Stratford Fest Plans Greeks, Shakespeare, King and I & Gigi in 2003

News   Stratford Fest Plans Greeks, Shakespeare, King and I & Gigi in 2003 The Stratford Festival of Canada will give a nod to the Greeks — those who founded Western drama — in the 2003 season, it was announced Aug. 27.

The Stratford Festival of Canada will give a nod to the Greeks — those who founded Western drama — in the 2003 season, it was announced Aug. 27.

The prestigious festival whose foundation is Shakespeare will offer The Bard's Greek-influenced Pericles, Troilus and Cressida and Antony and Cleopatra. A trio of full-length works will be melded, marketing-wise, as The House of Atreus: Agamemnon by Aeschylus, Electra by Jean Giraudoux and The Flies by Jean-Paul Sartre. The works, concerning the aftermath of the Trojan War, will be presented in The Studio Theatre and have a unified design. (Openings and directors will be announced at a later date.)

Aristophanes' fanciful allegory, The Birds, will be directed by Greek director Nikos Dionysios, with performers using masks and movement, at the Tom Patterson Theatre.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame will target family audiences, and The King and I and Gigi are the musicals in 2003. New works are also being offered.

The 51st season of the eclectic fest on four stages in Stratford Ontario will include: FESTIVAL THEATRE

  • The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, directed by Miles Potter, who'll set the show in the American Wild West, opening May 26.
  • The King and I, book and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and music by Oscar Hammerstein II, directed by Susan Schulman, opening May 27.
  • Pericles by William Shakespeare, directed by Leon Rubin, representing the first time this Shakespeare play has been mounted at the Stratford Festival in 17 years, opening May 31.
  • Love's Labour's Lost by William Shakespeare, directed by the fest's executive director Antoni Cimolino, opening Aug. 20. AVON THEATRE

  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a new adaptation by Stratford resident Rick Whelan from the novel "Notre-Dame de Paris" by Victor Hugo, directed by Dennis Garnhum, opening May 29.
  • Gigi, the Colette-inspired musical with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, directed by artistic director Richard Monette, opening May 30.
  • Present Laughter, the comedy by Noel Coward, directed by and starring Brian Bedford, opening June 26. TOM PATTERSON THEATRE

  • Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare, directed by Martha Henry, opening May 28.
  • The Birds by Aristophanes, directed by Nikos Dionysios following 2002 workshops, opening June 25.
  • Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare, directed by Richard Monette, opening Aug, 13.
  • Quiet in the Land by Anne Chislett, directed by Andrey Tarasiuk, associate director and head of new play development, opening Aug. 20. "This winner of the 1983 Governor General's Award movingly tells the story of Jack, called Yock, a young Waterloo County Amish man who exiles himself from his pacifist family, and his heart's love, when he enlists as a soldier in the First World War," according to the announcement. STUDIO THEATRE

  • The Swanne: Princess Charlotte (The Acts of Venus), written and directed by Peter Hinton, opening May 31. "In the second part of this epic trilogy, Young Victoria, the future queen, probes even deeper into the secret of the lost heir to the British throne in a play that is frequently hilarious, yet detailed, gripping and an imaginative recreation of Regency society on all levels," according to the announcement.
  • The House of Atreus: Agamemnon by Aeschylus, Electra by Jean Giraudoux and The Flies by Jean-Paul Sartre. *

    "These are wonderful, ancient tales told, and retold," artistic director Monette said in a statement. "As we begin our next 50 years at the Stratford Festival, we're taking this golden opportunity to honor the genesis of Western theatre and explore how the Greeks have influenced us all."

    Of the five Shakespearean plays planned for the 2003 season, three — Pericles, Troilus and Cressida and Antony and Cleopatra — are rooted in Greek history and legends, according to Stratford.

    "While people think of Cleopatra as an Egyptian, she was in fact a descendant of the Macedonian leader, Ptolemy, and was the first of the Greek Ptolemies to learn the Egyptian language," said Monette, who travelled and studied in Greece on a recent sabbatical.

    Monette is committed to mounting the entire Shakespeare canon during his time as artistic director; has now programmed 33 of Shakespeare's 38 plays.

    Public workshop readings of new plays will also be presented.

    For information, visit www.stratfordfestival.ca.

    — By Kenneth Jones