Stratford Festival Scraps Idea of Solo Artistic Director; Cimolino To Oversee Team

News   Stratford Festival Scraps Idea of Solo Artistic Director; Cimolino To Oversee Team
Antoni Cimolino, an Italian-Canadian actor who rose to direct plays and be a vital administrator at the Stratford Festival, has been named the world renowned company's new "general director," overseeing a team of artistic directors.
Antoni Cimolino
Antoni Cimolino Photo by Richard Bain

Kelly Meighen, chair of the board of governors at the Stratford Festival of Canada, announced April 18 that "the Festival is moving forward with a new direction in artistic management and leadership."

In an rare setup for a major theatre, Antoni Cimolino has been appointed general director, and will report to the Board and "lead a team of up to four artistic directors."

Cimolino stated, "The new management structure frees up the artistic directors from theatre business, so they can focus solely on delivering our artistic promise. This is how we will build on our historic foundation."

"Antoni Cimolino has the vision, the passion, and the experience to lead the Stratford Festival into an exciting and innovative era," Meighen said. "We have tremendous confidence in Antoni to build a team of the world's most talented artistic directors and artists that captures and expands on the creativity for which the Festival is world-renowned."

"The Stratford Festival is a unique resource in the international theatrical community," Cimolino stated. "This theatre is now in a position to take important steps forward, and to do so we must renew our commitment to the classics, especially Shakespeare, deepen our relationship with the national and international artistic community, and strengthen our commitment to the finest artists in each stage of their career. We are introducing a new structure that will support our achievement of this exciting new direction." Antoni Cimolino has been the Stratford Festival's executive director since 1998. He has directed many acclaimed productions and this season will direct Coriolanus with Colm Feore and Martha Henry. He began his career as an actor and first appeared at Stratford in 1988, later playing such roles as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and Laertes in Hamlet.

"This is an outward-looking vision which gives us much needed flexibility," Cimolino added. "We will enrich our theatre community by bringing in outside influences, inviting guest appearances, workshopping more Canadian plays and taking our own plays on the road."

The restructuring follows the announcement last year that current artistic director Richard Monette will retire at the end of 2007 after completing a record 14-year term. The new team, which Cimolino expects to begin announcing in early summer, will be responsible for the festival's 2008 season and beyond.

The internationally acclaimed Stratford Festival, North America's largest classical repertory theatre, presents a six-month season in four venues, "encompassing not only the works of Shakespeare and other great authors of the past but also the best in contemporary drama and musical theatre."

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