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ShawFest 2016
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Your magazine with the latest news and information about The Shaw - on and off the stage.

Beginning a new production of any play is fraught with anxiety. One of the ways I deal with that is to shop for a notebook. I look for a notebook that feels intuitively right for the piece. The shopping occurs very early in the process before I have done any research or made any decisions about how to approach the play and yet choosing a notebook for a production is one of the first creative decisions I make. Many artists favour the famous Moleskin sketchbooks. They signify an artistic type. For me they always seem too serious. Picasso sketched in them and Hemingway used them for musing and that is too much artistic baggage. I need a notebook with less expectation attached.

When I went shopping for a notebook
for A Woman of No Importance, or
“WoNoPo” for short, I was rushing to
my first design meeting with Michael
Gianfrancesco. We had a date to have
high tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel in
Niagara-on-the-Lake to launch our
creative process in as Wildean a world
as possible. My only option for notebook
shopping was The Shawp at the Festival
Theatre. There was a variety of options,
including those lofty Moleskins, but the
one that caught my eye was something
that captured my early notions of Oscar
Wilde’s world. It was a blank book bound
in yellow leather embossed with a paisley pattern in gold. There were little gold bells on the binding and the blank pages were of a luxurious texture and an elegant cream colour. It was WAY fancier than a Moleskin but longed to be filled with gossip and aesthetic critique. It captured Oscar Wilde’s notion that Art is Life and not the other way round.

But WoNoPo is not my only show this
season – Mrs Warren’s Profession or
“MWP” needed a notebook as well.
Despite the fact that Shaw wrote his
examination of the social circumstances
that drive women to prostitution in the
same year that WoNoPo premiered in
London, and despite the fact that both
plays deal with the story of a woman
who has had a child out of wedlock,
the notebook I needed for MWP was
completely different. Again, I considered
a Moleskin, and again the potential
artistic pretension put me off. So I went
to Muji, my favorite pen store in Toronto,
to see if there might be a notebook that could capture the Shavian pragmatism while acknowledging the elegant aesthetic that orders Shaw’s recalcitrant voice. I found something. It was part of a package of four blank books with covers in various shades of grey. Shaw’s refusal to take a side in “MWP” seemed to be manifest by the mid-range rainbow of the books. I bought the package and opted for the darkest grey of the bunch as the repository for thoughts about the play. I chose it not because the play is dark but because the play is substantial and challenges assumptions.

In the end I am very happy with my contrasting notebooks – each beckons with a different voice as I work my way through the distinct worlds of these Edwardian plays. For me, that is the miracle of the mandate – the plays of Shaw’s era ask deep questions of what it means to be a truly conscious human being. They never preach or insist that we take a side. Instead they offer us a variety of notebooks where we can examine our world views – some have yellow paisley bindings and some are of the richest of greys.

Buy tickets to A Woman of No Importance and Mrs Warren’s Profession

Want to learn more about these two shows? Watch Jackie Maxwell talk about Mrs Warren’s Profession and A Woman of No Importance.

The Shawp at the Festival Theatre offers a nice selection for all different tastes and styles.

Pop in for a visit today.

The most magical, musical journey of the year … is coming to the Festival Theatre soon. Enjoy these costume sketches by Costume Designer William Schmuck for the world premiere of Alice in Wonderland. Now how about seeing them on stage and living colour?

May 27, June 18, August 20,
September 10 | 11am

The Shaw Festival is a theatre
company inspired by the works of
Bernard Shaw. But just who was
Bernard Shaw? Join Jim Mezon,
one of the foremost Shavian actors
in North America, to learn about
Bernard Shaw, the Shaw Festival’s
namesake and playwright who
became a legend through his
prolific writings, his sensational
political views, and his unique
way of life. $20/person.

To book this or any other Shaw event call 1-800-511-7429.

By becoming a Member, you can take part in some exclusive activities reserved for our donors. We’ve put together some great events for Members throughout the season that provide new ways to see The Shaw and experience Niagara-on-the-Lake …

Click here for more information on what’s happening and when!

Members at and above the Governors Council level can also look forward to additional exclusive events we have assembled here.

To become a Member, please visit or call 1-800-657-1106 ext 2556.

Film Series
Films and docs run until Feb 20
Tickets $12

Join us for the annual
Film Series Fundraiser

Feb 19 @ 7pm Beeba Boys
ickets $20 & $95 for film & event

Feb 25 to March 3
Sample culinary delights from local
fine-dining establishments.

Congratulations to Shirley D. from Getzville, NY who has won this month’s contest for Backstage Pass subscribers. She will receive a pair of tickets to a 2016 performance of A Woman of No Importance. Backstage Pass subscribers are automatically entered to win each month.

©2016 Shaw Festival Theatre
10 Queen’s Parade, Box 774, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, L0S 1J0 Canada 1.800.511.7429

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Photo Illustrations by Emily Cooper. Ensemble photos by David Cooper Photography.