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City hall, Stratford Festival team up to offer yoga at new Tom Patterson Theatre

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Shuttered for much of the past two winters because of the pandemic, Stratford’s new Tom Patterson Theatre will host a series of city-run yoga classes beginning next month.

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Officials at city hall announced a partnership with the Stratford Festival this week that will bring vinyasa-style yoga sessions to the theatre’s Dinner Rooney Workshop every Monday between Nov. 7 and Dec. 12. 

“We are thrilled,” said Brad Hernden, the city’s recreation and marketing manager. “We can’t forget that it was historically the site of our seniors’ centre and … I think this is a great opportunity to go back in a positive way and revisit our roots, so to speak.”

The Dinner Rooney Workshop is a large activity room just off the main lobby of the theatre with 220-degree views of the Avon River. The yoga program will be led by certified yoga instructor Rebecca Barras, a local paramedic and personal trainer who regularly delivers classes at the Stratford Agriplex.

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“That whole space in the Tom Patterson is very calming,” Barras said. “There are windows overlooking the river and that room is a very quiet room too, so I think the whole space with the views and everything is going to be a perfect spot for yoga.”

Participants seem to agree. Six Monday classes between 11 a.m. and noon quickly sold out when the program was announced. Hernden said Thursday the city has added another class from 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. to meet demand.

Classes can accommodate 25 people. The program is open to all yogis, beginner and beyond, regardless of age and ability.

For more information, including how to register, visit

Although its grand opening was delayed due to the pandemic, the $70-million Tom Patterson Theatre has turned heads on the bank of the Avon River in Stratford since it was built. 

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The theatre, which welcomed indoor audiences for the first time this season, has earned numerous architecture accolades, including a Governor General’s Medal, the global Architecture MasterPrize, the U.K. Civic Trust Award, and the Design Excellence Award from the Ontario Association of Architects.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opened the building to the public on May 10. 

Hernden said he’s noticed a younger demographic showing interest in trying out the the city’s yoga program at the Tom Patterson Theatre.

It’s “nice to see,” Hernden said, though people 80 and older are still signing up.

“The Festival has been really great with us to pilot this project to see how it goes,” Hernden said. “I think success is already here with us. We’d love to do more of it if it works with the Festival and out instructor.” 

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