Family field trip to the happiest place on earth: Stratford!

My name is Erin and I’m an Anglophile. No surprise there. That being said, Canada holds a huge place in my heart. Aside from the free health care and government-subsidized university education, I love my country because it’s so keen on Shakespeare that its devoted a whole town to celebrating his work! Stratford is not just the hometown of Justin Bieber (can you believe that spell-check doesn’t recognize that name yet?); it’s home to the wonderful Stratford Festival.

A 13 year-old Biebs jamming out in the steps of the Avon Theatre

Dedicated to the classics without taking themselves too seriously – they got Canadian sweethearts the Barenaked Ladies to compose the tunes for As You Like It in 2005! – I’m so excited to be enjoy the 2011 season with my family.

What are we going to see? I’m hitting up Twelfth Night, a standard Stratford crowd-pleaser with my mother, father (aka, The Doctor), and Grandma, who’s totally into Shakespeare and will even listen to my little pre-show lecture on our way up. I joked with my dad that I would bring him a copy of Twelfth Night so he has time to read it before the show, and I swear I could hear his eyes roll 250 kilometres away. I know he comes along for me and I love him for it.

Seana McKenna as Richard III

My mom is the biggest trooper of all: after all those years of schlepping her family to “get some culture,” I think she’s accepted the “you’ve made your bed, now sleep in it” mentality and agrees to see any play I want. This includes a female-led Richard III, which we’re excited for after hearing great reviews. She may be looking forward to that but I am 99% sure she’s not at all excited about Titus Andronicus, which I’ve been going on about incessantly since my MA year. Is it wrong to talk about forced cannibalism over supper?

Stratford is exceptional and not just for the theatre. Before an oh-so-dangerous Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory appeared at my local mall, it was a huge treat to get it in Stratford. Oh! would I pace … trying to decide on the perfect confection (whoever can figure out what the answer is, I’d love to hear it). Now my guilty pleasure is Distinctly Tea, where I buy loose-leaf tea faster than I can consume it!

What really keeps us coming back to Stratford is York Street Kitchen. I shouldn’t even be telling you about this place, seldom can we get a table without standing in line, but it is the best build-your-own sandwich place, ever. Or maybe it’s because my Type A personality enjoys an endorphin release every time I check something on a checklist! And then there’s Balzac’s, which boasts some really special treats, including a Margaret Atwood-endorsed bird friendly coffee. But why do I go there? A chance to stalk Colm Feore. Has it worked yet? Alas, poor yorick!…no. But I’ll tell you one thing: I’m super excited to be going and I can’t wait to keep trying!

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