Didn't make it to the Stratford Festival to catch Colm Feore's performance as King Lear this season?
No need to go mad on the heath: Artistic director Antoni Cimolino's production of the tragedy will be coming to a cinema near you – whether you live in Canada or abroad – in 2015.
On Tuesday morning, the Stratford Festival announced the first three William Shakespeare productions it will film for worldwide cinematic release: King Lear, King John, and Antony and Cleopatra.
As The Globe and Mail revealed last year, North America's largest classical theatre company is becoming the first in the country to follow in the footsteps of New York's Metropolitan Opera and Britain's National Theatre by sending a season of plays in HD to cinemas (it has previously done one-off films, such as 2010's The Tempest starring Christopher Plummer). The Southern Ontario festival also intends, in the long run, to create a library of the entirety of Shakespeare's canon – all 37, give or take, of his plays – for use in schools.
"The Stratford Festival canon collection will extend the festival's reach and heighten its profile around the world," executive director Anita Gaffney said in a release. "It will also serve as a valuable educational resource, allowing students to see Canadian productions of all of Shakespeare's works, supplemented by online study guides that we will create for each production."
King Lear, which stars Feore as the title character, will be captured at its Oct. 21 performance by director Joan Tosoni, for release in cinemas in February.
Director Barry Avrich will shepherd both King John, directed by Tim Carroll and starring Tom McCamus, and Antony and Cleopatra, directed by Gary Griffin and starring Geraint Wyn Davies and Yanna McIntosh, from stage to screen. To be filmed in HD on Sept. 25 and 26, these two tragedies will be released in cinemas in April and May, respectively.
All three films will be produced by Avrich's Melbar Entertainment Group. Cineplex Entertainment plans to distribute the season as part of its Front Row Centre Events in Canada. BY Experience, the international distributor for the Metropolitan Opera and the National Theatre, will take the movies to cinemas in the rest of the world.
The cinematic screenings of King Lear, King John, and Antony and Cleopatra will be followed by a broadcast window on CBC, then be made available digitally and on-demand.