Next season, for the first time, the Shaw Festival will produce more plays written outside of its namesake Bernard Shaw’s lifetime than within it.
With all shows in the 2014 season now up and running, Artistic director Jackie Maxwell revealed on Saturday what her penultimate season in charge of the Niagara-on-the-Lake theatre company will look like – and the 2015 playbill demonstrates just how much the festival’s mandate has shifted in her tenure.
Chief among the post-Shaw work on the bill is The Divine, a new play by Michel Marc Bouchard about French actress Sarah Bernhardt’s visit to Quebec City in 1908, which Maxwell will direct. This marks the first time the Quebec playwright, whose plays Lilies and Tom at the Farm have been turned into acclaimed films, will have a world premiere in English.
Maxwell will also direct Peter and the Starcatcher, Rick Elice’s prequel to Peter Pan that played on Broadway in 2012. J.M. Barrie, who wrote the original Peter Pan, will be represented on the Shaw playbill, too – with a little-known 1914 piece called The Twelve-Pound Look.
Also next season, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism with a Key to the Scriptures, a 2009 family drama with a Shaw-inspired title by Angels in America’s Tony Kushner, will have its Canadian premiere under the direction of Eda Holmes in the Studio Theatre. Caryl Churchill’s 1982 play Top Girls will be performed at the Court House Theatre.
Sweet Charity, a 1966 musical with a killer score (Big Spender; The Rhythm of Life; If My Friends Could See Me Now) by Cy Coleman, will be directed by Morris Panych, while Canadian playwright Erin Shields’ new version of Henrik Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea will mark West Coast director Meg Roe’s return to the Shaw Festival.
Bernard Shaw will not be neglected next season: Director Peter Hinton will bring one of his fairest plays, Pygmalion, back to the Festival theatre (casting for Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins yet to be determined), while actor Jim Mezon will take a breather from treading the boards to shepherd You Never Can Tell back to the Shaw stage. Rounding out the 2015 season will be Moss Hart’s 1948 comedy Light Up the Sky, directed by Blair Williamson the main Festival Theatre stage.