Stratford Festival launches free Shakespeare film festival

The Stratford Festival is launching a film festival during this period of social isolation, offering free streaming of 12 Shakespeare productions captured as part of its Stratford Festival On Film series. This is the first time the full-length versions of these productions have been available for free.

It launches on Shakespeare’s birthday, April 23, with King Lear, directed by Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino and featuring Colm Feore in the title role.

“At difficult times such as we’re experiencing now, it can be helpful to re-examine the great works of literature,” says Cimolino. “Much has been made recently of the suggestion that when Shakespeare wrote King Lear, in 1606, he was in quarantine because of the plague. In looking at the play, we see that it documents not only the breakdown of an old king and the destruction of two families but also the disruption of an entire country. It seems almost prophetic.”

The roll-out of the films has been scheduled around four themes that seem pertinent at this time of pandemic and might spark further thought or conversation amongst viewers: Social Order, Isolation, Minds Pushed to the Edge, and Relationships.

Each film will debut with a 7 p.m. viewing party and remain available for free for a three-week period on the Stratford Festival website as follows:

Social Order and Leadership

King Lear: April 23 to May 14

Coriolanus: April 30 to May 21

Macbeth: May 7 to 28

Isolation

The Tempest: May 14 to June 4

Timon of Athens: May 21 to June 11

Love’s Labour’s Lost: May 28 to June 18

Minds Pushed to the Edge

Hamlet: June 4 to 25

King John: June 11 to July 2

Pericles: June 18 to July 9

Relationships

Antony and Cleopatra: June 25 to July 16

Romeo and Juliet: July 2 to 23

The Taming of the Shrew: July 9 to 30

Stratford Festival On Film was launched by Cimolino and Executive Director Anita Gaffney in 2014 as an initiative to capture all of Shakespeare’s plays on film. They screen across Canada, the U.S. and internationally and air on CBC before being released for download and on DVD.

Each film is captured live with a full audience at the Stratford Festival during a single performance. Additional “pick-up” shots of key performance elements are captured on stage immediately following the performance, again with an audience present.

The films have received four Canadian Screen Awards and 16 nominations, including Best Performing Arts Program for the debut film of the series, King Lear.

The Stratford Festival On Film productions are produced by Barry Avrich through Melbar Entertainment Group.

Stratford Festival On Film is sponsored by Sun Life as part of their Making the Arts More Accessible™ program.

Support for Stratford Festival On Film is generously provided by The John and Myrna Daniels Charitable Foundation, Laura Dinner & Richard Rooney, the Jenkins Family Foundation, the Henry White Kinnear Foundation, Ophelia & Mike Lazaridis, The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Sandra & Jim Pitblado, the Slaight Family Foundation, Robert & Jacqueline Sperandio, and an anonymous donor.

Leave a Reply