Tony-nominated director Tim Carroll has returned for his third Stratford Festival season with a candlelit production of King John, Shakespeare’s rarely performed history play. The presentation runs until September 20, 2014
Last season, Mr. Carroll directed Romeo and Juliet to evoke the experience of seeing the play as Shakespeare might have presented it at the open-air Globe Theatre. King John, by contrast, will transport audiences to the Blackfriars playhouse, the candlelit indoor venue for which Shakespeare wrote his later plays.
“The game I call ‘Original Practices’ is one where I use whatever theatre-historical evidence seems interesting and suggestive to create a space where the actors and the audience can combine their imaginations,” says Mr. Carroll. “I have no idea if this is ‘how they would have done it’; I just hope it creates a liberating environment for the play of Shakespeare’s incredible language.”
In a season examining Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge, the insanity of war informs King John, in which the title character, played by Tom McCamus, must defend his throne against the rival claim of his young nephew, the son of his deceased elder brother, Geoffrey, and Constance, the Duchess of Brittany, played by Seana McKenna. Defying this challenge to the legitimacy of his rule, John declares war on France. Excommunication, attempted atrocity, rebellion and assassination all contribute to a political and personal turmoil that finds devastating expression in an anguished mother’s grief for her son.
“King John takes a long hard look at a mind pushed to the edge by the dangerous combination of ambition and insecurity,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “As a lesson on the corrosive nature of power, it explores a political and social unrest that is as relevant today as it was when it was written. We are so fortunate to have Tim Carroll back with us to bring this brilliant work to our stage. The opportunity to see Shakespeare in the hands of someone who knows so much about him, his plays and how they work, is not to be missed.”
Mr. Carroll, former Associate Director of Shakespeare’s Globe in London, is one of the world’s most respected directors of Shakespeare. His work has been presented on stages across the world, from Budapest’s Barka Theatre to the Sydney Opera House. This past fall, his unforgettable productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III transferred from the Globe to Broadway, garnering a remarkable eight Tony Award nominations between them, including a Best Director nod for Mr. Carroll.
The cast also features Graham Abbey as Philip, the Bastard, and Patricia Collins as Queen Eleanor.
For ticket information, contact the Stratford Festival box office at 1-800-567-1600 or visit stratfordfestival.ca.