To go to the Stratford Festival, or not to go to the Stratford Festival… that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to miss out on tons of great Shakespeare, or to take arms against your laziness and check out some wicked live theatre this summer…?
– Hamlet, the lost scenes
Yes, it’s the 62nd season of the iconic Stratford Festival, and from April to October theatre-goers will be flocking to Stratford, Ontario to see performances of classic Shakespeare plays as well as some contemporary favourites. Stroll along the banks of the Avon River in the hometown of Justin Bieber (yes, the Biebs grew up in Stratford; no, that has nothing to do with this article), feed the majestic swans (actually, best not to bother the swans… they bite), then head into the Festival Theatre to see world-renowned actors performing some of the most influential plays in all of history. The Bard himself (that’s William Shakespeare for those keeping score at home) would be proud to lend his name to such bold renditions of his works… but what’s on the program for 2014? Which plays should you see? Fear not my friends, here are some of the Shakespearean highlights for this year’s Stratford Festival…
Have more than thou showest, speak less than thou knowest… but make sure that thou goest to this play. The great tragedy (that we all wrote reports about in high school) is the jewel of this year’s festival. (My report only got a C… that’s the real tragedy here). Lear will be played by Colm Feore, whose breadth of acting experience on stage and film puts him into a rare class – having been a Stratford regular for three decades, while having prominent roles in major Hollywood films such as Pearl Harbour, The Sum of All Fears, and Thor. Watch Lear struggle with his conniving daughters as his kingdom, and his sanity, crumbles around him.
Runs from May 5th to October 10th at the Festival Theatre.
Antony and Cleopatra
Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety. Other women cloy the appetites they feed; but she makes hungry where she most satisfies. Dayum! Cleopatra sounds hot. One of history’s classic love stories and a struggle for control of the known world… does it get any better than this? Geraint Wyn Davies plays Marc Antony (the Roman general, not the latino singer who married J-Lo) and Yanna McIntosh plays Cleopatra. You bet your asp this one will be good.
Runs from August 3rd to September 20th at the Tom Patterson Theatre.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Lord, what fools these mortals be! (For not going to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream!) Finally, a comedy to liven things up. This is the absurd story of a group of Athenian nobles, a troupe of actors, and, naturally, the mythical fairies that like to mess with them. Stephen Ouimette plays Bottom (I hear he looks great in a donkey mask), with Chick Reid playing the mischievous Puck. If you need a break from the usual Shakespearean theme of ‘all your favourite characters die’, then this is the play for you.
Runs from May 16th to October 11th at the Festival Theatre.
If you’re going to be checking out the Stratford Festival, let us know which plays you’ll be seeing in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.