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Here we go: my first season as Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival. How to start? Saint Joan, of course. Have to do a Shaw play in my first season, and that’s my favourite. While I’m at it, why not do TWO Shaw plays? Actually, that was not my original plan, but when I read Androcles and the Lion, I knew I had to do it. Its playful deconstruction of received wisdoms is the perfect vehicle for the kind of interactive, different-everynight show that I want.
Bernard Shaw’s first impulse was to entertain, and that is the drive behind this whole season: every show has love and laughter in it. Whether you are tapping your foot to Me and My Girl or peeking between your fingers at Dracula, there will always be wit and romance. The same is true of our Royal George plays: love and power in The Madness of George III, dreams and nostalgia in Dancing at Lughnasa, and racial politics in An Octoroon – in all of them, laughter is a key ingredient.
In the Court House we kick off with an entertaining and irreverent slice of Canadian history, 1837: The Farmers’ Revolt. I expect Philip Akin’s production to establish Rick Salutin’s play as a modern Canadian classic. Our lunchtime show, Wilde Tales, takes stories which are already classics and gives them new life. The best children’s shows are as enjoyable for adults as they are for kids: here, as the children delight in the fantastical creations that they themselves have helped bring to life, the rest of us can revel in the wit and humanity of Wilde’s writing.
I can’t wait to see our two Canadian premieres in the Studio. Middletown, by the extraordinary Will Eno, left me gasping with laughter and tears. I’ve never read or seen anything like it. And Michael Healey’s 1979 – about another key moment of Canadian history – is both a devastatingly sharp political thriller and a celebration of the actor’s craft.
Those are the shows you can see in our theatres; but you may also see us out and about. 1979 and Wilde Tales will both play in a range of venues in Niagara and beyond, as we seek to open up and reach new audiences. And look out for our Secret Theatre events, popping up throughout the season, sometimes announced, sometimes without warning. This company is a hotbed of ideas and creativity, and I want to share that with you in every way imaginable.
Fasten your seatbelts …
Tim Carroll, Artistic Director