Monday, March 31, 2008

Martin Knelman on Stratford: Banana Republic.

No, not the fashion label worn by its patrons... the leadership. Knelman always knew it was never gonna work: "To some of us, the only really surprising element of the news earlier this month about the acrimonious termination of the festival's group directorate was that almost everyone involved professed to be surprised that it didn't work."

Well, it would have been nice if Oracle Knelman had let us know this was going to happen before, you know, it actually happened. The last time he wrote about Stratford leadership, it was to use his powers of prognostication to tell us that "[Colm] Feore is not only a contender but a front-runner in the race to succeed Richard Monette."

Anyway, Knelman's piece is quite entertaining and signals that the gloves are off over at the T-Star. Excerpts, bolding mine:

- "Des McAnuff, a man preoccupied with his globally successful musical Jersey Boys, [is left] as the festival's sole artistic director – even though he is clearly not in a position to make Stratford a full-time job."

- "In retrospect, [Maraden and Shipley] could have guessed how things would turn out from the fact that for the first time in Stratford history the so-called artistic directors did not report directly to the board."

- "Clearly, the board is enchanted with Cimolino, who has never worked anywhere except Stratford, and has been rewarded with the longest-running contract in the history of Canadian performing arts."

- "[T]his venerable institution – the largest not-for-profit theatre on the continent – has shown itself to be the banana republic of the cultural world."

- "Now, we are left to stare open-mouthed at the wreckage, wishing for a return of the TV series Slings and Arrows, which brilliantly satirized behind-the-scenes treachery at a high-toned classical theatre mismanaged by neurotics and bumpkins."

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