Curtain rising on Stratford Festival's outdoor season July 13

The Stratford Festival will mark the official start of its 2021 season on July 13, exactly 68 years after the theatre's first performance was held.

It's a fitting date, as the Stratford Festival initially launched in 1953 with a performance of Shakespeare's Richard III under a tent.

This summer's season, happening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, harkens back to the festival's early days as performances will all take place under outdoor canopies.

"July 13th has been an auspicious date for our Festival and now that we are back in tents again we hope that day will herald a wonderful reawakening of live theatre," artistic director Antoni Cimolino said in a release.

The 2021 season will begin Tuesday with a performance of Why We Tell the Story: A Celebration of Black Musical Theatre.

Tents have been set up outside the Festival and Tom Patterson Theatres. Each can hold 100 patrons – 25 per cent of the venue's capacity.

“While we introduced the canopies in response to the public health crisis, the outdoor setting alludes beautifully to our first season and provides a magical setting in which to experience theatre,” executive director Anita Gaffney said in a release. “Preparing for the 2021 season has been an adventure, forging new paths, reshaping old ones and responding to the ever-changing conditions. After 15 months of planning and re-planning, I can hardly wait to welcome audiences back.”

Six plays and five cabarets are on the playbill this year. Last year's season was scrapped due to the pandemic.

The season will run through the beginning of October. Tickets go on sale to the public on July 12.


  • Why We Tell the Story: A Celebration of Black Musical Theatre
  • You Can't Stop the Beat: The Enduring Power of Musical Theatre
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Tomson Highway's The Rez Sisters
  • Play on!: A Shakespeare-Inspired Mixtape
  • R+J
  • Freedom: Spirit and Legacy of lack Music
  • Finally There's Sun: A Cabaret of Resilience
  • I Am William
  • Serving Elizabeth
  • Edward Albee's Three Tall Women