St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival

St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival Re-visited


by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

"Twelfth Night... If music be the food of love, play on!"

As we were enjoying a cup of coffee and a treat in the local Tim Horton’s in Prescott on an early sunny July evening, I heard a familiar voice. It seemed strange as our hometown is located about 3 hours away. I didn’t think I knew anyone here? I glanced over and was surprised to recognize a few people. The voice I recognized, was that of Alix Sideris, one of the star performers from last years St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival, Trouble on Dibble Street. She and a few other past performers were also enjoying a quick treat before the play. We all headed toward the beautiful outdoor amphitheatre on the shores of the St. Lawrence River. The amphitheatre is nestled by the Sandra S. Lawn Harbour & Marina. This is our third year attending the opening night of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival. The ninth season is best described by Artistic Director Ian Farthing …. “Twelfth Night is perhaps my favorite Shakespeare play of all. Its chock full of fun characters, with romance, comedy and just a tine of darkness combined. It’s also filled with music, which is ideal for our outdoor setting. All’s Well That Ends Well is one of those plays whose title is familiar to all, but the story is less well known. Jan Irwin is bringing a wonderful fairy tale element to this intriguing story and after seeing it, I suspect it may become a favourite of yours in the future!” After the performance we were treated once again, as all were invited to attend the Gala, held at the Town Hall in Prescott. It is always enjoyable to meet these talented actors/actresses/directors and producers. The folks at the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival are top notch and class acts! We highly recommend a visit!


St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival Re-visited 2010

Trouble on Dibble Street

If you think you’ve got trouble… you should see what happened on Dibble Street!" "The parson wanted his nephew to marry the shopkeeper’s daughter. The shopkeeper's wife wanted their daughter to marry the local doctor. But who did the daughter really want to marry? OOOH…!!!... There’s trouble on Dibble Street! "

If you love to attend Shakespearian plays but have them set in more modern time, this John Lazarus adaptation is a must see! The play is based on Shakespeare's play of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” but is set in Prescott at the turn of the 19th century. It’s very witty and a whole lot of fun! This year the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival is presenting two plays … “The Trouble on Dibble Street” and “Macbeth”. Much to Judi’s and my delight, we were once again invited to the play's Opening Night and Gala. When the invitation arrived, we gratefully accepted. This year's performance was not limited by the torrential rain we experienced last year. Instead we were able to enjoy this live production at Prescott’s open-air theatre. The theatre overlooks the scenic St. Lawrence River. Like last year, we were treated with gracious hospitality, like old friends! Our hats off to everyone in Prescott, especially Artistic Director Ian Farthing, the plays director Craig Walker, the Playwright John Lazarus and our host and contact Greg Berrea! Hope to see you at the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival next year! It's worth the drive to Prescott!


On to Prescott and the Bard...

Some time ago Judi & I had been invited to visit the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival by its marketing director Greg Berrea. We had told Greg that we would love to go but not sure when. I was surprised and pleased when we received an invitation from the festivals president and artistic director, Ian Farthing, to attend the opening night and the gala afterwards! We set out mid day for Prescott which is where the festival was taking place. It’s about a 3 hour trip from Cobourg. When we arrived in Prescott the sun was shinning high in the sky. There were no clouds to be seen. We stopped at the local “Tim Horton’s” for a bite to eat and then made our way into the downtown area. The map that I had found on the festivals website gave clear instructions on where the event was taking place. After parking the car, I walked to the outdoor amphitheatre and was surprised to see that no-one was there. I was confused. Suddenly, a voice from below shouted up to me … “are you here for the play?” I replied that I was and was then told that the play had been moved indoors to one of the local churches. The volunteer then proceeded to give me directions to the church. As there were no clouds in the sky, I was having difficulty understanding why the event had been moved indoors. I had left Judi in the car as she had wanted to telephone her sister in Cobourg to ask about our dog Dusty, who she had been looking after. When I got back to the car, I told Judi about the change in the venue, she told me that she could understand why. Her sister had just told her that there was just a terrible thunderstorm in Cobourg and that it was moving our way. I was still doubtful, but climbed into the car and drove to the church.

"The Play's the Thing!"

After we had arrived at the church, we walked to the entrance where others were standing. We went inside the church to see about our tickets. Once we had been given our tickets we were asked to go back outside to wait until the doors to the play opened. Outside we met and talked with other play attendees. The talk was interesting and when we mentioned we were from out-of-town, we were treated like "old friends"! We didn't have too long to wait before the doors opened. We were ushered into the "play" area and shown to our seats. Others filed in and various about the church and the upcoming play took place. One of the lady ushers who knew where we were from, told us that the Prescott Mayor would be sitting right behind us and that "we better watch what we said about Prescott". She was, of course, kidding in good fun, but it would be great to meet the Mayor in person! When the Mayor did arrive to take her seat, Judi and I turned around to introduce ourselves. Mayor Suzanne Dodge was just like her fellow residents, warm and friendly! We talked about the Prescott and she told us some of its history and the amenities that were available to residents and visitors. Just before the play began she made it a point to ask us to attend the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival's Opening Gala that was taking place after the play. Eventually the actors entered the "stage" and the play, the Taming of the Shrew, began. The play was excellent and the performers were wonderful, especially considering the fact that this was an alternative location and they hadn't had a chance to rehearse here! Judi and I enjoyed the play immensely. Although we had entered the church in the warm sunshine, the predictions of rain soon came true! About halfway through the play I happened to look up at the higher church windows and saw flashes of lightning through them!

The Opening Gala

With the play open, we exited the church. The storm had past and there was now just a wetness left on the ground. Judi and I walked slowly back to our car, ready to drive to the Town Hall and the Opening Gala. I unlocked the car door and reached for the handle. When I opened the door it felt "light" to me. All of a sudden a "flash" entered my brain and I realized that I had left my window open! To tell you that the driver's seat was wet would be an understatement! The cloth seat was soaked! We make whatever temporary provisions we could and then drove to the Gala. We were determine to to enjoy the rest of the evening no matter what! On the inside of City Hall we joined the line to be greeted by the Mayor, the play's director and other dignitaries. Once greeted, we followed the crowd up the stairs to the rooms where the Gala was being held. The warmth and friendliness continued and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The whole adventure at the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival had been a great success except for the "long, wet" ride home!