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Shakespeare Theatre: legislators request $5M to rebuild; town creating advisory committee

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Stratford's historic Shakespeare theater burns to the ground, January 13, 2019. (

STRATFORD –  On Sunday, fire destroyed the historic American Shakespeare Festival Theatre; on Friday state and local leaders announced plans to move forward.

Stratford‘s mayor, Laura Hoydick, announced that the town would create a committee of citizens to “advise on the direction the town should take with the property the theater was located on.”

The mayor says the property will continue to be used for entertainment and recreation, in accordance with the terms of the deed when the town received the land from the State. The state owned the theater and the land around it, on the shores of the Housatonic River, as a ‘state cultural park’ before the theater closed in December 1988.

Hoydick said, “The first step in developing a plan will be the creation of this committee to hear and review input from every citizen that wants their voice heard.”

Legislators representing Stratford apparently know what they’d like to see at the location: a rebuilt theater.

The bipartisan group of legislators, two Republicans and two Democrats, are seeking a state bonding investment of five million dollars to be used toward rebuilding the theater. Calling the loss of the fire “truly devastating” in a letter to Governor Ned Lamont, the lawmakers say “rebuilding would be an opportunity to revitalize the arts, boost our economy, and commemorate and integral piece of our history.”

The legislators say money had been requested multiple times in the past from the Malloy administration, but never granted. In a statement, they said they also want to hear from Stratford residents about their ideas.

Mayor Hoydick says that any residents who wish to be kept up-to-date on what the town is doing concerning the property should send their name, email address and phone number to to get news and announcements.

Hoydick has had a ‘Memory Board’ placed near the costume building on the Shakespeare property “for town residents to place any memorial items, photos, articles or memorabilia to commemorate the Shakespeare Theater, and the great loss the town has experienced.”

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