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Cimolino’s leap of faith

Photo Cylla Von Tiedemann

Writing in the current edition of Maclean’s magazine Brian Bethune asks the question “Can Stephen Lewis, Colin Mochrie and Tommy Guitar school reboot the Stratford Festival?”

The article covers some of the changes being introduced by the new Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, including traditional interpretations of Shakespeare, and Cimolino’s new “Forum” series.

Bethune asks the question “Will the Stratford Forum, an expensive investment with a lot riding on it, succeed?”

Cimolino is betting on it. He’s betting, as founding artistic director Tyrone Guthrie did before him, that people are in search of more than a night out, but “a break from ordinary life and a change from theatre in the city, where you go home right after.”

Cimolino says that in terms of illuminating major moral issues of the day, “theatre can do things that journalists and academics cannot—provide empathetic understanding.”

Bethune reports on an theatrical moment at The Shakespeare Slam, a promotional event organized to launch the Forum, featuring a debate over whether Shakespeare belongs to pop or to high culture.

Bethune notes that “Torquil Campbell, of the indie band Stars (and son of renowned festival actor Douglas Campbell), arguing for the playwright’s pop sensibilities, segued from declaring “Falstaff was the Homer Simpson of his day” into a summation of Stratford’s problems as he saw them: “Tickets cost too much. And why? A panoply of issues: unionization; addiction to sets and costumes; no star system; too exclusive.”

Campbell, a 40-something creative soul, is a demographic the Festival needs to recruit to replace its aging audience. His concerns aren’t addressed with the creation of the Forum.

Read the full article at

Cimolino’s leap of faith

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