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Stratford Festival of Canada

The Stratford Festival of Canada is an summer-long celebration of theatre. It is held each year in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Theatergoers, actors, and playwrights flock to Stratford to take part - many of the greatest American and Canadian actors play roles at Stratford.

Although the festival is named for Shakespeare, he is not the only playwright produced. The current playbill includes classical, contemporary and musical performances.

The Festival was founded in by Tom Patterson, a Canadian journalist who wanted to revitalize his town's economy. Mr. Patterson achieved his goal, and the Shakespeare Festival of Canada became a legal entity on October 31, 1952. On July 13, 1953, actor Alec Guinness spoke the first lines of the first play produced by the festival: "Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun of York."

This first performances took place in a giant canvas tent on the banks of the River Avon, and the season comprised just two plays: Richard III and All's Well That Ends Well. In the second year the playbill expanded, and included the first non-Shakespeare play, Oedipus Rex. The Festival Theatre was opened in 1957, and was deliberately designed to resemble a tent, in memory of those first performances. As of 2003 there are four permanent festival venues: The Festival,The Avon, the Tom Patterson theatre and the Studio.

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