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About The Lab

Founded by Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino in 2013, the Laboratory is the Stratford Festival’s research and development wing: a suite of experiments and investigations that drive our artistic and organizational evolution in an era of exciting cultural change.

Advancing inclusive and innovative practice, the Lab…

  • INCUBATES NEW WORKS for our stages by supporting long-term and unconventional development processes.
  • CONDUCTS EXPERIMENTS through our resident Lab Ensemble, to build our capacity to support other forms and cultural protocols, and to create new relationships with artists from across Canada and beyond.
  • BUILDS CONNECTIONS with the national artistic community by hosting and supporting gatherings of makers to share practices, questions, challenges and strategies.
  • FOSTERS ENSEMBLE by offering full-company sessions to encourage horizontal learning and build a shared spirit among the huge group of artists who come together at the Festival every season.
  • OPENS DIALOGUE, internally and externally, by creating spaces to reflect on the Festival’s role as a heritage institution and the growth and change necessary to ensure that it remains a vital asset to Canada’s cultural ecology.

Like any successful R&D wing, the Lab will be agile and flexible in its response to the changing landscape. The scope of its activities will expand and shift as we identify new challenges and opportunities to serve our community of artists and audiences, locally, nationally and beyond.

Support for the Laboratory is generously provided by the Dalio Foundation and an anonymous donor.
Special thank you to Canadian Actors’ Equity Association for making the Lab Ensemble possible.

The services of Sadie Berlin were made possible through Theatre Ontario's Professional Theatre Training Program, funded by the Ontario Arts Council.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more. 


We are offering a limited number of R+D residencies in our studios in Stratford in the winter of 2020.  We are doing this to build relationships with performance makers from across the country and to support their process of artistic inquiry. We are partnering with six projects that need space and time to move to their next stage of creation.  

We are excited to welcome our first round of R+D Residents!


by Gitanjali Lena

Collaborators: Bilal Baig, Thurga Kanagasekarampillai, Gaitrie Persaud, Jasmine Shaffeeullah and Nikki Shaffeeullah

Members of Leopards & Peacocks comedic theatre team experiment with character revision for the role of Lakshan from hearing to Deaf. The goal of the residency is to begin to incorporate ASL into the already bilingual English/Tamil script, working in conjunction with Deaf actors.


by the Switch Collective

Collaborators: Jody Chan, Sedina Fiati, Anna Malla, Naty Trembley

The Switch Collective is an interdisciplinary performance group that has been co-creating new methodologies and political performance materials for the public sphere since 2016. Switching Queen(s), is a 60-minute interdisciplinary roaming public performance to be shown in Toronto’s Queen St. West area in the summer of 2020. 


by Joseph Recinos

Collaborators: Alex Barberena, Vero Diaz, Ruben Esguerra, Y Josephine,

The Art of Storytelling is a theatrical passage through time and space and a retelling of who we are by connecting to our ancestral voices. Combining three languages, poetry, storytelling, theatre, and music with Indigenous tradition and current cultural aesthetics, The Art Of Storytelling brings the audience on a journey through allegory and myth. 


by Alyssa Martin & Rock Bottom Movement

Collaborators: Drew Barry, Brayden Cairns, Samantha Grist, Sydney Herauf, Natasha Poon Woo, 

A radical look at peasants impersonating femme fatale Lucrezia Borgia through highly stylized genre-bending contemporary dance, original devised text, and rearranged choral pop music. Peasantz will shed glimmering light on the power of surrealism and escape, offering a ruthlessly feminist approach to performance, with Borgia as the icon. 


Collaborators: Gislina Patterson and Davis Plett

i am your spaniel, or, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare by Gislina Patterson is a drag-lecture-karaoke-dance-poem using first folio text analysis, Sam Rockwell movies, audio recordings of family dinners, and autofiction to re-imagine Shakespeare’s most performed text. 


by Aaron Jan

Collaborators: Bessie Cheng, En Lai Mah, Christine Nguyen, Sepehr Reybod, Kenzie Tsang

PING! Is a sports-play/movement theatre hybrid that explores the embodied, physical relationship between second and third generation Chinese-Canadians and table tennis. The project explores how displaced children and grandchildren of immigrants experience a connection to their homeland and culture through the kinaesthetic activity of competitive sport. 


Image of people in a classroom


2019: Beyond the Western Canon

The Lab Ensemble is a group of Festival company members who work with guest artists to help the Stratford Festival expand its horizons.  We look at different creation models, bodies of work, and intercultural collaborations. In 2019 the Lab Ensemble’s mission was to break through the boundaries of what we think of as ‘canonical.’ From June to October, the Festival will welcome actors, directors, and creators from across Turtle Island and beyond to help us explore a selection of plays and stories from a range of cultures and communities. Working in mixed company with a wide array of visiting creators and performers, we are looking to meet new stories and performance methods by exploring works from around the world and throughout the ages.

Please see below for more information about each of the units we will be exploring. Follow our journey on Twitter @stratfestLAB as the Laboratory experiments with the alchemy of combining disparate artists, cultures, and canons from around the world.

  1. Approaching New Dramaturgies with Guillermo Verdecchia
  2. Indigenous Body of Work with Keith Barker
  3. Wole Soyinka with Tawiah M'carthy
  4. Toward a Trans Canon with Emma Frankland
  5. Plays from Modern China with Jovanni Sy & Leanna Brodie
  6. Latinx Perspectives with Carmen Aguirre
  7. A Post-Colonial Tempest with Mel Hague