Festival Time!

Business AudienceSummer theatre festival time, that is. In this final post in my mini-series about summer theatre offerings around Canada and the United States, we’re going to look at some festivals — both well known and lesser known.

Some of these festivals have resident troupes of actors, as well as attracting some of the finest actors in the world — while others feature an eclectic variety of performers. Some festivals focus on theatre classics, augmented with newer plays that are well known; some give opportunities to new playwrights and avant-garde productions, while others have a particular cultural focus. There is something for everyone in the summer theatre festivals in the U.S. and Canada.

For just a taste of what’s available, click the magic “read more” box…

In Canada, two of the longest-running and most widely known festivals are the Stratford and the Shaw, both in Ontario.

The Stratford Festival is based, appropriately, in Stratford, Ontario. As you might expect from a theatre festival in a place named for Stratford-upon-Avon in England, the focus at the Canadian Stratford Festival is on Shakespeare, although a variety of more recent plays and musicals fill out the playbill every year. This year, among the productions will be Romeo and Juliet, Fiddler on the Roof, Blithe Spirit, Othello, and Waiting for Godot. To learn more about this renowned festival, you may go to the Stratford Festival website.

The Shaw Festival is based in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario (not to be confused with Niagara Falls, although they are very close to each other in terms of distance). The focus of this festival is, not surprisingly, the work of George Bernard Shaw, although their playbill is also augmented with other playwrights’ works. This year, besides Major Barbara by Shaw, and Peace in Our Time, which is adapted from Shaw’s Geneva, they are also presenting such shows as Guys and Dolls, Lady Windermere’s Fan, and others. For a full list of this year’s productions, as well as information about the Festival itself, check out the Shaw Festival website.

Another venerable festival comes from the merger of the Berkshire Theatre Festival which began in 1928 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and The Colonial Theatre which started back in 1903 in Pittsfield, MA. The Berkshire Theatre Group‘s summer festival now comprises five stages, with a host of offerings ranging from Oklahoma! and Peter Pan to The Lion in Winter and Same Time Next Year. Their website may be found at this link.

There are Fringe Festivals in abundance these days. Perhaps the best known internationally is the Edinburgh Fringe in Scotland, but there are countless such festivals in the United States and Canada as well. They provide an opportunity for emerging talent to find a voice, as well as giving a place for more avant-garde productions that cannot always find a home in traditional theatres. The following link will lead you to the Minnesota Fringe Festival. I can’t list any of their planned productions for this year’s festival, as the program has not yet been finalized.

Ethnic and multi-cultural groups also find a voice and a place through specialized theatre festivals. One such is the Latino Theatre Festival at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. For more information, click this link.

This is just a glimpse at a very few of the multitude of theatre festivals that will be taking place this summer in Canada, the United States and all around the world. Look around, there might be one near you!

If you missed any of my previous posts in this mini-series, you may find them the following links:

Support Your Local Theatre

Going Out(doors) to the Theatre

‘Tis the Season for Summer Theatre

Have a great summer!

4 thoughts on “Festival Time!”

  1. Lovely post. You are so fortunate to have so many offerings near you. We used to have Kenley Players Summer Theater for many years in Columbus, Dayton and Warren,Ohio and in Pennsylvania with top stars performing in favorite plays and musicals like Oklahoma, Man of La Mancha, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Music Man, Kiss Me Kate, Peter Pan, Arsenic and Old Lace with — with Shirley Jones, Florence Henderson, Barbara Eden, Cloris Leachman, Juliete Prowse, Ethel Merman, Betty White, Joel Grey, Henry Winkler, John Davidson, Noel Harrison, Paul Lynde, John Forsythe, Robert Cummings, Robert Goulet, Tommy Tunes — I know I’m really dating myself. It ran about 25 years and then ended. People seemed to lose interest in the mid 80s. Now we just have popular Broadway road shows a couple times of the year — Wicked, The Lion King etc. Sure miss good summer theater.

    1. Oh, those star’s names are music to my ears, Pat! As are the names of the shows.

      I just want to point out that although there are smaller productions nearer me, the Canadian ones I’ve mentioned in today’s post are at least 1,500 miles away!

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