MandateThe Stratford Festival Archives is considered the world’s largest and most complete performing arts archives devoted to a single theatre. Its mandate is to represent all Festival artistic and administrative activities, preserve a comprehensive documentary and physical record of the Festival’s history, and make the materials available to all users, in order to enhance the understanding of live theatre and of the Stratford Festival’s contribution to world theatre.
History and Holdings
Since its founding in 1967, the Archives has grown into an internationally recognized theatre resource with records and artifacts documenting every aspect of the Stratford Festival’s history and achievements since 1952. We are an invaluable resource for our own staff and artists, and for external users, assisting with thousands of requests each year. The Archives is open to the public year-round, Monday-Friday.
The Stratford Festival Archives is unique, not only as one of the oldest formally constituted archives of its kind in North America, but also because of the scope and comprehensiveness of the records it maintains.
The Archives contains many rare and unique artifacts, including the robe worn by Alec Guinness in the inaugural 1953 production of Richard III, archival videos of productions, a chair reputed to have been owned by William Shakespeare and a copy of the Fourth Folio of Shakespeare’s works.
The Archives also maintains a book collection and is the repository of personal archives from such Festival artists as Tanya Moiseiwitsch, Brian Jackson, Richard Monette and Stanley Silverman.Holdings
In 2005 the Archives moved to a purpose-built facility on Brunswick Street (with entrance at 350 Douro Street). The collections are stored in a temperature-controlled environment and are protected by argonite and FM 200 fire suppression systems. This facility has provided the Archives with a larger reading room area for researchers, a new workroom space and increased storage capacity. A renovation carried out in 2010 has fully revamped the public areas: the entrance, reading room, office and workspaces have been fully renovated and re-arranged. A new meeting room has been created, and a new media room has been set up for users who wish to view the Archives’ many audiovisual treasures, including archival recordings of productions from 1968 on. A new 4,000-square-foot display area has been created for public Archives Tours.
The Festival Exhibition - our new museum space – enjoyed a very successful 2012 season in downtown Stratford, at 104 Downie Street (across from the Avon Theatre). The 2012 display was titled Most Rare Visions: Sixty Years of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. The Exhibition is open during the Festival season, and showcases a new display every year. The 2013 display will open with the new season and is dedicated to: Four Shakespeare Masterpieces at the Stratford Festival: Present and Past Productions of Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Measure for Measure, and The Merchant of Venice. (Look for the on the Calendar) The Archives also contributes to exhibitions in prestigious venues such as the AGO in Toronto, Castle Kilbride (Baden, ON), The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and the University of Guelph. A new online exhibition dedicated to Romeo and Juliet launches in the 2013 season.
Exhibition TalksExhibition Talks are offered on selected Saturday mornings in June, July and August at the Festival Exhibition. In 2013, Festival artists and artisans discuss their contribution to Festival productions of Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Measure for Measure, and The Merchant of Venice.
SymposiumIn 2012, the Archives organized its first Symposium, on interpreting Shakespeare across settings and media, featuring Norman Lloyd, Colm Feore and Dr. Katherine Rowe. The new 2013 Symposium is dedicated to: Honest Villains and Noble Killers: The Iago/Othello Character Dynamic.
Archives ToursBesides being open for research, the Archives offers public tours on Thursdays and Fridays, June through October.