Jackie Maxwell, Shaw Festival Artistic Director

Artistic Director’s
Message

Welcome to our 2014 Season

All really good theatre contains an element of surprise. Be it large – say an unforeseen political upheaval – or small – perhaps a personal moment of discovery – the effect is the same. We entered the theatre with a set of expectations and suddenly they have shifted. We must now sit up in our seats, lean forward and follow a new idea – just like the characters onstage. In other words, we are now fully engaged – perfect!

This element of surprise appears in many guises in our 2014 Season. In Cabaret, the brilliant musical set in a glittering nightclub in late 1930s Berlin, we know that politics are in the air, but how this affects writer Cliff, nightclub singer Sally Bowles and the other denizens inside and outside of the club is a constant series of seismic shocks highlighted in stunning songs, as the political becomes more and more personal. The prenuptial shenanigans in the glorious romantic comedy The Philadelphia Story rely on us and the characters in it making a series of assumptions based on class, gender and wealth that Philip Barry then gleefully overturns one by one. In Shaw’s Arms and The Man, the serene domesticity of a young woman’s bedroom is invaded by an escaping soldier – one who carries chocolate instead of ammunition in his holster, no less – and suddenly the values of all in the household are delightfully challenged and transformed. The plot of J.B. Priestley’s delirious When We Are Married turns on a totally unexpected piece of information that causes husbands and wives to reevaluate their relationships in hilarious and startling ways. Watch too for a stunning coup de théâtre in Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop – a compelling encounter between Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King and a young maid from the Lorraine Motel who is not who she originally seems to be.

Add the delightful exposé of Edwardian “manners” in The Charity that Began at Home, gender stereotyping gloriously turned on its head in Shaw’s The Philanderer, the satiric roller coaster ride that is Edward Bond’s The Sea, the extraordinary plummet from comic expectations to tragic outcome in Sean O’Casey’s classic Juno and the Paycock and the gentle but no less affecting shifts in Tennessee Williams’ Lunchtime one-act and you can see the plethora of ways that theatre can stun, reveal and change even the most intransigent point of view – onstage and off!

An open heart and a curious mind are all you need to be taken on the most wonderfully surprising journeys at The Shaw this season … We will do the rest!

Jackie Maxwell
Artistic Director