Our New Co-Artistic Directors
St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival Welcomes new Co-Artistic Directors
Julia Nish-Lapidus and James Wallis are the new Co-Artistic Directors of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival for the upcoming 2024 season.
The duo, who are partners in life as well as the theatre, will begin work this Friday, December 1st, the festival’s Board of Directors announced today.
“We are honoured to be joining the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival as the new Co-Artistic Directors, and are thrilled for the opportunity to lead the Festival into its next phase of artistic excellence,” Julia said.
“We love this festival and its beautiful outdoor waterfront venue,” added James. “There isn’t another theatre with a view like it. We’re excited to get started.”
They currently run a theatre company in Toronto called Shakespeare BASH’d. They’re experienced artists and administrators, having both worked multiple seasons as directors at the Stratford Festival, while also organizing and leading events for the Stratford Festival Forum and education department. Their work as directors and actors has taken them all over the province, working with artists and companies at varying points in their careers and experience levels.
On behalf of the Board and the Selection Committee, Festival Chair Jo-Anne Beckstead welcomed the Co-Artistic Directors to lead the way for an exciting new season.
“We’re very pleased to have Julia and James coming to Prescott to take us into our 22nd year of great theatre right here in Prescott,” Ms. Beckstead said.
“It was also very encouraging that we had an exceptional list of more than 20 applicants from across the country who were interested in being a part of our special festival,” she said.
“I’m very excited to welcome James and Julia to the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival team. We plan to hit the ground running,” Festival General Manager Ingrid Bjornson said.
Julia and James will be getting to work immediately putting together the 2024 season, along with helping spearhead and organize community and fundraising events.
Julia and James have visited Prescott many times to see friends who were working with the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival, and enjoyed performances on the Kinsmen Amphitheatre’s outdoor stage. According to Julia and James, these visits allowed them to get to know the community and see the passion for the work being done here. Their goal, over the 11 years since they co-founded Shakespeare BASH’d, has always been to create entertaining, smart, and engaging theatre, working hard to invite an incredible group of diverse artists to take ownership of their creativity through the process and participate in something magical for their audiences.
Additional QUOTES from Julia and James:
“Our main vehicle has been the work of Shakespeare, but we are interested and experienced in a wide range of work, from musicals to other classical and modern playwrights.
“A common refrain from our patrons and artists who work with us, is that being part of this company feels like family. We believe that theatre requires community and we work tirelessly to build and preserve that. We feel that we are stronger as a team, and our greatest joy and best work stems from our collaborations. As a family, we are committed to building a solid foundation together with the community of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival.
“As individuals, we both share many of the same strengths, in addition to bringing our own unique skill sets to the work; whether it be in the rehearsal room, fundraising endeavors, patron enhancement or strategic planning.”
We hope you enjoyed our 2023 Season and "Thank you" for your support.
We'll be announcing our exciting 2024 Season line-up soon!
DIRECTED BY: RICHARD SHERIDAN WILLIS
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the most performed and popular of all Shakespeare’s plays and an excellent introduction to Shakespeare for all ages. Shakespeare’s most beloved comedy captivates in this magical tale of two pairs of young lovers lost in the forest, a hopeless troupe of actors, the king and queen of the woodland fairies, and the mischievous sprite Puck, who sprinkles romance and uproarious, free-for-all havoc over everyone.
This production was originally developed in collaboration with The Chekhov Collective
DIRECTED BY: KERRY ANN DOHERTY
Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is one of the most perfect plays in western literature that sparkles with all the wit and effervescence of its famous author. It remains relevant today in its gentle and hilarious lampooning of society’s social orders, which is why it continues as a fixture in the world’s theatres. It sprinkles the season with even more comedy on top of the magic of The Dream.
OF BEING EARNEST
Guild Festival Theatre returns for its second visit to the amphitheatre after the success of 2021’s Salt Water Moon. Alice in Wonderland, adapted by David Savoy, is their award-winning production remounted for 2023 and will surely delight the child in all of us.
We end the season with the return of the Fools. For one night only, they will bring their comic mastery and physical theatre techniques of slap-stick, mask, and puppetry to bear in a 90-minute Hamlet. For the first time, there will be special seating on stage for those who want to be at the heart of the action.
CAST & CREATIVE
Learn more about the talented individuals who bring our productions to life.
From our experienced directors and producers to our talented actors and behind-the-scenes crew, this page provides a glimpse into the diverse and passionate team that makes each performance possible.
PLANNING YOUR VISIT
& OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Where do I buy tickets to a show?Online tickets and advance booking are highly recommended as some shows may sell out AND advance sales save you $3.00 per ticket. Advance Sales Online $38 including HST for adults. Students $26 including HST. Children 14 and under are $15 for Alice in Wonderland and FREE for any of the other shows. Monday Night Advance sale tickets are $5.00 OFF per ticket. At the Door (available at the Amphitheatre Box Office 1 hr prior to showtime) $41 including HST for adults. Students $29 including HST, Children 14 and under are $18 for Alice in Wonderland and FREE for any of the other shows. Monday Night tickets At the Door are $5.00 OFF per ticket. If a show is marked as Sold Out there are no more tickets available. We do not hold waiting lists for tickets.
Do I have to create an account to buy tickets?The first time you book with us online, you will be asked to set up a Festival account. Don’t worry, it’s very straightforward – just your contact details and a password. Then any future tickets you buy, you can log straight in and won’t need to input your details again. You can also easily exchange your tickets online for another showtime (subject to availability) up to 24 hours prior to the showtime of your current ticket(s).
What is the Flex Subscription Pass and how does it work?New this season, the flex subscription pass allows you to pick your own showtimes. You also save 10% off the Advance Sale price when you purchase a 3-Show Flex Subscription Pass or 15% OFF a 4-Show Flex Subscription Pass. Purchase your choice of a Flex Subscription Pass in advance either online or (during business hours) at our office located at 206 King St W, Prescott, ON or call our King St W Box Office during business hours at (613) 925-5788. You will receive a confirmation email that includes your unique Passcode. Do not share or disclose this passcode with anyone as it could result in your passcode being used by somebody else to redeem show tickets. Redeem the passcode for Show Tickets either online by following the link provided in your email or at the Box Office (by phone or in person). If you purchased a 3-Show Flex Subscription Pass, your passcode will be valid for one showing of your choice of 3 of the 4 shows offered this season. If you purchased a 4-Show Flex Subscription Pass, your passcode will be available for one showing of each of the 4 shows this season. The exception is that if you purchased multiple flex passes at the time of purchase, your passcode would be valid for that number of showings. In other terms, your passcode cannot be used to see the same show more than once (or more than the number of passes purchased). You may redeem your Passcode at any time prior to the performance you wish to attend. The passcode does not need to be redeemed for all 3 or 4 shows at the same time. However, redeeming your passcode for Show Tickets is subject to the availability of tickets remaining for the performance(s) you select.
Where do I sit?All Tickets are General Admission. Seating is first come - first choose. Doors open approximately 30 minutes before showtime. Guests are requested to bring their own folding chair to the show (maximum width of 24"). Due to the reserved seating, sitting on the ground/concrete edge will not be possible as you would effectively be taking two seats and preventing the patrons in front of you from placing their chairs. It is recommended that your chair have a wider foot base to prevent your chair from sinking into the ground if the grassy area is wet from the rain or automatic watering. system. Our auditorium is quite steep and there are a few steps. If you are unsure about where to sit, please phone us and we’ll be happy to help.
Is there an intermission?Both Festival shows run with a 15-minute intermission. The Guest shows have no intermission.
Is the amphitheatre accessible?There is access for wheelchairs and disabled visitors on the bottom level of the site next to the river, including the box office and toilets in the Marina building. We have an accessible area in the front row for those with limited mobility. Unfortunately, due to the terrain, there is no disabled access to the higher levels of the auditorium from the river level. If you have other seating requirements, please phone us to discuss your needs.
What happens if there's inclement weather?Being an outdoor theatre company, our fearless actors will not be deterred by a little rain and will continue to entertain you in the case of light showers. Audiences are welcome to use umbrellas, as long as they are sensitive to those sitting behind them. Complimentary umbrellas are available for audience use! If the weather looks dodgy for a performance, check our website, we'll keep you updated. It's rare for a performance to be cancelled at least 2 hours prior to the show. We intend to never cancel a show before the start time because of the weather. This is because the weather can change so quickly here. Reasons for pausing stopping the show are limited to: Threat of thunderstorms Threat of heavy rainfall Extreme heat: Humidex above 45°C If we must cancel a show due to extreme weather or lightning, rain vouchers would be automatically issued with 24-48 hours of the cancelled performance. In common with standard theatre practice, money can only be refunded if a performance is cancelled for non-weather reasons. Ticket exchange only if cancelled for weather-related reasons.
What happens if it starts to rain during a performance?If weather becomes an issue during a performance, we may momentarily pause the production If the shower does not pass in 20 minutes, we may cancel the performance. Refunds are not given for the cancellation or abandonment of a show as a result of the weather. For weather-related cancellations, a rain voucher will be sent to you via email to the email account you provided to us when you purchased the tickets. You will receive one rain voucher for each ticket purchased.
What happens if the show is cancelled for other reasons?If we do have to cancel for other reasons, we will announce it on social media and our website and will contact you by email. Depending on the reason for the show cancellation, patrons will be offered a ticket exchange, gift certificate or refund at the discretion of management.
Can I bring my dog?We welcome service dogs. For other dogs, we request that the owners sit where they can obtain a swift exit in case their dog becomes agitated or carried away with the action on stage and is impelled to join in.
Can I exchange or refund a ticket?Patrons can exchange their tickets up to 24 hours before showtime online - subject to availability. Except as noted for Show Cancellations - we are sorry but there are no refunds.
Will I have to wear a mask?Mask wearing will not be mandatory on the Festival grounds. However, we encourage those who wish to wear a mask to do so to support their own situation and needs, and we ask that everyone respect the individual mask choices of other site visitors. Disposable masks will be available on request. Based on mandates or recommendations from government and/or health authorities, our Covid protocols and safety procedures could change at any time before or during the 2022 season. This could include, but not limited to, social distance seating, mandatory masks, audience capacity or cancellation. should any new Covid restrictions be introduced that will affect your show dates, we will update you via the email address provided when you purchased your ticket(s).
Will I be required to provide contact information for all patrons (not just ticket buyers)?If we are directed by government health regulations to collect contact information for everyone in your party, we will send you an email in advance of the performance.
What happens if I am unwell?We require – for the safety of other patrons and our artists – that patrons who are unwell stay home and contact the Box Office to reschedule their visit to the Festival. Please rest assured that the St Lawrence Shakespeare Festival also has the safety and well-being of its staff and artists at heart and has protocols in place to ensure this.
Parts of the theatre are steep, and the terraces are grass-covered, so we advise visitors to wear sensible footwear.
Saturday afternoon performances can be very hot, we suggest you wear a hat for comfort and bring an umbrella for shade or in case of a shower.
We don't like to turn anyone away from our shows, but some visitors are less welcome than others! We have a mosquito trap placed in the amphitheatre, which makes a big difference, but if you are particularly sensitive to mosquitoes, you might want to bring some insect repellant with you, just in case.
HOW TO GET THERE?
The Town of Prescott is located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River in southeastern Ontario. We are within easy access to many of the region's cities, points of interests, attractions and special activities. We are right across the river from New York State.
Highway 401 and Highway 2 pass through the town while Highway 416, also known as the Veterans Memorial Highway, borders the community.
Parking is available at the bottom of Centre Street, opposite The Red George Pub; on Water Street at the junction of Edward Street; on the east side of town near the fort.
Via Rail trains from Ottawa, Montreal & Toronto to Brockville and then taxi (20 min ride) to Prescott.
FROM THE STATES:
Follow NY-3 W, NY-56 N and NY-68 W to NY-37 E/NY-812 N in St. Lawrence County, take Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge into Canada and then take County Rd 2 heading west to Prescott, Canada
Fly to Ottawa International Airport - then 1-hr drive to Prescott. From the US, you can also fly to Ogdensburg, International Airport in New York State.
YOU HAVE ARRIVED!
If you have to pick up your tickets - go to the box office window by the Marina.
If you have your tickets already printed or on your phone - line up at your nearest entrance to your seats. Ushers will then scan your tickets.
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, AS YOU LIKE IT.
HOW CAN YOU SUPPORT US?
The St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival is always looking for friendly, reliable, outgoing volunteers to assist our team in various areas. We are extremely grateful to our volunteers for their time and commitment.
Volunteers play an important role for our Festival and we have many roles for you to choose from.
Box Office Cashier
Customer Service Rep
WHY BECOME A VOLUNTEER?
Meet new people
Learn new skills
See some of your favourite artists or meet new ones
Be a proud member of a great team and know that you are enhancing your community
It's fun, we promise!
If you're interested in becoming one of our volunteers, please sign up here with the following information:
Your full name
A phone number we can reach you by
Which position you are interested in
Tell us about yourself
Special skills/interests, etc.
GRATEFUL THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS
MEET OUR TEAM
The Festival is led by a dedicated Board of Directors.
Board positions are renewable 2-year terms.
Jo-Anne Beckstead (Chair)
Tom Van Dusen (Secretary)
Laurie Kirkby (Treasurer)
Martin O'Hanlon (Vice-Chair)
The St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival seeks to achieve the highest possible standards of artistic excellence by producing professional productions in magnificent natural surroundings while encouraging the greatest possible level of community involvement. It aspires to provide a creative summer home for artists with a passion for the classics and the talent to speak to audiences in such a way that their quality of life is enriched and their understanding of the human condition enhanced.
The Company began to take shape in 2002 after Deborah Smith of South Mountain brought a small, self-produced, touring production of Romeo & Juliet to the area.
The community was charmed by the idea of having live theatre in its midst and it was agreed that the Company could utilize the outdoor amphitheatre for a full production of The Tempest in the summer of 2003 and thus the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival was born.
Ian Farthing was appointed as the Festival's Artistic Director. He oversaw the expansion of the theatre's activities to a season of two mainstage Shakespeare productions, a full Sunday Series of events and an education program.
SLSF had the distinction of being the only Canadian Theatre to present Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre’s international touring production of Hamlet.
At the end of 2014, Ian Farthing handed over the Artistic Directorship to Rona Waddington.Innovations introduced by Rona included recruiting a team of local volunteers to plays crowds and soldiers in productions of Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, facilitating work on a scale that had not yet been seen at the Festival, and a series of “Community Productions”, in which post-season productions were directed by Rona, as fundraisers for the Festival, that exclusively featured local amateur actors.
In November 2017, Richard Sheridan Willis became Artistic Director, taking the company into its next phase of development and growth.
With no other professional outdoor theatre in the St. Lawrence Seaway area, the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival fulfils a key role in the artistic life of the region. The unique riverside setting combined with the high quality of the performances has resulted in a 600% increase in attendance over the first twelve years