2018 Shakespeare Festival Program

There has never been a better time to be a lover of the Bard. At any one moment around the world one of his plays is being performed, the sonnets are studied, new versions of his plays are adapted into film, and television is even reimagining his life in not one but three different shows. It seems even after 450 years people do not tire of loving William Shakespeare.

In 2018 The Shakespeare on the River Festival will bring together all the elements of Shakespeare that audiences love. The chance to be swept into one of his fantastical worlds, study the tragedy of man, the folly in the histories or revel in his comedies. With twenty events spanning sixteen days there is something for everyone.

April 21-22 is opening weekend with launch of the festival, art exhibition opening, performances of Comedy of Errors by Groundwork Youth Theatre and a free birthday party in the park for the Bard. Also to honour Shakespeare’s birthday, April 23, Melbourne improv troupe The Soothplayers will perform their Completely Improvised Shakespeare.

For over 27 years members of our theatre community have come together to form The Community Players. Their production is at the heart of our annual Shakespeare on the River Festival, with many memorable takes on Shakespearean classics. In 2018 Joanne Watt will direct The Tempest. This magical tale opens Friday April 27.

The Bard’s Banquet: Under The Sea - Saturday April 28 A long standing festival tradition; revellers come together to eat, drink, be merry and be entertained. We know festival goers love the chance to dress up, so we want you to embrace our seafaring theme. From the sailors of The Tempest, to pirates of Pericles and shipwrecked twins aplenty the Bard gives ample inspiration. From medieval to modern show us your fanciest costumes yet.

The festival wraps up with the annual Medieval Faire and Market Day on Sunday 6th of May from 10am until 3pm. Entry is free to the public. Once again organisers are bringing together an array of stallholders, craft demonstrations, and delectable food vans. There is also the popular medieval children's games on the village green, live music from the Stratford Singers Songwriters & Storytellers, swordcraft demonstrations and Shakespearean inspired theatre.

Click here to download your own printable version of the 2018 Festival Program



Saturday April 21, 6.00pm
The Stratford Courthouse & Segue Gallery, 66 Princes Highway, Stratford

Tickets: Free event, no booking required.

Come and celebrate the opening of our 2018 Shakespeare on the River Festival with us at the Stratford Courthouse Theatre and Segue Gallery. Enjoy the opening of the 2018 Art Exhibition 'The Tempest', live performances, the announcement of the 2018 Sheila Malady Short Story Competition winners, and the presentation of the 2018 Janice Jones Youth Award.

shakespeare's birthday party in the park

Sunday, April 22, 10am
Apex Park, Startford

Tickets: Free event, no booking required

Children of all ages are invited to Stratford’s Medieval Apex Park for a Shakespearean Birthday Bash. Come and support Stratford’s Courthouse Kids as they perform snippets of some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. Activities will include games, puzzles, a scavenger hunt and of course a giant birthday cake.

Soothplayers: Completely Improvised Shakespeare

Monday, April 23, 7.30pm
The Stratford Courthouse, 66 Princes Highway, Stratford

Tickets: Adults $25 // Concession $15

Soothplayers improvise a hilarious Shakespearean play from nothing but a suggested title from the audience. No plans. No scripts. They guarantee you will laugh or your money back. Really!

Comedy? Tragedy? History? Soothplayers can do it all, completely on the spot! Did you hate Shakespeare in school? Prepare thyself. The show is fast-paced and action-packed, promising laughs and gasps for Bard lovers and haters alike. The cast includes members of Melbourne's premier improvisation troupes, including The Improv Conspiracy, Impro Melbourne, The Big Hoo-Haa!, and Impromptunes.

More info: www.soothplayers.com and follow and like them on Facebook/Instagram/twitter @soothplayers



"The Tempest"

Friday April 27, 7.30pm
Saturday April 28, 5pm
Thursday May 3, 7.30pm
Friday May 4, 7.30pm
Saturday May 5, 7.30pm

All shows performed at the Stratford Courthouse Theatre, 66 Princes Highway, Stratford

Tickets: Adults $25 // Concession $15

For Prospero, Time does not heal all wounds.

After being usurped as the Duke of Milan by his brother, Prospero and his daughter Miranda found refuge in a small harsh and exotic land. Twelve years later, with the arrival of some unexpected shipwrecked visitors, Prospero is ripe for vengeance.

The time has come to settle an age old grudge so Prospero magics up a storm - an array of mystical events causing havoc. Meanwhile, a love-at-first-sight romance blossoms between his island-raised daughter and King Alonso’s son Ferdinand - an unfortunate island captor. The past meets the present with Gonzalo, the former Duke’s trusted companion who helped him escape a decade earlier, finding himself shipwrecked on the island with the King of Naples and his party. A tale of revenge, forgiveness, mutiny and magic ensues. Love, in the end, restoring the wrongs of the past. Directed by Joanne Watt.

bard's banquet: Under the sea

Saturday April 28, 7.30pm
Mechanics Hall, Hobson Street Stratford

Tickets: All tickets $55 (includes a three course meal + entertainment)

A long standing festival tradition; revellers come together to eat, drink, be merry and be entertained. We know festival goers love the chance to dress up, so we want you to embrace our seafaring theme. From the sailors of The Tempest, to pirates of Pericles and shipwrecked twins aplenty The Bard gives ample inspiration. From medieval to modern show us your fanciest costumes yet.

The night will also herald the return of another Shakespeare on the River Festival tradition - The Great Shakespearean Debate. Two teams featuring local, well known personalities will attempt to persuade and sway your opinion in a Shakespearean inspired debate. With Ye Olde Rusty Rockers  to fill the dancefloor and The Bards Bar selling local craft beer and wines, it is a night not to be missed. Book early for this popular event.

traditional evensong

Sunday, April 22, 4.30pm
Holy Trinity Church, 26 McFarlane Street, Stratford

Tickets: Free event, no booking required

Evensong at the Holy Trinity Church is a Shakespeare on the River Festival tradition. Come along and celebrate this ecumenical service with us.

vocal nosh

Sunday, April 30, 12pm
Mechanics Hall, Hobson Street, Stratford

Tickets: All tickets $15 (includes a hot lunch)

Come for an afternoon of soup and song led by Bruthen local Eva Grunden. This is a popular event for those who love to sing. It is a warm and welcoming place for those who are yet to find their voice! Please book as it is a catered event.



Sunday May 6, 10am-3pm
Hobson Street, Stratford

Tickets: Free event, no booking required.

A grand variety of traditional arts and crafts, food and beverages, fresh produce, together with exhibitions, lost trade displays, theatre, kids games and workshops.

For more information on Faire Day, head to our dedicated Faire Day page here.

Performances on the day:

shakespeare in therapy
24 carrot productions

Saturday, May 5, 2pm
Sunday, May 6, 2pm
Mechanics Hall, Hobson Street Stratford

Tickets: Adults $25 // Concession $15

Death might be the end of the story for many Shakespearean characters, but it doesn’t mean the end of their emotional baggage. Welcome to the after-life group therapy session for people who have been traumatised by their playwright. There will be tears, tantrums and some insight as Desdemona, Romeo, Ophelia and others process their feelings and actions. Join them for instant coffee, cheap name tags, and overexposed feelings.

“It’s about time these people got to work out some of their issues.” - Sharmini Kumar (Writer/Director)


Saturday April 21, 8pm
Sunday April 22, 1pm
Stratford Courthouse Theatre, 66 Princes Highway, Stratford

Tickets: All tickets $15

Antiopholus and Dromio travel where another servant called Dromio tells Antipholus he has to be home for dinner, he beats up the second Dromio. Another Antipholus then beats up the first Dromio for being a snarky back chat. Then Antipholus goes to dinner with his wife and takes Dromio (the first one that the second Antipholus beat up) Did I mention they are all twin brothers? Confused yet? Come along to “The Comedy of Errors”. You’ll be treated to hilarious confusion, slapstick humour, cross dressing and the occasional fart joke all set in the Wild West.

Directed by Lauren Reid. 


"romeo & juliet"

Tuesday May 1, 1.30pm
Thursday May 3, 1.30pm
Friday May 4, 6pm
Mechanics Hall, Hobson Street Stratford

Tickets: All tickets $5

Two schools both alike in dignity.
In fair Verona where we set our scene.
Stratford Primary School and St Patrick's Primary School invite you all to Verona's party of the year.
Expect the unexpected; Brawling, Brides and Bloodshed

Host: The Capulets
Place: Capulet mansion (Stratford Mechanics Hall)
Date: ...........
Time: ............

Note: If you are a Montague do not bother turning up!!

Directed by Rachael Nicholls.