The Stratford Festival celebrates 60 years

It’s opening night in Stratford.

A hot, sticky night for all of that makeup, hair styles and flowing gowns.

There is much ado (and yes Much Ado About Nothing is on the boards) about the 60th anniversary. Special deals have helped the box office already.

Interestingly, this is the smallest company in some time as the festival tries to draw more attention to itself during this special year.

Will it be a success?

Hard to say as the stubborn economic slowdown still has theatres spinning their tires a bit.

One special I wanted to draw your attention to is for Union Gas customers.

If you are a customer, you can buy a ticket to 42nd Street for $42.

It stars Cynthia Dale. Londoner Kyle Blair, who jumped ship at the Shaw Festival to join Stratford this year, is also in the cast.

Pirates of Penzance and War of 1812 are a couple of production I’m looking forward to seeing as well. 

Are you seeng any shows this year?


4 thoughts on “The Stratford Festival celebrates 60 years

  1. It sure was a gamble that paid off for Tom Patterson et al. You can
    pick up film footage of a meeting with familiar faces at the NFB.
    Kathy, did you get to see the sculpture of Skip Manley, the tent man?

  2. Stratford glosses over the interesting first years when much of the interest was
    in the theatre enclosure and the stage itself and the costuming, before the TV-
    based Celebrities era struck.
    Go to Festival website and look under Archives for a photo of the raising of the
    Stratford Tent for first production year 1953. This year only notes Oct 31 incorp;

    -At some point an sculpture was created commemorating this and the men who
    made it all possible. Oddly they don’t seem to feature it, show the location. or
    name the artist. Just lost the one image found on a private website, of two men
    hauling on ropes, pure muscle power and remniscent of circus lore.
    It was this “rustic” nature of the first years that made it especially interesting to
    those who followed such things and knew Stratford people who found themselves
    with such as Alec Guiness billeted in their homes. (One was an Anglican minister
    with London connections…)
    -Another informal touch was regular trains from Toronto, newspaper-sponsored,
    which delivered hundreds of well-lubricated ordinary people and big names to
    local churches for suppers made by women of the congretations. Then the
    train took them back to the big city where they talked it up, Meanwhile some
    young people with a car were known to camp out on the Island in the Avon,
    a well-behaved generation so presence overlooked by authories. If you go over
    again you might want tovisit their Archives and perhaps see scrapbooks of those
    formative years and be able to tell us about this interesting feature.
    –Have a 50’s timeline for next posting..

    For those into public sculpture, this is the centenary of J.M. Barrie’s Kensington
    Garden Peter Pan in the other London. Replica also in Toronto, sadly its park
    renamed for an unrelated celebrity, in St. John’s NL and c5 others around the world.

    Isn’t it fascinating that we have access to so many people whose memories embrace
    huge historical events,the Great War years, Depression, Second War years and
    the birth of the present Queen now 86 herself. Women more likely to have made it
    as it is only 70 years since women joined our military – about 40 since the guy vets
    recognized them as War veterans too.

  3. Festival Timeline [E&OE] (bet you’ll find staff Surnamed Polley and Swerdfeger
    are second generation there) NOTE it was originally “Shakespearean”. If you
    go to Archives, ask if they have Mayfair spring 1953 with still-unknown Duncan
    Macpherson’s (sp) cartoon of Stratford.

    1952 – Stratford journalist Tom Patterson proposes a Shakespeare festival to
    Stratford City Council.
    Tyrone Guthrie appointed Festival’s first Artistic Director.tenure 1953/1955.
    The Stratford Shakespearean Festival of Canada Foundation incorporated
    under a Province of Ontario charter October 31.
    Tanya Moiseiwitsch designs the Festival’s revolutionary thrust stage..
    1953 – Ground-breaking ceremony for Festival’s tent theatre April 15.
    Festival’s inaugural performance, Richard III, on July 13.
    1956 – Construction begins on permanent Festival Theatre. Governor General
    Vincent Massey lays foundation stone..Dedicated June 30 Opens Hamlet.
    1958 – Princess Margaret attends The Winter’s Tale July 31.
    1959 – Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh attend special performance of
    As You Like It on July 2.
    1960 – In July, the Festival greets its millionth patron.•Tyrone Guthrie is knighted.

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