Postcards From Our Past
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Feb 26, 2007  |  Vote 0    0

Postcards From Our Past

Stratford Gazette

Despite skepticism and a lack of optimism from many locals and the press, Stratfordites with no idea of the big picture that lay ahead stepped up to the plate and supported both morally and financially a dream considered almost ludicrous.

In the summer of 1953 Stratford claimed its birthright with one bold stroke and the Shakespearean Festival was born.

A thrust stage the likes of which had not been used since Shakespearean time, a monstrous tent that outsized the Barnum circus, and we were suddenly in the unknown waters of the theatre business.

Locals set up lawnchairs in astonishment to watch as men pulled and tugged guy ropes to raise the enormous tent that would become home for the next four seasons of The Stratford Shakespearean Festival Theatre.

It was written that the tent was big and it was moody. It was a "she" and she was wonderful.

Hot and humid, noise penetrated from the outside, rain dripped in, flies swarmed, but still it had an indescribable something, it was special and it was ours.

Nothing could top the emotional high that everyone felt on that warm summer night of July 13, 1953. Opening night brought out the best, the curious and the critics from near and far to see what this little unknown town in Southwestern Ontario was about to undertake.

Emotions and anticipation rose, then onto the stage walked Alec Guinness. He spoke the first opening line, "Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer..." and Stratford would be forever changed.

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