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Blyth Festival to build outdoor performance theatre this summer

The Bylth Festival is moving ahead with an ambitious plan to construct an outdoor stage fit for play, musical performances and other events.

The outdoor stage received council approval on Monday

The Blyth Festival Theatre will soon be welcoming guests for performances at an open air theatre which was approved by council this week. (Blyth Festival Theatre)

The Blyth Festival got the green light from North Huron Council earlier this week to build a massive open-air theatre that could start hosting performances this summer.

The outdoor stage and seating will be constructed on top of a natural amphitheatre at the Blyth campgrounds in the town east of Goderich, Ont.

"What we've been able to do, with the incredible generosity of our local township of North Huron, is we have been given the opportunity to take over basically five acres of the local fairgrounds," said Gil Garratt, the artistic director for the Blyth Festival.

The outdoor theatre's site features existing large trees, open spaces and is near the Blyth Brook and Goderich to Guelph Rail Trail. It's also within walking distance from the main theatre on Queen Street.

Garratt says the plans will seat an audience of about 100 people, physically distanced.

A rendering shows the outdoor stage will be surrounded by trees and and open area. (Blyth Festival Theatre)

The stage will be pretty significant, measuring about 12 metres by 12 metres in a diamond shape, with seating that will curl around it. Performances will be weather dependant.

"There's no canopy above the stage, so the phenomenal Huron County sky will be present in every show that we do," said Garratt. "And I'll really look forward to a late-summer evening show when the stars come out. I just think it's going to be phenomenally beautiful."

The theatre company is no stranger to putting on outdoor performances, such as their well-received production of The Outdoor Donnellys.

While no productions are currently being planned for the outdoor venue, Garratt says construction can now go ahead and he hopes some kind of performance can take place in late July or early August, depending on what is allowed by the province.

In addition to theatre shows, the company also plans to use the space for music performances and other events.

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