The Shakespeare Theatre Association (STA) international conference is being held at the Stratford Festival this week, as fans around the world prepare to mark the 450th anniversary of his birth.

Antoni Cimolino, artistic director of the Stratford Festival, said in a statement they are very proud to host the prestigious gathering.

“We’ll be joined by theatre professionals from all over this continent and beyond. It’s wonderful to be reminded of the extent and variety of work being undertaken by companies that specialize in Shakespeare. We’re looking forward immensely to this gathering of friends, old and new.”

The festival says STA conferences have been a valuable resource for staff from various departments for almost 25 years.

The theme for the 2014 conference, which will be attended by 120 delegates, is 'Speak the Speech: The Power of Words' and will focus on what William Shakespeare's words mean now, how they can be kept alive and how their power endures.

Anita Gaffney, executive director of the Stratford Festival, has attended to previous festivals and said in a statement "I know how illuminating and inspiring it can be to share this time with our counterparts at other theatres: fellow artists and staff who share our love of Shakespeare and our passion for bringing his plays to the stage and into people’s lives.”

Sessions being offered include: cross-gender and non-traditional casting, Shakespeare’s use of rhyme and prose at different periods of his career, balancing creativity with restrictions such as time, union regulations and resources and many others.

The Stratford Festival has hosted the event once before, in 1996, and the last STA conference held in Canada was in 2005.