A different kind of summer

Well, here we are.

For the first time in Driftwood’s history, we are not spending the summer touring Shakespeare’s epic stories across southern Ontario. Willingly, at least (we’re not counting those COVID years).

The big changes at Driftwood this season have never  been more apparent than right now as we head into the summer months. Usually around this time, we’re kicking it into high gear for the  Bard’s Bus Tour. And for those of you who are really feeling that loss, I’m with you. I miss it too.

There will always be a part of me that longs for those special summers spent connecting with folks all over southern Ontario through the act of sharing Shakespeare’s plays.

But I’m also excited about what IS happening at Driftwood. Changing from a company that produces epic theatre into one which incubates and supports it is no small feat. The shifts we’ve made are big, and maybe even a little scary, but they are necessary for the long-term health of our company and our industry.

Thirty years ago, I started Driftwood Theatre because I wanted to share epic stories with people across Ontario. When I think about it, that mandate hasn’t changed all that much. Though we have changed the who and the how, that original kernel of an idea is still there: people sharing epic stories.

I love Shakespeare. I love his plays. I think they’re big, bold, messy and glorious. But Shakespeare isn’t the only storyteller who can write big, mythic tales. Many of these storytellers live right here, right now, and they need support now more than ever to get their works onstage. So we shift.  

What’s really interesting about driftwood – I mean real driftwood – is that it serves a very specific ecological purpose along the fringes of Ontario’s lakes. After meandering and wandering through our waterways, being honed and changed by the experience, it gathers and settles onto the shore and provides the shelter and stability required for massive new growth. How cool is that.

It’s exactly how I see Driftwood moving forward. We’ve traveled. We’ve been shaped by that experience. Now we’re starting a new life as a place where big ideas can take root and grow.

This summer might look different than those of our past, but it’s still full of creativity and play. With two projects lined up: 

June Gillespie House Playwrights Retreat

So far this year, we’ve welcomed three playwrights to our partnered B&B – The Gillespie House – in Prince Edward County for a week-long stay and in June we’ll welcome three more (Anahita Dehbonehie, Helen Ho and Mariya Khomutova). These retreats are an important opportunity for storytellers to break away from their day-to-day, focus exclusively on creation, and convene with other artists to share and generate ideas and find inspiration.

D&D Summer Camp

Driftwood is also keen to support young storytellers along their creative journey. This summer, we’ll be offering two Dungeons and Dragons summer camps in cooperation with The Baxter Arts Centre in Bloomfield. At our D&D camp we’re welcoming participants ages 9-12 for week-long improvisational games designed to get them thinking creatively and cooperatively as they build and share a story together. Not every person who is passionate about theatre is a performer, and our D&D camp presents a way for people to express themselves without the anxiety of getting onstage. This camp is all about imagination, play and theatricality, but without the expectation of performance.

So, while this summer is certainly new territory for Driftwood, it feels like we’re on the right path. I hope you’ll follow along with us.  

Be joyful,


Photo credit: Summer Sky, by Dahlia Katz