Carthaginians enjoy ‘magical weekend’ at annual Stratford Festival
Every fall, the Carthage English Department takes a faculty-student trip to Ontario, Canada, for the acclaimed Stratford Festival. Abby Kirby ’18 and Skye Rutherford ’18 provide their account of this year’s trip, which took place Oct. 5-8.
More than 30 Carthaginians took the 10-hour trek to Ontario, Canada, from Oct. 5 through Oct. 8 for the annual Stratford Festival.
Love for theatre and the Bard himself brought students of varying majors together with faculty who have been going on this trip for multiple years. In Stratford, we joined 20 Carthage alumni and their families who drove up separately. Our stay was jam-packed with six performances, a tour of the costume warehouse, the chance to witness a set change-over, and time to explore Stratford.
Upon our arrival, we had the opportunity to stroll around the small town and gaze in awe at the quaint shops and eateries lining the streets. Then it was off to Treasure Island at the Avon Theatre, which was only a four-minute walk from where we were staying at the Queen’s Inn. The swashbuckling children’s show was full of adventure (as well as some impressive ribbon dancing and puppetry). It was the perfect start to an enchanting weekend!
Stratford truly lives up to the wise words of “eat, drink, and be merry”. Outside of our six-show agenda, the town lends itself to shopping, scenery along the riverside, and restaurants at every turn. Luckily, we were also treated to three days of gorgeous weather!
Kelley Rochau ’18, a management major with a theatre minor, loved Stratford so much that she said, “I want to move here one day!” She especially enjoyed the famous Rhéo Thompson Candies store and Balzac’s Coffee. Like us, this was her first time on the trip. She went, not knowing what to expect, but was excited to travel, meet new people, and make lasting memories.
Our Stratford Festival experience also included the theatre life as seen through a set change at the Festival Theater, where we watched the crew transform the stage from the classic “Romeo and Juliet” to the high-powered and vibrant “Guys and Dolls” (our favorite show of the weekend).
We were treated to a tour of the Stratford costume warehouse too. This was an amazing experience to be up close to all of the costumes, props, and set pieces that make for a magical weekend. We were even given the opportunity to try on some of the costumes for a fun-filled photo shoot!
“Learning the details of backstage magic, from set building and design to the complicated job of the sound technician, opened our eyes to all the work that goes on behind the scenes of the show,” said Emalee Cramer ’20, an English major and honorable mention winner of a scholarship to cover trip costs.
As we walked into the theatre for almost every show, we were greeted by kind ushers who asked where we were from. When we answered, “Wisconsin,” they immediately followed up with, “Oh! You must be those charming college students from Kenosha.” It seemed that our group had made a memorable splash in the waves of people who journey to Stratford from all over the world every year. In addition to the aforementioned plays and musical, we saw “H.M.S. Pinafore”, a modernized version of Molière’s “Tartuffe”, and “Twelfth Night”.
Sadly, our time in Stratford had to come to an end. We only had three days in Stratford, but the amazing thing about theatre is that the experience stays with you. Every performance is unique whether that be because an actress changes her inflection of a line or new people fill the audience. It’s a collaboration, a special bond between all the artists who put the show together and we who see and appreciate the story they create.
“The shows were spectacular; the costumes were gorgeous, and for someone in love with both theatre and Canada, it was a glorious mixture of everything I imagined it would be,” said Leah Dryer ’20, an English major and theatre minor, and the recipient of the Don Michie Freshman Prize.
The Stratford Festival is sure to give you a case of “thespian-itus”! We encourage anyone with a love of the stage and written word alike to join the Stratford travelers again next year. Whether it’s waiting for the show to start, having a fantastic dinner at Molly Bloom’s Pub, or just enjoying the walk around town, Stratford has something for everyone.