Ontario's Stratford Shakespeare Festival Drops Bard's Name From Branding
By Kenneth Jones
Canada's Stratford Shakespeare Festival will go back to an earlier brand name — just "Stratford Festival" — effective immediately and in anticipation of its 2013 season. The new artistic director Antoni Cimolino made the announcement on Nov. 1, the day he officially took over from Des McAnuff.
The "Shakespeare" was added by McAnuff to underscore the festival's founding commitment to classics by William Shakespeare. Over the past 60 years, the festival added musicals, world classics and modern works to their playbill, which annually also boasts the Bard of Avon's plays.
"Stratford Festival is the name that we have used for most of our 60 years," Cimolino said in a statement. "It is simple and direct, it resonates with people and it carries our legacy of quality and success. The name connects powerfully with audiences and allows us to best convey the breadth and depth of the seasons we are planning to present.
"We have discussed this idea for some time and it has broad support amongst artists and staff, as well as members of the Board, who agreed this was the right time to make the change. When I spoke to Des McAnuff about my decision, he gave his complete and enthusiastic support."
Tickets for the 2013 season on four stages in Stratford, Ontario, go on sale to Members on Nov. 11 and to the general public on Jan. 5. The works include Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Othello, Fiddler on the Roof, The Three Musketeers, Tommy, Blithe Spirit, Mary Stuart, Waiting for Godot, and two new Canadian plays, The Thrill by Judith Thompson, and Taking Shakespeare by John Murrell.
In 2013, the Festival will introduce a new program called The Forum, "a wide-ranging series of events that invite audiences to enjoy theatre in a deeper and more dynamic way, using the work they see on stage to spark ideas, raise questions and open the door to good-hearted and open-minded debate." It will include "panels, chats, debates and other interactive discussions, as well as keynote speakers, dramatic readings, concerts and other presentations." The Forum "will be offered continuously throughout the season, with each month from June through September featuring a 'Forum Foray' week that will have a particularly high concentration of events."
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