A Message on the Stratford Festival Theater
In the early hours of the morning on Sunday, January 13, the historic Stratford Festival Theater caught fire and was ultimately destroyed by the blaze. We at SA@S are saddened by the loss of this wonderful historic space — and we want to make clear that our program is alive and well. We will continue to bring top-notch immersive theater training and joyous, inventive site-specific productions of Shakespeare's plays to Stratford this summer. We mourn for the theater because it was a gorgeous, communally meaningful monument — a space full of history and legend and a proud, beautiful symbol of a legacy of art-making in Stratford. It was also, as all buildings are, only a building, and one that had been empty for many years. Our program has always performed on the theater's grounds, never inside its walls (the building had been shuttered for many years and its interior had long been unfit for performance use). We have performed Hamlet in a parking lot, Cymbeline in a living room, and The Tempest in a wooded glade on the theater's expansive grounds — to quote Peter Quince, “this green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn-brake our tiring house,” as they always have been. We'll miss our big, beautiful, storied old friend and all that it meant to us, to the town of Stratford, and to Shakespeare lovers and theater makers across the country. And we will continue the work. We've got stories to tell this summer and are unhindered in our preparation for SA@S's sixth season. We look forward to presenting Coriolanus and The Winter's Tale—a story of rebirth and redemption—in the theater's honor and in the spirit in which it was originally created: a spirit of creative adventure and communal joy in the possibilities of Shakespeare, ensemble, and shared artistic experience.