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Shaw Festival’s future includes Canada’s most exciting playwrights

Media Release #16

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, May 23, 2013. . . Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell announced today that the Shaw Festival will partner with some of Canada’s most highly-regarded theatre artists — Peter Hinton, Michel Marc Bouchard, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Alisa Palmer and Hannah Moscovitch — on three exciting new plays.

During the announcement, Maxwell stated: “How contemporary writers examine the events of our mandate and the works written in and about that time is a vital part of our programming and brings a valuable perspective to the events of Shaw’s lifetime — so many of which have shaped the world we now live in.”

The first of these new commissions will an adaptation of the Lewis Carroll novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Peter Hinton. This fresh look at a beloved classic will premiere at The Shaw in 2015 — coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the book’s publication. On his approach to the story, Hinton said: “Working from the published text Alice in Wonderland from 1865, I want to create a visual and wonder-filled stage play with music that is suitable for young people and adult audiences alike, written specifically for the Festival’s acting ensemble.” The first stage of this ambitious project’s development is generously funded by Michele Darling and Michael Eagen, along with two anonymous American supporters.

Next, Quebecois writer Michel Marc Bouchard has been commissioned to write The Divine, an original play about Sarah Bernhardt and her controversial tours to Quebec at the turn of the 20th century. Though her skills earned her the nickname ‘The Divine Sarah’, her performances in Quebec provoked outrage from the Catholic Church and it is this struggle which forms the centre of the play. Translated by Linda Gaboriau, it will premiere in English at the Shaw Festival in 2015, before moving to Montreal to be produced in French.

Lastly, Ann-Marie MacDonald and Alisa Palmer, no strangers to the Shaw Festival’s Play Development Program, will collaborate with playwright Hannah Moscovitch on an adaptation of MacDonald’s best-selling novel Fall on Your Knees. Currently in its early stages, this impressive undertaking is set to turn this far-reaching epic into a three-part play with music to be produced over 3 years.

Over the past 10 years, the Shaw Festival has commissioned and developed 12 plays and adaptations. Highlights include a new version of Chekhov’s Three Sisters by Susan Coyne, staged in 2003; the premiere of Belle Moral by Ann-Marie MacDonald in 2005 (which was remounted in 2008, and then was presented, in early 2009, at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa). In 2008, The Shaw produced Morwyn Brebner’s adaptation of Ferenc Molnár’s The President, which was remounted in 2011. Michael Healey’s version of Shaw’s On the Rocks, the first adaptation of a Bernard Shaw work, and Maria Severa, an original musical by Paul Sportelli and Jay Turvey, were both presented in 2011. The 2013 season includes the second of these revised Bernard Shaw works – a new version of Geneva, adapted by John Murrell, re-titled Peace in Our Time: A Comedy.

“We intend to carry on our theatrical conversations well into the future and the Shaw Festival’s Play Development Program plays an integral part,” said Maxwell. “It continues to be a carefully and strategically planned component and important focus of our programming.”


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 and celebration of humanity.

Please visit our website at www.shawfest.com/news for other Shaw Festival media releases.  For more information, or to acquire images to accompany this release, members of the media may contact:

Odette Yazbeck
Public Relations Director
905-468-2153 or 1-800-657-1106 ext. 2222

Jenniffer Anand
Public Relations Coordinator
905-468-2153 or 1-800-657-1106 ext. 2224

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