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The Beacon Herald
New fest features rich mix of shows
By DONAL O'CONNOR, Stratford Beacon Herald

An indie theatre and arts festival is being added to Stratford's vibrant cultural mix.

Scheduled for May 10-15 at Factory163, SpringWorks promises fresh and innovative performances by emerging and established artists and will include new play readings from Canadian playwrights, contemporary dance, world-class cabaret and uproarious children's programming, said Peggy Coffey.

The co-artistic producer said regional and touring companies will present 33 hour-long shows, all under one roof with performances beginning 11 a.m. each day, afternoon matinees and evening shows.

Late-night cabarets will take the stage at 11 p.m. on the weekend.

"We are very excited by the response to this first annual festival. The Stratford Shakespeare Festival, local merchants, B&B owners and the Stratford Tourism Alliance are all solidly behind this effort," said Coffey.

The range and variety of the entertainment offerings is impressive, she said. Artists and visiting companies will all be sharing their new works and works in progress.

Eileen Smith is the other artistic producer of the festival that's intended to continue annually as an artist-driven event giving visitors another good reason to linger in town just before the Stratford Festival takes off.

Highlights for SpringWorks include performances by master puppeteers such as Mike Petersen of Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock fame in As You Puppet, an adaptation of Shakespeare's romantic comedy.

Prisoner #0106 -G20 Romp is based on the note Tommy Taylor posted to his Facebook page after his arrest and detention at the G20 Summit in Toronto. It's a detailed, frightening and often funny account of the largest mass arrest in Canada.

Playwright and director David S. Craig will present a reading of his new work Tough Case, and theatre artist Michelle Polak appears in The Hours that Remain.

Women's Voices will showcase the strength and diversity of the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival and Dancetheatre David Earl.

Actress Marion Adler will host a Pyjama Party Cabaret May 14 at 11 p.m., one of three cabarets scheduled.

Kim Horsman, Seana-Lee Woods, Anika Johnson, Barbara Johnston and Brandon Wicke are among several other contributors to the festival that also features a visual arts show.

Factory 163 is located at 163 King St. For a full listing of festival offerings

visit are available online through

the website and at,at Fanfare Books, Anything Grows and at the door.

General admission is $20 plus HST. Children under 12 are half price.