Robin Phillips, the acclaimed British director who was at the helm of so many memorable productions at the Stratford (Ontario) Festival during his tenure there as artistic director, will stage the inaugural productions of the newly formed Soulpepper Theatre Company in Toronto this summer.
The two plays, Moliere's The Misanthrope and Schiller's Don Carlos (the drama that was to inspire Verdi's operatic masterpiece), will be performed in the du Maurier Theatre Centre at Harbourfront. Brent Carver, who won a Tony Award for Kiss of the Spider Woman, will play the title role in Don Carlos. Exact performance dates and ticket prices will be announced within the next few weeks.
The Soulpepper is distinguishing itself from the Stratford Festival and the Shaw Festival -- Ontario's largest theatre companies -- by performing only classical works and by providing a dual mandate that consists of production coupled with professional training for actors, directors and designers.
The company has already received corporate backing and financial support from investors and is still waiting to hear from the federal and provincial governments about funding.
The artistic directors of the Soulpepper are Albert Schultz, Diego Matamoros, Nancy Palk and Diana Leblanc. The nonprofit troupe's 12 actors include Schultz, Palk, Matamoros, Susan Coyne, Joseph Ziegler, Martha Burns, Ted Dykstra (co-creator and star of the current Off-Broadway hit, Two Pianos, Four Hands) Stuart Hughes, Michael Hanrahan, Robyn Stevan and William Webster. Guest artists include Phillips, Carver and actor Peter Donat, as well as Laszlo Marton -- the artistic director of the National Theatre of Hungary -- who in July will conduct a four-week course on Chekhov and Turgenev. Phillips is also planning to teach two four-week sessions on the mechanics of mounting a classical play (from selection to casting to first rehearsal to opening night).
"Many of us were members of Robin Phillips' Young Company at the Stratford Festival in 1987 and 1988," said Albert Schultz in an interview with Playbill On-Line. "We want to do the classics, with an emphasis on the text and the actor."
-- By Rebecca Paller