Stratford’s artistic director, Antoni Cimolino, recalls the high school field trip that got him hooked on theatre.
By Laura Bickle
Photo: Andrew Eccles
Name: Antoni Cimolino
Describe your school-aged self.
Annoyingly energized. Engaged.
What was your favourite subject?
English. I loved the different worlds you could enter into.
The most challenging subject?
Math. It wasn’t until late in high school that I realized that my marks would improve if I actually did my homework.
Memorable literary pieces studied?
My Last Duchess, by Robert Browning, King Lear, by William Shakespeare, and The Deptford Trilogy, by Robertson Davies.
The last book you read?
Shylock, by John Gross.
Book you’re currently reading?
Shakespeare and the Jews, by James Shapiro.
Lesson learned in kindergarten?
I had a rough start. I didn’t speak English and couldn’t sit still but by the end of it, I won the most improved award — so it taught me not to give up.
Your favourite school lunch?
The chocolate-covered biscuit my mother would always slip into my lunch bag.
Favourite extracurricular activity?
I was involved in theatre, debating and public speaking. Theatre was my favourite.
If you were a teacher, what subject would you teach?
Strongest Stratford Festival memory as a student?
I saw Love’s Labour’s Lost in Grade 12 or 13. I had been before but this is the play that really got me hooked. I was amazed that a 400-year-old play could speak so strongly to me at that age and had characters who could’ve been my friends at school. That happy memory has stayed with me to this day.
How do teachers inform your decisions at the Festival?
The Stratford Festival and educational institutions share a mission to create a more civil society, so I look for scripts that have something important to say in the world we live in today. Inevitably those are often the plays teachers use in their classrooms.
Suggestions for teachers visiting the Festival or teaching Shakespeare?
Each year more than 600 teachers make use of the AQs, programs and study guides we have for teaching Shakespeare but it’s my dream to see even more take part in our Teachers’ Conference, Teaching Shakespeare Program, private workshops, residency programs, ticket discounts and the pre-show activities. It makes a difference when a teacher is truly excited about studying Shakespeare, it can change a student’s life. [To learn more, visit bit.ly/H2U5Vk.]
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