It is with profound sadness that the Stratford Shakespeare Festival announces the death last night of Richard Monette, the longest-serving artistic director in its history. Mr. Monette, whose tenure lasted for 14 seasons, from 1994 to 2007, died of a pulmonary embolus in hospital in London, Ontario. He was 64 years old.
“I remember first seeing Richard on the Stratford Festival stage as Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost,” said the Festival’s general director, Antoni Cimolino. “He was brilliant – so brilliant that it changed my life and I’m sure the lives of many, many others. He made one of the most difficult parts in Shakespeare seem effortless and a joy. And so he did for the all the great roles he played, from Hamlet to Hosanna.
“As an actor, a director and finally as an artistic director, he was singular. His love for the Festival was the centre of his being. His accomplishments as artistic director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival have set the standard by which all others will be judged.”
“I am deeply distressed by our dear friend Richard’s death,” added the Festival’s current artistic director, Des McAnuff. “I have been Richard’s ardent fan since I first saw him in Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre production of Hosanna, in which he was utterly virtuosic. He was a brilliant actor, a gifted director, an inspiring artistic director and a great Canadian. I will sorely miss his wit, his insight, his advice and especially the warmth and wisdom that were among his many distinguished attributes. The entire Stratford Shakespeare Festival family is in mourning, and we will not fill the immense void left by the loss of our beloved artistic statesman anytime soon.”
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