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Stratford Festival HD’s The Taming of the Shrew wins two Canadian Screen Awards

The Stratford Festival found itself at the centre of national attention at the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television’s Gala Honouring Excellence in Creative Fiction Wednesday night, as Stratford Festival HD’s The Taming of the Shrew won two awards.

The Taming of the Shrew was honoured with Best Performing Arts Program and the play’s male lead, Ben Carlson, won Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Limited Series.

“It is the height of irony to win a CSA award for being in a play called The Taming of the Shrew on International Women’s Day – but I’ll take it,” Carlson said in his acceptance speech. “I’d like to thank the Stratford Festival for giving us the chance to do a very easily misunderstood play and for doing this very important film series.”

Directed for the stage by Chris Abraham and for the screen by Barry Avrich, The Taming of the Shrew was broadcast on CBC last summer after screening at Ciniplex Theatres across Canada, in the U.S. and around the world. This production is part of a 10-year initiative by the Stratford Festival to capture all of Shakespeare’s plays on film.

“Thank you to Stratford Festival for committing to filming the entire Shakespeare canon. The Stratford Festival is where great careers begin, so I’m indebted to them,” Avrich said after the production won Best Performing Arts Program.

“I’d like to thank Stratford, the cast and crew and all the people who worked behind the scenes who I’ve had the opportunity to work with,” producer Susan Edwards added.

The Taming of the Shrew takes place as a play within a play, depicting the courtship of Petruchio (Carlson) and Ketherina (Deborah Hay), the headstrong, obstinate “shrew.” Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship, but Petruchio tempers her with various psychological torments – the “taming” – until she become a compliant and obedient wife.

Alongside The Taming of The Shrew, the Stratford Festival’s nominations for Canadian Screen Awards included: Evan Buliung in The Adventures of Pericles for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Limited Series; Geraint Wyn Davies in Hamlet for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Limited Series; Hamlet’s director Shelagh O’Brien for Best Direction in a Dramatic Program or Limited Series; and The Adventures of Pericles for Best Performing Arts Program.

“For the Festival to be recognized by the film and television industry, it’s a different world for us to be exposed to. The whole intention of us doing the HD series was to reach new audiences for our work, and so it’s really nice to have not only achieved that, but then to be also recognized for the quality of the work we’re doing as well,” executive director of the Stratford Festival Anita Gaffney said.

“I am delighted to see our work honoured beyond the stage,” the Festival’s artistic director Antoni Cimolino said. “Anita and I embarked on this project to share the work of the Stratford Festival far beyond Stratford’s borders. In only three years, our films have been seen by almost 340,000 people. And just as important, we have captured the performances of some of Canada’s most talented classical actors – including the truly memorable performances by Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay in this now award-winning production of The Taming of the Shrew.”

gsimmons@postmedia.com

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