NEW YORK -- The Stratford Festival will this year commemorate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death by broadcasting three more of the Bard's work in HD, including its "Hamlet."
The Ontario-based festival is attempting to broadcast the complete works of Shakespeare around the world over the next 10 years. It will kick off the next block of shows with "Hamlet" starring Jonathan Goad on April 24, "The Taming of the Shrew" beginning May 8 and "The Adventures of Pericles" beginning on May 29. The broadcasts will be available on U.S. screens.
"I think it's got great balance. 'Hamlet' is the seminal title in terms of the oeuvre. Then you've got a great comedy like 'The Shrew,' and then a romance. So it has nice balance in terms of Shakespeare's work," said festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino, who also directed "Hamlet."
The unprecedented effort started last year with productions of "King Lear," "King John" and "Antony and Cleopatra." The live cinema event company SpectiCast Entertainment is helping distribute The Bard's canon.
The comedy "The Taming of the Shrew" stars Deborah Hay and Ben Carlson and is directed by Chris Abraham. "The Adventures of Pericles" stars Evan Buliung and is directed by Scott Wentworth. The staged versions were recorded on HD film using 10 cameras and 128 tracks of sound.
"We've gotten a lot better at doing this in the last couple of years. We had a lot to learn," said Cimolino, citing things like makeup for HD, the need for close-ups on camera and details like how costumes move.
"Things that were absolutely OK in a bigger theatre become something that needs to be addressed when you've got a big camera just inches away from an actor's face," he said.
The company has a seven-month season every year with about a dozen plays in four Ontario venues performed by some 120 actors. This upcoming season, it will feature "Macbeth," "As You Like It" and the North American premiere of the stage version of "Shakespeare in Love."