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Stratford Festival adds The War of 1812 to playbill

The War of 1812 will be produced in collaboration with VideoCabaret  to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812, which coincides with the Festival’s 60th season. The production will run for 55 performances between June 26 and August 12, 2012.

Written by Michael Hollingsworth, The War of 1812 is one segment of a play cycle entitled The History of the Village of the Small Huts, a satirical retelling of the nation’s history, tracing the evolution of the “Canadian identity” as a comedy of manners. The original productions premièred to great acclaim from 1985 to 1999 and have since expanded to 20 plays, honoured by 24 Dora Mavor Moore Awards. The War of 1812 is being reinvented for the Stratford production based on newly available research and new inspiration.

“I have admired Michael Hollingsworth’s work since the 1970s,” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. “Not only is VideoCabaret’s The History of the Village of the Small Huts a substantial Canadian theatrical achievement, it also represents the life’s work of this extraordinary playwright. We are tremendously proud to be presenting The War of 1812 as part of our 60th season.”

One of the Studio Theatre rehearsal halls will be converted to a performance space with a capacity of 72, designed to accommodate the special staging technique for which VideoCabaret is renowned.

“We are delighted to welcome VideoCabaret to Stratford and look forward to our collaboration on this brilliant satirical work,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “In 1812 Canada and the United States were enemies at war, and now we have perhaps the closest and most trustingrelationship of any two nations. Attracting visitors from throughout North America, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival can now offer a truly international audience the opportunity to explore the question: what could we have been fighting about?”

VideoCabaret’s unique staging style moves at a cinematic tempo as colourful scenes are conjured up in a black-box set. Using spectacular quick-change costumes and scene-setting props, seven actors portray about 40 characters, who appear and vanish as if by magic.

“Des McAnuff and his superb team have welcomed our company with open arms,” says Mr. Hollingsworth, who in addition to being the playwright shares the position of Artistic Co- Director of VideoCabaret with Deanne Taylor. “We are honoured to launch a new performance space and thrilled to bring our work to the greatest gathering of theatre-lovers on the continent.”

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Press release from Stratford Festival dated August 17, 2011

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Marion Johnson considering plot for a play about War of 1812

Exciting news.  Marion Johnson, playwright, is enthused about writing a play about our War of 1812 history.  Stay tuned.  More information to come.  We have interpreted our history through the barn quilts.  She is going to interpret the social history of the War and bring it to the stage!

Meanwhile, her most recent work, Great Expectations is being mounted at the Wolf Performance Hall in London, February 2 – 10, 2012.

Great Expectations tells the story of young Pip who longs to be a gentleman, but is destined to become a blacksmith. Through his encounters with various wonderfully eccentric characters – including Magwich, the convict; Miss Havisham, an heiress who was jilted at the altar; Mr Jaggers, lawyer to the criminal classes; and many more – Pip does rise above his station, only to lose everything again.

But he perseveres in the pursuit of his dreams, and finally succeeds in creating his own happy ending. Ideal family entertainment!