Richard Monette Announces Final Season at Stratford

Richard Monette, Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival for the last 14 years , was in Toronto yesterday to announce the 2007 festival line-up. It also marked the end of his illustrious career with the festival. "This is the (2007) season. It is my last. So please be kind to me"

Monette seemed jubilant and playful about the playbill which included staple Shakespeare greats King Lear, The Merchant of Venice (staring Graham Greene as Shylock) The Comedy of Errors (Directed by Monette) and Othello (staring Philip Akin). Monette seemed most excited about the Canadian premiere of David Edgar's Pentecost, a play he had done many years earlier. A play, he said, I've wanted to do since the beginning of my tenure. I loved its metaphor. (given the events of 911) It is now very timely. Though this is not why I chose it. I loved its language."

Other productions this season include Oklahoma, directed by Donna Feore, Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband, Of Mice and Men ( with Martha Henry, Philip Akin and Graham Greene) and a surprise return of William Hutt, who joins a power acting trio with Martha Henry and Fiona Reid, in the production of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance, directed by Diana Leblanc.

Beyond choosing the seasons, as well as directing many of the exciting plays produced over the last 14 years, Mr. Monette also established the For All Time Endowment Fund, which is dedicated to artists training, new play development, education initiatives and capital projects. He founded the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical actors and oversaw the reconstruction of the Festival and Avon theatres as well as marking the 50th anniversary season with the construction of the Studio theatre.

When asked what his advice to the incoming artistic director would be, Monette said, "... the most important contribution... is reaching young theatre goers. We reach them when they're young, they'll be back." Monette, feeling the press conference coming to an end and knowing it was to be one of his last, closed by saying, "So there's the menu. It's taken two years to put together and now its over in fifteen minutes."

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