About the Festival

Since 1991, our annual Shakespeare on the River Festival has been running in April/May in Stratford, Australia. The festival has created an enduring Arts legacy for Stratford that showcases community, professional theatre, and the broader Arts scene.

In 2012 we established The Stratford Arts Trail and interactive journey through the town created by local artists with a Shakespeare theme in all the sculptures. 

In 2013 we celebrated the creation of “Segue” [pr. seg-wey] the Arts Hub and global café. Segue is also the new permanent home of the Shakespeare on the River Festival giving the town a visible Shakespeare presence 365 days of the year.

The enduring nature of our Festival is underpinned by the energy that is shared by so many to make it all happen. The Committee is grateful to all those who put their passion into this community Festival for all to share.

Vale our esteemed past President Joan McCloud.

In Shakespeare’s words: 

“Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade.
— Hamlet, Act I, Scene iii

History of the Festival

In 1989, Neale Warrington, from the Australian Shakespeare Company and the former Shire of Avon, initiated discussions on how a Festival could build on the village name of Stratford and its links to William Shakespeare.

To further shape the festival, a committee was formed under the chairmanship of Shire President Denise Stothers, Secretary George Brayshaw and other local identities.

The first festival was held in 1991 presenting a Midsummer Nights Dream by a local theatre group and the Twelfth Night by the Australian Shakespeare Company under the direction of Neale Warrington. The Australian Shakespeare Company returned in 1992 and 1994 bringing King Lear and Hamlet to Stratford.

During these early years, the festival consisted of this performance over 3 nights and 2 days.

In 1995, the committee reformed as the Stratford on Avon Shakespeare Association with the aim to have a more community orientated approach to the Festival.
Under the new chairman, former Shire President Janice Jones and Secretary Sheila Malady, the festival included a community presentation directed by Clifton Kline and developed the concept of a Village Fair.

The Festival has run continuously since 1996 being anchored on the first weekend in May and includes a number of different workshops, performances and events from a variety of companies.
The Festival has grown to include over 20 different events being performed over a two-and-a-half week period. The people of Stratford, The Festival management team, the best artists from around the region, and guest Melbourne and Sydney based professional companies will take you on a culturally engaging journey back in time.