The Stratford Festival- Beginnings (Part Two)
Thursday, May 23, 2013 | Categories: Episodes |
Stratford's 1960 HMS Pinafore - Marion Studholme as Josephine, Andrew Downie as Ralph Rackstraw (CBC Still Photo Collection/Roy Martin)
The second of two programs about the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. On this one, some of the actors who have appeared at Stratford- Hume Cronyn, Maggie Smith, Colm Feore and Paul Gross.
You can listen to the show right here!
The program starts with a look back at the fortieth anniversary of the birth of the festival. Paul Kennedy used the occasion to talk to the founder- Tom Patterson in July 1993.
In the first season, 1953, no one would have predicted its success, not just on a small Ontario town, but on Canada's theatre industry. In 2002 Bob Steele took a look at the festival and its contribution to Canadian theatre.
Of course a lot of actors have passed through Stratford over the years. One of the early stars was a man who went on to be better known as a writer. Eleanor Wachtel spoke with Timothy Findley in 2001.
The year was 1958 and a 16-year-old Roberta Maxwell was looking to make her mark. From the program Assignment Bill McNeil talked to her.
Roberta Maxwell went on to have a long and distinguished career in Canadian theatre. In 1968 she made her debut on Broadway in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and she also had a successful television and film career. Her last role was in the movie Brokeback Mountain.
In 1954 the actor Hume Cronyn visited Stratford in its second season. He was already a star with an Academy Award nomination under his belt.
He and his wife Jessica Tandy were long time supporters of the festival, and both appeared onstage in several seasons.
Next up- Maggie Smith. In 1980 the illustrious English actress had been invited to appear in three plays- Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, Chekhov's The Seagull, and a new play about Virginia Woolf called Virginia. Much of Smith's theatre experience was in England, but she was clearly a fan of working at Stratford- she appeared on the festival stage from 1976 to 1980. She had won two Oscars in 1969 and 1978, but kept coming to Stratford because she loved the place.
In June 1980 Jim Wright spoke with Maggie Smith and the first thing he asked her was how she came to Stratford in the first place.
In recent years, Smith has become known to a whole new generation of filmgoers in her recurring role as Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter movies and the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey.
Playing the role of Hamlet is an actor's rite of passage. Richard Monette made headlines for his impassioned rendition and Colm Feore attacked the role with great mastery. In the 2000 season, television star Paul Gross assumed the role of the Danish Prince. In this outdoor interview, these three Canadian actors discussed the tragic and complex role. Interviewing them was Brent Bambury.
Christopher Plummer was the first to play Hamlet on the Stratford stage in 1957. Brent Carver also portrayed Hamlet in 1986.
The last piece on the show was from 1999 at the language and voice coaching school in Stratford.