The Stratford Festival returns to an in-person experience for 2021 with offerings for younger audiences to become exposed to Shakespeare’s works, including a cabaret (“Play On!”), a family-friendly play with music (“I Am William”) and a modern adaptation of the classic Romeo and Juliet (“R + J”).
Play On! A Shakespeare-Inspired Mixtape – Running until August 15
Shakespeare’s influence on Western culture extends even into your favourite pop hits. Whether it be direct lines from his plays appearing in Top 40 lyrics or whole songs inspired by his plots, whether the borrowers be Taylor Swift, Madonna, Elton John, The Beatles, Prince or Radiohead, Shakespeare is still there, lurking in the mainstream, as cool and as relevant as ever. This lively celebration of terrific tunes affords a great opportunity to introduce a younger audience to Shakespeare’s continuing role in popular culture.
I Am William (Schulich Children’s Plays) – August 10 – September 12
Margaret Shakespeare has a dazzling talent for writing, which she yearns to put to serious use. But in an age lethally suspicious of female intellect and literacy, how can she find a way to fulfill her authorial ambitions yet still survive? Fortunately, she has a brother, William, who isn’t much of a writer but who wants to make it as an actor – and friends in high places have just the role for him. Tapping into our fascination with the enigma of William Shakespeare’s life and how he came to write those plays – and the seemingly endless speculation in some quarters about whether he really did – this lighthearted yet genuinely passionate interweaving of comedy, song and poetic fancy spins a playful and witty yarn that will delight younger audiences and adults alike.
R + J, by William Shakespeare – August 12 – September 26
They say that love is blind – and with blindness comes the freedom to open the mind’s eye to a world of limitless possibility. Intended for blind, low-vision and sighted audiences alike, this radically reimagined version of Shakespeare’s beloved romantic tragedy invites you into an up-to-the-minute modern world of sound and music, a world that challenges the identities we construct when we use only our eyes, a world in which the entrenched hostilities of an older generation are challenged by the passions of young people who only want to love.
In line with Covid-safety regulations, the Festival has opened two new outdoor covered performance venues where each venue seats 100 people in socially distanced pods. Performances are spaced out, allowing for daily capacity of 600 people compared with roughly 7,000 in previous years. The Festival has earned the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Safe Travels designation, in recognition of the strict protocols that are in place, including plexiglas barriers between audience and performers, as well as between musicians and performers, and the masking of all other staff and audience members.