by Tamara LaPlante

Less than two months after Cineplex and the Stratford Festival collaborated to bring Romeo and Juliet to the silver screen, they’ve teamed up again to present Timon of Athens at the end of this month.

The show closed in September at the festival last year, and now makes its ‘film’ debut on April 22 in select Cineplex theatres. A couple weeks before closing night, a performance was filmed for the series.

Timon of Athens, Stratford Festival 2017
Pictured: Joseph Ziegler as Timon; Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann

Waiting until the near end of the run provided the cast the experience of performing over, and over again, said Joseph Ziegler, who starred in the titular role. Ziegler has a well-rounded mix between stage credits and screen credits, but Timon was a unique experience for the actor.

“The challenge is to stay inside the play inside the world of the play and not change what you’re doing to appeal to camera or to an audience in a different way,” Ziegler said, on performing while the show was filmed.

Barry Avrich, the visionary behind the Stage to Screen: Romeo and Juliet, was also the film director for Timon of Athens.

Timon of Athens gave Avrich the challenge of capturing theatre-in-the-round on film, which encompasses catching a 360-degree theatre experience without breaking the 180-degree rule of film. Otherwise, you risk disorienting the spatial relationships between characters for the audience.

Timon of Athens, Stratford Festival 2017
Pictured: Members of the Company; Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann

George Roulston’s quick and sharp edits lift the pace of slower moments and add chaos to the already fast-paced scenes, blurring the lines between the blocking aesthetic for stage and screen.  

“When the camera is on you, you don’t have to go looking for anything, the camera will find what you have to say,” Ziegler said about acting for film. However, Avrich brings that approach to this project as well.

The stage director, Stephen Ouimette, had a minimal set that allowed the camera to focus on the movements and reactions of the actors. Ouimette chose a modern-day setting for Timon of Athens – everything from cell phones and selfies, to cocktails and black-tie dinners were included.

Audiences are used to coming to a Shakespeare play and seeing something that they know a little bit like Twelfth Night or King Lear, said Ziegler. “They come in kind of cold and to take the audience and lead them through the journey of Timon of Athens was a very exciting opportunity,” he said.

Timon was a play that he wrote near the end of his career, a period when he was changing the rules about playwriting, according to Ziegler.

Cineplex gives Canadian audiences a chance to familiarize with another, perhaps more unknown, Shakespeare. At the same time, the Stage to Screen series is changing the rules of how we consume theatre.

You can check out the official trailer for Timon of Athens here.

Tamara LaPlante is a student at Carleton University, going into her fourth year of the
journalism program. Most of Tamara’s theatre credits come from her work with Sock ‘n’
Buskin Theatre Co., a student-run theatre company at Carleton. Tamara believes – whether it be on the stage, or in article-form – that everyone has a story to tell.


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