SHAW FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 2016 SEASON; Jackie Maxwell reveals her final season as Artistic Director

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– Jackie Maxwell reveals her final season as Artistic Director –

Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON (July 8, 2015) — Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell and the Shaw Festival are pleased to announce the 2016 playbill. Marking the Festival’s 55th season and the end of Maxwell’s 14-year tenure, the 2016 line-up of 10 diverse productions includes works from the heart of the mandate, contemporary Shavian pieces and the world premieres of two commissioned works.

Of her final season as artistic director, Maxwell says: “The 2016 season sums up the journey the Shaw Festival has taken during my time here. I arrived with a number of passions and priorities that focused on producing work that would showcase equality and diversity of plays and players. This season has newly realized pieces true to our mandate alongside work from brilliant contemporary Canadian and international voices, and an original production on the Festival Stage. These offerings are an excellent representation of the Shaw Festival today – a progressive, leading cultural and artistic voice in Canada and beyond.”

The season’s two commissioned works illustrate Maxwell’s legacy at the Shaw Festival; expanding the company’s mandate to include modern works and examining the classics in new and different ways. In a new version offered as the 2016 season’s lunchtime production, playwright Lisa Codrington tackles Bernard Shaw’s brilliant and thorny fable The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, giving this classic a new twist. And for the first time in Shaw Festival history, a commissioned work will premiere on the Festival Theatre stage. Peter Hinton’s new version of Alice in Wonderland will be a theatrical treat for audiences of all ages.

Joining Alice in Wonderland on the Festival Theatre stage will be Oscar Wilde’s classic A Woman of No Importance, helmed by Dora Award-winning director Eda Holmes, and the musical Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, under the direction of Maxwell.

The 2016 Shaw Festival season is:


Alice in Wonderland
Adapted for the stage by Peter Hinton
Music by Allen Cole
Based on the book by Lewis Carroll
A Treasured Family Favourite
World Premiere
Directed by Peter Hinton
Commissioned by the Shaw Festival
A compelling new version of Lewis Carroll’s classic and beloved tale of a young woman’s journey to adulthood. The ever-curious and ever-questioning Alice goes down the rabbit hole to a land of wonder; where logic is illogical and the absurd makes sense. Written specifically for the Shaw Festival’s Ensemble, Peter Hinton’s Alice in Wonderland will be set in the Victorian world of Oxford and use a dazzling combination of contemporary technology and old-fashioned magic.
A Woman of No Importance
By Oscar Wilde
A Stylish Sophisticated Comedy
(Originally produced in 1893)
Last produced at The Shaw in 2000
Directed by Eda Holmes
Mrs. Arbuthnot has long held a secret. But when her son is appointed secretary for the charismatic Lord Illingworth, it may not be secret for much longer. With a party at a country home as the backdrop, Oscar Wilde’s comedy explores the social masks men and women wear, and the double standards of aristocratic society.
Sweeney Todd
The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
A Musical Thriller
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by Hugh Wheeler
From an adaptation by Christopher Bond
Musical (Originally produced in 1979)
Festival Premiere
Directed by Jackie Maxwell
Set in the dark corners of Victorian London, Sweeney Todd is the chilling musical tale of a man, seething with revenge, who returns to the city after being imprisoned for 15 years. A judicious meeting between Sweeney Todd and an unsuccessful pie saleswoman leads to a twisted, but beneficial partnership. This production continues the Shaw Festival’s longstanding relationship with Sondheim’s musicals, having previously produced A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George and Follies.


Uncle Vanya
By Anton Chekhov
Drama (Originally produced in 1898)
Last produced at The Shaw in 1999
Directed by Jackie Maxwell
Having directed a newly adapted version of The Three Sisters in her first season, Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell bookends her time at the Shaw Festival with a production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, a timeless exploration of the many twists and absurdities of unfulfilled love. A new version of the play is currently under discussion and will be announced at a later date.
Mrs. Warren’s Profession
By Bernard Shaw
Drama (Written in 1893, Originally produced in 1902)
Last produced at The Shaw in 2008
Directed by TBA
A love story… between a mother and a daughter. Young up-and-coming Vivie comes home to become acquainted with her mother, but is shocked to discover the source of the family’s wealth. Shaw criticizes social convention and sexual hypocrisy with his trademark wit as two strong-willed women attempt to build a relationship.
“Master Harold”… and the Boys
By Athol Fugard
Drama (Originally produced in 1982)
Festival Premiere
Directed by Philip Akin
In this coming of age story set in South Africa during the apartheid era, Harold, a white teenaged boy, grows up in the company of the two black waiters who work in his mother’s tea room. When he learns his tyrannical and racist father is returning home, Harold succumbs to the cultural hatred fostered by apartheid, costing him and his friends dearly. This production will be the first time Athol Fugard’s work appears at the Shaw Festival.


Our Town
By Thornton Wilder
Drama (Originally produced in 1938)
Festival Premiere
Directed by Molly Smith
This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is a classic tale of Americana set in the fictional town of Grover’s Corners between 1901 and 1913. Our Town finds beauty in the simple, fleeting moments of ordinary days. Molly Smith, renowned for her ability to dig deep into Americana, returns to the Shaw Festival having previously directed My Fair Lady in 2011.
An Entirely Original Farcical Comedy
in Three Acts
By W.S. Gilbert
Comedy (Originally produced in 1877)
Festival Premiere
Directed by Morris Panych
Gilbert before Sullivan. In this rarely produced romantic romp, an English train is gently hijacked in the Scottish countryside with hilarious results. There are love triangles, suitors pursuing each other across the country and a man who falls in love with every woman he meets. Love will conquer all… as long as the coin purse is full.
The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God World Premiere
Adapted for the stage by Lisa Codrington
From the short story by Bernard Shaw
Comedic Fable
Directed by Ravi Jain
Commissioned by the Shaw Festival
(Lunchtime Production)
Unfulfilled by the teachings from white missionaries, a young African girl embarks on a journey to find her own God. In this allegorical play, she encounters a number of Gods, each of whom try to convert her to their way of thinking. The original novella by Bernard Shaw, published in 1932, was met with public outcry labelling the author as a blasphemer. True to the work of Bernard Shaw, Lisa Codrington’s stage adaptation is an eyebrow-raising version of this anarchic tale written for modern audiences.


The Dance of Death
By August Strindberg
A new version by Richard Greenberg
Drama (Originally produced 2001)
Festival Premiere
Directed by Martha Henry
A provocative drama exploring marriage featuring lead roles built for the most accomplished stage actors. Alice and Edgar are approaching their 25th anniversary. They’re socially isolated and have alienated their children. All they have now is the mutual hatred that binds them together – unhappily ever after. The Dance of Death was the first naturalistic portrait of a marriage in modern drama, paving the way for renowned plays such as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Tickets for the Shaw Festival’s 2016 Season will go on sale this winter.-30-

About the Shaw Festival
The Shaw Festival is a theatre company inspired by the work of Bernard Shaw. The Festival produces plays from and about his era and contemporary plays that share Shaw’s provocative exploration of society and celebration of humanity.


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