"However, he acknowledged the trap in the stage is 'too small to bury Ophelia' and ways to increase the space below may be looked at. Should the space underneath be increased attempts will be made to preserve the stage and keep the lumber intact, he said.

"'The fact is over the years a lot of that stage has changed. It's a living, working stage. I assure you, we'll hold onto all the pieces and keep them and use them when we can.'

"He suggested the emphasis of the study focuses on aging wiring and lighting systems rather than the stage.

"In order to do the work the Festival would have to undertake a fundraising campaign and get government grants. Whatever work is decided on will likely be done over the course of a couple of winters, Mr. Cimolino said.

"'We're in the process of a long-term analysis study -- there's lots of time for consideration before anything is done.'

"Mr. Sugden praised the new artistic team for the 'spectacular season' but also stressed 'there's a certain amount of stewardship they have to take on.'

"'In the business world now the popular talk is about the brand. I think that stage is an important part of the Festival's brand.'"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Meet Christopher Plummer

Christopher Plummer will be at the Indigo on Bay and Bloor in Toronto this Sunday, October 26, to promote his memoir In Spite of Myself. The event, which includes an interview, question-and-answer session, and book signing, begins at 3PM. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Christopher Plummer can be seen in Caesar and Cleopatra at the Festival Theatre until November 8.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Key 2009 Casting

In 2009, we'll see Geraint Wyn Davies back for another season and Jonathan Goad return to the classics.

Julius Caesar will be directed by James MacDonald and run May 23 through October 31 at the Avon Theatre. Its principal cast includes:

-- Geraint Wyn Davies as Julius Caesar
-- Ben Carlson as Brutus
-- Jonathan Goad as Marc Antony
-- Tom Rooney as Cassius
-- Yanna McIntosh as Calphurnia
-- Cara Ricketts as Portia

Macbeth will be directed by Des McAnuff and run May 22 to October 31 at the Festival Theatre. Its principal cast includes:

-- Colm Feore as Macbeth (previously announced)
-- Yanna McIntosh as Lady Macbeth
-- Geraint Wyn Davies as Duncan
-- Dion Johnstone as Macduff
-- Gareth Potter as Malcolm
-- Sophia Walker as Lady Macduff

A Midsummer Night's Dream will be directed by David Grindley and run August 7 to October 30 at the Festival Theatre. Its principal cast includes:

-- Geraint Wyn Davies as Bottom
-- Dion Johnstone as Oberon
-- Yanna McIntosh as Titania
-- Tom Rooney as Puck
-- Laura Condlln as Helena
-- Gareth Potter as Lysander
-- Sophia Walker as Hermia

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Friends Make Tributes to Monette

As previously announced, a tribute to longstanding Festival Artistic Director Richard Monette will be held on Monday, October 20, at 7 PM.

In a press release today, the Festival announced that Brian Bedford, Brent Carver, Dan Chameroy, Antoni Cimolino, Cynthia Dale, Colm Feore, Martha Henry, William Needles, Lucy Peacock, and Michael Therriault will be among those to make individual tributes to their late friend.

Reservations for the evening may be made by calling 1-800-567-1600.

2008 Tyrone Guthrie Awards

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival's 2008 Tyrone Guthrie Awards recently rewarded company members, theatre staff, and alumni with more than $60,000 for training, development, and special projects.

A few winners are listed below. You can read the entire list in the press release.

Abigail Winter-Culliford -- winner of the Mary Savage Award for an actress who has shown outstanding commitment to her craft. Winter-Culliford appeared this season as Moth in Love's Labours Lost after debuting last season as Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Stephen Kent -- winner of the John Hirsch Award for the young actor who shows the greatest potential. Kent appeared this, his second season, as Bernardo in Hamlet and Rodrigo in Fuente Ovejuna.

Ben Carlson -- winner of the Max Helpmann Guthrie Award for a company member who exhibits dedication and tenacity. Carlson debuted at the Festival season as Hamlet in Hamlet, Tranio in The Taming of the Shrew, and First Lord Dumaine in All's Well That Ends Well. He will return next season as Jack in The Importance of Being Earnest.

Ron Kennell -- winner of the City of Stratford Award to assist a local resident in gaining further training. Kennell appeared this season as Reynaldo in Hamlet, Tailor in The Taming of the Shrew, and in All's Well That Ends Well.

Peter Donaldson -- winner of the William Needles Award in recoginition of special interest shown to newer company members. Donaldson celebrated his 24th season with the Festival this year, in the roles of Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Don Armado in Love's Labours Lost, and Rufio in Caesar and Cleopatra.

Shelley Simester -- winner of the Maureen Forrester Award for advanced classical training. Simester stole a few scenes this season as Alma Hix in The Music Man, and also appeared in All's Well That Ends Well.