CISDF: Drama Festival

The CIS Ontario Drama Festival (CISDF) is a one-of-a-kind theatre field trip experience for students passionate about drama and theatre.

Hosted by none other than the world-renowned Stratford Festival each spring, this one-of-a-kind inter-school theatrical experience makes a lasting impact on aspiring actors, producers and technicians. As North America's largest classical repertory theatre company, the Stratford Festival offers a unique opportunity for our students to engage with professional actors and technicians and to see high-quality productions. 

The offerings include seats for a current theatrical production, workshops by Stratford Festival teaching artists and students' participation in performances. Working with Stratford's performing artists sets a high bar and raises the calibre of conversation about theatre, whether 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 CIS Ontario schools.

All senior student performances are showcased at the Studio Theatre, which is 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, be they actors or technicians. There is also an adjudication element 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 is wonderfully celebratory and fosters an empowering environment where students are encouraged to explore and challenge their dramatic range.


CISDF 2024

SENIOR SCHOOL PROGRAM for students in grades 9-12
Wednesday, April 24 – Friday, April 26, 2024

Over three days, Senior School students will engage in a variety of interactive, educational and fun workshop sessions delivered by Stratford Festival professionals. Workshops will be scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday, and may include explorations of: Stage Combat, Musical Theatre, Wigs & Make-Up, Improv, Accents for the Stage and more. Students will also have the opportunity to perform a 20-minute piece for their peers at the Studio Theatre, a professional venue. Senior School students who do not wish to perform are welcome to participate without sharing a production. In addition, Senior School students and their supervisors will see two main stage Stratford shows as a part of their CISDF experience.

MIDDLE SCHOOL PROGRAM for students in grades 6-8 
Wednesday, May 1, 2024

The Middle School student participants will participate in two workshops led by Stratford professionals and will see a Stratford production of Twelfth Night at the Festival Theatre.


Register your school for CISDF 2024

This year we will continue with a two-part registration process. Part 1 will secure your school's interest, intent to participate and projected student participant numbers. Part 2 will allow each school to go into greater details about their involvement at the festival.

Part 1 registration must be completed by February 7, 2024 to secure a spot for your school to participate. 

Part 1: REGISTER to Secure School Participation


The Drama Educators' Professional Learning Day was held on 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.

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

PROGRAM LEADS

Senior School CISDF 2024 Leads

David Newman
Chair of Arts
St. John's-Kilmarnock School

Gisa Bevacqua-Tirone
Guidance Counsellor & Learning Strategist and Drama Department Head
The Country Day School

Middle School CISDF 2024 Lead

Matt Burns
Head of Drama
The Sterling Hall School

Michael Luchka
Grade 5-8 Drama Teacher
Montcrest School

Festival Leads
Lois Adamson

Director of Education
Stratford Festival

Katherine Laing
Education Associate
Stratford Festival

Executive Chair & Outreach Lead
Brendon Allen

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

For additional information, please contact:

Jeremy Barr
Event Manager
jbarr@cisontario.ca
613-449-0226

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