Stage Door News
Stratford: The Stratford Festival receives a National Historical Plaque
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Canada’s most esteemed theatre festival was honoured as a national historic event during a ceremony today in Stratford, Ontario.
Dr. Richard Alway, O.C, O.Ont., and Chair of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC), commemorated the national historic significance of the Stratford Festival with a special ceremony to unveil a commemorative plaque at the Stratford Festival Theatre. The announcement was made on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada.
Named after the birthplace of English playwright William Shakespeare, the town of Stratford serves as a fitting location for a theatre festival. The Stratford Festival was founded in 1953 by local reporter Tom Patterson, who sought to improve Stratford’s faltering economy.
Upon its opening, the Festival provided employment to actors, directors and technicians. It attracted outstanding talent from across the country and helped launch the careers of many notable Canadian actors, including Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer.
More than 700 performances take place from May to October. The Stratford Festival has transformed the town’s cultural life for residents and visitors alike, with 500,000 playgoers attending the Festival every year.
The Government of Canada, through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes significant people, places, and events that shaped our country as one way of helping Canadians and youth connect with their past. The commemoration process is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2,000 designations have been made.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am pleased to commemorate the national historic significance of the Stratford Festival. Over the last 62 years, the Festival has grown from a small local event to a world-renowned centre of performance theatre. Historic designations like this one reflect Canada’s rich and varied history, and I encourage all Canadians to learn more about the Stratford Festival and its contributions to Canada’s history.”
The Honourable Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister Responsible for Parks Canada
The Stratford Festival is the largest classical repertory theatre company in North America.
The Festival Theatre’s thrust stage, designed by Tanya Moiseiwitsch and Tyrone Guthrie, was revolutionary for its time. Surrounded by the audience on three sides, it enabled a fluid, dynamic style of performance bringing new life to Shakespeare’s plays.
William Shakespeare’s Richard III was the Stratford Festival’s very first production.
Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national historic significance of places, people and events that have marked Canada’s history.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. National historic designations are of profound importance as they illustrate our country’s defining moments. Each of these designations contributes its own unique story to the greater story of Canada and helps us better understand our country and our identity.
To date, based on recommendations from the HSMBC, the Government of Canada has designated over 2,150 national historic sites, events, and persons. Each of these designations contributes its own unique story to the greater story of Canada, and helps us better understand our country and our identity.
The plaque reads:
THE STRATFORD FESTIVAL
In 1953, Tom Patterson launched an annual festival of Shakespearean theatre in his hometown of Stratford. Artistic Director Tyrone Guthrie and designer Tanya Moiseiwitsch conceived the Festival Theatre’s innovative thrust stage, surrounded by the audience on three sides, which enabled a fluid, dynamic style of performance bringing new life to William Shakespeare’s plays. The Festival, while helping to revitalize Stratford economically, has expanded its repertoire over the years and built an international reputation, training generations of theatre professionals and launching the careers of some of Canada’s finest actors.
LE FESTIVAL DE STRATFORD
En 1953, Tom Patterson lance un festival annuel de théâtre shakespearien à Stratford, sa ville natale. Le directeur artistique Tyrone Guthrie et la conceptrice Tanya Moiseiwitsch innovent en concevant la scène romaine du Festival Theatre. Elle est bordée sur trois côtés par l’auditoire, permettant des performances fluides et dynamiques qui ravivent l’œuvre de Shakespeare. Au fil des ans, le Festival aide à revitaliser l’économie de la ville en plus d’élargir son répertoire et d’acquérir une renommée mondiale. Sur sa scène se sont succédé des générations de professionnels du théâtre, y compris certains des meilleurs acteurs canadiens.
Photo: The unveiling of the plaque with Antoni Cimolino to the left.