A not-for-profit, registered charity incorporated in 1985, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival Inc. continues to provide exciting productions of plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Each summer, two full-length plays are performed in repertory by professional artists, in a large fabric covered structure on the banks of the beautiful South Saskatchewan River in the heart of Saskatoon. The festival runs in July and August with nightly shows at 7:30pm from Tuesday to Sunday most weeks. 1pm Matinees are performed during certain weekdays and most weekends.
From 1985 until 2019 our barren riverbank perch was amazingly transformed into a summer cultural paradise combining mainstage performances with numerous festive activities. In the winter of 2020 the company completed Staging the Future, a site redevelopment project that installed a permanent amphitheatre base, box office, bar with riverside deck, dressing rooms, Contemplation Circle, beautifully landscaped courtyard and more. The site is made to be open to the public year round. In the spring of each season the company installs a fabric tent over the new concrete amphitheatre base and begins preparation for the summer season. They also erect several other smaller tents for the duration of the festival that house a host of other events.
These companion activities take place in addition to the performances on the mainstage, and include such things as Medieval Feasts, Sunday Teas, workshops, lectures, art displays, and local performers on the Community Stage. The Community Stage is Saskatoon’s only summer-long free performance venue for emerging local artists and community groups.
Since 1985 the company has had an indelible impact on Saskatoon and Saskatchewan, both artistically and economically. From the artistic perspective the festival roots are in innovation, with thoughtful adaptations of these classical works that push boundaries and play with peoples’ expectations of Shakespeare. From a Cree lead actor and Cree language incorporated into Othello, to a puppet version of Titus Andronicus, the company endeavors to engage artists and by extension the community in meaningful work.
From an economic perspective, the company primarily engages Saskatchewan artists and uses local services providers first and foremost. This creates valuable employment opportunities for professional artists, and our impact on Saskatoon, especially downtown hotels and restaurants, is well known.