Classic Theatre on the River
Feeding your imagination
The Company began to take shape in 2002 after Deborah Smith of Chesterville brought a small, self-produced, touring production of Romeo and 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; the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival was born.
In the summer of 2006, Ian Farthing was appointed as the Festival's new Artistic Director and 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.
The Globe comes to Prescott
In 2014, SLSF through Ian Farthing and with the support of the Board and the SLSF supporters succeeded in securing the Globe theatre visit. SLSF then had the distinction of being the only Canadian Theatre to present Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre’s international touring production of Hamlet, for two sold-out performances.
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
St Lawrence Shakespeare Festival and a full house for The Globe's Hamlet 2 Aug 2014
"In 2003, a wonderful man named Paul Boivin introduced and put together two artists. The Master Gardener and The Master Actress. The match was perfect. Shakespeare in the Park by the river in one of the prettiest sites in Ontario. Without the help of the Prescott Blossoms, we would have never been able to attract the crowds and help them to their seats to enjoy the show. Without the help and encouragement of the town and the hundreds of volunteers, the Festival would never have happened. The inspiration for the festival came from Shakespeare's Globe in London, from Glynne McDonald, and if you look at the program for the visit of Shakespeare's Globe in 2014, she was the movement director for Hamlet. "All the world's a stage, and we are merely players..." and what a play we have made." Deborah Smith