|Nestled in Queen's Park the original home of the Festival rose 61' above the landscape and was 150' in diameter. It's original cost was $23,000.|
|From 1953 to 1956 canvas covered Tanya Moiseiwitsch's thrust stage set in a concrete |
amphitheatre. When money became tight that first year local contractor Oliver Gaffney
refused to stop work and completed the theatre in time for opening night. His daughter
Anita is now the Festival's Executive Director.
|It's hard to imagine sitting for three hours of Shakespeare in|
one of these original seats from the tent days. And what's with the
single armrest? I guess there was no fighting to see who got it.
To celebrate the next stage in the Theatre's life and the first raising of the tent a sculpture grouping was created by a talented group of artisans working at the Festival. As well as honouring the people who made the renewal in 1997 possible designer Douglas Paraschuk paid tribute to the remarkable "Skip" and stage carpenter Al Jones, who's handiwork included that first thrust platform.
|Tent Master extraordinaire Roy "Skip" Manly (right) was known throughout the circus world as one of the greats - and as the years passed Festival veteran Al Jones (left) became as much a legend for his wizardry as a stage carpenter.|
Though the Festival has grown well beyond the hopes of any of those original (in so many senses of the word) dreamers who watched as that first tent was unfurled in Queen's Park there remians a slightly homespun atmosphere to it all. We are still in small town Ontario, there is still a nearby baseball diamond and there is still a wonder that this is all here.
*Well okay the concrete O in this case but let's be literary rather than literal!
**Stratford was once a railway hub with as many as 30 passenger trains going through a day - now there are only four though an old chap at the station was optimistic that there would be an increase in service in the future.
September 9 - 1839: John Herschel takes the first glass plate photograph.