The 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.
- Administrative records
- Architectural plans – Avon Theatre
- Architectural plans – Festival Theatre
- Architectural plans – miscellaneous and other theatres
- Architectural plans – Studio Theatre
- Architectural plans – Tom Patterson Theatre
- Archives records
- Art collection
- Cassettes – miscellaneous
- Cassettes – production
- Clippings books
- Cole collection (programs and posters)
- Communications/Publicity: Graphics, Marketing, Education, press releases, newsletters
- Compact discs – commercial
- Design sketches
- Design sketches – negatives
- Design sketches – wigs
- Directors’ Office records
- Dye records
- Elliot Hayes collection
- Films – miscellaneous
- Headwear – Festival Theatre productions
- Headwear – Avon Theatre productions
- Headwear – Tom Patterson Theatre productions
- Life safety systems
- Lighting records
- Marketing materials
- Miscellaneous art posters
- Music Office records
- Oral history
- Photographs – miscellaneous
- Photographs – production
- Production Office records
- Prompt books
- Prop sketches – Avon Theatre productions
- Prop sketches – Festival Theatre productions
- Prop sketches – Tom Patterson Theatre productions
- Record albums
- Record albums – 45 r.p.m.
- Record albums – CBC
- Reels – miscellaneous material
- Reels – production
- Richard Monette fonds
- Scenery bibles
- Scores – miscellaneous material
- Scores – play productions
- Scores – small ensemble
- Set models
- Set designs – Avon Theatre
- Set designs – Festival Theatre
- Set designs – Tom Patterson Theatre
- Slide collection – production
- Special collections
- Stage Management records
- Stanley Silverman collection
- Tanya Moiseiwitsch collection – photographs
- Tanya Moiseiwitsch fonds
- Tom Patterson collection
- Videos – marketing
- Videos – miscellaneous material
- Videos – productions (1968–present)
- Videos – transfer project to DigiBeta tapes
- Wardrobe bibles
- Wig bibles
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.
In 2014, the Stratford Festival is partnering with the Stratford Perth Museum for an exhibition showcasing unique pieces from the Festival Archives’ collection: props, costumes, sketches, photos, videos, and other outstanding materials from Festival productions.
ALL NEW! Festival Treasures, Stratford Perth Museum, 4275 Huron Road, Stratford. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., July 1 through September 30. Admission to the Museum: $5 adults, $4 seniors/students, $3 children; free for Museum members. Space is accessible. No photography. www.stratfordperthmuseum.ca
The Festival Exhibition museum space enjoyed two successful seasons in 2012 and 2013 in downtown Stratford, at 104 Downie Street (across from the Avon Theatre).
The Archives also contributes to exhibitions in prestigious venues such as the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, the AGO in Toronto, Castle Kilbride in Baden, Ontario, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and the University of Guelph.
Besides being open for research, the Archives offers public tours on Thursdays and Fridays, June through September.