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.


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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.  This year the Lab Ensemble’s mission is 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.

Approaching New Dramaturgies with Guillermo Verdecchia
Guillermo Verdecchia is a playwright, director, and dramaturge with a long history of creating dynamic new work.  Currently the Head of New Plays at Soulpepper Theatre, Guillermo will lead a deep dive into one of his favourite challenging texts to help the Ensemble develop some common vocabulary and techniques to interpret and discuss new plays and unconventional dramaturgy.

Indigenous Body of Work with Keith Barker
Keith Barker is an Algonquin Métis playwright, actor, and director, and is currently the Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts. His 2018 play This Is How We Got Here was shortlisted for the Governor-General's Award.  Keith will be bringing forward some large-scale Indigenous work from Turtle Island, both from Native Earth's past works and new texts by Indigenous writers. 

Wole Soyinka with Tawiah M’Carthy
Tawiah M'Carthy is a Ghanian-Canadian director, creator, and performer, and currently a resident director at Canadian Stage. Tawiah will lead the group through a selection of works by Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka, the Nobel-prize-winning writer often referred to as "The African Shakespeare."   

Toward A Trans Canon with Emma Frankland
Emma Frankland is an award-winning British theatre-maker and performer, and the Artistic Director of an internationally touring company focusing on gender and the politics of transition. Emma will be leading a unit exploring a selection of plays that "trans the canon," joined by a team of Trans and Non-Binary artists.

East Asian Plays with Jovanni Sy
Jovanni Sy is a Chinese/Filipino Canadian playwright and director from British Columbia, and the outgoing Artistic Director of the Gateway Theatre in Richmond B.C. Jovanni will lead a unit of plays from East Asia proper, as well as the East Asian-Canadian Diaspora.

Post-Colonial Latinx Perspectives with Carmen Aguirre and Barbara Fuchs
Carmen Aguirre, a Chilean-Canadian writer, director, and performer, and UCLA scholar and translator Barbara Fuchs will explore a Latinx perspectives on classic texts, including contemporary adaptations of classical themes, and Barbara's new feminist translations of Spanish Golden Age plays.

Black Canadian Voices with Mel Hague
Mel Hague, Artistic Associate at Buddies in Bad Times and in-demand dramaturge, will lead the Ensemble through a unit exploring large-scale works from Black Canadian playwrights and theatre makers.