About Shaw Festival Theatre - Shaw Festival Theatre

Guy Bannerman and Jonathan Tan backstage
The Shaw
World-class theatre — in blissful Niagara wine country. 11 plays on 4 stages, April to October, plus countless events & activities.

The Shaw Festival Story

In 1962, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, lawyer and playwright Brian Doherty parlayed his love for the work of Irish playwright Bernard Shaw into a summer theatre festival, producing eight performances of Don Juan in Hell and Candida in the Court House auditorium.  In this singular act of passion for theatre and culture, the Shaw Festival was born.

Today, with 10 or more productions each year performed in four theatres for an audience of more than 250,000, the Shaw Festival has grown to become a major Canadian cultural icon, a gem in this country’s rich cultural heritage. Inspired by the wit and passion of Bernard Shaw, the Shaw Festival is a contemporary theatre that features a smart, provocative, potent and diverse mix of plays from the past and present, performed by our celebrated repertory theatre Ensemble. The result is theatre that is challenging, surprising, often funny and always entertaining. These plays are lovingly and artfully brought to the stage each year by a talented team of actors, directors, and designers, showcasing the incredible tapestry of talent that this country contributes to the world.

With the end of the 2016 Season, The Shaw said good-bye to Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell after 14 great seasons. Now Tim Carroll is at the artistic helm and in this, our 56th Season, offers 11 plays from April 5 to October 15. The Festival Theatre will stage three stunning productions, all definite “must-sees”. Me and My Girl, a delightful comic romp from the thirties, will have you tapping your foot to this joyous Pygmalion-inspired musical reworked with great success by Stephen Fry. The powerful Saint Joan, Bernard Shaw’s masterpiece, will be Tim Carroll’s first production as Artistic Director. Finally Dracula, Liz Lochhead’s superb adaption for the stage of Bram Stoker’s Gothic classic – sexy, funny and scary!

At the Court House Theatre, we kick off with an entertaining and irreverent slice of Canadian history – 1837: The Farmers’ Revolt. Then another Bernard Shaw, Androcles and the Lion where the Shaw Ensemble invites you to join them in creating an experience that’ll be different for every performance. And the Lunchtime One-Act? Wilde Tales. Kate Hennig adapts four beautiful stories for young and old by Oscar Wilde. Here too, each performance will be different as pre-show, young ones 6-12 years old have the chance to participate in a one-hour workshop that will help create the magic on stage.

The 2017 Season also brings us The Madness of George III, Alan Bennett’s most popular play about this regal ruler. Next up, Brian Friel’s Irish masterpiece, Dancing at Lughnasa about the lives and dreams of five sisters in rural Ireland. And last but certainly not least, An Octoroon an edgy new American comedy set on a slave-owner’s plantation by Brendan Jacobs-Jenkins and winner of the 2014 Obie Award for Best New American Play.

At the newly renamed Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre, two plays: Middletown, Will Eno’s surreal response to Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and 1979, Michael Healy’s razor-sharp new comedy about Joe Clark’s brief stint as Prime Minister of Canada. This play, in addition to its run at the Maxwell Studio, will also play ‘unplugged’ at the Court House and Royal George Theatres. Also on this stage, the Reading Series, where two plays will be read by our brilliant Ensemble members.

And new in 2017, Secret Theatre. But we say no more as it is, well, secret! Unexpected moments of theatre popping up in the strangest places. Sign up at www.shawfest.com or 1-800-511-7429 to receive advance notifications.

Recipient of Trip Advisor’s “Certificate of Excellence” and recommended by the Wall Street Journal

“directly comparable in scope and quality to such ambitious south-of-the-border classical festivals as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. If you’re up for a weekend—or a whole week—of first-class theater, you should give very serious thought to going there”

The Shaw in historic Niagara-on-the-Lake makes for the perfect theatre destination.

Bernard Shaw

BERNARD SHAW (1856-1950), the acclaimed dramatist, critic and social reformer, was born in Dublin where he grew up in an atmosphere of genteel poverty. He attended four schools ...

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

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Artistic Director’s Message

What does Artistic Director Tim Carroll have in store for 2017?

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