The new Stratford Festival Forum will host an exciting array of high-profile speakers and entertainers during the 2013 season. From the serious to the light-hearted, Forum events will offer a variety of riffs on themes running through the playbill, in particular themes of community, especially communities in conflict, and the role of the outsider in those communities.
These themes open the door to lively discussions on a number of topics that continue to inspire artists working in various media, including film-makers, comedians, novelists and composers. Forum events include performances and showcases, improv and stand-up comedy, speakers, active explorations and workshops, panels and debates, music, screenings, conversations and exhibits.
Participants range from Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells to military leader John de Chastelain to comedian Colin Mochrie.
“We are building a festival within our Festival and we’re very proud of this exceptional program for the inaugural Forum,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “We have found tremendous interest for the idea of addressing the themes of classical theatre as they are seen in our world today, and that interest has come from every corner – from political and religious thinkers, performers, writers, visual artists and others.
“Our patrons hunger for opportunities to reflect on the work they see on our stages. They seek out opportunities that provide context, insight and illumination. The Forum is designed to feed that desire and to give people something they can’t get anywhere else: a chance to become fully immersed in theatre and the thoughts and feelings that it provokes.”
More than 100 events have already been programmed with many more still to be finalized. Some activities are recurring events to be enjoyed each week of the season. Others will be offered on a one-off or limited basis. “Forum Forays” – periods with a special concentration of Forum events – have been planned for June 12 to 16, July 9 to 14 and August 9 to 18.
John de Chastelain: Ancient Grudges and New Mutinies: June 15 at 10 a.m.
Canada’s former Chief of the Defence Staff and former ambassador to the U.S. reflects on the Prince of Verona’s role as peacekeeper in Romeo and Juliet and relates it to his own experiences in the military and through the United Nations. General de Chastelain played a key role in the Northern Ireland peace process and in the crafting of the Good Friday accord. He was also a leader in the negotiations on the decommissioning of arms in Northern Ireland.
The ARC Ensemble (Artists of the Royal Conservatory) presents two concerts introduced by Artistic Director Simon Wynberg.
· Tradition and the Jewish Composer: June 16 at 5:30 p.m.
· Music Suppressed in Fascist Italy: Date TBA
Sally Armstrong: Ascent of Women: June 16 at 10 a.m.
Journalist, author and human rights activist Sally Armstrong, a three-time winner of the Amnesty International Media Award and a Member of the Order of Canada, will address themes of repression and rebellion, which inform such productions as Measure for Measure, Mary Stuart, Fiddler on the Roof and Romeo and Juliet. Ms Armstrong was a member of the International Women’s Commission at the UN and is the author of four books: Ascent of Women; Veiled Threat: The Hidden Power of Women of Afghanistan; The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor; and Bitter Roots, Tender Shoots: The Uncertain Fate of Afghanistan’s Women.
Stanley Wells: Sex and Love in Verona, Venice and Vienna: August 16 at 5 p.m.
Stanley Wells is emeritus professor of Shakespeare studies at the University of Birmingham and general editor of the Oxford and Penguin Shakespeares.
A Night of Improv: August 15 at 11 p.m.
Four of Canada’s best improvisers, including Paul Bates, Christy Bruce and Colin Mochrie, take the stage to improvise scenes based on audience suggestions that resonate with our 2013 themes. Hosted by Joanne O’Sullivan.
Shakespeare and Feasting, with Adam Gopnik: May 31 at 5 p.m.
Raised in Canada, essayist and commentator Adam Gopnik is a staff writer for The New Yorker. He is the author of Winter: Five Windows on the Season, written for the 2011 Massey Lectures.