Robert Lepage will make his directorial debut at the Stratford Festival in 2018 with Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus” reports The Toronto Star’s Karen Fricker.
Drawn in by its explicitly political text, “Coriolanus” was Lepage’s first crack at Shakespeare.
In 1983 he created a version called “Coriolan et le monstre aux mille tetes [Coriolanus and the Thousand-headed Monster]” at Théâtre Repère in Québec City. It was later performed at the Festival de Théâtres des Amériques in Montreal in 1993.
“Coriolanus” is an epic Roman tragedy that revolves around an egotistical leader, who holds contempt for the plebeians whose support he has won over, and the fractured relationship with Volumina his powerful mother.
With its righteous political leader dividing the new Roman republic and clashes between aristocrats and plebs it’s perfect for our times.
The production which debuts in previews June 9 and runs until October 20 features André Sills in the title role. A veteran of the Birmingham Conservatory and four seasons at the Stratford Festival, Sills has been at the Shaw Festival most recently, with leading roles in “’Master Harold’… and the Boys” and “An Octoroon.”
The production will also feature Graham Abbey as Tullus Aufidius, Michael Blake as Cominuis, Tom McCamus as Menenius Agrippa, Stephen Ouimette as Junius Brutus, Lucy Peacock as Volumnia and Tom Rooney as Sicinius Velutus.
According to Fricker the Festival will work with Lepage’s company Ex Machina on the production.
Fricker writes that Stratford Festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino expressed his desire to bring Lepage to the Festival, adding it’s a “long held dream.”
In 2006 Cimolino directed Colm Feore in the title role with Martha Henry playing Volumnia.
The production drew mixed reviews and attention from anti-poverty groups, including the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, who described the Festival as “a showpiece of lavish consumption” and staged a protest at the Festival describing the opening night audience as “a who’s who of the rich and vile.”
Despite rarely being produced T.S. Eliot ranked “Coriolanus” above “Hamlet,” calling it “Shakespeare’s most assured artistic success.”
National Ballet Of Canada
Lepage’s “Frame by Frame” a multidisciplinary production inspired by Norman McLaren’s 1952 Academy Award-winning film, “Neighbours,” in collaboration with Guillaume Cote will be on stage at the National Ballet of Canada in Toronto June 1 to 10.
The Stratford Festival
June 9 – October 20
Information and tickets online
Box Office: 1-800-567-1600