Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: June ::
Re: Stratford Festival
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0578.  Tuesday, 28 June 1994.
 
(1)     From:   David Evett <R0870@TAONODE>
        Date:   Monday, 27 Jun 1994 13:04 ET
        Subj:   Stratford Festival
 
(2)     From:   Bill Dynes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, June 27, 1994
        Subj:   Stratford
 
(3)     From:   Harry Hill <HILHAR@CONU2.BITNET>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jun 1994 09:19:36 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   More words on Stratford Ontario
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <R0870@TAONODE>
Date:           Monday, 27 Jun 1994 13:04 ET
Subject:        Stratford Festival
 
For the Sloanes of Lousiana and other interested SHAKESPEReans.
 
Stratford is under stress but still great, a pleasant place to spend a few
days, and offering this year as in the past outstanding classical theater.  If
your wallet can stand it (around $95 American/night) I recommend the Festival
Inn, large comfy rooms, many with refrigerators (save a few bucks on
breakfast), quiet, well-maintained.  B & Bs are numerous but highly
various--from super rooms in handsome old houses with views across the lake to
the theater to hot little cells in tract houses on the edge of town.  Dining is
various, too: The Old Prune (prix fixe about $45 Canadian, and a very
interesting wine list) is, I think, a great restaurant; Rundles (roughly same
price) a good one. Wolfies, a few doors down the street from the Avon (venue
for <Othello>) is cheeky, fun, and reasonably priced.  Picnics beside the lake
are a Stratford tradition; excellent stuff from a place whose name I forget on
the west side of the Square. If you are driving I recommend a morning trip to
St. Mary's, a handsome stone town 15 miles south-west; there is good antiquing
in Shakespeare, 8 miles east. These days they do more non-Shakespeare than
Shakespeare, reflecting the economics of the classical theater in 1994, but
also the reality that actors and audiences alike can get tired even of <Twelfth
Night>--though this year's is a good one.  If you can, see <Cyrano>--a truly
great heroic actor, Colm Feore, in a role he was born--and trained--to play,
and a sumptuous, generous-spirited production.  Also a rivetting "Long Day's
Journey," with a couple of great Stratford veterans, William Hutt and Martha
Henry--the latter in particular gives a memorable performance in a wonderful
role. I first saw them as Prospera and Miranda in 1962, which says something
about the tradition of the place.  A word to the wise about clothing: it can be
stifling or quite nippy, so come layered.  (All three theaters are fully
air-conditioned.)  The Stratford reservoir (a few hundred yards east of the
Festival theater, where the art gallery is, has a splendid pair of black swans,
to balance the white ones on the lake.  Enjoy!
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Dynes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, June 27, 1994
Subject:        Stratford
 
Let me add to Duke Pesta's endorsement of Stratford's productions.  I took a
small class up to Stratford just as this season was getting started, but the
experience was tremendous. Because of timing problems, we were only able to see
one of the festival's Shakespearean productions, *Twelfth Night*, which we
thoroughly enjoyed (Brian Bedford plays a marvelous world-weary Feste).  We
missed *Hamlet*, though we heard rumors that it was cut to a 2 and 1/2 hour
productions.  *Long Day's Journey* was absolutely riveting, and *Cyrano* and
*Pirates* were a lot of fun, too.
 
The Bed and Breakfasts are really the most pleasant way to enjoy Stratford, I
think; my wife and I haven't had great luck with the inexpensive hotels in the
area on previous visits. The park along the river is very pleasant; hopefully
the Shakespeare Gardens will be more fully in bloom for the summer travellers
than they were for us.
 
Enjoy!
 
Bill Dynes
University of Indianapolis
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <HILHAR@CONU2.BITNET>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jun 1994 09:19:36 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        More words on Stratford Ontario
 
Duke Pesta is to be thanked for reminding us about that magnificent theatre
building at Stratford Ontario and the good work that can occasionally be seen
on its stage, as well as alerting us perhaps unwittingly to where we can find
post-show entertainment in the park along the river. Robin Phillips' direction
of "King John in 1993" was a fine instance of a play choreographed within an
inch of its life, practically down to the performers' eyebrows. Nicholas
Pennell made a King John of complex magnificence and exemplary vocal restraint
and variation, his bearing and demeanour giving at every turn an accurate and
moving reliving of the difficult text on the difficult stage of the Tom
Patterson Theatre -- the Stratford indoor tennis and sports courts. Many others
in the cast offered like satisfaction. But this group doesn't to hear me
describe the work a brilliant director did twelve months ago.
 
But the group might well be interested in the fact that, despite the presence
of a handful of vocal coaches, the great richness of design capabilities on the
main thrust stage that Tyrone Guthrie and Tanya Moiseiwitsch built in the
fifties, the technically superb refurnishing of the old Avon Theatre, the
general quality of the actual performing is lamentably poverty- stricken unless
under the near-tyrannical direction of someone of the calibre of Robin
Phillips. There are very capable young actors such as Marion Day, Marc Ruel and
others, but we were presented with amateurish grimacing, posturing,
"indicating", laboured speaking, incomprehensible speaking and many kinds of
plain bad acting from most. "Antony and Cleopatra" is best left undescribed,
fatally directed and acted as it was. "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was, as Duke
Pesta says, enthusiastically mounted under the Abbey Theatre's Joe Dowling.
"The Importance of Being Earnest" at the Avon was lacklustre, lacking style
and, worse, without the truth that Wilde gave it.
 
In some ways the Stratford Ontario Shakespeare Festival can be as good as the
RSC, whose younger actors are only slightly better than Ontario's and that
mainly because they largely know what to do with the verse.
 
Maybe I find it increasingly hard to be moved emotionally or aesthetically by
most Shakespearean productions unless the words are clearly said and
"truthfully" acted. I am very far from deaf, usually sitting in the front rows
because I want to be in the play as much as possible. But at Stratford Ontario
in 1993 and at the RSC in 1991 I mostly wanted out.
 
This is note is not intended to be unkind, but merely to inform in a cautionary
way.
 
Harry Hill
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.