For the first time in its history, the Stratford Festival will not perform in repertory (in which actors perform in several productions concurrently).
Rather, the Festival will produce each play with a distinct group of actors, with no more than eight cast members per production.
It’s all part of the rigorous protocols the Festival has put in place as it prepares to launch a season unlike any other.
The Stratford Festival 2021 playbill is a mix of six plays and five cabarets, all performed undercover outdoors.
Showtimes will be 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Therefore, during most of the season, visitors will have three or more productions from which to choose.
Keeping with social distancing protocols, performances will run approximately 90 minutes with no intermissions, to a maximum audience of 100 people.
Tickets for the Stratford Festival 2021 season are scheduled to go on sale to members of the Stratford Festival beginning May 24. Tickets to the general public go on Sale June 4th. Given the limited amount of available seats this season, and the number of patrons who have credits from last year, one can’t help but wonder how many seats will be for sale to the general public.
Nevertheless, productions will also be offered digitally, with paid viewing parties scheduled to be released in the summer. I’ll publish details on those as they become available.
Still to be announced is The Meighen Forum programming, which will offer a combination of online and in-person events.
The season begins June 24 with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
For more information, call the Stratford Festival box office at 1-800-567-1600 or visit stratfordfestival.ca.
Complete show details below are from a press release dated April 7, 2021. I’ll update this as the Festival provides more details.
TOM PATTERSON THEATRE CANOPY
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Peter Pasyk
Eva Foote as Hermia
Craig Lauzon as Oberon and Theseus
Trish Lindström as Puck and Egeus
Jonathan Mason as Demetrius
André Sills as Bottom
Amaka Umeh as Helena
Micah Woods as Lysander
Bahareh Yaraghi as Titania and Hippolyta
June 22 to July 25 | Opening Saturday, June 26
Spellbound lovers, quarrelling fairies, tradesmen with a fervour for amateur theatricals: they’re all mixed up together in the surreal world of Shakespeare’s great comedy of dreaming and desire.
This deep dive into the sometimes unsettlingly dark and dangerous realms of the subconscious famously culminates in a play within the play: a hilariously inept performance by Nick Bottom and his fellow would-be actors. But even as we laugh at the ham-fisted efforts of these “rude mechanicals,” we are won over by their heartfelt belief in the power of the imagination.
Taking its cue from that insight, this production deploys the most fundamental techniques of theatrical art in a magically inventive staging of a play that is itself a celebration of the imagination at its most extreme.
Production support is generously provided by the Harkins & Manning families in memory of Jim & Susan Harkins.
The Rez Sisters
By Tomson Highway
Directed by Jessica Carmichael
Jani Lauzon as Pelajia Patchnose
Brefny Caribou as Zhaboonigan Peterson
Nicole Joy-Fraser as Annie Cook
Kathleen MacLean as Emily Dictionary
Zach Running Coyote as Nanabush
Michaela Washburn as Marie-Adele Starblanket
July 13 to August 15 | Opening Thursday, July 17
They have their dreams and their difficulties, these seven women. One yearns for a singing career; another for a white porcelain toilet. One grieves for her lover, killed in a motorcycle accident; another harbours the memory of a horrific sexual assault. The cancer that afflicts one of them is not the only malignancy they confront.
But one dream they hold in common is that of winning “the biggest bingo in the world” – and one day, accompanied by the transformative spirit guide Nanabush, they leave their Manitoulin Island reserve and set out for Toronto to do just that.
Ribald, harrowing and mystical, this seminal work of Indigenous drama celebrates the spirit of resilience and the powerful beauty these women bring to the tough world in which they live.
Production support is generously provided by Karon C. Bales & Charles E. Beall and by M. Fainer.
Schulich Children’s Plays
I Am William
Text by Rébecca Déraspe
Music by Chloé Lacasse and Benoit Landry
English translation by Leanna Brodie
Book, lyrics and score developed at Théâtre Le Clou
Directed by Esther Jun
Choreographed by Alyssa Martin
Music Director: Njo Kong Kie
Shakura Dickson as Margaret
Landon Doak as Will
Allan Louis as John and the Earl of Leicester
Shannon Taylor as Mary and Queen Elizabeth I
August 4 to September 5 | Opening Sunday, August 8
Margaret Shakespeare has a dazzling talent for writing, which she yearns to put to serious use. But in an age lethally suspicious of female intellect and literacy, how can she find a way to fulfil her authorial ambitions yet still survive? Fortunately, she has a brother, William, who isn’t much of a writer but who wants to make it as an actor – and friends in high places have just the role for him.
Tapping into our fascination with the enigma of William Shakespeare’s life and how he came to write those plays – and the seemingly endless speculation in some quarters about whether he really did – this light-hearted yet genuinely passionate interweaving of comedy, song and poetic fancy spins a playful and witty yarn that will delight younger audiences and adults alike.
By Marcia Johnson
Directed by Kimberley Rampersad
Produced by special arrangement with Thousand Islands Playhouse
Sean Arbuckle as Talbot and Maurice
Cameron Grant as Montague and Steve
(Casting in progress)
August 24 to September 26 | Opening Saturday, August 28
In Kenya in 1952, Mercy, a restaurant proprietor, is hired to cater the impending visit of Princess Elizabeth. Meanwhile, in England in 2015, a young Kenyan-born Canadian, Tia, is working as an intern on a TV drama series about the British royal family – while writing a script of her own that re-envisions that 1952 visit from an African perspective.
These two time-frames intersect, with a twist, as Tia, in 2015, confronts the series screenwriter about his blind spots and biases, while Mercy, in 1952, does the same with the young queen-to-be.
Audiences are certain to enjoy this ingenious contemporary drama that keeps us guessing as it explores issues of colonialism, nationalism and the question of who gets to have a voice.
FESTIVAL THEATRE CANOPY
Three Tall Women
Directed by Diana Leblanc
Martha Henry as A
Lucy Peacock as B
Mamie Zwettler as C
Andrew Iles as The Boy
June 24 to July 25 | Opening Saturday, July 3
By turns acerbic, anguished and sarcastically funny, an old woman known to us only as “A” lays bare her inner life in sometimes shocking detail to two others: a middle-aged caregiver identified only as “B” and a young legal professional, “C.”
Originally programmed for the 2020 season, Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, which he called an “exorcism” of his own troubled relationship with his adoptive mother, is a profound meditation on aging, death and the very nature of the self: who are we really, and how do we become who we are?
In keeping with pandemic precautions, the play’s two parts – the second of which brings a startlingly different take on its characters – will be presented as separate performances, scheduled to be seen on the same day. Each ticket includes both parts.
Production support is generously provided by Sylvia D. Chrominska, Dr. Desta Leavine in memory of Pauline Leavine, Sylvia Soyka, The Westaway Charitable Foundation and by Jack Whiteside.
R + J
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Ravi Jain
Produced in collaboration with Why Not Theatre
Dante Jemmott as Romeo
Eponine Lee as Juliet
Alex Bulmer as the Friar and Chorus
Tom Rooney as the Nurse
August 12 to September 26 | Opening Sunday, August 15
They say that love is blind – and with blindness comes the freedom to open the mind’s eye to a world of limitless possibility. Likewise, the challenge of staging the world’s most famous love story in a time of physical distancing brings with it the opportunity to explore modes of theatrical presentation that are both unexpectedly novel and as old as the art of storytelling itself.
Intended for blind, low-vision and sighted audiences alike, this radically reimagined version of Shakespeare’s beloved romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, invites you into an up-to-the-minute modern world of sound and music, a world that challenges the identities we construct when we use only our eyes, a world in which the entrenched hostilities of an older generation are challenged by the passions of young people who only want to love.
Production support is generously provided by Dr. M. Lee Myers and by Catherine & David Wilkes.
Why We Tell the Story
A Celebration of Black Musical Theatre
Curated and directed by Marcus Nance
Music Director: Franklin Brasz
June 24 to July 11 | Opening Saturday, June 26
Throughout the ages the African-American community has told stories of life, love, pain and hope through the glorious expressions of musical theatre and poetry. This update of the sold-out 2019 Meighen Forum concert, takes you on a journey with the voices of legendary Black poets and the music of the African-American musical theatre canon, including hits from Aida, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Caroline, or Change, The Color Purple, Hamilton, The Lion King, Once On This Island, Showboat and many more. As Maya Angelou said: “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave.”
Production support is generously provided by Mary Ann & Robert Gorlin.
You Can’t Stop the Beat
The Enduring Power of Musical Theatre
Curated and directed by Thom Allison
Music Director: Laura Burton
July 15 to July 31 | Opening Sunday, July 18
What is it about musical theatre that captures the hearts of millions of fans? Through wars, disasters, heartbreaks and triumphs, musicals have been there to give us a way to understand the human experience and flourish. Has there ever been a better way to represent our inner lives than in glorious Technicolor and song? This tune-filled ride celebrates why musicals have always been the ultimate tonic for the soul in good or troubled times.
Production support is generously provided by Nona Macdonald Heaslip.
A Shakespeare-Inspired Mixtape
Curated by Robert Markus, Julia Nish-Lapidus and James Wallis
Directed by Julia Nish-Lapidus and James Wallis
Music Director: Reza Jacobs
July 29 to August 15 | Opening Saturday, July 31
Shakespeare’s influence on Western culture extends even into your favourite pop hits. Whether it be direct lines from his plays appearing in Top 40 lyrics or whole songs inspired by his plots, whether the borrowers be Taylor Swift, Madonna, Elton John, The Beatles, Prince or Radiohead, Shakespeare is still there, lurking in the mainstream, as cool and as relevant as ever. This lively celebration of terrific tunes affords a great opportunity to introduce a younger audience to Shakespeare’s continuing role in popular culture.
Production support is generously provided by Barbara & John Schubert.
Spirit and Legacy of Black Music
Curated and directed by Beau Dixon
Music Director: Beau Dixon
August 19 to September 5 | Opening Saturday, August 21
From the moment Black people landed on North American soil, their music took root and became the basis for much of the popular music we hear today. There is an endless list of exceptional Black musicians who have been lost to history while their white counterparts gained fame. From church hymnals to the blues, from jazz to rock ’n’ roll, R&B and rap, we owe much of our musical history to Black culture, and it’s time to give credit where it is due.
Production support is generously provided by Mary Ann & Robert Gorlin and by Sylvia Soyka.
Finally There’s Sun
A Cabaret of Resilience
Curated and directed by Sara Farb and Steve Ross
Music Director: Franklin Brasz
September 9 to September 26 | Opening Sunday, September 12
Reflecting on this “great pause” as we move forward and get back to living freely, Finally There’s Sun takes you on a musical journey through a year of enormous change and growth. It explores the isolation, the loneliness, the upheaval and the unexpected silver linings that came out of a time like no other.
Production support is generously provided by Jody & Deborah Hamade and by Dr. Robert & Roberta Sokol.
Bookmark this page and check back for for updates.