“Hey Frank! What do you call a disco in a bakery?”

“In…abundance.”
Quite probably one of the best callouts during our night out at Rocky. Anyway, now that I have your attention.

(Samantha Noland)

A fond good evening to you all. To wrap up my time in Stratford, I wanted to talk musicals. Yes, those colorful parades of showmanship, blood, sweat, and tears that so often catch the eye, and have permanently become ingrained in culture. Our last two days in Stratford were spent taking in two spectacular musicals, neither of which I’d had much experience singing…I mean seeing. The Music Man has a family history of being loved; my Grandma was particularly fond of it. Oddly enough, I’d only seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show (the 1975 movie with inimitable gods of the stage Tim Curry and Richard O’ Brian) once and I was left frozen with confusion! In the best possible way of course.

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(Above is our view of the stage for Music Man. Such great seats!)

These performances, polar opposites in production, costume, story, and song, were, to put it shortly, dazzling! Music Man left me emotional and feeling like a little girl, Rocky left me breathless, excited, and even a bit hoarse, like a night out at a great concert. Both shows have definitely found new fans in me. I’m already looking forward to the next time I can see Rocky, hopefully in costume and with a few audience callouts memorized.

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(Rowdy insisted that we show off our Rocky ticket…)

I’ve always been curious why musicals have this ability to make a lasting impression on us. My best friend Charlotte fondly remembers me eagerly calling her up in 2004 to rave about the Phantom of the Opera movie with Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum. I’ve bonded with friends over shared love of Mamma Mia!, Hairspray, and Grease, among others.

As I’ve gotten older, and spent a few days sharing my love of theater with the wonderful people I’ve met on this trip, I’ve begun to truly realize why musicals are magical. They have this innate ability to bring people together. Musicals, and theater itself, allow us to escape the realities of life; taxes, relationship issues, etc., all that adulting jazz that gives us gray hair. But brilliant art has the power to allow us to visit different worlds, and forget our own problems for a few hours. One day you might be engrossed in the humorous struggles of Lord Arthur Goring, the next you might be following Brad and Janet through the dark and sexy world of Dr. Frank N. Furter. Stratford has truly tattooed theater on my heart, and cemented it’s importance in my life. Thank you all for the memories that I will keep from this trip. It means a lot.

With love and well wishes,
Sam

PS: I’ve included a few of my favorite pictures and moments from this trip.

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(The stage for An Ideal Husband was so gorgeous. I couldn’t believe how close I was. Featuring a random bald head!)

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I will miss moments like this. Until next we meet, Stratford.

All You Need is Love and Ice Cream

Sarah Gann

Or if you’re like Mackenzie and me, all you need is love for ice cream. This love for ice cream is what brought us to one of our favorite places in Stratford. We discovered it on Monday and have been back three times since then. This magical place I am referring to is Jenn and Larry’s Ice Cream Shoppe.

This cute little shop is located at 49 York Street, which is close to the river. They have a wide variety of treats, including all sorts of ice creams, frozen yogurt, and cookie dough.

Each time we went, I tried a blast, which is similar to a blizzard, but tastes way more delicious, and Mackenzie got a little sundae. The first day, I decided on a cookie dough blast. There were giant chunks of cookie dough and chocolate chips, all in a creamy soft serve. I considered switching it up each time, but the blast was so good that I decided to stick with that category. The second trip, I picked chocolate peanut butter bar, which was absolutely perfect for me because I love combining peanut butter and chocolate. Finally, I went with the cookies n’ cream, which was reminiscent of a McFlurry. Each time we went, the ice cream was bursting with flavor, which had us craving more the next day. Besides the amazing taste, the price was reasonable, costing $5 Canadian dollars, which is only $3.82 in American.

The best way to end a trip to Jenn and Larry’s is to eat your ice cream on a bench by the river. This makes it so others can see you enjoy your ice cream, making them all jealous. Plus, you get to enjoy the beautiful view of the river and hang out with your duck friends (as Mackenzie says “ducks are your friends. Geese are not”). If you’re ever in Stratford, grab some Jenn and Larry’s and send your taste buds to heaven.

An American Numismatist in Stratford, Part 2

Brian Ebright

On Monday, we went to the laundromat near the hotel.  I brought my copy of A Comedy of Errors expecting to have a lot of down time while my clothes were going through the cycles.  The washers and driers only took quarters so we had to use change machine.  When I put a Twoonie (duplicates from the recently searched roll), I got a Loonie and four quarters.  If I did not need the Loonie, I put it in the change machine and got four more quarters. To me, this was almost like playing a slot machine in Las Vegas.  Granted there was not the chance to hit the jackpot, but I do not loose anything.  Any quarters that I did not want went into the washer and drier.  Change machine quarters get pretty beat up, but I found several interesting (but not valuable) quarters.

Top row shows the iconic Queen Elizabeth obverse and Caribou reverse of the Canadian quarter (2016). Second row:celebrates Canadian Culture: Centennial of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (1973), Canada Day – 135th Anniversary of Confederation (2002), Queen’s 50th Anniversary (dual date 1952-2002), 400th anniversary of the First French Settlement on St. Delacroix(2004). Third row celebrates the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver: Speed Skating (2009) Figure Skating (2008), Curling (2007). Bottom Row: Canada’s Legendary Nature series : Wood Bison (2011)
Quarters

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Later in the day, in change from Dairy Queen, I received a 2005 quarter from commemorating Alberta’s 100th anniversary.  I checked my coin list and I already had one, however I am going to put  it aside.

One interesting thing about having Queen Elizabeth’s image gracing the coins is seeing the changes.  She has undergone 4 portrait changes over 65 year reign.  Obviously, she has aged since coronation in 1953, but most interestingly, in the current recent image, she no longer wears a crown.  There are several theories as to why (she has been queen for so long that everyone knows she is the queen, she is weary and the crown is heavy, not wearing a crown is a less antagonistic image to Commonwealth nations, etc).  As I lined the quarters up to take the picture, it made me think about the changing faces that we have seen in Stratford Festival, from Prospero to the Bronte sisters to Coriolanus.

changing faces

 

So, the next time a cashier gives you some change, you may want to look a little more closely – there are history and geography lessons in the tiny pieces of art you in your hand.

An American Numismatist in Stratford, Part 1

Brian Ebright

When I try to describe why coin collecting is such a great hobby, I usually mention that it is a great tool for learning history, geography and art appreciation.   It is also a great way to figure out what traditions, ideals or images a country holds dear.

Saturday afternoon, I went to one of the local banks and exchanged some American money for a roll of Twoonies ($2 coins), Loonies ($1 coins), quarters, dimes and nickels. I asked, hoping beyond hope for a roll of pennies, but Canada stopped minting cents in 2012 as the cost to produce a penny cost more than its face value.   The reply that I received  from the teller was a half-smile and a shrug.  As much as I was disappointed by not getting any pennies, the bank teller surprised me by asking if I wanted any Voyageur dollars. I have found loonies in a roll of US President and Sacajawea dollar coins, but I have never found Voyageur dollars “in the wild” so to speak, so I asked if I could get the remaining balance in Voyageurs. Yeah exchange rate!

Minted from 1935 to 1987, the Voyageur dollar takes its name from the fur trapper and aboriginal paddling a canoe on the reverse. The obverse has been graced by 3 different monarchs (Kings George V, George VI and Queen Elizabeth II). It has seen several changes in composition (silver until 1968 and then nickel) and two different portraits of Queen Elizabeth. I am not sure how the average Canadian feels about the Voyageur dollar, but I would think there would be a certain sense of nostalgia. To me, getting a Voyageur would be similar to finding a big Eisenhower dollar (minted in the 1971-1978 until it was replaced with the smaller but unpopular Susan B. Anthony dollar).   I did not find any silvers, but I did find several Voyageurs that I needed for my collection, as well as a couple Voyageurs that had special designs commemorating different events. The picture below shows an example of the regular obverse and reverse of a Voyageur dollars on the top row and then the reverses for Manitoba’s centennial (1970), British Columbia’s centennial (1971) and Winnipeg’s centennial (1974).
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Voyageurs

 

I wasn’t quite as lucky with the Loonies. Out of a roll of 25, there were only a couple interesting ones that were not badly scratched up or corroded from fingerprints. The 1995 Loonie shows a memorial in Ottawa called Reconciliation: The Peacekeeping Monument. The other Loonie (1994) commemorates the National War Memorial, also found in Ottawa.

Loonies

Loonies

 

One of my favorite Canadian coins is the Twoonie.  I am intrigued with bi-metallic coins, probably because it is unlike anything we have in the US.  Usually, the shiny nickel outer ring has a separate image than the bronze center (as in the coin on the right in the picuture).   The 2016 coins commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy (WWI) and the 75th anniversary of the Battle in the Atlantic (WWII) are amazing because  the center and outer rings are both used to make one complete image.   I took a 20th Century  Brit Lit class where we read some of the WWII poet-soldiers, including the famous poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, so  I am on the lookout for the 2015  Twoonie commemorating the 100th anniversary of the writing of “In Flanders Fields”.

Twoonie

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Happy Canada Day!

Brian  Ebright

While many Canadians were getting an early start to their long holiday weekend, our group had the privilege of watching The Comedy of Errors at the Studio Theater. The play starts out with a man being condemned to death. Egeon had set sail from from Syracuse (in Sicily) searching for his lost family and landed in the port city of Ephesus, not knowing there was a trade war going on. In retaliation for the Duke of Syracuse executing several Ephesian merchants while they were conducting business in Syracuse, the Duke of Ephesus declared that anyone from Syracuse discovered in Ephesus would have to pay an outrageous ransom or else have their goods seized and be executed as well. Sports rivalry was the closest example I could come up with to put this situation in a modern context. Even though I have taken some good natured ribbing on the rare occasions I have gone to “that state up North”, I have never feared for my well being. Two weeks earlier, the Syracuse vs. Ephesus beef seemed to be the most implausible out of all of the unlikely comedic misunderstandings in the play.

Earlier in the week, there had been much discussion about the U.S. tariffs and Canadian counter-tariffs. The Toronto Saturday Star newspaper even had an advertisement that read “Beat the tariffs ! Buy Canadian”. I’m not going to get political – I’ll admit that I don’t know enough about politics or finance to put up a good debate. I do know know enough about human nature to know that is generally not a good idea upset your neighbors by running your lawn mower through their flower bed or waking up early in order to steal their Sunday paper.
After the play, my wife and I walked around Stratford looking for a place that was a) open on a holiday Sunday and b) not packed. Several stores had signs advertising that they were tax free for Canada Day. The taxes got me thinking about the tariffs. The tariffs got me thinking about the ridiculous and almost tragic consequences of trade war in The Comedy of Errors.

All I can say is thank you Canada, for not reacting like the ruler of Ephesus and treating your visitors like they were Egeon from Syracuse. After all, our countries are kind of half brothers, having the same Mother England.

I never thought about the Harpy…

Sarah Gann

During one of the scenes in The Tempest by William Shakespeare,  the three villains, Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian, attempt to eat a feast that has been delivered by magic. However, this is really a set up by  Ariel, the spirit who serves Prospero, in order to torment the men. For Ariel’s entrance, the stage directions state:

“Thunder and lightning. Enter Ariel,  like  a Harpy, claps his wings upon the table, and with a quaint device the banquet vanishes” (3.3.70).

While reading this play, my mind didn’t give any special attention to the word harpy. While I knew that this was a bird-like creature, I wasn’t terrified at the imagery. Having read this line, I should have been prepared for this scene while watching The Tempest, but unfortunately, this was not the case.

On June 29, my class and I arrived at the Festival Theatre in Stratford for the 2:00pm showing of The Tempest. As the first show we saw on this trip, I was awestruck at the intricate set pieces, such as a beautiful, barren tree forming the home of protagonists Prospero and Miranda. The first act was amazing and had me wanting for more. By the second act, I was on the edge of my seat as I was so thoroughly engrossed in the events of the island. The spirit servants were delivering the food and the men were deciding to eat it. The next events all happened within a few seconds:

BOOM!! There was a clap of thunder.

The food vanished.

The Harpy unfurled onto the top balcony.

I jumped approximately 1 foot (or .3 meters) out of my seat.

All of these things happened so quickly that I am not sure what the actual sequence of events was. All I know is that my heart was beating so fast in my chest that I was worried I was going to have a heart attack, my jaw dropped and could not be put back into place, and my eyes were so wide they could have easily popped out of their sockets. I was quaking in my tennis shoes, not even able to comprehend the next few actions of the play due to the distraction of the giant, metal harpy. This bird was made of black metal, with a sharp beak and glowing red eyes. As I cannot describe this creature of nightmares in an adequate manner, please watch this video to get a glimpse of the terror palpable within the audience.

This video is not as terrifying as it was in person, but it should give you an idea of the horror I had not been expecting to face. After the conclusion of the play, my classmates and I were all sharing descriptions of the terror we felt in that moment, even though we had all read the play. My advice if you are going to see The Tempest in Stratford this season: Beware the Harpy.

 

I Pray, Come and Crush a Cup

Esther Sorg

There are two things I need in order to settle into a new city: a place to sleep, and a working knowledge of where to find the coffee. One of these had been provided for me in Stratford; the other, I set out to discover for myself.

Down the street from the Arden Hotel is a Tim Horton’s. I include no pictures because you’ve seen a Tim Horton’s. This one looks more or less the same as most Tim Horton’s. I drank iced coffee and ate no donuts, which I regret. I should have eaten donuts.

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Further down Ontario Street is Balzac’s, a cozy café tucked in between souvenir and antique shops. I ducked in quickly on my second day in Stratford to grab an iced latte, and returned on my second-to-last day for my review conference with Dr. LaPerle. I punctuated that meeting with an iced mocha frappe… thing. I don’t remember its exact name but it could probably be reasonably named “Too Good to be True.”

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To Pavillion, I kept returning. Three times in ten days is kind of a lot, but I have Feelings about crepes, which Pavillion happens to serve, so there I was. Often. The coffee I tried wasn’t exciting, to be honest, but the shop itself is a small haven of food and coffee paraphernalia residing in the middle of the town square. It was good for lunch, and nice for brunch, and excellent for having your first meal of the day at three in the afternoon.

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(inside Pavillion)

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I went to Coffee Culture with Friend Rachel on day five or so. She got a smoothie. I got a frozen mochaccino that was obviously designed to give you brain freeze, because it was so delicious that drinking it slowly was impossible, but it was also so cold that agony was inevitable. I went back two days later with Friend Alexis and surprised the baristas, a lovely mother/daughter team, by ordering and drinking two cherry hibiscus iced teas within minutes of each other. If I lived in Stratford, there’s a better than even chance that this would be my coffee shop of choice.

My last coffee scouting expedition was to the Buzz Stop, which isn’t exactly a café so much as it is a mercantile that specifically sells coffee and not much else. The owner is a tiny lady with an easygoing manner and a free hand with the espresso. The shop looks like an apothecary that specializes in coffee.

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It took me all of the time I had in Stratford, but by the end of our stay, I had a casual choice of the town’s coffee under my eye. I was settled in. And then of course, we left the next morning.

But that’s alright, because now, when I return, I’ll already be at home.

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Encountering the Punk Scene of Ontario

Ohio music is important to me. I once played in a small post-punk band within a small scene in Athens, Ohio–an experience to which I owe a lot of personal development of character and taste–and writing, playing, and recording with my best friends in our basements, lodges, and crap two-bedroom apartments felt like I was part of a real artistic community. I miss those days a lot. Playing in a band scene inevitably exposes you to other bands from that same area, bands that may have allowed for the scene in which you play to exist. Traveling to Stratford, Ontario, I wanted to encounter those parallels of artistic influence and community impact that I know from my home state, so I sought out a local record store called Diamond Dogs Vinyl in downtown Stratford.

Walking in, I met the owner, Wayne, and when I introduced myself as an Ohioan, he told me that his store had just been shoplifted by an Ohioan but two weeks ago. I at first wasn’t able to find anything that I was really looking for, but decided to stick around to maybe set a better impression for my home state. Not that I don’t think Ohioans are capable of shoplifting from locally owned stores, I absolutely do, but I wanted to maybe brighten his day a bit and maybe dissolve any harbored conceptions about Ohio if he was holding them.

So I asked him what Ontario bands he listened to. He told me about Feist, Rush, and some other typical groups I’d already heard of, not what I came in to hear. He eventually led me to his 45’s section, and that’s where gold was struck. Here was the raw fidelity, the impassioned growls of sweaty longhaired vocalists, the chugging guitars and off-kilter drumming. My sonic home away from home. Wayne gave me a discount saying that I seemed like an okay guy for an Ohioan.

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I walked away with a surf-rock garage group known as Fist City, Flesh Rag, a deliciously straightforward hardcore group, some pop-punkers called Dirty Kills, and maybe my favorite find, Excelsior, who capture that garagey dad-rock that strays into hardcore–an aesthetic that I love in local groups that I’m familiar with from my home state. That and two more rarities all for just twenty Canadian dollars. Diamond Dogs was a worthy trip.

 

Tyler Wissman

Jessica L. Becker: Cultural Capital Investment Capitol

Stratford made an investment into it’s future when the city gave Tom Patterson $125 in 1953, and the subsequent Festival Theatre not only has returned their monetary investment millions of times over, but invests their culture into the town. There is a strive for community inclusiveness: discounted tickets for students under the age of thirty, relaxed shows for special needs audiences, and highly interactive children’s shows, such as this year’s Treasure Island.

After nine shows in nine days, it’s clear that the Festival’s primary audience members are retirees, or visitors on vacation, or both. Nonetheless, the Festival Theatre strives to attract more younger audience members with it’s “Play-On” tickets for students between the ages of 16 and 29. These highly discounted tickets, which can rate as low as $20, are an effort on the Festival’s behalf to invest culture into future generations. Unfortunately it seems that few millennials are partaking in the deals, which I find mind boggling. I don’t understand why local twenty-somethings aren’t interested, if only to have something new to do. I spoke to one waitress who was unaware that such tickets are available. Either the Festival needs to find better advertising for their “Play-On” tickets, or local millennials need to start paying better attention to their surroundings.

Another form of community cultural outreach are the Festival’s “relaxed” shows. According to our liaison with the Festival Theatre “relaxed” shows are performed for special needs audiences. At the beginning of these shows the cast come out to the audience and speak with them all about what is going to happen on stage, and the shows effects – sound, lighting, and visual – are lessened or softened in respect to the audience’s sensory needs. These shows are relatively new, but they are quite the hit for all involved.

The Festival Theatre’s efforts to invest culture back into Stratford continues with it’s annual children’s show. For the last several years the children’s show has been performed in the Avon Theatre. Our liaison couldn’t say as to why exactly the Avon was chosen, but they did agree that the Avon’s location is the most family accessible, as there is plenty of restaurants nearby, and there are ramps to the seats instead of stairs. Moreover, these shows are highly interactive and inclusive for the children in the audience. For example, before the beginning of Treasure Island, the children were welcomed to the stage to look through a pirate’s telescope. Also, throughout the performance several characters, especially Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver, turned to the audience for help in a manner that drew in children of all ages. At the end of the performance, Jim held Long John to his promise of sharing his gold for their assistance, and all of them left with a chocolate gold coin. In addition to the performance’s inclusiveness, there is a fun treasure hunt for kids to do out in the town. Fourteen of Stratford’s local stores: JENN & Larry’s, Family & Company, Ten Thousands Villages, Fundamentals Books & Toys, The Milkey Whey, Sinclair Pharmacy, Blowes Travel, Ensurco Insurance, Soup Surreal, Tiffany’s Tattoos, revel, Bard’s Steakhouse, Stratford Festival Shop, and Covet Community Closet, are participating in a weekly raffle drawing for Stratford Gift Certificates, kids just go to each store and find the item based on the store’s clue. With their discounted tickets, relaxed showings, and the activities surrounding the annual children’s show, the Festival Theatre is trying to share it’s wealth. Therefore, it is clear that the Festival Theatre understands the need to invest culture back into the community that took a gamble by investing it itself.

The Streets of Stratford

Jessica Falkner

Walking through the streets of Stratford, I could not help but notice how beautiful the neighborhoods are. The homes were built in another era and the trend is for beautiful gardens instead of manicured lawns. The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario offers a self-guided tour of one of the first residential neighborhoods, the Cobourg Street Stroll. Their website features a downloadable brochure that you can use to learn about the history of the picturesque neighborhoods. I really did not need an excuse to take a walk through the neighborhood, but it was nice to be able to learn about a historic neighborhood. If you’d like to follow the tour, please click on the following link: http://www.stratford-perthcountybranchaco.ca/Cobourg_St._Stroll_Tour_Guide/

The first house I came to that I was enchanted by was a house with a beautiful garden. This is one of the newer houses in the neighborhood, as it was built in 1938. One of the original owners, Dorothy Fiebig, was known to be a fantastic gardener and the house still maintains a beautiful garden. While the house is one of the newer houses on the tour, it indicates the development of Stratford as a community where generations would remain.

While this is a residential neighborhood, some of the homes have been converted into bed and breakfasts. This house was built in 1907 by a jeweler and is one of the homes that has been converted into a bed and breakfast. The gardens in front are certainly inviting and the decorations are festive for the recent celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canada’s independence.

Built in 1868, this house is one of the older houses on the tour having been built only one year after Canada gained its independence. The house as we see it is not the original look of the house. It was originally a clapboard exterior but has been updated to a pebble dash exterior. It is one of the smaller, plainer houses on the street, but that is befitting of the change in architectural styles throughout the time period these houses were built. This was definitely a stroll worth taking as knowing background information on the houses and the original owners gives a perspective on what the neighborhood might have been like 100 years ago.