Seana McKenna to receive Stratford Festival’s Legacy Award

Stratford, ON… The Stratford Festival is pleased to announce that actor and director Seana McKenna will receive the 2024 Legacy Award at a gala celebration on September 23 at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel.

Dazzling artistry, brilliant interpretive skills and unwavering commitment to excellence: such are the qualities that make Seana McKenna an icon of Canadian theatre and the ideal recipient of the Stratford Festival’s Legacy Award,” said Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “May she long continue to delight and inspire us, as she builds even further on her legacy as a true luminary of the theatre.

The event will be hosted by Michael Healey and will include tributes and performances by stars of the Stratford stage.

“Seana is the very definition of disciplined dedication and stunning range. Her impressive career has featured one extraordinary performance after another,” said Barry Avrich, who is co-chairing this exclusive and intimate event along with Wendy Pitblado and David Simmonds.

Born in Toronto, McKenna studied at the University of Toronto’s Trinity College and graduated from the National Theatre School before beginning her professional career at the Blyth Festival in 1979.

Three years later she joined the Stratford Festival and has since won acclaim in a breathtaking variety of roles here, from Juliet to Richard III, from Lady Gay Spanker in London Assurance to Mary Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Her most recent Festival performance was as Rose in last season’s Les Belles-Soeurs.

This season, her 31st with the Festival, she makes her Stratford directorial debut, at the helm of Shakespeare’s delightful comedy Twelfth Night.

The many other stages she has graced across Canada and the United States include those of the National Arts Centre, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Mirvish Productions, the Shaw Festival, Canadian Stage, Goodman Theatre, the Belfry Theatre, Groundling Theatre Company, Crow’s Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, The Grand Theatre and the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T).

Wherever she performs, McKenna leaves an indelible impression. To all her roles – from Viola in Twelfth Night, Cordelia in King Lear, Portia and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Lady Macbeth, Cleopatra, Lear, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Katherine of Aragon in Henry VIII to such non-Shakespearean characters as Medea, Hedda Gabler, Blanche Dubois, Saint Joan, Eliza Doolittle, Mother Courage and, in the solo play Testament, the mother of Jesus – she brings an authenticity, an emotional resonance and an intellectual depth that have enthralled audiences and inspired her fellow artists.

As a director, her credits include The Wonder of it All and Spit (Here For Now Theatre), King Lear (The Shakespeare Company/Hit and Myth Productions) and Valley Song (New Globe Theatre), while as a teacher and mentor she has conducted workshops and educational programs at the National Theatre School, A.C.T., Stratford’s Birmingham Conservatory and several universities.

Her many accolades include Dora Mavor Moore Awards for her performances as Lady Torrance in Orpheus Descending and Joan in Saint Joan and for her production of Valley Song, including Outstanding Production and Outstanding Direction; a Jessie Richardson Award for her performance in Wit; and a Genie Award for her role in the film The Hanging Garden. A Member of the Order of Canada, she holds honorary degrees from A.C.T., Trinity College and the University of Waterloo. She has received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, a Bronze Star from the City of Stratford and three Tyrone Guthrie Awards, including two for mentorship. Among the many boards and committees on which she has served are the Actors’ Fund of Canada, Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, Equity Showcase and Shakespearience.

Established in 2011, the Stratford Festival Legacy Gala has become one of the most prestigious cultural events of the season. Past recipients are Christopher Plummer, Maggie Smith, Megan Follows, William Shatner, Martha Henry, Colm Feore, Gordon Pinsent, Eric McCormack, Andrea Martin, Len Cariou and Lucy Peacock.

The Stratford Festival is North America’s leading repertory theatre company, set in picturesque Stratford, Ontario. Described by National Geographic Traveler as “nirvana for theatre fans,” the Stratford Festival presents a seven-month season of a dozen or more plays, along with The Meighen Forum, a series of fascinating events, all designed to entertain, engage and enrich. The Festival brings together extraordinary Canadian and international artists to produce an eclectic variety of Shakespeare, large-scale musicals, newly commissioned works and classic comedy and drama, presented across four venues. Each year half a million people seeking unparalleled theatrical experiences come to Stratford, where they also find a thriving cultural destination offering fabulous accommodations and culinary experiences, unique boutiques and art galleries, and a host of entertainment options.

For more information about the Stratford Festival Legacy Award Gala, please contact Jana Gordon at