Stratford Festival Has Dolly! and Into the Woods Side by Side With Shakespeare in 2005

News   Stratford Festival Has Dolly! and Into the Woods Side by Side With Shakespeare in 2005
 
North America's prestigious Stratford Festival in Ontario will mount 14 plays at its four theatres in 2005, exploring the theme of "Saints and Sinners" in theatrical literature, artistic director Richard Monette announced Sept. 15.

"In the aftermath of 9/11, the world has become a more polarized place, for many people: a place of good and evil, black and white," said Monette, in a statement. "As I was selecting the playbill for 2005, it struck me that many of these plays are about the tension between the contrary impulses of the human soul. And so we have a season of plays about 'saints and sinners' for, after all, each of us is one or the other, and sometimes we are both."

The slate will feature three works by William Shakespeare, two by American playwright Tennessee Williams, a drama by French author Jean Anouilh, a comedy by Noël Coward, four new or revived Canadian works, the Broadway musicals Hello, Dolly! and Into the Woods, and the Festival's first-ever production of a work by Shakespeare's contemporary Christopher Marlowe.

At the flagship Festival Theatre, expect Monette to direct The Tempest (with choreography by Michael Lichtefeld); Susan H. Schulman to direct Hello, Dolly! (choreographed by Lichtefeld); As You Like It, directed by executive director Antoni Cimolino; The Lark by Jean Anouilh, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg.

The proscenium Avon Theatre will welcome Into the Woods, the musical that brings together a number of Grimm fairy tale characters, by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine; Fallen Angels, Noël Coward's 1924 comedy about Julia and Jane, old friends who have settled happily into upper-class married life and discover that the French lover of their past "is planning to renew old acquaintances"; the 50th anniversary staging of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams, directed by Monette.

The three-quarter Tom Patterson Theatre offers

Wingfield's Inferno by Dan Needles, a continuation of the Canadian small-town chronicles centering on Walt Wingfield; The Brothers Karamazov by Jason Sherman, adapted from the 1879 novel by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, directed by Richard Rose; Orpheus Descending, the 1957 play by based on an earlier work, Battle of Angels, which "borrows elements of the ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in telling the story of a young, charismatic musician, Valentine Xavier, who seeks refuge in a small, repressive Southern town in an effort to distance himself from a wild past"; Shakespeare's Measure for Measure directed by Leon Rubin. The scheduling of Measure for Measure in the 2005 season completes artistic director Richard Monette's commitment to produce all of Shakespeare's plays within his tenure.

At the Studio Theatre will be two Canadian plays: The Measure of Love by Nicolas Billon and The Donnellys: Sticks & Stones by James Reaney.

The Measure of Love, the latest work by Canadian playwright Nicolas Billon, author of 2004's The Elephant Song, concerns Joan, who receives a handwritten play as a 68th birthday gift from her friend, Mabel. "The two women re-enact their friendship from its beginning in high school to the event that led to a 20-year hiatus. But does Mabel's depiction of the events accurately tell the story? Have the two women been harboring secrets from one another?"

The Donnellys: Sticks & Stones is presented in association with the National Arts Centre. "This is the first of a trilogy of plays about the Donnellys, written between 1975 and 1977 by veteran Canadian author James Reaney. Infamous in Canadian history, this Irish family immigrated in 1844 to Biddulph Township near London, Ontario, and was nearly annihilated by a murderous secret society formed among their neighbors 36 years later. This production of Sticks & Stones will be remounted at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa after its Stratford run."

Also at the Studio Theatre will be Edward II by Christopher Marlowe, directed by Richard Monette. The play was written by Marlowe shortly before his violent death in 1593. The fictional story is based on the history of the 14th-century King Edward II, who was forced to abdicate the English throne after his reign was shaken by grievances of favoritism. In the play, "Edward loses rule because of his human failings but gains self understanding while Mortimer, the nobleman who rises as Edward falls, is corrupted by his aspirations to power."

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With four venues and an annual budget of almost $51 million, the Tony-nominated Stratford Festival of Canada is the largest classical repertory theatre on the North American continent. Founded in 1953, and acclaimed throughout the world, it presents not only the works of Shakespeare and other great writers of the past, but also masterpieces of the 20th-century repertoire, musical theatre classics and contemporary Canadian drama. For more information, visit www.stratfordfestival.ca.

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