2SLGBTQ+ stories take centre stage at the Stratford Festival for Pride Month and throughout the 2023 season. The month begins with the world première of Casey and Diana by Nick Green and directed by Andrew Kushnir, as well as the openings of Rent, directed by Thom Allison, and Richard II, adapted by Brad Fraser, and conceived and directed by Jillian Keiley. The Meighen Forum will mark the month with the Festival’s inaugural Pride Week, June 5 through 11, featuring a series of performances, speakers and events that explore 2SLGBTQ+ topics, history and experiences.

Casey and Diana

A Stratford Festival commission, will take audiences inside the walls of Toronto AIDS hospice, Casey House, while residents and staff prepare for the historic visit of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1991, and become inspired to beat the odds as a plague continues to ravage a generation. This potent and moving drama vividly captures a moment in time when a rebel Princess, alongside less famous caregivers and advocates, reshaped the course of a pandemic – and how those stricken by the virus found hard-won dignity, community and love in the face of astonishing hardship. 

Casey and Diana has its official opening on June 1 and runs until June 17 in the Studio Theatre.


An all-new production offers timely fresh eyes on the beloved cohort of young East Village artists, performers and philosophers as they defiantly navigate poverty, societal discord and the AIDS crisis in the search for life, love and art. With a song list that includes the iconic “Seasons of Love,” Rent tells a story as relevant today as when it took Broadway by storm more than 25 years ago. 

Rent has its official opening on June 3 and runs until October 28 in the Festival Theatre.

Richard II 

In a revolutionary adaptation by Brad Fraser, this is the story of a king who believes that God gives him the right to live above the rules and who ultimately suffers the consequences. The production takes inspiration from the glamour, grit and glitter of New York in the late ’70s and early ’80s, a time of hard-fought freedom for the LGBT communities shadowed by the looming strain of conservatism and fear. 

Richard II has its official opening on June 17 and runs until September 28 in the Tom Patterson Theatre.

Pride Week at The Meighen Forum – June 5 to 11, 2023

HIV Today – Lazaridis Hall, Tom Patterson Theatre – Thursday, June 8, 10:30 a.m. – noon

Canadians have come a long way in our understanding of both the medical and social aspects of HIV, and there is still work to be done. Join Yasser Ismail, Director of Data Strategy and Knowledge at Casey House, Dr. Gord Arbess Clinical Director, HIV Program at the St. Michael’s Hospital Family Health Team and on staff at Casey House, and Doris Peltier, a leader in HIV and Indigenous Health research and advocacy to see how HIV care and attitudes in Canada have evolved.

Caregivers and Advocates – Lazaridis Hall, Tom Patterson Theatre – Friday, June 9, 10:30 a.m. – noon

Join Andrew Kushnir (director of Casey and Diana) along with Refugee lawyer, Human dignity and Spiritual Liberation Activist, founder of Salaam: Queer Muslim Community, and cofounder and imam: el-Tawhid Juma Circle: The Unity Mosque El-Farouk Khaki as well as physician, researcher, educator, and advocate for improving treatment and care for people living with HIV Gregory Robinson for a conversation dedicated to the compassionate and devoted caregivers and the tireless work of advocates who have rallied around HIV-positive people, historically and today.

Funny Forum Friday: Tranna Wintour and Tamara Shevon, Lazaridis Hall, Tom Patterson Theatre, Friday, June 9, 9 – 10:30 p.m.

Celebrate Pride Month with comedians Tranna Wintour and Tamara Shevon, Quebec’s most buzzed-about comedy export, who has taken the stand-up world by storm with her fresh and funny pop culture obsessions.

Queer History in Canada – Lazaridis Hall, Tom Patterson Theatre, Saturday, June 10, 10:30 a.m. – noon

Scholars and experts join host Thom Allison (director of Rent) in a conversation about Canada’s 2SLGBTQ+ history, focusing on post-WW2 through to the present. Guests include Rev. Brent Hawkes, founder of Rainbow Faith and Freedom (an organization working to confront and decrease religious-based 2SLGBTQ+ discrimination worldwide), Raegan Swanson, Executive Director of the ArQuives (the preeminent archivists for 2SLGBTQ+ histories and resources in Canada) and Professo Patrizia Gentile from the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies at Carleton University.

Serving Pride: A Dinner and Celebration – Festival Marquee, Saturday, June 10, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Celebrate Pride Week and amazing food with a menu co-curated by Great Canadian Baking Show Finalist Colin Asuncion and the Stratford Festival’s Head Chef, Kendrick Prins. Wash it down with fabulous entertainment from the vocal supergroup A.R.T. and hosted by award-winning Drag Star Pearle Harbour! 

In Conversation with Suzette Mayr – Lazaridis Hall, Tom Patterson Theatre, Sunday, June 11, 10:30 a.m. – noon

Winner of the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize for her novel, The Sleeping Car Porter, author and 2SLGBTQ+ advocate Suzette Mayr joins the Meighen Forum for a conversation with Canada’s favourite host and comedian, Ali Hassan to discuss the story behind her writing and thoughts on the issues affecting her community.

The Real Poems by Robert McQueen – Lazaridis Hall, Tom Patterson Theatre, June 8 – June 10, Various times

From inside the lockdowns of 2020, Robert McQueen sat at his kitchen table and wrote about his experiences as a young queer man, living between Vancouver and New York during the AIDS pandemic of the 1980s and 90s. The Real Poems is at once spoken witness to the joy of youth and a memorial to the lives of colleagues, lovers and friends lost. An audience Q&A will follow the final performance.

Agit-Pop! Starring Pearle Harbour, Lazaridis Hall, Tom Patterson Theatre, June 15 – June 17, Various times

She’s baaack! Superstar drag comedienne Pearle Harbour returns with her doomsday cabaret Agit-Pop! Think Judy Garland at Carnegie (on acid) – laughs, tears, a whole lotta makeup, and the pop hits of David Bowie, Britney Spears, Roy Orbison and more, as you’ve never heard them before.

Pride Week is the first of six themed weeks introduced for the 2023 season of the Stratford Festival’s Meighen Forum, each featuring curated performances, celebrated speakers, culinary experiences and timely discussions with artists and experts:

  • Pride Week – June 5 to June 11
  • 2023 Season Deep Dive – July 3 to July 9
  • CBC Ideas Week: The Shock of the New – July 17 to July 23
  • Global Theatre Week – August 7 to August 13
  • Readers and Writers Week – August 21 to August 27
  • Scholars and Experts Week – September 11 to September 17

The Meighen Forum also includes favourites such as Peer into the Playbill and exclusive backstage tours and workshops. This season, we are excited to unveil a new, never previously offered, backstage tour of the Festival Theatre. Visit https://www.stratfordfestival.ca/WhatsOn/TheForum for details.

King Lear, Monty Python’s Spamalot, Casey and Diana, Rent, and Grand Magic will each mark their red carpet openings during Opening Week at the Stratford Festival beginning Tuesday, May 30 through Saturday, June 3. Much Ado About Nothing has its opening night on Friday, June 16. A Wrinkle in Time and Richard II will mark their openings on Saturday, June 17. Les Belles-Soeurs,  Frankenstein Revived, Wedding Band, Women of the Fur Trade and Love’s Labour’s Lost open later in the season. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit stratfordfestival.ca.

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.