Stratford Festival to help people ‘find joy and hope’ as it launches streaming service


As COVID-19 continues to affect how people live and interact with each other, the Stratford Festival has launched Stratfest@Home — a combination subscription streaming service and viewing party platform.

The festival — the country’s leading classical theatre — held live viewing parties on Thursday nights that drew more than a million viewers during the first wave of COVID-19.

Artistic director Antoni Cimolino said the festival will be doing this again starting this week.

“In terms of what we’re presenting this fall … It is getting hard and we have to find a way to enable people to find joy and find hope,” Cimolino told CBC News.

The Thursday night shows are still free, but the festival is charging $10 a month for access to previously filmed plays and fresh content featuring Stratford’s current talent.

“Some of the stuff we’re offering [includes] the early modern cooking show in which our executive chef shows you how to create an Elizabethan recipe with modern locally sourced ingredients, and you get to meet some fantastic young actors and go around to different shops in Stratford,” Cimolino said. 

“There’s an introducing series in which Beck Lloyd, one of our extremely talented young actors, interviews other young actors so you get to know people in a different way,” he said.

“For Halloween, we have got a ghost tour. We’re going to take you through our theatres, which I can tell you, have ghosts. There’re a lot of people who work overnight in those places and the things that have been reported and seen over the years are too frequent to just say it’s coincidence,” added Cimolino.

‘It all seems a little bit hopeless at the moment’

Cimolino also spoke of the importance of having Stratfest@Home in light of the pandemic. 

“I think that in a way at this moment we’re all waiting. We’re waiting for a vaccine, we’re waiting for the numbers to change, we’re maybe dreading the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder,” Cimolino said.

“We can’t at this moment do anything other than wait, do anything other than hope, and yet it all seems a little bit hopeless at the moment.”

“We know that one day this will change and so how do we get from here to there? How do we keep hope alive, but know that things aren’t going to really turn around until they’re ready to? So, it’s helping people do that, it’s staying connected with people and it’s allowing them to connect with each other,” Cimolino added.



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