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Stratford Festival 2018 Playbill

By Keith Tomasek, August 22, 2017

The Stratford Festival 2018 playbill is out.

News about The Stratford Festival 2018 playbill was just released.

Highlights Include:

  • Nigel Shawn Williams, in his Stratford directorial debut, will direct “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
  • Donna Feore to direct “The Rocky Horror Show” and “The Music Man.”
  • Scott Wentworth to direct Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”
  • Jackie Maxwell to direct “Paradise Lost,” a new theatrical adaptation by Erin Shields.
  • Antoni Cimolino to direct “The Tempest” with Martha Henry as Prospero.

Robert Lepage directs Shakespeare on The Stratford Festival 2018 playbill.

Robert Lepage stratford festival corlianus
As previously announced, Robert Lepage will take on Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus” in his Festival debut.

The fourth Shakespeare, rounding out Cimolino’s “The Tempest” and Wentworth’s “Julius Caesar,” is Keira Loughran’s “The Comedy of Errors.”

Loughran was at the helm of this season’s haunting production of “The Komagata Maru Incident” and last year’s heart-rending production of “The Aeneid.”

“This is a hilarious comedy filled not only with slapstick fun but also with a profound yearning for completion,” said Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino.
“The Comedy of Errors” is slated for the Studio Theatre.

Nigel Shawn Williams’ Directorial Debut

nigel shawn williams, stratford festival, to kill a mockingbird

Nigel Shawn Williams – Rob Middleton, Robin’s Egg Photography
Nigel Shawn Williams’ “To Kill a Mockingbird” could be the sleeper hit of the 2018 Stratford Festival season.

Williams recently directed two critically acclaimed shows at the nearby Grand Theatre in London (“Art” and “The Mountaintop”) both of which featured Stratford favourite E.B. Smith doing some of his best work.

Williams’ production of “The Merchant of Venice” is on stage now at Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach.

Theme of Free Will

Cimolino has chosen 12 productions that explore the theme of Free Will.

“We long for liberty,” says Cimolino, “but with it comes a heavy burden of responsibility.

Often we agonize over making tough decisions. Occasionally we try to force our wills on others. Too seldom do we take responsibility for our actions.

And there’s a fascinating paradox at the heart of this theme. When Christopher Hitchens was asked if he believed in free will, he replied: ‘I have no choice.’ ”

Charlottesville and the Need to Safeguard Freedom and Tolerance

Continuing on the theme of Free Will Cimolino adds “To Kill a Mockingbird is a play that is critically important to be heard today, especially among our young, and Nigel Shawn Williams – a gifted storyteller – is the perfect director to bring it to the Festival stage.

After the events in Charlottesville, it’s become clear that there is a vital need to come together as a community to protect each other and safeguard freedom and tolerance.”

Adding context to two of the Shakespeare productions, Cimolino noted “’Julius Caesar’ shows us the end of Roman democracy and is a warning to all of us who are concerned about our individual freedom and about our ability to direct our future as a society.

Scott Wentworth, who did such a beautiful job on both ‘Pericles‘ and ‘Romeo and Juliet‘ will be working with an extraordinary cast on this production.

“’Coriolanus’ has a much earlier point of reference, but still in this very nascent democracy there was such tension between the average civilian and the elite, who had no patience for the population at large, that it led to civil war, nearly putting an end to democracy before it had a chance to flourish.

Robert Lepage is an extremely gifted artist and for so many years I’ve hoped to bring him to Stratford. He has led workshops for us on this production and they point to an absolutely stunning version of this play.”

New Plays

The 2018 season will feature two exciting new plays emerging from the Festival’s Laboratory: “Brontë: The World Without” and “Paradise Lost.”

“Brontë: The World Without,” by Jordi Mand, tells the story of the famous literary sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë.

It will be directed by Vanessa Porteous, former head of Alberta Theatre Projects and the talent behind the extraordinary première of “Christina: The Girl King” at Stratford in 2014.

Jordi Mand photo by Will O’Hare
“Jordi Mand, among the very finest playwrights of her generation, has created a profoundly beautiful and detailed exploration of these three women, who – living in poverty with their ailing father and dissolute, dying brother – find desperately needed self-expression,” said Cimolino.

“Paradise Lost,” a theatrical adaptation by Erin Shields, will also have its world première in 2018, directed” by Jackie Maxwell.

“What would a season about Free Will be without an exploration of Adam and Eve’s decision to eat that apple?” quipped Cimolino.

John Milton’s epic tale of the battle between the forces of good and evil serves as the inspiration for this ultra-contemporary, funny and ultimately profoundly moving poetic meditation on loss.

“This script is brilliant: a cheeky, irreverent and fiercely engaging adaptation of the great epic poem by one of the country’s most promising playwrights,” added Cimolino. “The cast of characters includes God, his Son, the archangels, Adam and Eve, Satan and a host of devils – and it includes a play within a play performed by a heavenly choir. It is profound thought-provoking and delightful throughout.’

The Complete Stratford Festival 2018 Playbill


The Tempest
(May 10–October 26)
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Antoni Cimolino
Festival Theatre

(June 9–October 20)
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Robert Lepage
Avon Theatre
Created in collaboration with Ex Machina

Julius Caesar
(July 31–October 27)
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Scott Wentworth
Festival Theatre

The Comedy of Errors
(May 15–October 14)
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Keira Loughran
Studio Theatre


Meredith Willson’s The Music Man
(April 17–November 3)
Book, Music and Lyrics by Meredith Willson
Story by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacy
Directed and Choreographed by Donna Feore
Festival Theatre

Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show
(April 27–October 31)
Book, Music and Lyrics by Richard O’Brien
Directed and Choreographed by Donna Feore
Avon Theatre
By arrangement with Rocky Horror Company Limited


To Kill a Mockingbird
(May 4 to November 4)
Based upon the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee
Dramatized by Christopher Sergel
Directed by Nigel Shawn Williams
Festival Theatre
The Schulich Family Play for 2018

Long Day’s Journey Into Night
(May 5 to October 13)
By Eugene O’Neill
Directed by Miles Potter
Studio Theatre

An Ideal Husband
(May 11 to October 28)
By Oscar Wilde
Directed by Lezlie Wade
Avon Theatre

Napoli Milionaria
(August 2 to October 27)
By Eduardo De Filippo
In a new translation by John Murrell, commissioned by the Stratford Festival
From a literal translation by Donato Santeramo
Directed by Antoni Cimolino
Avon Theatre


Brontë: The World Without
(June 6 to October 13)
By Jordi Mand
Directed by Vanessa Porteous
World première: A Stratford Festival commission
Studio Theatre

Paradise Lost
(August 1 to October 14)
By Erin Shields
A theatrical adaptation of John Milton’s Paradise Lost
Directed by Jackie Maxwell
World première: A Stratford Festival commission
Studio Theatre

Tickets for the 2018 season went on sale to Members of the Stratford Festival November 12, 2017, and to the general public on January 5, 2018. For more information, please visit

NOTE: In anticipation of the planned reconstruction of the Tom Patterson Theatre, the 2018 season will be presented in the Festival, Avon and Studio theatres. In the event the reconstruction does not proceed in the forthcoming months, some titles will be shifted to the Tom Patterson Theatre.

This story is sponsored by Avery’s Inn Next Door, luxurious suites located a 5 minute walk from the Stratford Festival Theatres.

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Stratford Festival 2018 Playbill

Keith Tomasek
22 August 2017
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