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Inside the Stratford Festival’s $ 72 Million Theater Remodeling

Years later this summer, the show will finally take place at the completely redesigned Tom Patterson Theater in Stratford.

Men August 2019, Antonio Cimolino, ArtThe Stratford Festival’s Istic Director stood on a platform under construction, with blue light shining brightly from metal scaffolding. He made a big announcement. The following year, the festival will open the long-awaited Tom Patterson Theater. This is the best feature of the Stratford’s $ 72 million refurbishment, Richard III Starring Colm Feore. “It’s going to be big, it’s going to be historic, it’s going to be amazing,” he said. “And it will be fun.”

Two and a half years later, the theater is still out of sight of the general public. By 2020, the cost of the entire season has already sunk, around $ 4.6. The festival season has been postponed indefinitely, with a $ 1 million refund to ticket owners.So was the opening Of the state-of-the-art theater originally planned June 11th, 100th anniversary of the building’s birth Born in Stratford, the same name and founder of the festival Journalist and World War II veteran.

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Since then, the structure itself has embodied the crisis facing the performing arts industry as a whole. Immeasurable effort and beauty have come to a dead end. Now that Ontario’s COVID restrictions have been lifted, the future looks bright. “The theater and all the different rooms are instruments that haven’t been played yet,” says Cimolino, a few days before restarting the rehearsal. Richard III, Will officially open in early June. “There are some of me waiting for the other shoes to fall. But what do they say about the postponed joy?”

The theater was originally built as a dance hall, but when the festival began in 1953, it was used for concerts and productions with Marcel Marceau, Glenn Gould and Oscar Peterson. It was a favorite of the audience, even though it had little theater infrastructure and doubled as a badminton court in the winter.

Co-founder of Toronto-based Siamak Hariri Architects Hariri Pontalini visits the theater As an audience before winning a contract to design a new 77,000 square foot complex in 2017. “Everything was clearly in time,” says Hariri. “But there was something wonderful about that element. Intimacy, warmth. We tried to respect them. There must be aristocrats, but you have to wear diamonds to go. Not as much. ”

The curved shape of the new Tom Patterson, located along the edge of the Avon River in Stratford, reflects the vortices and vortices of the river’s vegetation. The intent is that the audience will be in the same conversation and as if they were on the flow. The exterior is covered with Spanish bronze beams and an Italian glass veil, which acts as a translucent barrier between the outer nature and the inner art. Its central 600-seat theater and its stage are surrounded by sound-absorbing Danish brick drums. Owen Sound’s limestone columns stand next to the outdoor patio. This is a rough piece of bread that Hariri describes as bread crust. “It’s the kind of building that you feel a little weak on your knees when you step into it,” he says.

Hariri Pontalinia Architects in Toronto covered its exterior with Spanish bronze and Italian glass. (Photo by Scott Norsworthy)

Far from the badminton court era, the new Tom Patterson contains considerable theatrical skills. The flexible lighting system behaves more like a drone controller than traditional manual grid and follow spot systems. It is also one of the first theaters to evenly distribute audio and sound effects throughout a tricky space with unobtrusive audio equipment. For example, the speakers are carefully built into the front row stairs.

The stage itself consists of a huge trapdoor and Canadian birch slats, so anything can come out from below. It was difficult to find a tree. The festival decided to buy Toba Molly Forest to saw the trees. The story has already taken over Shakespeare’s unique life. Locals are asking if the festival currently owns its own Shakespeare. Macbeth-ian forest.

The new facility has a mythical quality and is now very close to its debut. The actor and crew rehearse with masks and greet each other with elbow bumps. Costume shops and set shops are crowded. The team removes any remaining scratches from the construction and performs a final safety check. Downtown Stratford hotels and restaurants typically serve approximately one million tourists a year and are staffed for the summer.

Still, there is a feeling of reservation. Even an experienced actor like Colm Feore says he’s afraid that he’s ready for his late appearance as the famous Richard III. “When we finally came back, we were confident that we would announce our victory over COVID and resume our collective life in Canada. We were in the theater together and talking to each other. You would have succeeded by the facts, “says Feore. “I think we’re still a little damaged. We’re trying to regain our confidence.”

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According to Cimolino, the first few days of the rehearsal were exciting, if at all a little nervous. “We seem to have new eyes and a new sense of excitement — even wonders,” he says. “Do you believe we can do what we love again? Everyone is knocking on the tree collectively.”

Of course, there’s nothing certain, but the plan is: June 4th Richard III It will finally officially open with the Tom Patterson Theater itself. All venues at the Stratford Festival will feature 10 works featuring an ensemble of 125 actors.

When Cimolino called on the architect, he was looking for a building designed to bring the festival to the next 50 years. For Hariri, it’s what they created despite the situation. “The building has this signal beacon,” he says. “It says,’No, we’re not going anywhere.’ If anything, this shows our deep commitment to make things happen.”

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Inside the Stratford Festival’s $ 72 Million Theater Remodeling

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