The First Annual Toronto Shakespearience Festival will take place August 22 and 23, 2009

From press release

Driftwood Theatre Group

Ontario’s longest-running outdoor touring classical theatre company presents

The First Annual Toronto Shakespearience Festival

An extraordinary two-day festival celebrating William Shakespeare and featuring

King Lear and The Comedy of Errors

Directed by Jeremy Smith

Todmorden Mills, 67 Pottery Road, Toronto, August 22 & 23,

with activities taking place from 2pm – 10pm daily

Shakespeare on a classy shoestring… [Driftwood] could teach most of this province’s summer Shakespearean theatres (yes, even that one in Stratford) a thing or two about simplicity and clarity”.- Richard Ouzounian, The Toronto Star

With the City of Toronto strike at an end, The Driftwood Theatre Group is pleased to announce the revised dates for the First Annual Toronto Shakespearience Festival, now coinciding with the closing of the company’s 15th season of The Bard’s Bus Tour. The Shakespearience Festival combines activities, symposiums, presentations and, of course, the closing night performances of two of the Bard’s most memorable plays, King Lear and The Comedy of Errors.

To accommodate the revised Festival dates, Driftwood Theatre will be moving its final two days of performances on August 22 and 23, originally scheduled for Withrow Park, to Todmorden Mills (67 Pottery Road, Toronto). Audiences can still attend performances of King Lear at Withrow Park (south of Danforth Ave. at Logan Ave.) on August 20 and 21 as originally scheduled.

For young Shakespeare enthusiasts and their families, the weekend presents an opportunity to take part in active Shakespeare’s Shorts workshops, crash-courses in Shakespeare’s history and his plays featuring Shakespeare Dodge Ball, Iambic Pentameter Jump Rope, and the opportunity to star in their own ten-minute versions of King Lear and The Comedy of Errors. Young participants are also invited to take part in the Shakespeare Colouring Contest, and can play the role of the Bard himself – complete with feather quill – after visiting the Shakespeare Face Painting station.
For mature lovers of the Bard, the Shakespearience Festival features a daily Shakespeare Symposium Series, with members of the scholastic, artistic and health communities engaging in lively discussion panels about what it means to experience Shakespeare in the 21st century.

Moderated by Driftwood Theatre’s dramaturge and text editor, Toby Malone, each of the two symposiums will feature members of the theatre (Sue Miner, director of The Tempest, CanStage Dream in High Park; Christopher Kelk, King Lear in Driftwood Theatre’s King Lear), scholastic (Jill Levenson, U of T Professor, Chair of the International Shakespeare Association, and editor of the Oxford edition of Romeo & Juliet), and health communities (Mercedes Hughes, Public Education Coordinator at the Alzheimer Society of Toronto) in discussions surrounding Shakespeare and his enduring status within contemporary culture.

During the August 22 ‘IS SHAKESPEARE REALLY FUNNY?’ symposium, the discussion will focus on the significance of adapting Shakespeare (specifically his comedies) for an ever evolving and expanding audience.

On August 23, ‘KING LEAR THROUGH THE LENS OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE’ will explore the implications of observing King Lear from a perspective the playwright could never have imagined – through the lens of Alzheimer’s disease – drawing harrowing parallels between this fictional character and one of the modern world’s most devastating diseases.

Special presentations throughout the weekend add colour and context to Shakespeare’s plays and the celebration of Driftwood’s 15-year commitment to accessible theatre. A special prologue to King Lear entitled All My Daughters, choreographed by the exquisite Claudia Moore, is performed by acclaimed dancers Heidi Strauss, Linnea Swann, Gerry Trentham, Moore herself and puppetmaster Jerry Silverberg. This highly physical 30-minute dance piece reflects the emotional terrain of Shakespeare’s great tragedy through dance and puppetry. (*NOTE: due to scheduling conflicts, All My Daughters will be performed as a pre-cursor to the festival, prior to King Lear at Withrow Park on August 21).

Join members of the Driftwood company for Did That Really Hurt? The Anatomy of a Shakespeare Fight Scene, a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the climactic dual between two brothers from the final scene of King Lear.

Enjoy a visual presentation recollecting the 15-year history of Ontario’s longest-running outdoor touring theatre company. The Driftwood Retrospective presentation, featuring images, thoughts and sounds drawn from the company’s entire history will be curated by Founder and Artistic Director Jeremy Smith and Board President Catherine Bate.
Rounding out the weekend’s activities and events are the closing night performances of The Driftwood Theatre Group’s productions of King Lear and The Comedy of Errors.
The descent into madness in King Lear is as famous as the insane tale of mistaken identity in The Comedy of Errors. For Driftwood’s most ambitious season to date, the counterplay between tragedy and comedy in these two plays is ideally matched by common themes of familial responsibility; both are very personal journeys of parents and their children.

A talented acting company combining Canada’s brightest upcoming talent with some of its most seasoned performers brings these plays to vibrant life, including: Steven Burley, Richard Alan Campbell, Shannon Currie, Steven Gallagher, Christopher Kelk, Helen King, Benjamin Mehl, Peter Nicol, Sabryn Rock and Peter van Gestel.
Shakespearience Festival attendees are also encouraged to attend pre- and post-show receptions, visit the on-site Vendor’s Bazaar, and explore the many shops and restaurants located in the nearby popular Danforth District.

Driftwood Theatre: The First Annual Toronto Shakespearience Festival

featuring the Closing of King Lear and The Comedy of Errors

August 22 & 23, 2009, 2pm – 10pm pm daily

Todmorden Mills, 67 Pottery Road, Toronto

All events are FREE, except Closing Night performances, which are Pay-What-You-Can (suggested $15/person)

Get reserved seating and discounts to 15 Ontario attractions with a “Buy $15-Get 15” card

For more info call the

Summer Hotline: 905-576-2396 or visit the website:

Special Pre-Festival Event Schedule, August 20-21, Withrow Park, Toronto:

August 20 & 21, 7:30pm – (Lear): Withrow Park, Toronto.
August 21, 6:45pm –All My Daughters: A Prologue to Lear, by Moonhorse Dance: Withrow Park, Toronto

Shakespearience Festival Schedule, August 22, Todmorden Mills, Toronto:

2:00pm – Shakespeare’s Shorts workshops
4:00pm – Shakespeare Symposium: Is Shakespeare Really Funny?
7:30pm – Driftwood Theatre’s closing night performance of The Comedy of Errors
10:00pm – Closing night reception at Whistler’s Grille (995 Broadview Ave)

Shakespearience Festival Schedule, August 23, Todmorden Mills, Toronto:

2:00pm – Shakespeare’s Shorts workshops
3:00pm – Did That Really Hurt? The Anatomy of a Shakespeare Fight Scene
4:00pm – Shakespeare Symposium: Lear Through the Lens of Alzheimer’s
5:30pm – pre-show closing night reception at Todmorden Mills
7:30pm – Driftwood Theatre’s closing night performance of King Lear

For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, programs and services, visit

Shakespearience Festival Supporter: Ontario Ministry of Culture/Celebrate Ontario

Symposium Series Sponsor: Heenan Blaikie

The Bard’s Bus Tour Sponsor: Ontario Power Generation

Outdoor Advertising Partner: Clear Channel Outdoor

This tour is made possible in part by a grant from the Ontario Arts Council‘s Touring and Collaborations program, and the Toronto Arts Council Theatre Projects program.