2004 winner of the J.J. Talman Award from the Ontario Historical Society. "On July 13, 1953, the curtain rose onRichard III,the first production of the first Stratford Festival. Only it didn't. There was no curtain, and that is perhaps the single most important fact about the Festival. From that, sometimes in reaction to that, everything else has followed." So beginsFifty Seasons at Stratford,an historical account of Canada's world-renowned Shakespearean theatre, as told by Robert Cushman, writer, director, and critic. More than 250 full-colour and black-and-white photographs, design sketches, drawings and paintings from the Festival archives fill this extraordinary book, making it a worthy celebration of Stratford's golden anniversary. Acclaimed author and playwright Timothy Findley (who has himself appeared on the theatre's varnished boards) begins this journey. He is joined by distinguished Festival alumni Christopher Plummer, William Shatner, Irene Worth, and Hume Cronyn, who offer personal accounts of their experiences. Stratford is inseparable from Canadian theatre. As Robert Cushman reminds us, Canadian actors from Kate Reid and Martha Henry to William Hutt and Bruno Gerusi, first learned how to hold an audience on Tania Moisevitch's innovative stage. Cushman's vast knowledge of the theatre is everywhere evident as he describes the theatre's humble beginnings under a tent, the difficult years when Canadian actors strove to establish themselves, and its present and continuing glory. The text is authoritative and comprehensive. The photos are evocative and memorable. Sidebars and well-chosen sketches illustrate the myriad crafts and artisan departments that toil backstage -- costume, make-up, and props. Fifty Years at Stratfordis the indispensable reference and perfect record to which theatre fans everywhere will turn again and again.