It’s an understatement to say that the past two years flew by—few of us have lived through social conditions and constraints such as these, and it has made the time just rush. But 2022 is a month away, and with it comes the announcements of new seasons and exhibitions across institutions. And the Stratford Festival’s 2022 season is looking bright and full for the largest classic repertory theatre in North America.
The Stratford Festival’s 2022 season brings with it a wealth of other celebrations for the theatre institution. Not only will it be the first time that audiences will return to the theatre proper in almost three years, but it is also the 70th season for the company. On top of this, the year will bring the grand opening of the company’s new Tom Patterson Theatre, a stunning new riverside construction honouring the man who first founded the Stratford Shakespearean Festival of Canada.
The company has indicated that a new beginning is the theme for this year’s season, and Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino stating of it:
“The plays in the 2022 season contain not only new beginnings but the difficult moral and ethical decisions a new journey entails. What is the best way to start again? How can we avoid the traps of the past? In an imperfect world, what is good?”
Cimolino stated they “want [audiences’] return to be everything they hope for. We want them to feel safe, of course, but we also want to fill the void left by the absence of live theatre and communal activities.” With so many false starts for many theatre companies looking to operate again over the past year and necessary modifications—such as this past year’s outdoor season for the Stratford—an urge to revitalize makes a lot of sense.
Across the theme of new beginnings, Stratford has selected a vibrant array of works. Some shows for Stratford Festival’s 2022 season include classic musical Chicago, with protagonist Roxie Hart aiming for a start as a singer and winding up with her first kill; the iconic tragedy of betrayal and an inverted life that is Hamlet; the meta-follow up of new play Hamlet-911 centred around actor Guinness Menzies landing his dream role at Stratford; and 1939, another world premiere that shows students of a 1939 residential school in Ontario being given the task of performing Shakespeare for the English monarchy, finding ways to subvert the narrow colonial constructs around it.
With the Stratford Festival’s season announcement, it’s hard not to feel drained from the whiplash of the past two years and expectant of what’s to come. And the idea of major arts institutions being able to once again operate in a strong capacity within their communities is certainly something to be hopeful for. Even if there is still a ways to go until theatres are back in full force, it does finally start to seem that we can look forward to a new beginning.