CISDF: Drama Festival

Hosted by none other than the world-renowned Stratford Festival each April, this multi-day theatrical experience makes a lasting impact on aspiring actors, producers and technicians.

The offerings include seats for a current production. (Spamalot or Chicago may just be on the bill.) Stratford Festival teaching artists deliver on-site workshops and each evening students participate in and watch pieces they’ve been rehearsing back at school. Working with Stratford's performing artists sets a high bar and raises the calibre of conversation about theatre, whether they’re offering supportive feedback or educating students about how to adjudicate a show. It’s also an exciting way to expose young artists to social opportunities with passionate and dedicated peers from member schools.

CISDF 2024

Mark your calendars for the CISDF: Drama Festival – Senior Program happening on Wednesday, April 24 – Friday, April 26, 2024 at the Stratford Festival. Middle Program will happen April 2024 – details coming soon.

The Drama Educators' Professional Learning Day will be held on Friday, September 29, 2023, also at the Stratford Festival.

CIS Ontario educators, please visit the Drama Educators' Network Hub in CISO Connect to learn more about how you and your students can participate.

CISDF 2023

The 2023 CIS Ontario Drama Festival was held at the Stratford Festival from April 17–19, 2023. 

A big thanks to Christian Peterson and his team at ED_PARA for filming CISDF 2023 for CIS Ontario.

Middle School Program

The Middle School one-day program saw students participating in two workshops by Stratford Festival professionals. In addition, students attended the musical Spamalot on the Stratford main stage and engaged in a post-show chat with two cast and crew members.

Senior School Program

The Senior School CISDF program engaged students in a customized professional theatre experience. Throughout the 3-day program, students participated in 6 workshops by Stratford Festival professionals at The Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business at the University of Waterloo. In addition, students attended the Stratford musical Rent on the main stage and engaged in a post-show chat with two cast and crew members.

Senior School students also participated in a unique behind-the-scenes experience curated exclusively for CIS Ontario – a dress rehearsal of King Lear. The dress rehearsal was an intimate experience where students witnessed the successes and challenges of a professional production in the final rehearsals before opening night. Post-show, they engaged with the show's director for a chat with cast and crew members. 

Senior students showcased their performances at the Studio Theatre – one of the main stages of the Stratford Festival. To perform on a Stratford stage is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Senior School dramatists – actors or technicians. An adjudication element was built-in to allow students to explore and discuss their creative projects with professionals from the industry. With an audience of festival participants, the performance atmosphere was wonderfully celebratory and fostered an empowering environment where students were encouraged to explore and challenge their dramatic range.

We look forward to CIS Ontario students and drama educators joining us at CISDF 2024!

CISDF – CIS Ontario Drama Fest 2023
CISDF Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario Dance Fest


Brendon Allen
Drama Instructor & Curriculum Coordinator
Theatre Co-Curricular Coordinator
Upper Canada College

CIS Ontario Drama Executive Chair and Outreach Lead

Lois Adamson
Director of Education
Stratford Festival

For additional information, please contact:

Jeremy Barr
Event Manager

By breaking down geographic boundaries and school walls, this province-wide theatre experience invites a powerful journey of self-expression and discovery.