Watch Antoni Cimolino's 'Holding the Mirror up to Nature'

On October 19, Antoni Cimolino, artistic director of the Stratford Festival, delivered the 2022 Hagey Lecture in the University of Waterloo’s Theatre of the Arts and was met with a standing ovation from the 130 audience members.

In his talk, "Holding the Mirror up to Nature," Cimolino explores why we can be so moved by theatre, and how even stories written hundreds of years ago can help us to see and understand ourselves, and each other: "New plays can reflect the world that we live in today; old plays tell us we have done this before."

Cimolino contends that a democratic society needs theatre. From its beginnings, he explains, theatre served to develop "communal values and cohesion.... In laughing together, people would decide what is ridiculous, what is contemptible, and in crying, they would recognize the pain of tragic miscalculation and human fallibility."

We use theatre, Cimolino argues, to ask questions and navigate ambiguity, to understand each other and build empathy, something that "we sorely need right now." Theatre, he says "is an antidote to the isolation and anger caused by social media. Therefore, theatre is vital to democracy."

Watch the 2022 Hagey Lecture

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Antoni Cimolino has been Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival since 2013. A champion of the arts and culture, Cimolino also served as the Founding Chair of Culture Days, a nation-wide celebration of arts and culture in Canada. The Hagey Lectures are the University of Waterloo's premier invitational public lecture series since 1970, and are co-sponsored by the Faculty Association and the University of Waterloo.

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