My favourite piece of mail of the year has arrived. The 2008 Stratford Festival guide came today and I could not be more excited.
At first glance ummm- well actually:
Romeo and Juliet
Taming of the Shrew
All's Well That Ends Well
Caesar and Cleopatra (no not a typo- it's Shaw's play)
seriously?? I was on the verge of angry rebellion. A new artistic director and their first instinct was to pick the 3 most performed and run into the ground Shakespeare's- but oh wait!
Juliet ,and it appears her entire family, are played by african-canadian actors. Cool. I dig this for two reasons: 1) It brings a different angle to the classic story, that while I'm sure it's been done somewhere else before is fresh to me and is a good idea. 2) I once watched a Shakespeare Master's class tape in my Acting II where two students performed a soliloquy of Lady MacBeth's. Everyone agreed that the second girl (the black actress) performed considerably better than the first girl (the white actress). My immediate impression was, well that's no surprise. Because I'd wager a guess that she's had to work a whole lot harder to prove herself in the world of classical theatre which is traditionally dominated by white actors. Seeing Stratford make an effort to break from this tradition is at least a step forward.
Next up: Hamlet- Alright, truthfully I am going to see this regardless of... well anything. I love Hamlet and to see it done professionally at the leading North American classical theatre venue is reason enough to shell out the dough.
Taming of the Shrew- I will probably not touch with a ten foot pole, but I will assure you, it is not set in the wild wild west.
This year's best surprise for me however came in the form of its musical. I generally don't like musicals, especially at Stratford, but this year they will be doing Cabaret. Probably my favourite musical (putting aside my desire to see Avenue Q).
There is also a production of Trojan Women (which I am interested to see having been in a- ahem interesting production myself), Krapp's Last Tape, performed by Brian Dennehy (not to be confused with Brian Boytano), and a new experimental show called Shakespeare's Universe which is an interdisciplinary look at female roles in Shakespeare's plays. All in all I am assuming that this will take about a week to see everything and cost me roughly a billion dollars.
Thrift, thrift Horatio...