Brief History



Season One - 2008
Founded in 2008, Humber River Shakespeare produced an inaugural summer season of touring Shakespeare along the Humber River with an outdoor production of Twelfth Night. Performance venues included: Schomberg Fairgrounds (King Township), Dick’s Dam Park (Bolton), Kortright Centre (Vaughan), Montgomery’s Inn (Etobicoke), and Etienne Brulé Park (Toronto). All performances were offered free of charge with donations accepted after the show.

It soon became very apparent that the demand for theatre in many of these artistically underserved areas was very high. Audiences and communities were not only asking us what we would be touring next summer but also if we could return in the winter. Humber River Shakespeare was not to be just a one show a year summer company.

The Company found ways to create and participate in additional events outside of the summer season:
The Sonnet Show (Montgomery’s Inn , Etobicoke)
Paint The Street Festival (Village of Islington BIA, Etobicoke)
Arts Society King Soirée (King Museum, King City)
A Christmas Carol (Montgomery’s Inn, Etobicoke) / (A Main Street Christmas, Schomberg)

Season Two - 2009
After a very busy and successful first season, 2009 saw the company expand its summer tour to three solid weeks of performances with the addition of King Museum & Cold Creek Conservation Area (King), Kettleby Fairgrounds (Kettleby), Bindertwine Park (Kleinburg) and The Old Mill (Toronto) to our touring schedule. Our production of Much Ado About Nothing, set in Toronto just after the Great War, was a moving, joyous and crowd-pleasing production. Both audience numbers and box office increased by 25% from the previous year, despite a stressful summer of rain, aborted shows and garbage strikes.

We were able to continue our reputation for producing popular and innovative fundraisers. The sold-out return of The Sonnet Show once again produced 5 brand new plays, and involved well over 20 artists. Our experimental Shakespeare Cabaret: An Evening with Hamlet and Ophelia, was very well received and was also sold out.

One of our continuing and cross-regional community partners - The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority - commissioned us to create and produce a series of theatrical vignettes for the city of Toronto’s 10th Anniversary Humber Heritage Celebration. These original pieces illustrated the human history of the Humber River from 1615-1954.

Finally, in the fall of 2009 we finished our preliminary workshop of Henry V. Conceived as a “Chamber Piece” for 5 actors, our overall objective was to distill a Shakespeare play without diminishing its emotional or intellectual resonance. The development of a flexible/touring-friendly theatrical production style (Chamber Shakespeare) will not only allow us to expand our programming season and reach new audiences, it will also begin to develop a new and discernable aesthetic for the company. 

Season Three - 2010

Our summer tour of The Taming of the Shrew expanded again to include four weeks of performances: now playing 24 dates in 14 different venues. Set in the world of Hollywood pirates, audiences were treated with exciting swordplay, high adventure and low comedy.  With a cast decked out in colourful pirate garb, the show explored the themes of love, greed and marriage in this popular comedy.

In our continued artistic exploration of Canadian and Humber Heritage, we were asked by the King Township Historical Society (KTHS) and the Huronia Chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society (OAS) to create short plays to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Etienne Brûlé in Ontario.
On September 25th, we presented these vignettes, written by Philip Lortie, that told the story of Jean De Brébeuf and Etienne Brûlé at the King Museum for Franco-Ontarian Day before an audience including local dignitaries.

The vignette was also featured as part of the Ontario Archaeological Society’s event, Etienne Brûlé: Ontario’s First Tourist, on October 16th at Couchiching Park in Orillia, and at the Huronia-Ouendat Museum in Midland on October 17th.

Reactions from partner organizations and media are encouraging us towards developing our piece for school audiences as well as future commemorative events.

Finally, our holiday staple - A Christmas Carol - was given an expanded tour to our various communities and unique venues.