Freewill Shakespeare Festival is Back in Hawrelak Park!


The Freewill Shakespeare Festival illuminates the Heritage Amphitheatre, through the months of June through July. Freewill continues to create professional, contemporary, innovative productions of the works of William Shakespeare that are accessible to most audiences, regardless of age, ability, education, or income levels, while also developing new audiences and mentoring theatre professionals of the future.


JUNE 14 – JULY 10

After two years away from our usual stomping grounds, we are bringing Shakespeare back to the park! This season, we are bringing back the audience favourite A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and for the very first time we will present Measure for Measure.


The Shows

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By William Shakespeare, Adapted and Directed by David Horak

Duke Theseus is preparing to marry the warrior Queen Hippolyta. Egeus enters the court wanting Theseus to discipline his daughter Hermia who is refusing to marry Demetrius, the suitor Egeus has chosen, because she has fallen in love with a man named Lysander instead. Egeus calls on Theseus to punish Hermia to the full extent of the law, though Hermia insists that she will not marry Demetrius regardless. Theseus tells her that she must resolve the problem by the day of his wedding; otherwise, she may be executed or forced to become a nun.

Hermia agrees to run away with Lysander into the forest. Hermia explains the plan to her friend Helena, who is deeply in love with Demetrius. Helena hopes that she can reclaim Demetrius’ love by telling him about Hermia’s plan. Lysander and Hermia set off through the woods; Demetrius and Helena follow.

The woods are home to a community of faeries. King Oberon and Queen Titania rule the faeries but often disagree with one another. Titania refuses to give up a magical child that she has acquired; so Oberon hatches a plot with his mischievous servant Puck. He sends Puck to collect a magical flower that produces a juice that, when dropped onto a sleeping person’s eyes, causes the sleeper to fall deeply in love with the first person they see when they wake. Also, in the woods, are a group of workers who are rehearsing a play for Theseus’ wedding.

As the workers rehearse, Demetrius tries to prevent Lysander and Hermia from reaching their destination and Helena doggedly pursues Demetrius. Oberon watches this and instructs Puck to use the magic potion to make Demetrius fall in love with Helena. Puck misinterprets the order and uses the potion on Lysander, who falls in love with Helena. Lysander abandons Hermia and chases Helena instead. Puck tries to resolve the mistake and makes Demetrius also fall in love with Helena.

Puck plays a prank on one of the workers, Bottom, and casts a spell that gives them a donkey’s head. Bottom does not notice, but all the other aspiring actors run away, assuming that this monstrous creature has killed Bottom. Oberon, however, has since applied the love potion to Titania’s eyes. When she wakes up and sees the donkey, she falls in love with Bottom. Oberon only lifts the spell when Titania agrees to allow him to take the magical child. Puck also lifts the love spell on Lysander.

The next morning, Hermia, Helena, Demetrius, and Lysander wake and cannot remember what happened the night before, but the effects of the magic linger: Demetrius now loves Helena and Lysander has returned to Hermia. They return home and marry. After the weddings, Theseus calls for entertainment. The workers perform the play starring the now returned Bottom. When the play ends, the humans depart for bed, the faeries arrive and bless the court and the couples.


Measure for Measure

By William Shakespeare, Adapted and Directed by Nancy McAlear

Duke Vincentio decides to transfer the government of The City to his deputy Angelo, assisted by Escalus, purporting to leave on a mission. In fact, he stays in the city, disguising himself as Father Lodowick. He explains to Father Peter that he has left it to Angelo to implement a strict moral code on his behalf.

Angelo enthusiastically begins the strict enforcement of the laws, including the death penalty for fornication. This affects Claudio, who has made his intended wife Juliet pregnant, and he is arrested for lechery. Claudio asks his friend Lucio to approach Isabella, his sister who has just entered a convent, to intercede for him. At the same time a constable, Elbow, brings Pompey before Escalus, on suspicion of keeping a brothel.

Isabella approaches Angelo, and asks him to be merciful. Angelo refuses, but is taken with her, and tells her to return. He offers to release Claudio if Isabella will sleep with him, but she refuses. Meanwhile, ‘Father Lodowick’ is on his way to visit the prisoners, when he meets Juliet and hears about her and Claudio’s love.

‘Father Lodowick’ overhears Isabella telling Claudio of Angelo’s proposal. Claudio appeals her by asking her to agree. The ‘Father’ intervenes, suggesting that she meet with Angelo, but that Mariana, a girl Angelo had jilted some years before, should take her place. The ‘Father’ arranges a meeting between Isabella and Mariana, who agrees to the plan.

Elbow is taking Pompey to be seen by Angelo, when they encounter Lucio. Pompey asks Lucio for bail, but Lucio refuses. The ‘Father’ is present, and engages Lucio in conversation, asking him what he thinks of Duke Vincentio. Lucio paints a black picture of the Duke’s character. Escalus and the Provost takes Mistress Overdone to prison. Escalus expresses his sympathy for Claudio to the ‘Father’.

The Provost gives Pompey a job assisting Abhorson, the executioner. Both Claudio and an unrepentant murderer, Barnardine, are due to die the next day. ‘Father Lodowick’ is present when a message arrives from Angelo, but instead of it being the expected pardon, it is an instruction for Claudio to be executed early in the morning, and for the head to be brought to him. Following the ‘Father’s’ suggestion, the head of a dead prisoner is substituted for Claudio’s.

Isabella arrives expecting to be told of Claudio’s release. Instead, ‘Father Lodowick’ tells her that Claudio is executed, and that she should obtain justice from the Duke, who is about to return. Duke Vincentio then arrives in the city, and is approached by Isabella, who accuses Angelo of his attempted seduction. The Duke pretends not to believe her, and has her arrested. To support her, Mariana reveals herself and affirms that she has slept with Angelo. ‘Father Lodowick’ is called for, and the Duke leaves, returning as the Father to defend the women. Condemned by Angelo as a false witness, he reveals himself. Angelo admits his guilt, but is pardoned on condition that he marries Mariana. Claudio is reunited with Juliet, and the Duke proposes to Isabella.


Shows start at 8pm Tuesday to Sunday

Matinees are Saturday and Sunday at 2pm

Rain or Shine!


General Admission

Adult – $35.00
Student/Senior (65+) – $25.00
Child (under 10) – FREE

Tickets are valid for any day of the festival.

Can’t afford a ticket, no problem!

Tuesday and Saturday matinees – Pay-What-You-Will

Student Sundays – $5 (with valid Student ID)


Special Events

Come to the park early and enjoy a gourmet picnic basket for two! Handcrafted with local meats, cheeses, chips, fruits, sauces and veggies by Partake! Comes with 2 free drink tickets to anything offered in our beer and wine tent! Elevate your experience with add ons such as a  picnic blanket or a bottle of wine!

Picnic Box Menu can be found here

*All baskets need to be ordered the Sunday before each week begins. I.e if you order a picnic box for Thursday, your order needs to be in by the previous Sunday.

Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays- 7PM

A sommelier will take everyone on a dreamy journey through a curated selection of 4 wines paired with select cheeses and chocolate!

Wines and their pairings for the evening:

  • Tenuta S. Anna Lison Bianco, Italy (white) with a young/soft goat or sheep cheese
  • Rojo Tempranillo, Spain (red) with Manchego cheese
  • Madonna delle Grazie Aglianico del Vulture ‘Messer Oto’, Italy (red) with Pecorino or Piave vecchie
  • La Tribuleira Moscato d’Asti (white, lightly sparkling) with chilli mango chocolate from The Violet Chocolate Company.

Sommelier for tonight will be Susan Giacomin from Wine Quest

Saturday, June 18 – 6:30pm – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Thursday, June 23 – 6:30pm – Measure for Measure

Join us for Zwick’s Pretzels Nibs and lawn games as we tap into a specially brewed cask by Blind Enthusiasm!

Friday, June 24 – 6:30pm – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Thursday, July 7 – 6:30pm – Measure for Measure

Time: 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Come out and enjoy a seated meal prior to enjoying Measure for Measure. Food will be provided by Dalla Tavola Zenari; Enjoy this event as a fundraiser to help Freewill offer its programming in future years and to support us as we recover from the challenges we faced through various lockdowns brought on by COVID-19. Each ticket will come with a $50 tax refund.

Come enjoy a lovely evening of food, celebration, and entertainment!

Menu for the evening:

  • Chicken Supreme – Gluten Free and Dairy Free
  • Chicken Supreme stuffed with herb goat feta, finished with a Mediterranean Roasted pepper, Olive & Lemon Tomato sauce.
  • Served with Italian Balsamic Potato Salad and Italiana coleslaw with dijon vinaigrette – Vegan and Gluten Free
  • Mediterranean Beyond sausage stuffed peppers with roasted veggies & rice – Vegan and Gluten Free
  • Plus Ciabatta rolls with butter
  • Dessert will be Banana cream pie mini trifles – Gluten Free and Vegan

SATURDAY, June 25 – 5:30pm – Measure for Measure

Time: 5:30pm – 7:30pm

This will be presented as a series of sharing items and appetizers from Central Social Hall; to allow people to mingle and enjoy time on the hill. Enjoy this event as a fundraiser to help Freewill offer its programming in future years and to support us as we recover from the challenges we faced through various lockdowns brought on by COVID-19. Each ticket will come with a $50 tax refund.

Come enjoy a lovely evening of food, celebration, beer or wine, and entertainment.

Menu for the evening:

  • Kettle Chips & Dip* gluten friendly & vegan without the dip
  • house made crispy cut potato chips, caramelized onion sour cream dip
  • Spicy Maple Brussels* gluten & vegan friendly
  • crispy fried, maple syrup, sambal, toasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries
  • Perogies* vegetarian
  • local handmade potato & cheddar perogies, caramelized onion sour cream
  • ‘Berta Sushi Rolls* gluten friendly without dipping sauce
  • seared beef, sushi rice, miso mayo, avocado, nori, cucumber, carrot, togarashi puffed rice, sweet soy dip
  • Wings* gluten friendly
  • Salt & Pepper with our signature hot & house made ranch for dipping

FRIDAY, July 8 – 5:30pm – A Midsummer Night’s Dream


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