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February, 2005 - Nr. 2


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KW & Beyond

  by Irena Syrokomla

Irena SyrokomlaAnnouncements

Both Stratford Festival Visitors’ Guide 2005 and Shaw Festival 2005 are already available. They arrived amazingly early and were particularly enjoyable since it gave me an opportunity to study them over Christmas break and plan ahead.

Stratford Festival of Canada – 2005

This is the 53rd season of the Festival and finds itself under the artistic direction of Richard Monette: a total of 15 plays – 14 productions (two presented as a double bill). Three plays by Shakespeare The Tempest with Ian Deakin in the role of Sebastian, As You Like It - thoroughly updated with the music of Barenaked Ladies, Measure For Measure with Diane D’Aquila, and Marlowe’s classic Edward II.

The light and vocal presentations at Stratford are: Hello Dolly and Into the Woods with music by Stephen Sondheim.

An interesting aspect is the current development of relatively modern plays of depth, which makes for really interesting theatre offering more satisfaction to a more selective audience. There are two plays by Tennessee Williams Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with James Blendick and Lally Cadeau (some of us old enough may remember Elizabeth Taylor in the movie based on this play) and Orpheus Descending. What an opportunity to see professional performances of such plays! There are also some others in a similar category, The Brother Karamazow based on Dostoevsky’s novel, The Lark by Jean Anouilh and Fallen Angels by Noel Coward.

On an interesting double bill are two one act plays, The Measure of Love by Nicolas Billon (his The Elephant’s Song was staged last year) and Ruth Draper on Tour with Lally Cadeau. I attended a reading of this piece last year and can attest that Lally Cadeau is superb.

And there is a gesture toward local Ontario history – The Donnellys: Stcks & Stones, a story of Irish immigrants and a sinister secret society determined to drive them off the farm.

Altogether it is a season very much to look forward to. The Visitor’s Guide lists other attractions, musical evenings, university courses, meetings with writers, pre-theatre gatherings and tours, and all other attractions, restaurants, B&B and shopping. The box office number is 1-800-567-1600 and the web side www.stratfordfestival.ca. The earlier you book the better your chance to get the seat you want.

Shaw Festival 2005

This is the second year since Christopher Newton left and Jackie Maxwell took over as Artistic Director. Altogether there are 10 plays this season. It is the second year of the new format of The Guide and a new wind is blowing into the program. I have some problems with the new formats (the old smaller Visitors Guide was so convenient in the car or in my purse!) and the new program. It always appears that, with new management, change has to be instituted, needed or not. Oh, well.

Two plays of George Bernard Shaw are Major Barbara and You Never Can Tell. Both rarely staged, but - after all - everything else by Shaw has been shown before. The period pieces are Constant Wife by Somerset Maugham and Something on a Side (lunchtime theatre) by Georges Feydeau. And to round off the singing side of the Festival there is Happy End by Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weil and Gypsy by Stephen Sondheim.

There are several plays written well after the Shaw’s era – Journey’s End written in 1928, The Autumn Garden from 1951 and Bus Stop from 1955 and Belle Moral by Ann Marie MacDonald written in 2004. I suppose the list of available plays from the beginning of the 20th century was getting shorter after 48 seasons, so many have been repeated. Also there is a fair demand for newer productions instead of being limited to one time zone. I really liked J.B.Priestley’s plays and stage adapted mysteries – however, one should not get stuck in one category of plays.

Compared to Stratford, the ticket prices are considerably lower. Discounts for matinees and Sunday nights are also available. The region is lovely, full of B&B, attractive leisurely shopping and walks in the vineyards. The phone is 1-800-511-7429, the web site www.shawfest.com.

Altogether both Visitors Guides are very helpful in planning the summer weekends while the snow is blocking your driveway. Happy reading!!!

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