In 1956, under Artistic Director Michael Langham,
work began on a permanent theatre to house the Moiseiwitsch stage. Designed by Robert
Fairfield, the Festival Theatre has a circular floor plan and a “pie-crust” roof,
echoing the Festival’s origins under canvas.
Despite the challenges posed by
Stratford’s location in a snow belt, building was completed in time for the next
season. The new Festival Theatre was dedicated on Sunday, June 30, 1957, and the
following night saw the opening of Langham’s production of Hamlet, with Christopher Plummer in
the title role.
Over the ensuing decades, the Festival
attracted some of the world’s most celebrated actors, including Alan Bates, Zoe
Caldwell, Paul Scofield, Maggie Smith and Peter Ustinov, and became a long-time
home for such no less stellar artists as Brian Bedford, Brent Carver, Colm Feore,
Martha Henry and Stephen Ouimette, to name just a few.