Thursday, September 18, 2014

Stratford, Ontario

 Since we moved back to Canada 13 years ago we have made an annual visit to the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario.  The festival was started in 1953 with a production of Richard lll starring Alec Guinness.  It has gone from a 6 week 2 play season in a tent to a  main festival theatre and 3 other venues over a period of 6 months.  Many other types of plays and musicals are also performed.  And the calibre of the performers is consistently great.  

This year we saw King John, directed by Tim Carroll as an Original Practice - keeping as close to production as it might have been in Shakespeare's time.  His use of choral music at the beginning and end was superb.  
Next up was Beaux Strategem - a light farce that was again well performed.  Then Anthony and Cleopatra followed in the evening.  Beautifully costumed and acted, but not one of my favourite plays.  I don't feel that Shakespeare developed the tragic element in this as well as he has done with other characters such as Romeo and Juliet or King Lear.  
Today we saw Crazy For You which had us all howling with laughter - my sides were actually hurting! with some slapstick comedy.  Great costumes, choreography, acting and singing.  And of course, the music of George Gershwin was fun to hear.  Interesting that this is a play created in 1992 by Ken Ludwig who had been offered the music by the owner of all the rights if he created a story to go along with the music which had been written 70 years earlier. 

Below are a few pictures of  some of my favourite things in the town.

Balzac's for our early morning latte

Shakespeare in the garden of the Festival theatre

Swans on the Avon river

water flowers in the Festival garden

Stratford City Hall

The other geese on the river - making the footpath an obstacle course!

Amaranth in the garden
And restaurants are plentiful here.  We tried a new one this year in the pricey Bruce Hotel that's just been opened.  And won't again.  Dreadful service, okay food and (gasp!) plastic wine glasses!

But our old stalwarts, Raja for Indian cuisine and Pazzo Taverna - modern and delicious, were up to their usual high standards.

We are staying in an apartment this time above the Indigena gallery so have been able to eat breakfasts and some lunches in.  Our usual room was booked so we were given this place.  Feeling very spoiled indeed. 

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