60 seasons – 60 cultural reasons

In recognition of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s 60th season in 2012, here are 60 cultural reasons for Q to broadcast live from Stratford:

  1. The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is the leading classical repertory theatre in North America, among the finest in the world
  2. University of Waterloo’s Stratford Campus is dedicated to taking culture to new levels in the 21st century by bringing technological and artistic minds together in the creative process – it’s part of the reason Stratford has been named one of the world’s smartest communities
  3. Savour Stratford, a week-long celebration of the best in local food, shows that Stratford is at the forefront of culinary culture in Canada
  4. Stratford Summer Music, launched in 2001, attracts the finest in classical and other musical talent to Stratford each summer
  5. The Shakespearean Gardens were created in 1936 to display the plants named in Shakespeare’s works.
  6. The Festival Theatre’s thrust stage, designed by Tanya Moiseiwitsch, was the first permanent open stage of the modern era, inspiring dozens of thrust stages around the world, including the Olivier Theatre at London’s National Theatre, the Festival Theatre in Chichester, UK,  the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, UK and The Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center in New York
  7. The Stratford Chefs School is one of the finest in North America – it even had its own reality show
  8. The Festival has produced 964 plays over 59 seasons
  9. Factory 163 adapted an abandoned factory into an alternative arts centre offering a vast array of cultural events, including readings, concerts, arts exhibitions, story-telling and theatrical performances, including the new Stratford Spring Works festival
  10. 25,075,504 people have visited Stratford to be entertained by the Festival’s performances
  11. 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of Stratford choosing aesthetics over commerce in denying permission to the Canadian Pacific Railway to build its tracks along the picturesque Avon River.
  12. The iconic Festival Theatre, designed by Robert Fairfield, won the Massey Gold Medal for Architecture
  13. Gallery Stratford was founded in 1967 and remains an important public art gallery
  14. Stratford’s age-old slogan is “The Classic City” – proof that culture has always been paramount here.
  15. Justin Bieber is a child of Stratford, one of many popular members of the music industry, including:
  16. Richard Manuel of The Band
  17. Loreena McKennitt, singer, composer and harpist
  18. John Till, Janis Joplin’s lead guitarist
  19. Art in the Park has given local artists an opportunity to sell their creations since the 1960s
  20. Our schools’ names are inspired by Shakespeare – Romeo, Juliet, Falstaff, King Lear, Bedford, Avon, Anne Hathaway, Hamlet
  21. Stratford is the home of the very first Kiwanis Music Festival
  22. Stratford has a long history of community theatre, dating back to the Gilbert & Sullivan Society at the turn of the last century
  23. Our streets are named for cultural icons – Guthrie Avenue and Richard Monette Way
  24. A painting inspired the name of our city – how many other cities can claim that?
  25. We treasure our architecture and understand that it is part of what makes our downtown so popular
  26. Our cenotaph was designed by Walter Seymour Allward, who also designed the memorial at Vimy Ridge
  27. Our Bandshell is one of the oldest in Canada
  28. Stratford and its citizens pay great attention to civic beauty – it’s why we’re one of the most beautiful cities in the world
  29. Central Secondary School is one of the first high schools in Ontario to offer a High Arts Major and is the alma mater of Canadian poet and playwright James Reaney, three-time winner of the Governor General’s Award for Poetry or Drama and an Officer of the Order of Canada
  30. The Allman Arena is recognized as one of the finest old arenas in Canada – even our sports palaces are significant pieces of architecture
  31. Es Artes is the Festival’s volunteer project in Suchitoto, El Salvador, where our artists are helping to share the dream of economic recovery through the arts; the first students of the new arts school there graduate this year
  32. Timothy Findley, Governor General’s Award winner and Officer of the Order of Canada, is one of many authors who have called Stratford home, including:
  33. Jane Urquhart, Governor General’s Award-winning author, Trillium Award winner, Chevalier in France’s Ordres des Arts et des Lettres and Officer of the Order of Canada
  34. Terry Griegs, Marian Engel Award-winning author, also a finalist for the GG Award
  35. Andrew Pyper, author of six novels, including Lost Girls, which was included in the Notable Books selections of the Globe and Mail and the New York Times and the London Evening Standard
  36. With a population of 32,000, Stratford supports seven independent bookstores
  37. The Stratford Public Library, built with funds from Andrew Carnegie, is the oldest Carnegie library in Canada still used for its original purpose
  38. Lyn Cook’s Pegeen and the Pilgrim, a beloved children’s book, is about the first season of the Stratford Festival
  39. Spadework, by Timothy Findley, is a novel set in Stratford with eerie similarities to members of the local population
  40. Robertson Davies, a founding board member of the Stratford Festival, co-wrote three books on the Festival
  41. Elizabeth Rex, The Swanne, King of Thieves and dozens of other plays originated in Stratford, thanks to the Festival’s dedication to commissioning and supporting Canadian playwrights. Even Thornton Wilder’s famous play The Matchmaker was written in Stratford.
  42. Start Stratford, a new arts magazine and website is dedicated to the culture of our city
  43. Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb, lived in Stratford as a boy – in fact it was here that he received the blow to the ears that caused his deafness
  44. Barbara Collier and Roger Honeywell are among the opera singers who have called Stratford home
  45. Christopher Plummer has been a star of the Stratford stage since 1956
  46. William Shatner got his big break in Stratford when he went on for an ailing Christopher Plummer in the title role of Henry V in 1956
  47. Martha Henry, actor, director, Officer of the Order of Canada, has long called Stratford home
  48. William Hutt, actor, soldier, director, Companion of the Order of Canada and Stratford resident, was the first recipient of the Governor General’s Lifetime Achievement Award for English Stage
  49. Alan Bates, Hume Cronyn, Brian Dennehy, Alec Guinness, James Mason, Jason Robarts Jr., Paul Scofield, Maggie Smith, Jessica Tandy, Peter Ustinov and Christopher Walken are among the visiting stars who have appeared on the Festival stage
  50. Peter Donaldson, Colm Feore, Eric McCormack, Seana McKenna, Lucy Peacock and Sarah Polley are just a very few of the Canadian actors who got their start in Stratford
  51. Oedipus Rex, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Caesar and Cleopatra, The Tempest and 15 other Stratford Festival productions have been made into successful films
  52. Gallery Indigena is a major centre for Canadian indigenous art sales
  53. The Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre, founded in 1999, trains young Canadians in the art of classical performance
  54. The Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction, founded in 2009, offers classical training to mid-career directors
  55. Gerard Brender à Brandis, Virgil Burnett, Tony Urquhart and Art Green are among the great visual artists who have called Stratford home
  56. Longtime resident Ken Nutt (also known as Eric Beddows) is award-winning children’s book illustrator
  57. Antony John, the Manic Organic, combines organic farming with painting in a career that also included his own TV show
  58. Paul Finkelstein and the Screaming Avocado cafeteria is dedicated to getting great food into high school cafeterias and making a reality show along the way
  59. Back in the 1960s Stratford had an alternative music scene that included The Perth County Conspiracy and the Black Swan Coffee House
  60. Peter Mansbridge and Lloyd Robertson are two great Canadian newsmen who call Stratford home
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