"Alice in Wonderland," adapted by Peter Hinton from Lewis Carroll, at Shaw Festival Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, through Oct. 16. (Photo by David Cooper)

Shaw Festival Announces 2017 Season

The festival will present works by its namesake alongside contemporary plays that echo his work.

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, ONTARIO: The Shaw Festival has announced the lineup for the 2017 season, its 56th, which is to be the first led by artistic director designate Tim Carroll. Caroll will officially step into the role, taking over for Jackie Maxwell, on Dec. 1.

“I am so excited to be working with Tim Carroll and to see him bring this inaugural season to our stages,” executive director Tim Jennings said in a statement. “It’s a fantastic lineup that shows off his interest in echoing the social provocations of Bernard Shaw in a very 21st century way. I think our audiences will really respond to it, and to him, and I love that he wants us all to engage in a deeper conversation with each other.”

“I look forward to showcasing the skills for which this ensemble is famous, while stretching them in new directions,” Carroll said in a statement. “I am hoping for a season of plays that will entertain and provoke our audience as much as Bernard Shaw did his.”

Productions will be staged in the festival’s four theatres: the Festival Theatre, the Court House Theatre, the Royal George Theatre, and the Studio Theatre. The shows will run in repertory throughout the summer.

First up at the Court House Theatre will be 1837: The Farmers’ Revolt, by Rick Salutin and Theatre Passe Muraille. The play follows a group of Canadian farmers who, fueled by frustrations with political reform, engage in an armed uprising. Philip Akin will direct.

Next up will be Bernard Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion, which uses a pagan tale to explore the alliance of religion and power. Carroll will direct.

The final production at the Court House will be Wilde Tales and Stories for Children, two plays based on Oscar Wilde stories. Adapted for the stage by Kate Hennig, the plays are family-friendly and involve an “interactive twist.” Christine Brubaker will direct.

At the Festival Theatre, Me and My Girl will be up first. The musical, with book and lyrics by L. Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber, has been revised by Stephen Fry, with contributions by Mike Ockrent. Inspired by Shaw’s Pygmalion, the show will be directed by Ashlie Corcoran.

Next up will be Shaw’s Saint Joan , originally produced in 1924. Carroll will direct.

The final show at the Festival Theatre will be Dracula, by Bram Stoker and adapted for the stage by Liz Lochhead. Eda Holmes will direct.

At the Royal George Theatre, Alan Bennett’s The Madness of George III, a political comedy, will be up first. Kevin Bennett will direct.

Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa, about the lives and dreams of five sisters in rural Ireland, will be next. Krista Jackson will direct.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins‘s An Octoroon will be the last show at the Royal George. The show is a riff on Dion Boucicault’s 19th-century slavery play. Peter Hinton will direct.

First at the Studio Theatre will be Middletown by Will Eno, a surreal response to Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. A director will be announced at a later date.

Next and last at the Studio will be Michael Healey’s 1979, in a coproduction with the Great Canadian Theatre Company. 1979 is a new piece exploring former Canadian prime minister Joe Clark. Eric Coates will direct.

Founded in 1962, the Shaw Festival is inspired by the work of Bernard Shaw. It produces plays from and about his era and contemporary plays that share Shaw’s exploration of society and celebration of humanity.

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