Stratford News

The Bard, the Bieb and the bacon



Follow them all in Stratford

By Mary Lu Laffey, Small Newspaper Group, October 13, 2012

Stratford, Ontario, Canada has the cure for what ails you — if what ails you in a desire for Elizabethan theater, the soulful sound of rhythm and blues or maybe it’s a charcuterie board of house-cured artisanal meats, house-made pickles, mustard and chutneys.

Tens of thousands of theatergoers find an anecdote for their fervor at a performance or two at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. The repertory theater company is the largest on the continent. Its reputation has remained stellar since opening night in 1952, when Alec Guinness stepped onto the stage in the title role in Richard III.

Thanks to young megastar, musician and lyricist Justin Bieber, a second fever is sated for thousands of preteens and teens making their way to see the sights that were important to the Bieb when he was growing up.

With culinary opportunities growing along side its cultural footprint, Stratford evolved into a culinary leader for the province. Tourists cure this fever with locally grown foodstuffs and cured meats — Perth County is the leading pork producer in Ontario.

The Bard

Anecdotal history says an executive for the Canadian Company renamed a rail stop on the Huron Line, Stratford. He then proceeded to rename the river that runs through it, Avon, just like the home of William Shakespeare in England. He reportedly gave a portrait of the Bard of Avon to the owner of the local hotel, which was named The Shakespeare. That was in 1832. It is a lengthy association and one that comes alive in each and every performance at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

While the work of William Shakespeare plays on one or two stages — there are five venues — other performances run in tandem. We saw Thornton Wilder’s “The Matchmaker,” the comedy that eventually evolved into the musical “Hello Dolly.” Comedy is putting it mildly; we laughed aloud along with the rest of the standing-room-only crowd. It was perfect — for all ages.

The Bieb

Justin Drew Bieber was born in London, Ontario, in 1994 and spent his youth in Stratford, where he attended school, played soccer and made music. He played at home, in school and on the street as a busker. Bieber’s music eventually was uploaded onto YouTube by his mother, where it was seen by millions and discovered by the music industry.

Justin Bieber is so popular in Stratford, his hometown has produced a Bieber-iffic! map of the town of spots that were important to him as he was growing up. Download the map, or better yet, stop by the Stratford Tourism Alliance office for a copy.

There are 24 destinations listed on Justin’s Stratford map. Each is identified by a numbered star on a simple, grid map. Reportedly Bieber and his mom have breakfast at her favorite restaurant, Madelyn’s Diner. It’s on the map as No. 13.

The schools Bieber attended are marked, too: Jeanne Sauve Catholic School, Stratford Northwester Public School, Ecole Bedford Public School and Stratford Northwestern Secondary School. None are open to the public. But the Avon Theatre is.

The front steps of the Avon Theatre will look familiar to fans of his YouTube videos. During the tourist season, he reportedly earned between $150 and $200 a day busking at that location.
Bieber played hockey at the Stratford Rotary Area, basketball at the Stratford Perth YMCA and had breakfast at Features. All are on the map. When Bieber is spotted in town, it is usually at Boston Pizza. That would be location No. 24.

The bacon

Self-guided tours in Stratford don’t necessarily end at the theater or at the Stratford Youth Centre — another Bieber hangout (No. 2.).

Stratford is heralded as Ontario’s best culinary experience and with good reason. It is the epicenter for pork in the province and has a thriving food community that uses fresh, local ingredients.

American writer Doug Larson is quoted as saying that “life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.” His sentiment is echoed on Stratford’s Bacon and Ale trail. Passes for this trail and others are available at the Stratford Tourism Alliance office, where there is a Bieber photo op that isn’t on the map. The office displays an autographed guitar, which visitors use as a photo opportunity for Facebook.

A Bacon and Ale pass, $25 plus taxes, is valid for three days from the date of purchase. It provides samples at five of 11 stops, like Molly Bloom’s Irish Pub, where loaded baked potato soup is made with doubled-smoked bacon. Soup also is served with Mill Street Brewery’s organic lager. If you don’t want to drink beer, consider bathing with it. Soap made with oils, butters and beer is sold at Treasures.

STRATFORD TOURISM ALLIANCE, STRATFORD, ONTARIO, CANADA: www.visitstratford.ca

STAYING WHERE: Stewart House Inn breathed new life into an 1879 estate only two blocks from downtown Stratford. The inn’s resident miniature schnauzers, Essex and York, make guests feel at home. Cookies and milk (fruit and candies) on a side table say good night. In the morning, enjoy a gourmet menu to break your fast: www.stewarthouseinn.com

NOT TO MISS: Stratford Shakespeare Festival — any performance on any of the five stages: www.stratford shakespearefestival.com

DINING, TOO: Try the ice cream, a frozen yogurt with fresh fruit or dairy-free sherbet at Scooper’s Ice Cream Treats. Scooper’s is where Justin Bieber and his soccer teammates met after games. It’s located at 28 Erie St. There is no website for Scooper’s.

For an afternoon of indulging at local candy makers, follow the Savour Stratford Chocolate Trail. This pass is also $25 plus taxes with the three-day use caveat. Use it to visit eight of 20 chocolate-related stops. Duck into Let Them Eat Cake for a double-chocolate
biscotti fresh from the oven and served with a chocolate sauce for dipping. LTECake is only steps from city hall (map No. 5), where Bieber sang his first recorded song, “Set A Place At Your Table III.” One more opportunity for a photo op along the Bieber-iffic Trail.

Earth amazing sights (HD) – Music: Loreena McKennitt

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Amazing sights of the beautiful and wonderous world we live in.

Music: Loreena McKennitt – Night Ride Across the Caucasus

1) 0:29 – 1:00 Turkmenistan ” The Door to Hell”
2) At 1:00 I think is the Deccan Plateau of India.
3) 1:15 – 1:47 probably the Dolomite Alps, Italy.
4) 1:47 – 2:45 Angel Falls in Venezuela.
5) 2:45 – 3:00 Iguacu Falls, are situated in the border between ARGENTINA and BRAZIL.
6) 3:15 East African Rift; Lake Victoria is the big round lake at top.
7) 3:44 is Lake Baikal, Siberia. The big river is the Angara.
8) 4:30ish is the Amazon.
9) 5:23 – 5:32 Baltoro Glacier (in Pakistan)
10) 5:30 – 6:00 is Antarctica.
11) The bulls-eye at 6:30 is the Richat Structure in Mauritania
12) About 6:40 is a satellite view of the Sahara.
13) The finale: Bangladesh and the Ganges delta.

BBC Planet Earth

Discover the natural beauties of our planet !

‘If I hadn’t found music my life would have been bad’: £70 million and not yet 18, how Justin Bieber became the new king of pop



By Louise Gannon, The Daily Mail, UK

27 October 2012

Q: How did this baby-faced Canadian teenager take over the world?
A: With a little help from 47 million Facebook fans, 29 million Twitter followers and 3 billion hits on YouTube

‘I never stop working. In what I wanted to do in music I’ve never had any fear. But now I’m at the top there’s nowhere to go but down; for me it’s about staying standing at the top,’ said Justin Bieber

The world’s richest self-made teenager is sitting in his vast dressing room just hours before he goes on stage at the Tacoma Dome, 30 miles south of Seattle.

With pale features, an Elvis-style quiff and a whippet-thin body, Justin Bieber looks younger than his 18 years.

Don’t be fooled, Simon Cowell warned me during an earlier interview. ‘The genius of Justin Bieber is he used the power of social media like no other artist – and he doesn’t stop.’

As the world’s first social-media superstar, Bieber built up a fan base of millions before he’d even signed a record deal. ‘I’m not a kid any more – I’m an adult, I’m making the decisions,’ said Justin

Now he has 47 million Facebook fans, 29 million Twitter followers and three billion YouTube hits – a world record that puts him ahead of Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Eminem.

‘Only a fool would underestimate him,’ added Cowell. ‘I’ve met him a few times. He’s bright. The kid is more in charge than people think. I know this industry, I know what it takes, and he will be around for a very long time.’

With a fortune estimated at £70 million – which is set to double in the next two years on the back of a world tour, a movie and the returns from numerous investments – Bieber is part teenage heart-throb, part superstar businessman.

His latest album, Believe, topped the charts in the UK, the U.S. and throughout Europe, and his tour is sold out.

This amazing success has brought him a £4 million, 10,000sq ft house north of LA, a Disney-princess girlfriend, Selena Gomez, and a £500,000 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van customised with three high-definition TVs and a recording studio. About the only thing lacking in his fairy-tale world is a private jet.

Bieber fiddles momentarily with the diamond-encrusted whistle that hangs from his neck and then looks up. ‘No way,’ he says emphatically. ‘It’s a total waste of money. You buy the plane, then you have to pay for storage, and on top of that you have to think about the fuel, the cost of the fuel – that’s maybe $4,000. ‘Even hiring a private plane is like 50 or 60K. Once you get into that it becomes a habit – a bad habit.

‘I’ll get one when I need it – if I have to go somewhere instantly – but you don’t want to buy a plane; it’s definitely not worth it.’

What makes this exchange truly surreal isn’t the fact that Bieber barely even shaves yet – but that he’s only out by $100 on the cost of a tank of jet fuel. Cowell was right to say he shouldn’t be underestimated.

‘I never stop working,’ says Bieber. ‘In what I wanted to do in music I’ve never had any fear. But now I’m at the top there’s nowhere to go but down; for me it’s about staying standing at the top. I’m not a kid any more – I’m an adult, I’m making the decisions and I want to keep on growing, and I believe I can.’

With Believe marking a departure from the swooshy fringe and ‘baby, baby, baby’ lyrics of his initial incarnation, the pressure is now on for Bieber to make the transition from boy star to adult performer. It’s a challenge, however, that leaves him unfazed.

‘I look at Justin Timberlake and Usher and see how they crossed over really successfully, and I’ve seen people go off at the deep end, get full of themselves, think they’re the best and end up not being anything. I’ve worked way too hard for that. I definitely don’t want to be just another teen heart-throb. But there are different ways of growing. I want to be loved like Michael Jackson was, from the four-year-olds to the 80-year-olds.’

‘I am going to change and grow through my music and doing films. This album was different. My next album will be even edgier.’ Edgy enough to merit an explicit-lyrics warning, I ask? He shakes his head. ‘My music is never going to have swear words in it. Never.’

Bieber pulls up his trouser leg to show me tattoos of Jesus and hands clasped in prayer. He also has the Hebrew word for Jesus on his ribcage. He no longer attends church regularly like he did as a child, but he is open about his beliefs.

‘I believe that He put me in this position, and that I have to always give Him the glory He deserves for putting me here.’

Unlike, for example, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and Justin Timberlake, Bieber didn’t spring fully formed from a major TV show. Instead, aged 12, he appeared from nowhere – or more precisely, from YouTube, where his mother, Pattie Mallette, posted videos of her son singing in a local competition and in their tiny basement apartment in the blue-collar town of Stratford, Canada.

His backstory is straight out of a Hollywood script. Troubled teen (Mallette) gets pregnant by her on-again, off-again boyfriend (Jeremy Bieber). At 18, she gives birth, and – besotted by her baby – turns her back on drugs and alcohol and embraces Christianity. Meanwhile, the father, 19, languishes in jail for assault. He and Mallette eventually separate.

At the age of two, Bieber starts playing the drums, and soon he’s astounding his mother’s friends with his natural talent. A hyperactive child, he teaches himself to play the guitar, piano and trumpet too, and begins performing in his home town.

Then, when he’s 13, talent manager Scooter Braun spots him on YouTube. Braun flies him and his mother to Atlanta, attracts interest from R&B star Usher and gets him a record deal with Usher’s mentor LA Reid. At 16, Bieber’s debut album goes double platinum. His dad reforms and settles down, and his mother tours the world with him.

‘What happened was I found something I wanted to be good at,’ says Bieber now. ‘I wasn’t good at school because I had no passion for it. If I hadn’t found music my life would have been bad. My family are all poor, so the cycle would have continued. My kids would have been poor, and their kids would have been too. I feel I broke the cycle, and when you get to break the cycle, you don’t go back.’

Bieber was originally painted as a pretty puppet, with Braun, now 31 and worth £15 million, pulling the strings. ‘That’s the greatest misconception of me,’ he smiles. ‘People think I’m a product, that they found this good-looking kid, cut his hair nice and put Auto-Tune on his voice, wrote him good songs, taught him how to dance and then said, “Here is a pop star for you.”

‘I am the furthest thing from that. I’m a musician; I play instruments, I write songs. I’m a businessman; I want to create an empire. I want people to know I don’t just sing songs. I’m the guy who signed the girl who just had the biggest single all round the world (Carly Rae Jepsen with Call Me Maybe; he brought her to the attention of Braun, who gave him a 50 per cent cut when he signed her).

‘I’m going to do movies – I’m talking with Mark Wahlberg about my first big movie. I invest in start-ups and IT. I have a very smart manager, but I always wanted to learn from him. ‘The education I’ve had you couldn’t get in any school. If I want to be good at something I will be. I’m good at this.’

With all his money and fame he can do anything, except walk down a street without being mobbed. You wonder how he gets his thrills. ‘On stage,’ he says. ‘Playing a song acoustically.’ But what about a thrill that has nothing to do with what he does, like buying a house or getting the keys to a car?

‘No, those are just things, material things…’ So what else does give Bieber a thrill? He shrugs his shoulders. ‘Honestly, I can’t think of anything.’

Perhaps, like his hero Jackson, he has forfeited his childhood for fame. ‘I’ve been working since I was 13 and there are definitely things that I missed out on, but I got to go to Australia and all these different countries. I met the President before I was 16 years old. So I missed out on a few high-school parties. But I got to see the Eiffel Tower, to experience a business I want to be in for life. I don’t think I missed out on much.’

Braun’s business partner Allison Kaye offers an interesting perspective.

‘Since Justin was 14 he’s had business training as part of his curriculum. He would have a call every week with his lawyer and business manager and they would talk through contracts, royalty statements. He sees them all, and if there’s something he doesn’t understand he’s really upfront in terms of asking the question.’

The proof of Bieber’s extraordinary power is all around us. The 530ft-diameter Tacoma Dome is surrounded by thousands of hysterical girls – the so-called Beliebers. It’s impossible to get into or out of the stadium without running the gauntlet. They scream at indescribable decibels, thrust notes into your hands and push their ‘Marry Me Justin’ placards into your face.

Many seem to know the names and birthdays of all his key staff, where he’s staying that night and the next, and the number plate of his tour bus.

In a world where Katy Perry declares she wants to have sex with Rihanna, and One Direction’s Harry Styles bed-hops his way through hordes of women, Bieber is the good boy, the one every girl wants to take home to her mother. He’s as unthreatening as Hello Kitty.

There is no sex tape, no hint of anything untoward. He rarely talks about his girlfriend, though he has admitted their first kiss was ‘the best of my life. It was in the car. It was scary and spontaneous and it was just awesome.’

Despite all this, many think Bieber is heading for a meltdown. When he was sick on stage recently (apparently due to drinking milk beforehand), rumours abounded that he was about to ‘do a Britney’. He dismisses the idea: ‘I’m not going to shape my life round what people might be thinking. Whatever happens, happens.’

He also has some new rivals for his fans’ affections in the form of British boy bands One Direction and The Wanted. ‘I am not threatened by anybody; no one can threaten me,’ he insists. ‘It’s actually cool to have other young people on the scene. I’ve spent years being the only one at all these awards shows – now there are other people my age.

‘I hang out with One Direction, and the guys from The Wanted are fun, really funny guys. I keep my distance when they go to clubs to have their fun – I go home. ‘Drinking is definitely one way, but it’s not for me. I still want people to think I’m a good person, a good influence. I want to be around tomorrow.’

Two artists he’s met who have stood the test of time are Paul McCartney and Elton John – but disappointingly he can barely recall the encounters: ‘Yeah, we talked, but I can’t remember what either of them said.’

He has much more to say when the subject turns to his fans. ‘I love my fans; I love the mass hysteria. I mean, this was always what I wanted. And you’ve got to remember I was this kid with no marketing campaign; it was my fans that got me here. They were the ones who’d show up at radio stations when I was playing on them, and that’s how I got my record deal. That’s how everybody started saying, “Who is this kid, Justin Bieber, who has 10,000 girls outside a mall in New Jersey?” My fans made me.’

Like the greatest cult leader of them all, Bieber has absolute control over his followers. One of his tweets can sell out a brand of clothing (Adidas) or spot cream (Proactiv), or catapult an unknown artist to stardom (Jepsen). But at close quarters, the greatest eye-opener is how in control this kid is. In fact, he describes himself as fearless – except, that is, when it comes to flying.

‘I just started to really not like getting on a flight,’ he says. ‘It scares me. When I get anxiety, my heart drops and starts beating really fast as if it’s going to explode. And when there’s a weird noise, it’s like, what’s that weird noise? People say you have more chance of getting into a car accident than a plane crash, but they do maybe one flight a year and I’m on planes all the time. And all the time I’m thinking I have no control. If this plane crashes I’m dead. I feel like every time I get on a plane I’m risking my life.’

Tomorrow, he’s due to board another plane, and there’ll be dozens more on his current tour, which ends next year. But now, an hour into our conversation, his attention has started to wander.

He talks briefly about what he likes – The Simpsons, Family Guy, House, Tupac, the Beatles, Liam Neeson (‘I met him on Jonathan Ross; I really like that guy’).

He also admits he’s keen on Cheryl Cole. ‘She’s really pretty,’ he says. I suggest that at 29, she’s surely too old for him. He laughs and jumps to his feet. ‘Is that a challenge? She’s not too old. Nothing is too old for me, except maybe 50 or 60.’

He gets up to leave, but before he goes he pulls up his shirt to show me another tattoo, a crown on his skinny chest. ‘King of Pop,’ he says. So that’s the real challenge? He nods. ‘I have no fear that anyone will beat me.’

Bieber’s album ‘Believe’, book ‘Just Getting Started’ and perfume ‘Girlfriend’ are out now.

Balzac’s Coffee Roasters – our favourite coffee shop!



The very first Balzac’s was opened in 1996 here in Stratford, and is located just 4 doors away from our book shop. It’s high ceiling and spacious interior provides a wonderful atmosphere to sit back, relax and enjoy a delightful hot or cold beverage. Be sure to put Balzac’s on your “places to check out in downtown Stratford” list!

Here is a link to Balzac’s Coffee Shop website for more information.

Plummer finally gets street in his honour



Christopher Plummer signs copies of his memoir in downtown Stratford in this Gazette file photo.

Jeff Heuchert, Stratford Gazette
Wednesday, October, 10, 2012 – 4:04:35 PM

After an earlier decision to name a section of road commonly used to unload buses after Oscar-winner and Stratford Shakespeare Festival stalwart Christopher Plummer received a less than enthusiastic response, the city has now selected Confederation Drive as the more appropriate location to honour the venerable actor.

The street, which is located near the Festival Theatre and connects Richard Monette Way to Romeo Street, will be renamed Christopher Plummer Drive.

The idea to name a street after Plummer to recognize his professional accomplishments and contributions to the city was first brought forward in the spring by former city councillor Dave Gaffney, who initially suggested the section of Queen Street between Lakeside Drive and Ballantyne Avenue.

But there were concerns renaming a portion of an existing road might cause confusion for the public and in emergency situations.

The heritage and planning committee then came back with a recommendation for the portion of the street in Upper Queens Park where buses park, which currently has no name.

The street was to be named Christopher Plummer OC Street, with the OC intended as a nod to the actor’s Order of Canada appointment. However, Plummer is a Companion of the Order of Canada, which uses the post-nominal CC.

The error aside, several councillors and residents expressed disappointment with the choice of street, and the matter was again sent back to sub-committee, which this time came back with a proposal that appears to have the full support of council.

The recommendation to rename Confederaton Drive was also supported by city staff because, unlike the Queen Street proposal, there are no residences along the street that will be affected.

Stratford, Ontario, Canada: A Place Where Beauty Matters


Posted: 07/07/2012 8:30 am by Olga Bonfiglio of The Huffington Post

 

My annual pilgrimage to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival stimulated the thought once again about what it’s like to be in a community that devotes itself to beauty. That beauty matters in a town of Stratford’s size and geography is not only unusual these days, but it summons a reflection about what beauty entails and why it is important for our lives.

 

Beauty is about having a sense of place.

 

Stratford, population 30,000, is located in the southern Ontario 90 miles west of the Toronto metropolis. It sits in the heart of the agricultural belt where farms raise corn, squash, melons, pumpkins, strawberries and pork while industries make products in advanced manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, high tech and financial services. This strong economic base helps support the Festival and the farms that dot Route 7 thus making the drive there pleasant and picturesque.

 

The Festival has utilized the town’s name as a replica of the original theatre of Stratford on Avon in England. For 60 years it has offered not only the very best in repertory theatre (including Shakespearean classics, American Broadway musicals, French and British farces, ancient Greek tragedies and native Canadian plays) but the very finest in art, cuisine, gardening and architecture.

 

A touch of English haute couture pervades the town partly because of Canada’s historical alliance with England but also because of the number of British Isles nationals who have migrated there. Locals are low-key, unpretentious and anxious to share their town and its amenities with visitors who soon discover that they are appreciated for their company and interest in art and culture and not just for the money they spend. In this way, theatre-goers become an integral part of the Stratford community and look forward to annual return visits during the April to November season.

 

Beauty is also about enhancing the interplay between the natural world and the urban environment.

 

Because Stratford is small, it is easy to get around town by walking. This factor allows visitors to see and appreciate the clean, flower-lined streets, tidy shops and vibrant neighborhoods firsthand.

 

The townspeople have also taken full advantage of the Avon River, which provides a natural setting for leisurely strolls amid the old, leafy trees that line the shore or a paddleboat or pontoon ride on the calm waters. Visitors mingle among young parents out with their babies, youngsters riding their bikes to soccer practice and retirees with their grandchildren feeding the ducks, geese, gulls and swans with corn seed, not bread! A fanciful, little, wooden bridge connects the mainland to an island in the middle of the river where a modest but reverent plaque to the Festival’s founder, Tom Patterson, has been placed.

 

Upriver is the Gallery Stratford, an architecturally quaint building that formerly served as the city’s water pump station. This small gallery usually features one exhibit on contemporary art and the other on Stratford theatre art. Outside the gallery is yet another display of the city’s bountiful flowerbeds and a rock garden with a gurgling waterfall surrounded by tall, fragrant pine trees.

 

On the way back downtown a walk through the town’s neighborhoods presents a variety of vintage red and yellow brick houses with manicured lawns and lovely wildflower gardens.

 

The downtown commercial district offers all the cultural accoutrements a visitor could imagine: oriental rugs, books, china, antiques, Inuit art, Scottish-ware, Canadian winter-proof clothes, restaurants, pubs, pastry shops, cafés, a chocolatier, juice bars and gift shops. Incidentally, all of these shops are locally-owned and managed so the money stays in town.

 

Beauty is about paying attention to details.

 

The Festival’s fashion artists research and design the actors’ elaborate costumes for historical integrity while a full-time wardrobe staff custom fits each actor’s outfit by hand. Master craftsmen carefully construct every table, bowl of fruit, spear and wagon. Shoemakers cobble all footwear with “mufflers” on the soles to minimize unwanted sounds on the stage. Choreographers carefully plan battle scenes while musicians compose and perform original works with period instruments.

 

These preparations augment the work of the actors who move across the stage with the poise and grace as they masterfully portray their characters. This repertory theatre emphasizes acting and staging rather than the usual diet of special effects.

 

Restaurants throughout town offer a variety of specialties and price ranges, however, the gourmet venue available in Stratford is particularly spectacular. Taste, quality and presentation abound in each exquisite dish. There’s even a gourmet shop for French fries! Stratford’s secret is its Chefs School where many local restaurateurs teach and then practice what they preach in their own establishments.

 

Beauty is about hospitality and good conversation.

 

Stratford accommodations include hotels and motels in and around town as well as cottages and campgrounds. However, a stay at a bed and breakfast provides a unique experience.

 

Stratford has become a magnet for retired Canadians who buy an old Edwardian or Queen Anne house, restore it and rent out rooms for theatre guests. B&B hosts are warm and welcoming and visitors often make repeat stays. Over the years both host and visitor get to know each other and spend time catching up on the year’s events. Of course, B&Bs also offer visitors enriching conversations with their fellow travelers about the plays and restaurants and, for those interested in politics, an opportunity to compare notes between Canadians and Americans — and other Americans.

 

Beauty is about leisure.

 

Taking time away from the regular work and home routine is a state of mind that enables individuals to do the things they like to do without guilt or fear. Leisure also tends to have a slowing down effect that allows one to be comfortable spending time alone or with another. As a result, visitors at Stratford can easily indulge themselves in contemplation and quiet reflection without the noisy distractions of modern life.

 

Finally, beauty is about feeling safe.

 

In this post-9/11 era where security is tantamount to breathing, it soon becomes apparent in Stratford that anyone can walk down the street at any time of the day or night without the fear of being attacked or surveilled. For Americans, such a feeling is a refreshing luxury and becoming almost a forgotten memory.

 

All of these elements work together to illustrate that beauty does make a difference in people’s lives even if it only entails a visit to a special place like Stratford. We need such reminders. Even more, we need to bring such examples of good living to our own cities and towns so that we can have them to ourselves all year long!

 

Information about the Stratford Festival is available at http://www.stratfordfestival.ca.