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. (Senior students stay for the full three-day option while Middle School students come for one day.)

Key Dates

A CISDF Primer for Teachers

The Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario Drama Festival is an exciting event for students studying or passionate about drama and for their teachers. The Festival has a slightly different structure depending on whether you are involved with the Senior School Division or the Middle School Division. 

Over the 2.5 day festival, the Senior School students will engage in four interactive, educational, fun and applicable workshop sessions delivered by Stratford Festival professionals, and have the opportunity to perform a 20-minute piece for their peers. The Senior School participants also get the chance to see a mainstage Stratford show as a part of their CISDF experience. 

The Middle School students do not stay overnight but have the option of a whole day of workshops and to participate in one day of performances on Friday April 24. With an audience comprised 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. In addition to offering the option of bringing a production to the festival to share, there is also the option to audit the festival, which means your school in either the Middle School or Senior School Divisions can attend the festival and participate in all events without sharing a production. 

In addition to providing your students with this outstanding learning/performance opportunity, this is a great PD opportunity for yourself as a Drama educator. Take this occasion to connect with your Drama colleagues from other CIS Ontario schools and sit in on any of the wide variety of specialty workshops being offered for the students

The 2020 Drama Festival will begin on Wednesday, April 22 at 4 pm with registration followed by a Student Interactive Activity and dinner for the Senior Division. Production time for all shows is scheduled throughout the days giving each school an hour of time to prepare for their performance. Workshops run by Stratford artists occur throughout the days and range in focus. Last year's workshops were lively explorations of topics like: Stage Combat, Musical Theatre, Wigs & Make-Up, Improv, Accents for the stage and many more. CISDF 2020 will boast a whole collection of exciting workshops for students to participate in.

What's new for CISDF 2020?

Building off of the tremendous success of last year's festival in collaboration with the Stratford Festival, we are excited to announce that CISDF 2020 will have all the performances showcased at the Studio Theatre, which is one of the official stages of the Stratford Festival and a once in a lifetime opportunity for the young CIS dramatists, be they actors or technicians. This year will also have an adjudication element built in to allow students to explore and discuss their creative projects more with professionals from the industry.

Two-Part Registration Process for Schools

This year we are instituting a two-part registration process. Part One will secure your school's interest and intent to participate. Please note, you are encouraged to register early as we have a limited number of performance time slots.
Please complete the registration to secure your school's spot as performers or auditors.


CIS Ontario would like to thank the CISDF Planning Committee and our partners at the Stratford Festival for their commitment to making this exciting opportunity a success and valuable experience for our schools.


If you have any questions, please contact Brendon Allen, Committee Chair by email at

The Bishop Strachan School Experiences CISDF 2019

CISDF Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario Dance Fest


Date: April 22-24, 2020

Location: Stratford Festival

Target Audience: Senior School Drama Students, Middle School Drama Students and Drama Educators

Space is limited, be sure to register early to secure your spot and school's interest and intent to participate!



Brendon Allen
Drama Teacher
The Bishop Strachan School

Breanne Ritchie
Education Associate – Partnership Focus
Stratford Festival

For additional information, please contact:
Sheri Little
Executive Assistant/ Event Manager

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