2019 Bard's Banquet: A Dead Man's Party
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Tickets are on sale now for The Bard’s Banquet. One of the most popular and fun evenings in the Shakespeare on the River Festival program. Saturday April 27 will be a night of wondrous macabre as we celebrate all things ShakesFeare. Banquet goers are treated to a three course meal, drinks at the Bard’s Bar and top class entertainment by The Soothplayers direct from The Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Back for their fourth appearance in the festival, The Soothplayers have received rave reviews for Completely Improvised Shakespeare. Each performance is a completely new work, using Shakespearean language, themes and style. Even the musical accompaniment is completely improvised! The cast includes veterans of the Australian Shakespeare Company as well as Melbourne’s premier improvisation troupes, including The Improv Conspiracy, Impro Melbourne, The Big HOO-HAA!, and Impromptunes. They work hard to provide a high-quality, hilarious show that is guaranteed to be frightfully funny. Revellers will then have the chance to dance into the witching hour with the resident DJ.

So come dressed in your best ghouls, ghosts or outfits of the undead. Tickets $60 per head, book early to avoid disappointment. For tickets and bookings head to our What’s On page here.

Fearecrow Competition

Stratford is getting into the swing of SHAKESFEARE with its annual Shakespeare on the River festival going dark, with a theme where the Bards villains will come out to play in Ghost Tours, Street performances, live theatre and the evilness of the night in a DEAD MANS BANQUET. It’s not for the faint hearted but certainly fun for the kids as we are encouraging people of Gippsland to dress up their gardens with a ShakesFEARECROW. The more macabre the better, Dead kings, raging knights and just plain old scarecrows. Simply build your own fearecrow and take a photo of it in your garden, tag #shakesfearecrow and #shakesfeare2019 on social media and go into the draw to win a full 2019 festival pack including Double passes to 3 live performances and two festival T shirts. The aptly named “Straw” kids, Mitch and Sammie helped create the festivals signature fearecrow “GAPE”. Gape will be at the festival twilight Fear, a free event held from 3-8pm on Sat May 4, feel free to bring your own fearecrows along to join him for “the gathering or feare” and enjoy fun, music, theatre and feasting in a family friendly environment. For more information on the SHAKESFEARE festival and its events visit www.stratfordshakespeare.com.au

ShakesFeare Twilight Market

Come be stall holder - if you dare! This year’s Shakespeare on the River Festival explores all that is spooky and supernatural in The Bard. From the witches of Macbeth to the wandering ghost of Hamlet’s father, an exploration of Stratford’s own dark past and a take on Shakespeare’s most famous villains, the two week festival will embrace what it is to be afraid.

In a big shake up of tradition our Medieval Market for 2019 is a twilight event, on Saturday May 4th running from 3pm into the evening. After the great succes of last year, the pop up Shakesbeer bar will return, again stocked with locally crafted beers and wines. With two live music stages, food stalls, craft makers and artisans at work, acting workshops and medieval games on the village green, there is sure to be something for everyone.

The faire is a brilliant opportunity for local businesses and individuals to have their products displayed and get involved in an excellent community festival. The event is a major fundraiser for many community groups. To add to the colour of the faire we would love everyone to come dressed up, so don your best ghoulish garb or traditional medieval outfit.


Any food vans, arts and craft makers or stall holders who wish to come join in the fun contact Faire Day coordinator Aynslie on 0405 633 456 or  shakespeareontheriverfestival@gmail.com

2019 Shakespeare on the River Festival "ShakesFeare"

The 2019 Shakespeare on the River festival embraces the role of supernatural in the works of William Shakespeare. From Hamlet’s dead father to the witches of Macbeth, The Bard invoked plenty of ghosts, sprites and things that go bump in the night to frighten his audience.  The festival runs over two weeks starting on Friday 26th April with a grand opening in the Stratford Courthouse Theatre and performance by Groundwork Youth Theatre. In a big opening weekend Saturday 27th April sees The Bard’s Banquet – A Dead Man’s party , a three course meal with a Shakespearean twist. Featuring the dark comedic talents of improv troupe The Soothplayers, the night gives the banquet goers the chance to dress up in their ghoulish best and dance the night away. This is one of the highlights of the Festival, often booking out weeks in advance.

In a change from tradition the popular market day will run on Saturday May 4th, starting at three o’clock in the afternoon and running into the evening. With the return of the pop up Shakesbeer bar, two live music stages, food stalls, craft makers and artisans at work, acting workshops and medieval games on the village green there is sure to be something for everyone. Come dressed in your best medieval outfit or ghoulish garb to join in the fun of a twilight faire.


In addition to the usual theatrical performances, audiences are also invited to come join in a guided ghost tour. Explore the darker side of old Stratford town then finish with a warm spiced cider by the Courthouse Theatre fire.For tickets and all things Shakespeare visit stratfordshakespeare.com.au

2019 Sheila Malady Short Story Competition

Entries are now open for the 2019 Shakespearean inspired short story competition. Now in its sixth year, it is an opportunity for writers from all over to be a part of Stratford’s annual Shakespeare on the River Festival. In keeping with the 2019 festival theme Shakesfeare, we want your very own short tales of terror.  The Bard himself used ghosts, witches, monsters and tyrannical kings to both scare and entertain his audiences - now it is your turn. Whether it be frightfully funny or seriously spooky, send us your best original work of less than 2000 words.

There are prizes across three categories. First prize includes $300 cash, two tickets to a performance of the community play, The Taming of the Shrew and a beautiful wooden quill crafted by local artist Gavin Roberts. The local prize for a writer residing in Gippsland includes a Collins Book voucher plus two tickets to the community play. The final category is for a young writer aged under 18 who will receive a book voucher, thanks to our local Sale Collins Booksellers.

Closing date for entries is Tuesday, March 26th , 2019 at 11.59pm AEDT. There is a five dollar entry fee. Winners will be announced at the opening night of the festival at The Stratford Courthouse Theatre on Friday 26th April. For full terms and conditions of the competition, and to check out our past winners,  please visit stratfordshakespeare.com.au

The Shakespeare On The River Festival is sponsored by The Wellington Shire Council through a Community Assistance Grant, the festival gratefully acknowledges this support.