Stratford Festival Bomb Threat

On Monday May 28, the Stratford Festival’s much-anticipated opening night performance of The Tempest was shockingly cancelled when a bomb threat was made against the festival. Audiences and actors alike were hugely disappointed as they were asked to leave both the Avon and Festival Theatres after months of hard work and preparation. 2000 well-dressed men and women milled about and watched police dogs enter the buildings they had evacuated, a drama none had paid to see that evening.

Martha Henry was to star as Tempest lead Prospero, one of only a few female actors to take on the role – a choice which caused a stir in the arts community when it was announced. When asked by the director to leave the theatre due to a bomb threat, she walked out staff in hand to the admiration of many on-lookers. That evening rather than presiding over the stage she was to be found with a group of actors who came together over drinks to offer support and comfort. At the same time in a nearby park, students were seen acting out their own Tempest, reading the script off their phones.

It was with relief that the police reopened the theatre Tuesday morning after declaring it safe once more. However, the Stratford Festival staff say they will be checking bags in future and utilizing metal detectors – an inconvenience to theatre-goers, but one they will learn to put up with for the sake of great performances. In fact, as the age-old saying goes “the show must go on” and the Festival picked up right where it left off opening with The Music Man rather than The Tempest, a show which received 4/5 stars in the Globe and Mail arts review column.

Audiences were also undeterred, claiming they would not be scared away from supporting the arts and the artists who bring them to life, choosing instead to rally and come together after Monday’s scare. In fact, the Festival has been selling more tickets than usual – a sign that people will not let threats come in the way of a good night out at the theatre.

If you’re free in the next month and looking for a way to spend a fun evening, check out the festival lineup. After all, Stratford is only a reasonable 45-minute drive from the University!

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