Congratulations on the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's naming Antoni Cimolino its next Artistic Director. This absolutely justified move strikes me as inevitable and a cause for rejoicing in the theater world.

No other Artistic Director -- and maybe no other person -- in Stratford's history has had such a comprehensive knowledge of, and direct experience with, every facet of that great theater organization's operations. Antoni Cimolino's performances as an actor were memorable and still admired in the videotape/CD of his Romeo, still sold in the Theater Store. His production and direction of ambitious choices of works at Stratford have been entirely successful, enlarging the scope and reputation of Stratford's achievements. And he has supervised Stratford's business management and fund-raising and additional programs, and physical expansions, increasing their scope and financial security.

As I wrote about Stratford's seasons for newspapers, magazines, and now websites, friends from several countries who are involved with theater and its history have remarked to me about the remarkable examples of this business manager producing a major new production and directing his artistic director in the leading role [Filomena]; and his securing a top popular music group, Barenaked Ladies, to compose the music for his produced and directed Twelfth Night; and later raising funds and managing the finances and production details of a famed, groundbreaking staging of an impossibly difficult work, then directing that himself [The Grapes of Wrath]. The relatively brief tenure of the endlessly innovative Des McAnuff, which, I gather, Antoni Cimolino championed and partnered in, has won new distinctions for Canada's leading theater company in expanded areas prefigured only by occasional remarkable Canadian playwrights [e.g., Timothy Findley] and by Brian McDonald's legendary productions of Gilbert and Sullivan's operas.

I imagine that this advancement is Antoni Cimolino's longtime dream. But I doubt that there could be many in Stratford's huge resident ensemble of artists, craftsmen and administrative experts -- all of whom know him and virtually all of whom have worked with him and like him -- who are not delighted that he will be Stratford's next artistic director.

Key Subjects: 
Antoni Cimolino, Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Des McAnuff, Canada
Herbert M. Simpson
March 2012
Antoni Cimolino Takes the Reins