The Stratford Festival’s Festival Theatre is shown in Stratford, Ont., on May 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins

The Stratford Festival’s Festival Theatre is shown in Stratford, Ont., on May 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins

Stratford Festival plans next stages with two outdoor summer venues

Ontario festival productions set for between late June and the end of September

TORONTO — The show must go on at the Stratford Festival, but this summer it’ll be happening outdoors.

Organizers say they’ve made tentative plans for “about a dozen” live productions held in-person at the renowned southwestern Ontario festival between late June and the end of September.

The plays and cabarets will take place beneath two canopies, one at the Festival Theatre and the other at the new Tom Patterson Theatre.

The idea was inspired by the original tent where the Stratford Festival first performed in the early 1950s.

Under the outdoors model, the festival’s organizers expect to seat up to 100 people in “socially distanced pods,” double the usual number of audience members who could be seated at the indoor theatre.

The full slate of plays and cabarets will be announced in the spring.

The plan will keep the Stratford Festival in operation throughout this summer after COVID-19 forced the entire 2020 season to be cancelled, leading the organization to dip into its endowment and secure a line of credit to stay afloat.

Stratford Festival’s executive director Anita Gaffney says this summer’s schedule is designed so that it can be modified to either shrink or grow in size, depending on provincial and community health guidelines.

She added that it’s “only through significant and thorough advance planning that we can put in place the safety measures that will be essential for any eventuality.”

Performances will be streamed online for those who cannot attend in-person shows.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021.

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