Canadian Stage is proud to announce that Shakespeare in High Park will mark 36 seasons of staging open-air theatre in Toronto with adventurous contemporary adaptations of two of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays: the tragic romance Romeo and Juliet and the frolicking comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream, running in repertory under the stars from June 28 to September 2 at the High Park Amphitheatre. A pay-what-you-can event, Shakespeare in High Park is Canada’s longest-running outdoor theatre experience, and produced by Canadian Stage in collaboration with the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design at York University.

“I love this time of year. My son and I are excited to get our blankets and picnic baskets ready to spend many a night dreaming under the stars with families from across the GTA at the 36th season of Shakespeare in High Park. Perhaps no two works better characterize the truly popular embrace of William Shakespeare’s comic and tragic playmaking than this year’s double offering of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet,” said Canadian Stage Interim Managing Director and Executive Producer, Sherrie Johnson. “We’re pleased to see the return of Frank Cox-O’Connell and Tanja Jacobs leading an exceptional acting ensemble and creative team.”

Both plays speak to a profound and age-old dichotomy that continues to challenge us today: the deliciously anarchic power of love as it struggles for release from the conservative or even archaic structures of society. Romeo and Juliet’s two protagonists try to break free from the prison of a seemingly eternal family conflict between the Capulets and the Montagues. In this new production, director Frank Cox-O’Connell, who played the title role in Hamlet in High Park in 2016 and George Tesman in Hedda Gabler by Necessary Angel Theatre Company in the Canadian Stage 2015-2016 season, sets the tragedy in contemporary urban society and style with roots in English and Italian soccer’s hooligan culture, with its arbitrary loyalties, and violent expression; a culture poisoned by masculinity, with real consequences. When Juliet meets Romeo by chance, a new light shines on this backdrop: they fall in love, a true romantic love that slices through the cultural constructs and the bad teachings; the young lovers reject the world they’ve been asked to inherit.

The power of self-determination in the face of social conformity is also explored through Hermia and Lysander, the two young lovers whose attempted elopement sets off the chain of comic (if love-filled) mishaps that make up the dream on that fateful midsummer’s night. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s enchanting comedy of mistaken identity and romantic misadventure, returns to the High Park Amphitheatre in a stylish Fellini-inspired production set in a Roman amusement park in the early 1950s. Director Tanja Jacobs comes back to High Park after helming the crowd-pleaser Twelfth Night last season and Love and Information as part of the Canadian Stage 2017-2018 season.

The dynamic 12-person repertory cast – which includes seasoned High Park alumni and fresh faces – is comprised of: Gordon Bolan, Jason Cadieux, Rachel Cairns, Frank Chung, Jakob Ehman, Peter Fernandes, David Patrick Flemming, Mac Fyfe, Navtej Sandhu, Naomi Wright, Amaka Umeh, Jenny Young.

Canadian Stage continues its unique collaboration with the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design to integrate York student and alumni talent into the Shakespeare in High Park team. “As the popularity of our summer repertory season continues to rise year after year, we strive to find more ways to engage our growing audiences, while preserving that special something that makes Shakespeare in High Park such a magical and inclusive experience for adults and youth alike,” added Johnson.

Additional SiHP+ pre-show activities include Backstage Tours, Youth Days, Youth Nights, and Family Storytelling Day. SiHP Backstage Tours – Explore the history and the magic behind our annual outdoor Shakespeare in High Park productions. These intimate tours engage curiosity and allow audiences to peek at the mechanics that make these productions shine. July 17, 18, 24, 25, 31; August 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29 @ 6:30pm

A beloved seasonal event, Canadian Stage’s Shakespeare in High Park is Canada’s largest and longest-running professional outdoor theatre experience, attracting over 30,000 people each year. Founded as Dream in High Park in 1983, the series evolved into Shakespeare in High Park in 2013, presenting two alternating productions throughout the summer – one comedy, one tragedy – in innovative takes on Bard classics.

Romeo and Juliet runs until September 1 with performances on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 8 pm.

Midsummer Night’s Dream runs until September 2 with performances on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 8 pm.

Both performances run at the High Park Amphitheatre (1873 Bloor St. W). Gates open at 6 pm.

Each performance is pay-what-you can (suggested $20 contribution) and premium cushion seats can be reserved by donation in advance for $25, online at or by calling the Canadian Stage box office at 416.368.3110.

Facebook: @cdnstage @sihpTO | Twitter @canadianstage | Instagram: @canadianstage
#SiHP, #csRJ, #csDream

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.