Stage Door News

Stratford: Stratford Perth Museum stages porch performances to celebrate diversity

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Even before COVID-19, Peg Dunnem wanted to use the Stratford Perth Museum’s elevated wraparound porch as a stage.

The museum’s education and programs manager figured it was the perfect place for performances and would harken back to the days when porches were often a gathering spot for friends and family, and maybe a little gossip.

Now, with the province in phase three of its pandemic recovery, Dunnem is collaborating with several Stratford Festival performers on an independent project. Blank Stage: Performances from the Porch celebrates diversity, self-expression and communal growth in multiple forms of expression under a unifying theme – gathering – which is something that has been limited around the world for months.

“It felt like a natural performance space,” Dunnem said. “We’re hoping this is just the start of many more, and perhaps gives audiences a different lens of what performances can be outside of theatre and a traditional stage setting. It makes it a bit more interactive when you’re closer in proximity to the audience members.”

Multiple performers are scheduled for both shows. Producer Breanne Ritchie, a full-time member of the Stratford Festival’s education department, wanted “to create a platform for artists who are local Stratfordites who live here. These are not people who are from Toronto who come in for the season.”

Without the “red tape” of a larger organization, Ritchie wanted to amplify voices that might not otherwise be heard through song, spoken word, poetry and storytelling. She expects a mixture of joy, challenges, anger, sadness, and relief among performers, whose messages won’t be filtered.

“People who are artists are also performing so many other roles in their lives,” she said. “It’s a chance for them to be themselves and performing in whatever way would make them joyous.”

Dunnem is unsure how many people the museum’s grounds can fit for the performances, as it depends on the size of groups within their own bubbles. Saturday, Aug. 15, at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.) comes with content advisory for language, while Sunday’s Aug 16 show at 2 p.m. (doors open at 1 p.m.) is family-friendly.

Tickets are $25 (general) and $20 (arts workers) for each performance. Money will pay for performers and go back into the growth of museum programming such as the porch shows.

“We wanted to bring a different dynamic to the museum and different dynamic to Stratford as a whole,” Dunnem said. “People of colour, people of different traditions … and use this as an opportunity for communal growth as well as enjoying some performances.

“This is a good starting point to make sure we can properly pay the artists … and part of the wonderful thing of museum programming is there is room for evolving. We keep it fluid.”


To purchase tickets, visit or buy them at the museum in advance. Tickets won’t be sold at the door. 

By Cory Smith for

Photo: Stratford Perth Museum, 4275 Huron Road.