"I am excited about the quality of these players," artistic director Antoni Cimolino said in a statement. "We have an unparalleled company of actors who have been working together for a number of years. They know one another and the trust is there, which means they can push the boundaries.
"Our audiences find great joy in watching them work together over time in various combinations. For instance, the relationship between Seana McKenna and Geraint Wyn Davies that began with Mary Stuart and grew as the love interest in Mother Courage will continue – with great electricity – in Hamlet and The Physicists next year. As with others in the company, the level of trust between these two extraordinary actors allows for a sense of improvisation, a sense of freedom.
"We also have a number of exceptional people who come and go each year, and this serves to reinvigorate the company, while also providing actors with opportunities to experience new things. Then there are the younger actors, who have been here for a few seasons and are now hitting their stride, and they are joined by even newer faces making their Stratford debuts. If you look at theatre over the years, you see that it is this style of company building that allows you to do significant work."
The season will open with Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet, directed by Cimolino and featuring Jonathan Goad in the title role. The cast also features Seana McKenna as Gertrude, Geraint Wyn Davies as Claudius and the Ghost, Tom Rooney as Polonius and Mike Shara as Laertes. Here's how the production is billed: "Hamlet centres on the brooding Prince of Denmark, who is both in mourning for his father and deeply disturbed by the speedy remarriage of his mother, Gertrude, to Claudius, her deceased husband's brother, whom Hamlet believes murdered his father."
William Shakespeare's battle of the sexes, The Taming of the Shrew, will follow, directed by Chris Abraham and featuring Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay as the sparring lovers Petruchio and Katherina. The production will also feature Sarah Afful as Bianca, Peter Hutt as Baptista, Gordon S. Miller as Biondello, Tom Rooney as Tranio and Mike Shara as Hortensio. Here's how the play is billed: "Katherina, or Kate, the 'shrew' of the title, has a reputation for ill temper that so far has discouraged any potential suitors — and until a match for her can be found, her father will not countenance any proposals to her sister, Bianca. But then Petruchio, looking for a wealthy wife, decides to take up the challenge of wooing Kate. The ensuing contest of wills leads to a conclusion that has fuelled much controversy in modern times."
John Caird will make his Stratford debut directing Shakespeare's comedy Love's Labour's Lost, with Mike Shara as Berowne and Tom Rooney as Holofernes. "The play revolves around a decision by the young King of Navarre and his friends to renounce the company of women and devote themselves to contemplative study," press notes state. "Unfortunately their decision is made just as the Princess of France and her three lovely companions arrive on court business. Life and love have some lessons in store for them all, as the characters discover that it takes more than high spirits and witty words to win a woman's heart."
Oliver Goldsmith's comedy of manners, She Stoops to Conquer, will be directed by Martha Henry. The cast includes Lucy Peacock and Joseph Ziegler as Mr. and Mrs. Hardcast, with Maev Beaty playing their daughter, Kate Hardcastle, and Sara Farb as Constance Neville and Tyrone Savage as Hastings. Here's how the production is billed: "In this delightful and extremely funny comedy, a wealthy countryman, Mr. Hardcastle, arranges for his daughter Kate to meet Charles Marlow, the son of a wealthy Londoner, hoping the pair will marry. But confusion runs riot when a trick played by Kate's half-brother causes Marlow to mistake the home of his potential father-in-law for an inn. Further complications are caused by the fact that Marlow becomes nervous and tongue-tied around upper-class women. Realizing she will have to "stoop to conquer," Kate poses as a maid in order to put him at his ease and help him connect with his own heart — and hers." Alexis Gordon and Jonathan Winsby will star as Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow in the the musical Carousel, which features music by Richard Rodgers and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The production, which will be directed by Susan H. Schulman, will also feature Evan Buliung as Jigger Craigin, Sean Alexander Hauk as Enoch Snow, Alana Hibbert as Nettie Fowler and Robin Evan Willis as Carrie Pipperidge. "Against the backdrop of a sun-drenched New England summer, a pair of star-crossed lovers, carnival barker Billy Bigelow and millworker Julie Jordan, discover the power of love to transcend turmoil and even time itself in a show graced by what is arguably Rodgers and Hammerstein's most luscious score, filled with soaring melodies and unforgettable lyrics," press notes state.
Schulich Children's Plays will present The Diary of Anne Frank, with Sara Farb in the title role, directed by Jillian Keiley. Here's how the production is billed: "There are few who do not know the harrowing but inspiring story of Anne Frank and the journal in which she documented her experience of hiding from the Nazis in an attic in Amsterdam for more than two years. Her diary reveals a young woman's journey of self-discovery in a life cruelly cut short when she and her family were found and sent to die in concentration camps." Lucy Peacock will play Mrs. Frank, and Joseph Ziegler will play Mr. Frank.
Sophocles' Oedipus Rex will be staged at the Tom Patterson Theatre and directed by Daniel Brooks, with Gord Rand as King Oedipus and Yanna McIntosh as Jocasta. "Filled with cryptic prophesies, Oedipus Rex presents numerous moments of creative inspiration, all leading to tragic consequences," press notes state. "King Oedipus, seeking a remedy for the terrible curse that has befallen Thebes, sends his brother-in-law, Creon, to seek the advice of the god Apollo. Creon informs Oedipus that the curse will be lifted if the murderer of the former king, Laius, slain many years ago at a crossroads, is found and brought to justice. Oedipus dedicates himself to the discovery and prosecution of Laius's killer, an enterprise that leads to his own ruin."
Scott Wentworth will direct William Shakespeare's Pericles, with Evan Buliung starring in the title role. "As in Oedipus Rex, the action of Pericles hinges on a riddle, the solution to which sends the title character on a journey of Homeric proportions, involving a long separation and culminating in a joyous reunion." The production will also feature Deborah Hay as Thaisa, Marina and Antiochus’s Daughter and Brigit Wilson as the Bawd.
Miles Potter will return to the Festival for his 13th season in 2015, directing Friedrich Dürrenmatt's dark satirical comedy The Physicists. Seana McKenna and Geraint Wyn Davies will star as Fräulein Doktor Mathilde von Zahnd and Johann Wilhelm Möbius, joined by Graham Abbey, playing Herbert Georg Beutler (alias “Newton”) and Randy Hughson as Richard Voss. "Herbert Georg Beutler (who believes that he is Sir Isaac Newton), Ernst Heinrich Ernesti (who believes he is Albert Einstein) and Johann Wilhelm Möbius (who believes that he is regularly visited by the biblical King Solomon) are all patients at Les Cerisiers sanatorium, an idyllic home for the mentally ill," press notes state. "'Einstein' is under investigation by the police after the second murder of a nurse in three months, the first having been committed by 'Newton.' When yet another murder takes place, it emerges that none of these three men are quite what they seem. This brilliant, funny and thought-provoking play deals with questions of scientific ethics and humanity's ability to handle its intellectual responsibilities."
Cimolino will direct Ben Jonson's satirical comedy The Alchemist, "the story of three con artists — Face, Subtle and Dol Common — who set up shop in the house of Face's temporarily absent master, Lovewit. With Subtle posing as a doctor learned in alchemy, they prey on a steady stream of gullible victims, including the sensualist Sir Epicure Mammon and the Puritan zealots Tribulation and Ananias, duping them with pseudo-scientific jargon and the irresistible promise that they are on the verge of discovering how to turn base metals into gold. Through a combination of quick changes and even quicker wits, the three tricksters manage to evade discovery — until everything is turned on its head by Lovewit's unexpected return." The production will feature Jonathan Goad as Face, Stephen Ouimette as Subtle and Scott Wentworth as Epicure Mammon.
Mitchell Cushman will make his Stratford directorial debut with John Mighton's philosophical whodunit Possible Worlds. The play "revolves around the mysterious death of George Barber, whose body is found with its brain missing. Two detectives set out to uncover the truth behind his grisly death, in a plot that explores alternate dimensions and brings into question the very notion of reality."
The Last Wife, a startlingly contemporary play about Katherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, written by Kate Hennig, will have its world première at the Studio Theatre in 2015, directed by Alan Dilworth. The play, which will feature Maev Beaty as Katherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, "focuses on a dying husband, a steamy affair, and a compelled marriage full of personal violence that offers an irresistible climb to absolute authority. Does Katherine risk her safety to gain power? Does she love the man she should love or the man she must love? And what happens to her children when she loses it all?" Sara Farb will play Mary, and Joseph Ziegler will play Henry.
Further casting for the 2015 season will be announced at a later date.
Visit stratfordfestival.ca for more information.