The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Opening of the 59th Season of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival

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Stratford, Monday May 30, 2011


My wife, Sharon, and I are honoured to be with you this evening to celebrate the opening of the 59th Season of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

My congratulations go to Des McAnuff and Antoni Cimolino for what I know will be a very successful season. My thanks go to the members of the Board, for offering your time, support, and counsel as the Festival’s trustees.  And my appreciation goes to the volunteers—the Friends of the Festival—who continue to give of themselves to support the Festival in so many different ways.

Without you, the Festival could never have become what it is today—an internationally-recognized annual celebration of theatre that has attracted many of the greatest Canadian, British and American performers to its stage.

In “Two Gentlemen from Verona,” Shakespeare wrote, “They do not love that do not show their love.”

All of you have certainly shown your love for the arts, by injecting the Festival with passion, creativity, humour and generosity.  And by demonstrating the kindness, dedication and openness for which Canadians are renowned throughout the world.

Think back, for a moment, to how the Festival began. It began with a dream.  With a vision.  With one person’s desire to save the town of Stratford from economic ruin by creating a festival dedicated to the works of William Shakespeare.

As governor general, I have been inviting Canadians to think about ways to be a smarter, more caring nation. To encourage Canadians to look beyond themselves towards what could possibly be.

In the words of George Bernard Shaw, a famous British author: “Some people see things as they are and wonder why. We dream of things that ought to be and ask why not?”

Just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of presenting the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards to some distinguished and deserving Canadians. They confirmed that Canadians are center stage when it comes to excellence in the performing arts, just as the Festival’s performers do each and every season.

In Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” Sir Andrew laments, “O, had I but followed the arts.”

I am certain that I speak for all of us when I say, “O, that all Canadians would celebrate and embrace the arts!”

For it is through the arts that we experience what is genuinely Canadian. That we discover what makes Canadians unique. That we cherish what knits Canadians together. And that we can take pride in what sets Canadians apart.

And so, for your continued efforts in this most valuable endeavour, I say, “Bravo!”