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Stratford Announces 2023 Season

Somewhat later than used to be the case, the Stratford Festival has announced its 2023 season, with four plays by The Bard.

Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino likes to build each season around a central theme. Reflecting on the toll taken by the recent pandemic and the memories of a previous plague – AIDS – that it engendered, he has decreed that the 2023 season will be devoted to “Duty vs. Desire.” Cimolino said, “The pandemic has left us in dire need of pleasure, eager to fulfill our desires but often with no way to do so. At the same time it has brought us face to masked face with the vital importance of social responsibility. Here in the West, many of us have had the luxury of pursuing romantic notions for decades. Desire has fueled our economy. But what do we do when suddenly we must sacrifice our comfort for the greater good, when our heart’s not in what we do anymore, when we want to shirk responsibility even though we know that could have dire consequences? These are the questions and ideas that inspired the plays of the 2023 season.”

The following 13 plays (up from 10 in 2022) comprise the 2023 season:

At the Festival Theatre
Rent by Jonathan Larson, directed by Thom Allison.
King Lear by William Shakespeare, directed by Kimberey Rampersad (last presented in 2014)
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, directed by Chris Abraham (last presented in 2012)
Les Belles-Soeurs by Michel Tremblay, directed by Esther Jun.

At the Tom Patterson Theatre
Grand Magic, by Eduardo de Filippo, directed by Antoni Cimolino
Richard II, adapted by Brad Fraser, conceived and directed by Jillian Keiley (last presented in 1999)
Wedding Band, by Alice Childress, directed by Sam White

At the Avon Theatre
Monty Python’s Spamalot by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, directed by Lezlie Wade, choreographed by Jesse Robb.
A Wrinkle in Time written and directed by Thomas Morgan Jones, adapted from the fantasy novels by Madeleine L’Engle. The Schulich Children’s Play.
Frankenstein Revived, inspired by the work of Mary Shelley, directed by Morris Panych, choreographed by Wendy Gorling and Stephen Cota, music by David Coulter.

At the Studio Theatre
Casey and Diana by Nick Green, directed by Andrew Kushnir. A world premiere play about a 1991 visit by Princess Diana to an AIDS hospice in Toronto.
Women of the Fur Trade by Frances Koncan, directed by Yvette Nolan. The playwright and director both have Indigenous roots.
Love’s Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare, directed by Peter Pasyk. (last presented in 2015)

The 2023 season will be notable for the absence of star director/choreographer Donna Feore, who is pursuing Broadway-bound opportunities in the States, and a reduced role for Antoni Cimolino, who will direct one show instead of his usual two. On the plus side of the ledger, there will be four Shakespeare plays on offer, although two will be “adaptations,” which some people don’t recognize as actual Shakespeare plays. Richard II hasn’t been done at Stratford since 1999, unless you count the snippets from the play in Breath of Kings in 2016. The Avon Theatre will once again produce a full slate of plays after offering just one in the 2022 season, there will once again be two musicals, and the Festival will return to a tradition of presenting plays from the French Canadian world.

In addition, The Forum will once again offer an expansive list of events, mostly in Lazrides Hall in the Tom Pat. Some of these will actually be “shows” – cabarets, play readings, and musical evenings – that will run for just a few performances.

Casting will be announced later.

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