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Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Taming of the Shrew begins previews at the Stratford Festival


STRATFORD -- Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay star in Chris Abraham’s hilarious and touching production of The Taming of the Shrew. Previews began on May 11, at the Festival Theatre.
Mr. Carlson and Ms Hay reunite on the Festival stage as the sparring lovers Petruchio and Katherina. Sparks last flew between the pair when they played Benedick and Beatrice in the 2012 production of Much Ado About Nothing.

The cast also features Sarah Afful as Bianca, Peter Hutt as Baptista Minola, Cyrus Lane as Lucentio, Gordon S. Miller as Biondello, Tom Rooney as Tranio and Mike Shara as Hortensio.

Shakespeare’s outrageous comedy follows Katherina, the “shrew” of the title, who has a reputation for ill temper that so far has discouraged any potential suitors – and until a match for her can be found, her father will not countenance any proposals to her sister, Bianca. But then Petruchio, looking for a wealthy wife, decides to take up the challenge of wooing Kate. The ensuing contest of wills leads to a conclusion that has fuelled much controversy in modern times.


“Though The Taming of the Shrew remains deeply connected to a time and place in which women were, to a large extent, objectified through the marriage-market society and seen as the property of their husbands, this is only a starting point for its investigation of love and marriage,” says Mr. Abraham. “In reality, in Shakespeare’s day, marriage was a concept on the move. It was undergoing profound changes and was equally subject to progressive and regressive historical forces. As a result, The Taming of the Shrew expresses seemingly contradictory views. For me, these contradictions open up space for ambiguity, for play, and for great theatre.”

“I think it’s vitally important that we not shy away from the troubling issues raised by one of Shakespeare’s most controversial plays,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “The Taming of the Shrew provokes strong reactions, and rightly so, but as always with Shakespeare, the story it tells is complex and nuanced. In today’s world, where women are still struggling so hard against oppression, it’s essential that we keep confronting that story and asking ourselves what it really means.

“However sharply divided our opinions, what matters is that we come by them honestly, opening our minds to all the possibilities inherent in the text. Chris Abraham’s gorgeous production invites us to open our hearts as well, to feel the complex emotions that drive the actions of both Kate and Petruchio before we draw our conclusions.”

Mr. Abraham is a Siminovitch Prize-winning director with stellar Stratford productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, The Matchmaker, The Little Years and For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again to his credit. He is a multi-award winning theatre and film director, dramaturge and teacher who has worked with Canada’s foremost artists and theatres including Canadian Stage Company, Tarragon Theatre, Segal Centre and the Globe Theatre.

Artistic credits for The Taming of the Shrew include Designer Julie Fox, Lighting Designer Kimberly Purtell, Composer and Sound Designer Thomas Ryder Payne and Fight Director John Stead.

Production support is generously provided by Larry Enkin & family in memory of Sharon Enkin and by Martie & Bob Sachs.

Support for the 2015 season of the Festival Theatre is generously provided by Claire & Daniel Bernstein.

The Taming of the Shrew is dedicated to the memory of Don Harron, a member of the Festival’s inaugural company in 1953.

The Taming of the Shrew Forum Highlights

The Stratford Festival Forum is a series of activities and events, including fascinating talks, interactive presentations, concerts, comedy shows and performances, that offer theatregoers a unique opportunity to delve further into the ideas and issues raised by the 2015 playbill and its theme of Discovery: That Eureka Moment.

Themes related to The Taming of the Shrew will be explored through several Forum events, including:

·         Changing Kate
Sunday, June 14, 10:30 a.m. to noon
Studio Theatre
Katherina Minola’s world bristles with ways to make people change – from animal training to the torture of women believed to be witches to poetry able to change the very meaning of what people do and say. But Kate has some strategies of her own – conversion tricks that are hers to play, to make herself her own person, and to shape the world.

·         The Eternal Struggle
Thursday, July 16, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Tom Patterson Theatre
Polonius decides to “loose” his daughter to discover Hamlet’s state of mind. Petruchio informs Katherine that “Will you, nil you, I will marry you.” In Pericles, Marina is captured by pirates, sold, and put up for auction by bawds. In many of Shakespeare’s plays men attempt to control women with limited, if any, success. The struggle, whether successful or not, seems to fascinate playwright and audience alike. Why does the struggle continue and why does it continue to fascinate?

·         Shrew’d
Wednesday, August 12, 10:45 a.m. to noon
Studio Theatre
The role of Kate in The Taming of the Shrew is recognized as one of the hardest roles for an actor to reconcile – particularly in a feminist and post-feminist world. Fortunately Stratford has several wonderful women who have done just that and have lived to tell the tale. Moderated by Margaret Jane Kidnie, with Deborah Hay, Seana McKenna, Lucy Peacock and Irene Poole.
Sustaining support for the Forum is generously provided by Kelly & Michael Meighen and the T.R. Meighen Family Foundation.

Support for the 2015 season of the Forum is provided in memory of Dr. W. Philip Hayman.

Stratford Direct, the daily return private bus service, now offers two routes: Toronto to Stratford and Detroit to Stratford. The Toronto bus costs $20 round trip, departing twice daily from May 4 to September 19. The Detroit bus costs $40 round trip, departing once daily from May 26 to September 19. Both routes are available on performance days with some exceptions.

Stratford Direct is generously sponsored by the Peter Cundill Foundation.

The 2015 season, which runs from April 21 to October 18, features Hamlet, The Sound of Music, Carousel, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Taming of the Shrew, She Stoops to Conquer, The Physicists, The Alchemist, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Oedipus Rex, Possible Worlds, The Last Wife and The Adventures of Pericles. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit stratfordfestival.ca or call 1.800.567.1600.

Cast (in alphabetical order)
Bianca…………………………………...      Sarah Afful
Understudy……………………………...      Tim Campbell
Petruchio………………………………...      Ben Carlson
Ensemble………………………………...      Ijeoma Emesowum
Nicholas…………………………………      Xuan Fraser
Drums/Percussion………………………..     Graham Hargrove
Katherina………………………….……..     Deborah Hay
Baptista Minola………………………….      Peter Hutt
Understudy………………………………     Josh Johnston
Peter, Vincentio..………………………...     Robert King
Philip, Pedant.…………………………...      John Kirkpatrick
Understudy……………………………...      Shruti Kothari
Sugarsop…………………………………     Josue Laboucane
Lucentio…………………………………      Cyrus Lane
Ensemble………………………………..       Ayrin Mackie
Recorder/Trumpet………………………       Steve McDade
Concertina/Lute/Mandolin/Cello………..      George Meanwell
Biondello………………………………..      Gordon S. Miller
Ensemble………………………………...      Jennifer Mogbock
Joseph……………………………………     Derek Moran
Nathaniel………………………………...      Thomas Olajide
Widow…………………………………...     Sarah Orenstein
Gregory………………………………….      Andrew Robinson
Tranio……………………………………      Tom Rooney
Curtis…………………………………….     Brad Rudy
Hortensio………………………………...     Mike Shara
Gremio…………………………………...     Michael Spencer-Davis
Tailor……………………………………..     Sanjay Talwar
Grumio…………………………………...     Brian Tree

Artistic Credits
Director…………………………………..     Chris Abraham
Designer………………………………….     Julie Fox
Lighting Designer………………………..     Kimberly Purtell
Composer and Sound Designer………….     Thomas Ryder Payne
Fight Director……………………………     John Stead
Producer…………………………………      David Auster
Casting Director…………………………      Beth Russell
Creative Planning Director………………     Jason Miller
Assistant Director………………………..     Charlotte Gowdy
Assistant Set Designer……………………    Nancy Anne Perrin
Assistant Costume Designer……………...    Mary-Jo Carter Dodd
Assistant Lighting Designer………………   Tristan Tidswell
Associate Fight Director………………….    Geoff Scovell
Fight Captain……………………………..    Brad Rudy
Stage Manager……………………………    Bona Duncan
Assistant Stage Managers………………...    Holly Korhonen, Elizabeth McDermott,
Anne Murphy
Production Assistant……………………..     Katherine Dermott
Production Stage Manager……………….    Margaret Palmer
Technical Director………………………..     Jeff Scollon

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Stratford Festival 55 Queen Street PO Box 520 Stratford ON | N5A 6V2
Box Office: Toll Free 1.800.567.1600 Local 519.273.1600
stratfordfestival.ca

2015 Season | April to October
Hamlet | The Taming of the Shrew | Love’s Labour’s Lost| The Adventures of Pericles
The Sound of Music | Carousel | The Diary of Anne Frank | She Stoops to Conquer 
The Physicists | Oedipus Rex | The Alchemist | Possible Worlds | The Last Wife

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