The Stratford Festival in Ontario will unveil a fourth venue, to be dubbed the Studio Theatre, in its 50th season in 2002.
The prestigious troupe founded by Tyrone Guthrie in 1952, will build the new 250-seat thrust space in the scene shop of the Avon Theatre, the festival's proscenium house in downtown Stratford. The scene shop will be relocated to rented space nearby.
The Studio will be a home for new, experimental or rarely seen work that might not be appropriate for the 1,800-seat Festival Theatre, the 1,100-seat Avon or the 500-seat Tom Patterson Theatre. The Patterson, a converted sports arena, was created in 1971 to complement the Festival and Avon theatres.
Artistic director Richard Monette announced plans for the Studio Theatre Aug. 14. He will stage Niccolo Machiavelli's The Mandrake as the debut show at the Studio, July 13, 2002, the 50th anniversary of the first performance of the festival. The space will offer 11 plays, including three full-length shows and groupings of one-acts, in 2002.
The creation of the new Studio Theatre has been a longtime dream of Monette and past festival directors. The seating can be modified to accommodate 250-300 people. The theatre will have a separate entrance off George Street. Major donors to the project are Raphael and Jane Bernstein of New Jersey and Sandra and Jim Pitblado of Toronto. Each donated $1 million. The project's architect is Elizabeth Davidson of Davidson-Langley Inc. Architects. The new theatre will have two rehearsal rooms, dressing rooms and patron washrooms.
The new plays of the Studio's first year will be by Canadian writers. Monette stressed that Canadian writers and new works will also be seen on the main stages of the festival in the future.
The 2002 Studio Theatre playbill includes William Shakespeare and John Fletcher's The Two Noble Kinsmen,performed by alumni of the Stratford Festival Conservatory for Classical Theatre Training. David Latham directs. This will be the first production of Noble Kinsmen in the festival's history. The theatre was founded as a Shakespeare-based company and has grown to include modern works and musicals.
The third full-length work at the Studio will be the premiere of The Death of Cupid, part one of a trilogy called The Swanne by Canadian director-dramaturg Peter Hinton. The Montreal-based Hinton, who will direct his own work, describes the trilogy as a romance about Queen Victoria. "Not a biography," he said in a statement, "but a speculation about who she might have been: what she might have imagined before becoming Queen."
Other works include Timothy Findley's new one-act, Shadows, about a group of friends at a dinner party; festival actor Paul Dunn's one-act, High-Gravel Blind, about a son masking his identity for his long estranged father; Toronto writer Anton Piatigorsky's one-Act, The Modernist, about the creation and discovery of a modernist novel, spanning 60 years; Montrealer Celia McBride's one-act, Walk Right Up, about three grown siblings facing their aging parents' needs; Manitoba writer Ian Ross' one act, Bereav'd of Light, an tale of an escaped slave's journey to freedom with the help Ojibway warrior. Andrey Tarasiuk is the festival's director of new play development.
Canadian works will be partnered three other one-acts: Jean Cocteau's The Human Voice; Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit; and stage versions of obscure Federico Fellini radio plays billed as The Federico Fellini Plays.
— By Kenneth Jones