From the Bard's tragic monarch in King Lear to Lewis Caroll's topsy-turvy fantasy world of Alice Through the Looking-Glass, the notion of the mind pushed to the edge of madness is central at this year's edition of the Stratford Festival.

The annual southern Ontario theatre festival officially opens Monday evening with King Lear, starring esteemed Canadian actor Colm Feore in the iconic Shakespearean tragedy.

"Human irrationality takes many forms — comical, tragic, historical and everything in between — and we explore that compelling, perplexing and sometimes dangerous territory through all of the plays this year," Stratford artistic director Antoni Cimolino said in a statement.

"I hope this sense of wholeness, or thematic interconnectedness, adds to the unique pleasure that a season of theatre offers: the pleasure of venturing to the very edges of human experience, and coming safely home again."

Also opening this week are:

  • Crazy for You
  • King John
  • Man of La Mancha
  • Mother Courage
  • Alice Through the Looking-Glass
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream

Productions to open later in the season include:

  • Hay Fever
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream: A Chamber Play
  • The Beaux' Stratagem
  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • Christina: The Girl King

Now in its 62nd season, the Stratford Festival runs through Oct. 12.