Drama grad cast as artistic director of Stratford Festival

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival has named UWindsor drama grad Antoni Cimolino (BFA 1984, hon. PhD 2004) its next artistic director. He will take on the role once incumbent Des McAnuff vacates it at the end of the festival’s 2012 season.

Antoni Cimolino

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival has named UWindsor drama grad Antoni Cimolino its next artistic director.

“This is a day of enormous joy for me,” Cimolino said. “This great theatre changed my life as it has changed the lives of countless others in its almost 60 seasons. It has given me 25 years of growth as an artist and introduced me to wonderful people, great talents and a world of plays, characters and writing that have brought me as close as any man can be to heaven on earth.”

Cimolino first joined the festival -- North America’s largest classical repertory theatre -- as an actor in 1988. He has directed, co-directed or assistant directed 20 productions, while also fulfilling a series of leadership roles that culminated in his appointment as general director in 2006.

In that capacity, he administers an annual budget of $60 million and oversees 1,000 employees. He was instrumental in the formation of the festival’s Endowment Foundation (which has raised more than $50 million to date), the renovation of the Avon Theatre and the establishment of the Studio Theatre.

“Today I am being asked to make a new and deeper contribution to the Stratford Festival,” said Cimolino. “I’m thrilled and honoured.”

He acknowledged the contributions of his predecessors and said he goes in with his eyes open to both the joys and the challenges.

“While we face challenges, we also have an enormous abundance of talent, energy and creativity in our artists, as well as loyal audiences and generous donors,” he said. “I want to build on our current momentum to make the Stratford Shakespeare Festival the world’s leading theatre, presenting the world’s greatest plays performed to the highest standards, because I believe that the artist and the spoken word are the heart of our experience.”

The chair of the festival’s board, Lee Myers, praised Cimolino’s combination of enthusiasm, experience and new ideas.

“His artistic vision includes a deep commitment to Shakespeare and classical theatre, great enthusiasm for the development of large-scale new works, terrific ideas about artist training and audience outreach and an inspiring perspective on the festival’s role within the broader Canadian theatre landscape,” she said. “We have absolute confidence that he will … further the success of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.”

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