Watch12 past productions of Stratford Festival online – Stratfeset@Home

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past productions of Stratford Festival online - Photo Credit: Stratford Festival on Film
Festival Theatre: Stratford Festival (photo credit)

Always a fan of The Stratford Festival, I am disappointed that in this time of covid-19, we will not be able to see any plays for the time being. We do have tickets for the end of June and have our fingers crossed that we will be able to see Chicago and Much Ado About Nothing. I can hardly wait. Although there is nothing like live theatre, if we can’t be there in person it’s great that we’ll be able to see past productions of Stratford Festival online.

The Stratford Festival is presenting a free film festival by making 12 productions available for you to view at home during this period of social isolation. Beginning on Shakespeare’s birthday, Thursday, April 23rd with King Lear directed by Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino and starring Colm Feore. Each Thursday at 7 pm EST, simply go to the main website and watch online. It’s that easy.

Twelfth Night

past productions of Stratford Festival online - Stratford Festival on Film Schedule

Past productions of Stratford Festival online

Every season the Stratford Festival films productions for big and small screens. You can see some of these productions later on-demand at Stratfest@home or buy the DVD version online and in the Festival Shop. One exceptional performance is filmed per season, which you can attend. This performance has eight different cameras on the actors, so you’ll be able to see everything from actor close-ups to the whole stage.

You will see the play from many angles and not just the one you see when you sit in the theatre. I guarantee you’ll discover things in the plays that you’ve never noticed before. If you have never been to Stratford you will love these past productions of the Stratford Festival online!

Each production will start with a viewing party. If you cannot attend, the productions will be available for a three week period. The plays have been chosen around four themes that seem pertinent at this time of pandemic: social order and leadership, isolation, minds pushed to the edge and relationships. This are award-winning performances. They have received 16 Canadian Screen Award nominations and four wins, including Best Performing Arts Program for the debut film of the series, King Lear.

Social order and leadership

The theme as explained on the Stratford Festival website:

Many of the qualities that put a leader into a position of power are not the same as those required during a crisis. The leaders in these films – King Lear, Coriolanus and Macbeth – were each warriors who rose to power because of their martial skills. As such they did not have the qualities of compassion, consensus-building and vision – qualities we know today are vital during a crisis.

Free Films @Home
  • King Lear – An aging monarch resolves to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, with consequences he little expects. His reason shattered in the storm of violent emotion that ensues, with his very life hanging in the balance, Lear loses everything that has defined him as a king – and thereby discovers the essence of his own humanity.
past productions of Stratford Festival online - Colm Feore as King Lear and Sara Farb as Cordelia in King Lear. 
(Background: Victor Ertmanis) Photo by David Hou.
Colm Feore as King Lear and Sara Farb as Cordelia in King Lear.
(Background: Victor Ertmanis) Photo by David Hou.

If you don’t know much about King Lear, Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino, who directed the production, takes a deeper look at the play. He touches on topics as diverse as family relationships, numeracy and the parallels between Shakespeare’s time and our own. This video will help you understand the play before you have a look.

  • Coriolanus – In Coriolanus, the arrogant and skillful warrior Caius Marcius earns the title of Coriolanus after a particularly brilliant victory in battle. He becomes so beloved by the Roman people that Roman Senators being plotting against him. He’s cast of Rome, but joins forces with his former enemies. After a change of heart, he attempts to broker a peace, but is betrayed and killed.
  • Macbeth –  Macbeth receives a prophecy from a trio of witches who predict that he will become King of Scotland. At his wife’s urging, Macbeth murders King Duncan and has Banquo, who witnessed the prophecy, killed when he grows suspicious. Duncan’s sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, flee.

Isolation

  • The Tempest – In Shakespeare’s great drama of loss and reconciliation, a long-deposed ruler uses magical arts to bring within her power the enemies who robbed her of her throne and marooned her on a remote island. But what revenge does she mean to take?
  • Timon of Athens – Timon’s compulsive generosity makes him the most popular man in Athens – until his funds run out. Now, embittered by ingratitude, what will he do when his city comes under attack?
  • Love’s Labour Lost – Four young men swear off women to devote themselves to learning – only to fall for four attractive newcomers. Shakespeare’s language reaches its most virtuosic heights in a vivacious comedy that will dazzle and delight. 

Minds pushed to the edge

past productions of Stratford Festival online - Ian Lake is Macbeth. Photography by Don Dixon. - Available at Stratfest@Home
Ian Lake is Macbeth. Photography by Don Dixon.
  • Hamlet – A ghostly visitor with a shocking secret, a daughter devastated by loss, a deadly duel – and the most famous question in all of drama. Just some of the reasons why Shakespeare’s iconic tragedy will hold you spellbound.
  • King John – War is the inevitable result when the King of France demands that John relinquish his crown in favour of his nephew, the young Prince Arthur. Excommunication, attempted atrocity, rebellion and assassination all contribute to a political and personal turmoil that finds devastating expression in an anguished mother’s grief for her son.
  • The Adventures of Pericles – A storm at sea brings love into the life of Pericles, Prince of Tyre; another snatches it away. Many years must pass before fate guides the wandering hero to a poignant reunion with the family he thought he had lost forever.

Relationships

  • Anthony and Cleopatra – Reason and judgement prove no match for the tsunami of mutual passion engulfing Mark Antony, one of the three joint rulers of the Roman republic, and Cleopatra, the seductive queen of Egypt. Surrendering everything to their desires, they open the floodgates to a civil conflict that will shake the very foundations of their world.
  • Romeo and Juliet– Falling headlong in love, two teenagers defy the long-simmering hatred between their families. But daring to love one’s enemy comes with a terrible cost, as the needless sacrifice of young lives brings this heartbreaking story to its tragic conclusion.
  • The Taming of the Shrew – Courtship or conquest? The breaking down of a defiant spirit – or a breakthrough that liberates a heart deprived of love? Will you ever see a battle of wills that’s fiercer or funnier – or more hotly controversial?

2020 Stratford Festival Playbill

Update: The 2020 Stratford Festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19. If for some miracle they will be able to return, I will update this post again but for the moment, the 2020 season will go live in 2021.

Although the season has not yet begun, it is not yet lost. For now you can watch past productions of Stratford Festival online at Stratfes@home or be optimistic that we will be able to leave social distancing and self-isolation aside and continue to watch Shakespeare plays in person.

The box office is closed but you can visit Stratford Festival website and purchase tickets for performances from June until the end of the season. That is, of course, if the covid-19 restrictions are lifted by the Government of Ontario. Below is a list of the 2020 Stratford Festival lineup. There are some great choices, musical, comedies, Shakespearean and ‘broadway’ style showstoppers.

Festival Theatre

Much Ado About Nothing
Chicago
Hamlet
The Miser

Tom Patterson Theatre

Richard III
All’s Well That Ends Well
Here’s What It Takes
Frankenstein Revived

Avon Theatre

Schulich Children’s Plays
Wendy & Peter Pan
Monty Python’s Spamalot
Wolf Hall

Studio Theatre

Three Tall Women
The Rez Sisters
Hamlet-911

past productions of Stratford Festival online
Photo Credit: Ian Lake in Macbeth Photography by Don Dixon and Festival Theatre, Stratford Festival, Canada

Stratford Festival through the years – Play Reviews

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.