Play Development - Shaw Festival Theatre

Julie Lumsden (Gypsy, 2023)
Play Development
Play development is an integral part of the work done at the Shaw Festival.

Actors, stage managers and directors are put to work throughout the season in workshops and readings of works in progress. On occasion Secret Theatre will be a venue for some of this new work. At other times larger numbers of the company will be involved over longer periods of time. All script development is considered for season programming in one way or another.

The Shaw Festival’s first new play was Simon Bradbury’s Chaplin: The Trial of Charles Spencer Chaplin, Esq., produced in 2002. That same year, The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico Garcia Lorca played in a new translation by Richard Sanger.

Since then, The Shaw has premiered the following plays:

  • A commissioned translation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters by Susan Coyne
  • Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Belle Moral: A Natural History
  • Neil Munro’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s Rosmersholm
  • The Invisible Man, an adaptation of the novel by H.G. Wells by Michael O’Brien
  • The world premieres of two musicals, Tristan and Maria Severa, with book, music and lyrics by Paul Sportelli and Jay Turvey
  • The President by Ferenc Molnár and adapted by Morwyn Brebner
  • On the Rocks by Bernard Shaw and adapted by Michael Healey
  • An adaptation of Bernard Shaw’s Geneva: Peace in Our Time by John Murrell
  • Henrik Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea, adapted by Erin Shields
  • The premiere of The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt by Michel Marc Bouchard and translated by Linda Gaboriau
  • Alice in Wonderland, adapted for the stage by Peter Hinton from the novel by Lewis Carroll
  • Lisa Codrington’s adaptation of the GBS short story The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God
  • Wilde Tales, an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s stories for young and old by Kate Hennig
  • Adaptations of the Narnia novels by C.S. Lewis: The Magicians Nephew (Michael O’Brien), The Horse and His Boy (Anna Chatterton) and Prince Caspian (Damien Atkins)
  • A Christmas Carol, the Dickens story, adapted by Tim Carroll
  • Mythos, adapted from his book, by Stephen Fry
  • The Orchard (After Chekhov) by Sarena Parmar
  • Cyrano de Bergerac, translated and adapted by Kate Hennig

Under the artistic directorship of Tim Carroll, the play development focus at The Shaw follows these parameters: we develop translations and adaptations of classic plays “in-house”; we commission new Canadian plays by established playwrights; and last, but not least, we find Canadian plays that may have collected a bit of dust and whose time has come for a full-scale revival, as we did with the 2017 production of 1837: The Farmers’ Revolt by Rick Salutin and Theatre Passe Muraille, the 2018 production of The Baroness and the Pig by Michael McKenzie, and the stellar 2019 production of The Russian Play by Hannah Moscovitch.

Since 1995, The Shaw’s publishing initiative has produced scripts, theatrical memoirs and a commemorative book of the Shaw Festival’s Granville Barker series. In 2003 we published Susan Coyne’s commissioned translation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters and in 2005 we celebrated the premiere of Belle Moral: A Natural History by publishing the play.

We are not accepting unsolicited scripts at this time.