The 2023 Stratford Festival lineup has been announced, with 13 plays spanning from April to October.
The lineup includes: King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing, Richard II, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Rent, Monty Python’s Spamalot, Les Belles-Soeurs, A Wrinkle in Time, Frankenstein Revived, Wedding Band, Grand Magic, Casey and Diana, and Women of the Fur Trade.
The season is inspired by the theme of “duty vs. desire.” In the announcement, Stratford Festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino said that the pandemic directly inspired that theme.
“We’ve always been told to follow our hearts," the statement reads. "But that hasn’t been so easy over the past few years. The pandemic has left us in dire need of pleasure, eager to fulfill our desires but often with no way to do so. At the same time it has brought us face to masked face with the vital importance of social responsibility.
“What do we do when suddenly we must sacrifice our comfort for the greater good, when our heart’s not in what we do anymore, when we want to shirk responsibility even though we know that could have dire consequences?”
Cimolino later told StratfordToday that he saw the clash between what we would like to do versus what we must do in the essential workers of certain sectors, and the parallels of the chosen productions.
"I saw parallels with the AIDS pandemic of the 1980s and 90s, which inspired the selection of three plays in the season, Rent, Casey and Diana, and Richard II. And, of course, Shakespeare dealt with the concept in many of his plays, including King Lear and Love’s Labour’s Lost."
The theme is used as inspiration for the directors. It also serves as a guide in the programming of the Meighen Forum.
"We have ideas that can be explored across a variety of plays, allowing us to bring the audience together in thoughtful consideration of the various productions they see," Cimolino wrote.
Through different forms – musicals, comedies, tragedies – the 2023 season will examine both sides of the duty vs. desire debate.
Tickets for the 2023 season go on sale to members beginning Nov. 6. and are open to everyone on Dec. 12. At that time there will be more information available on their website: www.stratfordfestival.ca.