Peter Sellars’s Dream starts previews this Friday

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26/14

World-renowned director Peter Sellars makes Stratford debut with

A Midsummer Night’s Dream:A Chamber Play

 

July 9, 2014… Visionary director Peter Sellars, renowned for his transformative interpretations of artistic masterpieces, makes his Stratford Festival debut with A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play. Previews begin this Friday, July 11, at Stratford’s Masonic Concert Hall located at 15 Church Street. The production officially opens on Thursday, July 24.

 

Four remarkable actors – Sarah AffulDion JohnstoneTrish Lindström and Mike Nadajewski – will explore the multiple worlds of Shakespeare’s play. This production will reflect on Shakespeare’s intertwining of pagan and Christian spirituality and venture into the inner realms of the play’s supernatural elements.

 

“In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, identities twist and shift and morph and warp across hallucinations, psychic projections, wilful blindness, haunting premonitions, and layers of regret that will never go away” says Mr. Sellars. “Shakespeare is relentlessly interested in shining a small but clear, piercing light on the hidden depths of human relationships, the spoken and the unspoken, the real, the imagined and the imagination that terrifyingly or generously and beautifully becomes reality.”

 

Presenting the play at Stratford’s Masonic Concert Hall, a non-traditional venue, was central to Mr. Sellars’s vision. The space has been transformed by New York installation artist Abigail DeVille, who has constructed an extraordinary, room-size installation filled with scavenged materials that represent and hold the residue of lives lived. The pieces she has selected are all from the Stratford area and include, for example, seats from the original Stratford Festival theatre tent from 1953.

 

“I visited Abigail’s studio a couple of times this spring at the Studio Museum in Harlem and was stunned by the refinement and force of truth telling in her immersive work” says Mr. Sellars. “The recognition that the whole landscape is speaking to you, that every scrap and trace at our feet has stories to tell and is ready to offer testimony is, of course, a perspective shared by Shakespeare. Over the last few years I’ve been particularly focused on the African dimensions in Shakespeare’s work, and Abigail calls forth Shakespeare’s poetry with her own blazing vision and opulence.

 

“Much of the language of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is so intimate, so private, so secret, that it goes inside the innermost part of the innermost part. Because the play lives in this super-secret place, I didn’t want to do it as a big spectacle, but instead wanted to find a way to just open the door and go inside of the play. The Masonic Hall doesn’t feel like theatre; it feels like real life. And that real life is poetically shifted by Shakespeare’s amazing language.”

 

Over his 30-year career, Mr. Sellars has become one of the most highly regarded and internationally acclaimed directors. His landmark staging of Sophocles’ Ajax, set at the Pentagon, was invited to tour Europe and ignited his international career. Other noteworthy theatre projects include a 1994 staging of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Veniceset in southern California with a cast of black, white, Latino and Asian-American actors, and, in 2009, Othello, inspired by and set in the America of newly elected President Barack Obama. Desdemona, his recent collaboration with Nobel-prize winning novelist Toni Morrison and Malian composer and singer Rokia Traore, has been performed around the world and was presented in London as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

 

“Many years ago, I saw Peter’s production of The Merchant of Venice at the Goodman Theatre and in it, I heard things I had never heard before,” says Artistic DirectorAntoni Cimolino. “It was so resonant and vulnerable, and caused me to view the play differently. Peter’s incredible work has influenced me ever since.

 

“Peter agreeing to come here is an enormous gift to the Festival. When he first spoke to me about his vision for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I sensed an opportunity to create both an exploration and celebration of this great play. I hope what he gives here not only permeates the Festival, but goes viral.”

 

In addition to Ms Deville, collaborators on this project include Costume Designer Gabriel Berry, Lighting Designer James F. Ingalls, Sound Designer Tareke Ortiz and Assistant Director Charlotte Brathwaite.

 

Mr. Sellars’s production is one of two interpretations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream being presented this season. At the Festival Theatre, director Chris Abraham has transformed the stage into a Stratford backyard at twilight as wedding guests surprise a happy couple with a special gift: an open-air, one-night-only performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This is the first time the Festival has programmed two versions of the same play in one season.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play Forum Highlights

 

The Stratford Festival Forum is a series of activities and events, including concerts, debates, talks, comedy and interactive presentations, that offer theatregoers a unique opportunity to delve further into the ideas and issues raised by the 2014 playbill and its theme of Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge.

 

Themes related to A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play will be explored through several Forum events, including: “I Have a Dream”: Peter Sellars and Guests, a seminar honouring Shakespeare, the activist, and theatre, the catalyst; Reweaving Shakespeare’s Cosmology, a seminar with Peter Sellars and guests that explores Shakespeare’s “great chain of being” as it links to Buddhist cosmology, Islamic theology and indigenous spiritualties in the West and the East; and The Sonnet Man, in which New York hip-hop artist Devon Glover sets to inspire a new generation of Shakespeare lovers with the jagged rhythms of rap and the smoothness of rhythm and blues.

 

Sustaining support for the Forum is generously provided by Kelly & Michael Meighen and the T.R. Meighen Foundation. Support for the 2014

 

Forum is generously provided by Nandita & Julian Wise. Selected Forum events supported by Bell Let’s Talk. Support for Peer Into the Playbill is provided in memory of Dr. W. Philip Hayman.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play runs until September 20. For tickets, contact the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit stratfordfestival.ca.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play is sponsored by BMO, Presenter of the Stratford Festival Dream Package.

 

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 until September 21, and once daily from September 23 to October 12. The Detroit bus costs $40 round trip, with Tuesday, Friday and Saturday departures until September 28. Both routes run on performance days only.

 

The Stratford Direct Presenting Sponsor is OLG. Support for Stratford Direct is generously provided by The Peter Cundill Foundation.

The 2014 season runs from April 21 to October 12, featuring King LearCrazy for You; two versions of A Midsummer Night’s DreamThe Beaux’ StratagemMan of La ManchaAlice Through the Looking-GlassHay FeverKing JohnMother Courage and Her ChildrenAntony and CleopatraChristina, The Girl King; and more than 200 events in The Forum.

 

Cast (in alphabetical order)

Sarah Afful

Dion Johnstone

Trish Lindström

Mike Nadajewski

 

Artistic Credits

 

Director………………………………………..         Peter Sellars

Set and Installation Artist……………………..         Abigail DeVille

Costume Designer……………………………..         Gabriel Berry

Lighting Designer……………………………..         James F. Ingalls

Sound Designer………………………………..        Tareke Ortiz

Producer……………………………………….         David Auster

Casting Director……………………………….         Beth Russell

Creative Planning Director…………………….        Jason Miller

Assistant Director………………………………        Charlotte Brathwaite

Assistant Costume Designer……………………        Jenna McCutchen

Assistant Lighting Designer……………………       Kaileigh Krysztofiak

Stage Manager………………………………….       Janine Ralph

Assistant Stage Manager……………………….       Crystal Skinner

Apprentice Stage Manager……………………..       Katie Honek

Production Assistant……………………………        Liz King

Technical Director………………………………        Elissa Horscroft

 

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PHOTOGRAPHY:

Promotional photos for A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Chamber Play:

http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/imagegallery/imagegallery.aspx?id=25272

 

Headshots:

http://www.stratfordfestival.ca/imagegallery/imagegallery.aspx?id=14315

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