Stratford Offers Theater Lovers An Online Festival

Here is part of the official news release:

The Stratford Festival is following up on the success of its recent Shakespeare Film Festival with a $10-a-month digital content subscription, Stratfest@Home, offering more Shakespeare and more films, along with new commissions, music, conversation, cooking and comedy. A free film festival, with a theme of Hope Without Hope, will once again be offered on Thursday evenings.

“At this particular moment of pandemic, with social isolation once more upon us, nights growing longer and winter approaching, we need the consolation of community like never before. With these viewing parties and the many related artistic programs in Stratfest@Home, we invite you to enter the warmth of the Festival bubble,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino.

“In shaping this new digital season, I was taken by the words ‘hope without hope’ written by Wajdi Mouawad (and expressed in English by Linda Gaboriau) in his Days of Confinement, which is part of our new series:

Life can’t be reduced to a simple exercise in lucidity.

It requires more.

To hope without hope.

To wait without waiting.

“As the pandemic wears on, it holds us all at times on a precipice where hope is nowhere in sight. With Shakespeare, Eugene O’Neill and Timothy Findley as our guides in these films, and with Wajdi and others exploring this new realm, we can delve deeply into the idea of hope, how it protects us, how essential it is to life,” Cimolino says.

Stratfest@Home and the associated watch parties feature brand new artist-driven content, along with films starring some of the Festival’s most iconic artists. These older films, captured between the 1980s and early 2000s, were the property of individual producers rather than the Festival itself.

“We’ve spent the last several months securing whatever rights we could to Festival films of the past in order to allow us to present as many titles as possible, alongside brand new content, during this time when we aren’t able to perform in front of live audiences,” says Executive Director Anita Gaffney.

“The older films feature Festival luminaries, some of whom are no longer with us, so they allow us and our fans to once again see the brilliant performances of actors we miss so much, including William Hutt, Brent Carver, Peter Donaldson, Brian Dennehy, Bernard Hopkins and William Needles. We also have two productions directed by the late Richard Monette, the Festival’s longest serving artistic director: Romeo and Juliet starring our current artistic director, Antoni Cimolino, and Megan Follows; and The Taming of the Shrew with Colm Feore and the dearly missed Goldie Semple.”

Stratfest@Home offers deep dives into great content

For just $10 a month, Stratfest@Home offers subscribers a rich mine of theatrical content, including the 12 Shakespeare films streamed in the spring film festival, a growing list of legacy films, interviews and discussions, as well as exciting new original content.

Stratfest@Home launches on October 19 and will be modelled on a typical Stratford repertory season: a number of featured productions, along with other entertaining and enriching content such as would be presented in Festival’s The Meighen Forum. Content will be added every week, allowing viewers to take interesting journeys over the course of their subscription.


For example, you can see Academy Award-winner Christopher Plummer in The Tempest, and also enjoy an exclusive new interview with the iconic actor, as well as a discussion between him and Tony-winning director Des McAnuff. If that insightful interview captures your interest, you can learn more about McAnuff, the Festival’s former artistic director, in the documentary A Life In Stages. You can also watch another magnificent Plummer-McAnuff collaboration, George Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra, featuring Nikki M. James, who went on to win the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for The Book of Mormon.


Or, for a deeper dive, you can watch the film of Timothy Findley’s acclaimed play Elizabeth Rex with Diane D’Aquila and Brent Carver, in which Peter Hutt plays Shakespeare toiling away on his new play Antony and Cleopatra. Then you can supplement your viewing with All the Sonnets of Shakespeare, a look at Shakespeare and his poetry with renowned scholars Sir Stanley Wells and Dr. Paul Edmondson, before watching Geraint Wyn Davies and Yanna McIntosh in Antony and Cleopatra. You can also catch the lovers’ backstory in Caesar and Cleopatra, which leads you back to all of the Christopher Plummer content noted above. And you can see another side of Timothy Findley’s work in the film based on his novel The Wars, featuring Brent Carver and Martha Henry. You can even see Timothy Findley himself in The Stratford Adventure, the documentary about the founding of the Stratford Festival, which was nominated for an Oscar in 1954.