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Stratford Festival Theatre
It's Waiting for you in Canada


Professor Arnie Greenberg

Festival Theatre at night

It starts with a drum roll and a trumpet fanfare…

Every time I hear the trumpet fanfare at the Stratford Festival, the hair rises on the back of my neck. There is something magical of those trumpets as they call the ticket holders into the impressive Festival Theatre. That doesn’t mean that it is less enticing to attend the other theatres attached to the Festival. I just get a personal charge as the trumpeters appear on the balcony above the waiting crowd.

The curtain is going up. That’s been the message here since 1957 and countless theatergoers have thrilled to what has been offered on the Festival Theatre Stage.

Festival Stage  

The bard

And what a stage it is! There is no place in the theatre from which people have difficulty seeing the excitement that unfolds. You are captured as the actors appear and bring you the best possible renditions of some of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.

  And it’s not only Shakespeare that you will see here. This season, the Festival offers King Lear with Brian Bedford; the director playing the lead in what many say is the bard’s greatest tragedy.

The celebrated actor Canadian actor Graham Green is Shylock in the controversial and popular Merchant of Venice.

But if it’s musicals that you enjoy and you want to relive the escapades of curly and Jud Fry in the untamed wilderness of the human heart, you can see Rodgers and Hammerstein’s charming Oklahoma. This turn of the century tale will send you home humming. It opens April 10th.

If it’s a good laugh you want, there is also a chance to see Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband. It asks the question ‘is it social convention or true love that makes for an ideal marriage?’

Richard Monette, the talented artistic director of the Festival will direct this witty offering himself. 

Avon theatre interior

But there are other theatres as well. At the refitted Avon Theatre you can see Peter Donaldson as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird based on

The Pulitzer Prize novel by Harper Lee and dramatized by Christopher Sergel.

For music lovers there’s George Gershwin’s My One and Only. It includes popular golden oldies like ‘S Wonderful’ and ‘Nice work if You Can Get It’.

The Avon also offers The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare’s wild comedy about mistaken identity. Richard Monette will direct a super cast of experienced Stratford actors.  It will be his 14th and last season as Artistic Director. This will be the 200th Shakespearean production.

The Tom Patterson Theatre and the Studio Theatre will offer Othello with Philip Akin as Othello and Jonathan Goad as treacherous Iago.

This is a must for me. But there are other interesting items on the agenda like Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men with Graham Greene as Lennie.

From July 29th to September 23 you can see some of Stratford’s great names as the venerable William Hutt, Martha Henry, and Fiona Reid ( all favorites of mine) join the cast of Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance.

Erecting the first tent theatre. 

But that’s not all as the Studio theatre offers the acclaimed Australian play The Blond, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead.

At the same theatre you can see Seana McKenna in a one-woman show about Anne Hathaway. It is simply called Shakespeare’s Will by Canadian Vern Theissen.

The other two plays at the Studio are The Odyssey

by Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott about Caribbean traditions. And to complete the series the David Edgar play Pentecost searches for the connections between art and identity.

That’s obviously too much for one visit. Some people return again and again. I’ve attended Stratford for over 40 years. You must select your plays in advance as sales are brisk at this time of the year. It can be done by phone or Email.

But that’s not the only thing to do in this historical Ontario town.

Since a river, aptly named the Avon, wanders through town you can canoe or take a river tour or you can picnic at the water’s edge as the beautiful white swans drift by.

The town has no end of bed and breakfast  accommodations, motels or hotels, great bars, restaurants and excellent golf. The shopping is diverse and there’s a permanent antique barn in the town.

There are lectures about the plays for you to attend, take a backstage tour or attend any of the long list of music nights starting on June 25th with Broadway Favorites. There are buffet lunches or dinner followed by a talk on one of the plays. I’ll be at the King Lear talk on July 18th.

You can meet celebrated writers for readings and discussions. Here’s a chance to listen to the words of Margaret Atwood and that of Austin Clarke whose The Polished Hoe won him a prestigious Giller Prize.

There are workshops, courses and even a Shakespeare school. It never ends. You can even have a back stage tour.

How can you miss what hundreds of thousands have witnessed over the years.

The rest is up to you. It’s a short jaunt on super highways from Detroit, Chicago, Toronto or Montreal. It’s there with its arms open, waiting for you. For further information Call toll free at 1-800 567 1600 or look up

The Fax number is 519 273 3731. Ask them to send you the 2007 booklet that lists hotels, restaurants and all ticket information. And if that’s not enough, it’s all in Canadian dollars.

My recommendation is The Victorian Inn on the Park…This modern hotel is set near the Avon River and within walking distance of the Festival Theatre.

They can be reached toll free at 1 800 465 4106 or you can look at

No need to worry about your car in this fully air conditioned hotel nestled in verdant parkland with an 18-hole golf course just across the road.

I have never failed to enjoy my stay there.

Do it quickly. The curtain is going up and the trumpeters are poised to herald you into Canada’s most prestigious theatre.

Pay by American Express and you go…to the front of the line. Ask for seniors and other discounts.

You may want to become a member. There are discounts if you do.


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You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at


Over the past few years, Professor Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the globe including Italy and most of China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters from St.Petersburg to Moscow. 

"He took a group to Greece and another to northern Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico.  His newly found spare time is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders..  "So You Want To Be A Tour Leader." 

Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.  Keep reading his web for travel ideas.  His next novel HELLSTORM'S Folly, will be available this fall. He now lives in British Columbia.

Go to: or contact him directly at

(More about the writer.)


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