Presenting the best in Canadian storytelling since 1975!
About the Blyth Festival
Since 1975, the Blyth Festival Theatre has put all Canadians and certainly rural Canadians centre stage, telling our stories, sharing our history, and celebrating our way of life. A fully professional theatre, in the heart of Ontario’s bread-basket, the Blyth Festival’s ingenuity, tenacity, and creativity has irrevocably reinvigorated the region’s very imagination.
The Blyth Festival has always remained true to its original mandate:
To produce and present the best in Canadian storytelling.
A Brief History
The Blyth Centre for the Arts, including the Blyth Festival, was founded to produce professional repertory theatre that reflects the culture and concerns of the people of Southwestern Ontario and beyond.
The Blyth Festival was founded in 1975, a time when very few scripts that fitted the Festival’s mandate were being written. The Festival became the only summer theatre producing original Canadian plays, and one of the very few theatres in Canada exclusively producing Canadian plays.
Shows to Enjoy this Summer!
Our home at the Blyth Memorial Hall
At the end of WWI, in commemoration of the sacrifices of local soldiers, the Women’s Institute in Blyth came together to raise the funds necessary to buy a parcel of land on the main street of Blyth to build a living cenotaph, the Blyth Memorial Community Hall. Rather than a bronze statue, or a marble monument, the people of Blyth chose to build a 500-seat theatre, celebrating the very culture that the young men in their community had died to protect.
By the late 1960s, the building was in such disrepair that the theatre had to be closed. The future of the Hall was uncertain, with some voices calling for its demolition.
However, in an unforeseeable act of revitalizing inspiration, a group of tenacious local volunteers came together. They raised the money to repair the building and founded the Blyth Centre for the Arts, home of the now world-renowned Blyth Festival Theatre.
At the heart of Canadian rural life
Where the Blyth Festival has truly proven its leadership is in its ferocious insistence that the stories of life in rural Canada truly matter. The Festival believes that characters and plots taken and told from the county roads are just as important as those that light up the marquees on the Great White Way.
The Blyth Festival has passionately asserted that rural Canada has a history and imagination that is full, vibrant and as worthy of championing as any Shakespeare play. The Blyth Festival has put rural Ontario centre stage.
“Gil Garratt’s debut exemplifies how an artistic director with a depth of knowledge, history and understanding of the Canadian Theatre scene can see pieces of the puzzle that others might fail to connect … If theatres fail to challenge audiences, and stimulate them with relevant scripts, rather than mealy productions of inconsequential works, audiences will evaporate.”
Canadian Theatre For Everyone
The Blyth Festival has premiered 156 (and counting) new Canadian plays, an achievement very few arts organizations in Canada can parallel. All of these are plays written by Canadians, directed by Canadians, designed by Canadians, and performed by Canadians. All of them are fully realized professional productions about life in rural Canada.
To date, more than one million people, from every township and concession road in Huron County, every province and territory in Canada, all over United States, and all around the globe have attended the Blyth Festival.
The success of the Blyth Festival has led to the founding of many summer theatres in town halls across Ontario, and some have even since adopted a policy for also producing Canadian plays.
Dozens of plays born on Blyth’s stage have gone on to be produced worldwide. Plays from the Blyth Festival have won Governor General’s awards, been produced in 29 countries worldwide, and translated into dozens of languages, including American Sign Language.
“Of all the regional theatres across Canada, no theatre has been as truthful and as faithful to its core audience as Blyth. It’s amazing to peruse its production history since its inception in 1975 and see all the plays it has presented that examine and celebrate rural issues generally and farming issues specifically.
“It’s a glorious tradition that is sure to continue. And, by the way, you don’t have to live in rural Canada to appreciate the contribution the Festival has made to helping us all understand the breadbasket that feeds the nation.”
Robert Reid, Reid between the lines, 2017
The Blyth Festival is a community-based professional theatre that endeavours to enrich the lives of its audience by producing and developing plays that give voice to both the region and the country.
Our mandate is:
- To promote interest in and the study of the arts generally, and literature, music, and drama in particular
- To advance knowledge of, and appreciation of, and to stimulate interest in the dramatic culture and tradition by theatrical performances and otherwise
- To provide facilities for education and instruction in the arts of theatre
- To provide improved opportunities for Canadian artistic talent
- To advance the development of the arts of theatre in Canada
- To conduct an annual festival of such in the village of Blyth
- To collect monies by way of donations and otherwise
More about the Blyth Festival
Discover more about our unique summer theatre festival:
- Our History
- Meet Our Team
- Our Young Company
- Opportunities at Blyth Festival
- Past Productions
- Become a Member
- Support Us (link to donations)