Skip to main content
Photo of plant/bulb

BIRMINGHAM CONSERVATORY

WELCOME TO THE STRATFORD FESTIVAL’S BIRMINGHAM CONSERVATORY

It is a great privilege to gather and share stories on this beautiful territory, which has been the site of human activity – and therefore storytelling – for many thousands of years. We wish to honour the ancestral guardians of this land and its waterways: the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Wendat, and the Attiwonderonk. Today many Indigenous peoples continue to call this land home and act as its stewards, and this responsibility extends to all peoples, to share and care for this land for generations to come.

The Festival is committed to continuously deepening our understanding of equity, inclusion, and anti-racism and we acknowledge that the work of reconciliation is an ongoing journey. The Conservatory seeks to create a respectful environment of learning and exchange where every participant is asked to embrace an inclusive learning experience with an openness of heart and humility and where all those that lead are open to feedback.

The program is actively looking to partner with artists whose talent, energy, commitment and creativity will shape the future of the theatre both at the Festival and across the country. 


THE PROGRAM

The Conservatory is a paid two-year intensive which serves as an incubator for artists to flourish and grow alongside and within the professional environment of the Festival’s repertory company. It is focused on the development of craft required to tackle text and language-based plays through material rich in character, storytelling, song, dance, fights, and challenging themes. Shakespeare will be at the centre of the exploration, but not to the exclusion of other culturally rich material. 

There will also be a focus to support the development of the artist’s own voice and work: members of the program will have access to the Festival’s numerous resources in the areas of mentorship, as well as archives, the playwriting department, and rehearsal space.

This is not an introductory training program: it is designed for artists who have acquired a foundational training (either from a theatre school, or a non-conventional, experiential learning process) and have professional experience.  The ensemble allows for eight participating actors only.

The invitation is such that all artists fully commit to the journey of the training, both in the season and the studio work. Therefore, participants must be interested and available to make the entire two-year commitment as the Festival commits to their development.


CIRCLES OF LEADERSHIP FOR THE 2024 ENSEMBLE

Circles of Leadership support, inform and direct both the content of the program and way the program is delivered. All those participating in the Circles of Leadership (whether directly or indirectly) are involved in supporting the artists of the program.


Artistic Director – Antoni Cimolino
Guides the artistic direction of the Festival, including the vision and direction of the Conservatory

Director of the Conservatory Janine Pearson
In addition to teaching and coaching, the Director serves as a facilitator to the work of the program 

Directors' Office
Works to fulfill the artistic direction of the Festival, including the Conservatory 

Anita Gaffney, Executive Director
David Auster, Producer
Bonnie Green, Heather Cassels, Associate Producers
Jason Miller, Creative Planning Director
Ari Weinberg and Jennifer Emery, Casting Director and Casting Associate

Keith Barker, Director of the Foerster Bernstein New Play Development Program  
Franklin Brasz, Director of Music
Esther Jun, Artistic Associate, Planning and Director of the Langham Directors’ Workshop
Julie Miles, The Meighen Forum Director   

Director of Human Resources, Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the Company Manager – 
Work to create a healthy, safe and inclusive work environment for all Festival members
Director of Human Resources, TBC

Daviorr Snipes, Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Meineka Kulasinghe, EDI Coordinator
Hilary Nichol, Company Manager

Artistic AdvisorsWalter Borden, David Latham, Yvette Nolan
These artistic elders have tremendous experience and wisdom. They are resources in teaching, directing and leading conversations regarding the work.

Associate Artists – Keith Barker, Jessica B. Hill, André Sills, Michael Spencer-Davis, Sara Topham  
These artists are involved in advising and supporting the leadership and speaking to the direction of the Conservatory, providing feedback on the work, participating in short-term teaching, and mentoring artists in the program. 

Developing Teachers and Coachestba
These mid-career artists will have the opportunity to develop their pedagogical skills (in specific areas: eg. voice, movement, text) by having the opportunity to work alongside a chosen mentor (who is teaching or directing in the program).

Directors, Master Teachers, Teachers and Coaches
A great teacher is a facilitator: one who walks alongside, one who nurtures, not one who wishes to mould the artist in their own image.

Alexander Technique - Kelly McEvenue

Mask - Josue Laboucane

Movement, Period Dance, Intimacy - Adrienne Gould

Singing - Jennie Such

Text/Understudy work - Tim Welham

Voice - Lisa Cromarty, Paul De Jong, Martha Farrell, Jane Gooderham, Cathy MacKinnon, Janine Pearson


Company
The company (actors, stage managers, crew, artisans, etc.) all play a role in nurturing and supporting the Conservatory artists.

Community

The community and surrounding area provide the program with an opportunity to explore and participate in experiences outside of the Stratford Festival.


LOOKING to 2025-2026

This condensed program outline is subject to change


First Year - 2025

February (pre-season)

     There will be an Intensive prior to the beginning of rehearsals, providing an orientation to the Festival and the community, and to introduce training in voice, movement, music, text, and stage combat.

March – October

     During the first season actors will have a role(s) and understudy roles. They will also receive individual and group instruction in voice, movement, the Alexander Technique, singing and text. Training goals in these disciplines will be driven by the artists.

October

     Close of the Festival season.

November – December

     At the end of the season, artists return to the studio (the rehearsal hall) for six weeks, during which time they will rehearse and present a play.

December – January

     Three to four weeks away from the Festival


Second Year - 2026

January – February

     Artists return to studio training after a month away from the Festival. During this six-week period, the artists will rehearse and present a play.

March – October

     In the second season, artists will be cast in two productions and will once again receive individual coaching throughout the repertory season.

October

     Close of the Festival season.

November – December

     In the final six weeks, artists return to the studio to rehearse a production. This production will be presented in the Studio Theatre.

 

The primary focus of the studio training is centred on the foundational work of voice (including singing), movement and text work which will be delivered in both individual tutorials, group classes, scene study and in-studio production exercises.



Birmingham Conservatory Alumni 


Download this information as a PDF

Download this information as a Microsoft Word document

Call for Submissions for the 2025-2026 Birmingham Conservatory

December 2023

The Conservatory is a paid two-year intensive which serves as an incubator for artists to flourish and grow alongside and within the professional environment of the Festival’s repertory company. It is focused on the development of craft required to tackle text and language-based plays through material rich in character, storytelling, song, dance, fights, and challenging themes. Shakespeare will be at the centre of the exploration, but not to the exclusion of other culturally rich material. 

There will also be a focus to support the development of the artist’s own voice and work: members of the program will have access to the Festival’s numerous resources in the areas of mentorship, as well as archives, the playwriting department, and rehearsal space.

This is not an introductory training program: it is designed for artists who have acquired a foundational training (either from a theatre school, or a non-conventional, experiential learning process) and have two to five years of professional experience.  The ensemble allows for eight participating actors.

The invitation is such that all artists fully commit to the journey of the training, both in the season and the studio work. Therefore, participants must be interested and available to make the entire two-year commitment as the Festival commits to their development.

The 2025-2026 Conservatory consists of two parts:  in-studio training and in-season training.  Artists are paid a weekly stipend for the in-studio training. During the Festival season, artists are paid their negotiated fee. The Festival covers travel but not housing.

In-person auditions will be held in February of 2024 in Halifax, Montreal, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.  If you receive an invitation to audition, please prepare:

  • Two contrasting Shakespeare monologues
  • One contemporary monologue OR a piece of music (self-accompanied, if you wish)

Each monologue should be no more than 1.5 minutes.

You may present one of your monologues in a language other than English, if you wish.


How to Submit

If you would like to be considered for the 2025-2026 Conservatory, please submit your photo, résumé and a brief letter sharing the reasons you wish to participate to casting@stratfordfestival.ca no later than January 15, 2024.  

The Casting Department will notify all those selected for an interview.

The Birmingham Conservatory is only open to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

We welcome applicants of every identity, and encourage artists from Indigenous, Black, Latinx, MENASA, API, Deaf, disabled, 21SLGBTQ+, mixed and white identities to apply.


   

 

Banner photo credit: Trish Lindström

The Birmingham Conservatory at the Stratford Festival is made possible by the support of the Birmingham family, the Stratford Festival Endowment Foundation and the Department of Canadian Heritage. 

Canada Logo

Support for the 2022 in-season work of Conservatory participants is generously provided by the Marilyn & Charles Baillie Fund.