Looking for information about your favourite theatres? We’ve got you covered! Intermission’s Insider Intel articles showcase one theatre at a time to give you all the information you need before your visit.
This week: Canadian Stage’s Dream in High Park
What kind of theatre do they produce?
Canadian Stage is a leader in contemporary performing arts in Canada. A collision of disciplines and cultures, Canadian Stage reflects the dynamism and complexity of Canada and is a vital artistic force locally, nationally, and internationally.
For the past 40 years, Dream in High Park has been a staple of Canadian Stage’s summer Shakespeare programming. Since the pandemic, they have expanded their summer offerings in High Park to include not only the staple mainstage classical production, but also music, dance, contemporary plays, and more.
The High Park Amphitheatre is a beautiful outdoor space which seats over 1000 patrons. The stage is a permanent construction that transforms every summer to accommodate a variety of performances, including fully staged Shakespeare and huge new musicals. Patrons are welcome to bring their own blankets and cushions to sit on as the venue seating is made up of stone ledges. There are concessions and porta-potties on site as well.
Dream in High Park is easily accessible by transit: the amphitheatre is a 20-minute walk from High Park Station on Line 2, and a short walk from the 501 Queen streetcar stop at Colborne Lodge Drive. If driving, patrons should note that vehicular access to High Park is limited on weekends and subject to seasonal change; however, there is paid metre parking available around the park.
High Park Amphitheatre is approximately a 15-minute walk from the park’s gates, so audiences should plan accordingly.
For more information about getting to High Park Amphitheatre, visit the Canadian Stage website.
COVID-19 Safety Information
Canadian Stage continues to monitor and respond to government policy changes to ensure the comfort and safety of their patrons, staff, and artists. Currently, proof of vaccination is not required at Canadian Stage productions, and masking is optional.
For more information on how Canadian Stage is working to keep their audiences safe, visit their website.
The pathway leading from the road/sidewalk to the amphitheatre seating is a natural, unpaved pathway: patrons may encounter tree roots, rocks, and sections of uneven ground. While the pathway within the amphitheatre grounds is lit after sunset, the portion of pathway between the amphitheatre grounds and the road/sidewalk is not.
For audience members with mobility requirements, there is accessible seating available in the top row of the amphitheatre. Patrons seeking accessible seating are invited to inform the box office representatives of their accessibility requirements when booking tickets. Additionally, at least one accessible portable washroom with roll-in, ground-level access; grab bars; and a self-closing, unmotorized door will be available at every Dream in High Park performances.
Wheel-Trans vehicles are permitted to enter High Park on weekends, and can be booked on the Wheel-Trans website. Dream in High Park patrons should note that all High Park weekend Wheel Trans schedules are coordinated by the City of Toronto, who ensure the park gates are opened for vehicles. Canadian Stage does not have access to these gates.
Accredited service animals are always welcome at the High Park Amphitheatre. Guide dogs or other service animals, including service animals in training, may accompany patrons on any Canadian Stage premises that are open to the public. Audience members who wish to bring a service animal to a performance are asked to advise the box office when purchasing tickets to ensure they may assign you an appropriate seat.
For more information on Canadian Stage’s accessibility measures, visit the Canadian Stage website. If you’d like answers to specific accessibility questions, please contact their box office by email or phone (416) 368-3110.
Dream in High Park tickets are $29 +HST, with all tickets being general admission. Rush pay-what-you-wish (PWYW) tickets become available at noon the day of the performance for purchase online or over the phone. Remaining rush PWYW tickets become available at the gate beginning two hours prior to each performance.
For more information on how to purchase tickets for Dream in High Park, visit Canadian Stage’s FAQs page.
Artists you might recognize
- Brendan Healy — Artistic Director
- Karen Robinson — Actor
- Diane D’Aquila — Actor
- Philip Akin — Actor & Director
- Jamie Robinson — Actor & Director
- Ann-Marie MacDonald — Actor & Playwright
- Peter Hinton — Director
- Ryan G. Hinds — Actor
- Clare Coulter — Actor
- Paul Gross — Actor
Where to eat and drink
The High Park Amphitheatre has a concession stand offering drinks and snacks such as water, soda, Gatorade, chips, candy, cookies, and ice cream. These can be enjoyed before, during, or after the show.
There are a number of restaurants along Bloor Street for any patrons looking for a meal prior to attending the show. Additionally, there is a designated picnic site in High Park a short walk from the amphitheatre.
For more information about eating, drinking, and connecting at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, visit their website.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
THE INAUGURAL DREAM IN HIGH PARK IN 1983
A romantic comedy for the ages comes vividly to life in High Park. The night before Theseus and Hippolyta's royal wedding, four young Athenians flee into the forest in pursuit of true love. They fall into one love triangle, then another, and are caught in the crossfire of a custody battle between reigning fairies of the forest. Chaotic hilarity ensues. Will the Athenians end up with their perfect match? Who will win custody of the changeling child? And what other beloved characters might we meet along the way?
Shakespeare's beloved classic A Midsummer Night's Dream launched what would go on to become a 40-year Toronto tradition: Dream in High Park.
Image courtesy of Canadian Stage
THE FIRST NON-SHAKESPEARE PRODUCTION MOUNTED IN HIGH PARK IN 1988
Blood Brothers is a musical with book, lyrics, and music by Willy Russell. The story is a contemporary nature-versus-nurture plot, revolving around fraternal twins Mickey and Eddie, who were separated at birth, one subsequently being raised in a wealthy family, the other in a poor family. The different environments take the twins to opposite ends of the social spectrum, one becoming a councillor, and the other unemployed and in prison. They both fall in love with the same girl, causing a rift in their friendship and leading to the tragic death of both brothers.
Image courtesy of Canadian Stage
EDWARD IV & HENRY VI
PARTS 1 & 2 OF THE FOUR-PART EPIC PRODUCTION OF THE WARS OF THE ROSES
Introducing the royal houses of York and Lancaster as they compete for the throne, catapulting England into civil war.
Shakespeare’s historic Edward IV and Henry VI were performed as part of Dream in High Park’s 1992-93 season. The two plays were followed by Canadian Stage’s productions of Richard III and The Queens that fall in the Berkeley Street Theatre.
Image of Edward IV courtesy of Canadian Stage
A CRITICALLY-ACCLAIMED WORLD PREMIERE
Based on a Mozambican ritual from the Chuabo tribe that is performed by elders to communicate with ancestors, welcome new family members, connect different generations within families, and as the method of passing knowledge from elders to younger generations. MUKUTHÔ takes audience members on a journey of experiencing this ritual through a performance of dance, song, and live music. Both Casimiro Nhussi and Pulga Muchochoma are from Mozambique, and the goals for this work are for the artists to find connections to the ancestors and to reconnect to our past.
In 2021, when many theatres couldn't operate in-person, Canadian Stage stepped up to offer varied programming from companies all around Toronto on an outdoor stage. When the pandemic began, Dream in High Park expanded beyond its typical Shakespeare programming to include dance, music, contemporary plays, and more.
Image by Dahlia Katz
As You Like It
THE FIRST POST-LOCKDOWN SHAKESPEARE PRODUCTION AT DREAM IN HIGH PARK
Rosalind and her cousin escape into the forest and find Orlando, Rosalind's love. Disguised as a boy shepherd, Rosalind has Orlando woo her under the guise of "curing" him of his love for Rosalind. Rosalind reveals she is a girl and marries Orlando during a group wedding at the end of the play.
The classic Shakespeare comedy, As You Like It relaunched the annual celebration in 2022.
Image courtesy of Canadian Stage