Where: High Park Amphitheatre, 1873 Bloor St. W
When: June 29-September 3, 2017
Cost: Each performance is pay-what-you can (suggested $20). Premium seats can be reserved by donation in advance for $25, online at www.canadianstage.com or by calling the Canadian Stage box office at 416.368.3110.
Details: Canada’s longest-running outdoor theatre experience Shakespeare in High Park will mark 35 years of staging accessible open-air theatre in Toronto with contemporary takes on two Shakespeare classics: King Lear and Twelfth Night. Shakespeare in High Park is produced by Canadian Stage in collaboration with the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design at York University.
A feverish woman sits enthroned. She could be your grandmother, your mother, your sister, your spouse, yourself. Set in the final days of Queen Elizabeth I -with a contemporary twist- Artistic Director of Toronto’s Ecce Homo Theatre Alistair Newton re-imagines Shakespeare’s monumental family saga King Lear from a female perspective, with multiple award-winning stage and screen veteran Diane D’Aquila transforming in to Shakespeare’s infamous monarch. As a method of dividing her kingdom in three-parts, Queen Lear demands that her daughters, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia compete in declarations of their love for her. Misjudging her children’s loyalty, she soon finds herself in the middle of a civil war, stripped of her family, kingdom and crown. In this troublingly familiar world beset by absolute beliefs and corrupted by power, is redemption possible?
Twelfth Night, or What You Will, Shakespeare’s timeless comedy of mistaken identity, role reversal and romantic misadventure, makes a return to the High Park Amphitheatre in a 1970s set production from actor-director Tanja Jacobs (Seeds, The Watershed). A young noblewoman, Viola, is separated at sea from her twin brother Sebastian and tossed upon the shores of Illyria, where the love-sick Duke Orsino pines for Countess Olivia and mischievous servants plot foolish pranks at each other’s expense. With a nod to the films of Billy Wilder and Wes Anderson, Jacobs sets the action in an island hotel, where some of Shakespeare’s most memorable comedic characters play out their hijinks and social fantasies, with painfully hilarious results.
After starring in the first-ever season of Shakespeare in High Park in 1983, Diane D’Aquila makes a highly anticipated return to the outdoor stage, leading a dynamic 12-person repertory cast made up of seasoned High Park alumni and fresh faces, including: Robert Persichini, Jenni Burke, Jason Cadieux, Brett Dahl, Peter Fernandes, Kristiaan Hansen*, Richard Lee, Michael Man, Amelia Sargisson, Hannah Wayne-Phillips* and Naomi Wright (*recent graduates of York University’s Acting Conservatory).
New this year, Canadian Stage will offer free all-ages pre-show programming and day-long events at the High Park Amphitheatre throughout the summer, anchored by its Canada 150 offering Territorial Tales: a showcase for diverse young writers inviting High Park audiences to experience three new short theatrical works on the theme of displacement, migration and settlement. Staged by three emerging theatre creators, Aaron Jan, Fiona MacAulay and Luke Reece, and performed by an ensemble of youth performers, Territorial Tales runs from August 3 to September 2.
Additional SiHP+ pre-show activities include Shakespeare Hip-Hop (presented by Shakespeare in Action), backstage tours, Youth Nights, and pre-show chats. Other special day-long events to take place at the High Park Amphitheatre include a Canadian Citizenship Ceremony, and Global Village: a day of interactive, family-friendly cultural activities and events at the High Park Amphitheatre (August 4, 11am-4pm).