For 35 Years, Quaint Village Fetes George Bernard Shaw near Niagara Falls, Festival in Canada Attracts World's Theater Buffs, Vacationers

By Tony Vellela, | The Christian Science Monitor, August 19, 1996 | Go to article overview

For 35 Years, Quaint Village Fetes George Bernard Shaw near Niagara Falls, Festival in Canada Attracts World's Theater Buffs, Vacationers


Tony Vellela,, The Christian Science Monitor


As the red-brick clock tower on Queen Street strikes 8, hundreds of eager visitors file into three theaters in tiny Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The Shaw Festival, now in its 35th year, serves up plays, musicals, and mysteries 40 times each week from April through October, celebrating the life, times, and legacies of George Bernard Shaw.

"We call them plays about the beginning of the modern world," explains festival artistic director Christopher Newton, who heads the venerable Canadian institution. Their mandate, he says, is to present the plays of Shaw (a total of 52) and those who wrote during his lifetime (1856-1950), encompassing "all the great plays of the modern world." He explains: "During that period, ideas took over from sensations."

Because the festival operates on a repertory system, with 11 plays operating on a rotating basis throughout its six-month season, visitors can see all the productions in a week.

This season's diverse choices include Shaw's "The Devil's Disciple" and "The Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles," as well as Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband," the 1930s musical "Mr. Cinders," J.M. Barrie's "Shall We Join the Ladies?," and Agatha Christie's "The Hollow," all featuring Canada's top actors, designers, and directors.

Major productions, such as "Disciple" as well as "Hobson's Choice" and "Rashomon," are presented in the Festival Theatre, a sleek, modern structure with 861 seats, banked by outdoor garden, flagstone terrace, and lily pond.

Musicals and mysteries find their home at the Royal George Theatre, a turn-of-the-century, 328-seat house reminiscent of a more traditional era. Experimental, smaller, and more esoteric selections such as "Simpleton" and J.M. Synge's "The Playboy of the Western World" play at the Court House Theatre, its 328 seats set up each May within the confines of the town's courthouse banquet hall.

In all, nearly 300,000 audience members a year fill the venues for 733 performances. All three are located within blocks of one another, along the provincial town's beautifully manicured streets.

Stylistic spectrum

Each production remains true to its origins. "The Devil's Disciple" rings with its towering message of hypocrisy amid imposing wooden bastions from the 18th-century colonial wars of North America, capturing the isolation, irony, and greed Shaw laced throughout the text.

On the opposite end of the stylistic spectrum is "Rashomon," written by Fay and Michael Kanin, based on the stories of Ryunosuke Akutagawa that inspired the acclaimed Akira Kurosawa film about feudal Japan 1,000 years ago. The powerful production pulls audiences into the surreal world of the imagined myth, combining original haunting music with a set that includes miles of red silk and a perilous hillside to weave its ambiguously lurid tale.

Bouncy production numbers, vivid costume, and wildly exaggerated acting heighten the fun of "Mr. Cinders," a role-reversing satire of the Cinderella fairy tale. The play is set in 1930s England, with Art Deco settees and tennis rackets as dance props.

And dinner jackets, teacups, and French doors abound in "The Hollow." The suspense is heightened by the design choice to present the Christie mystery in a black-and-white motif, accented sparingly with flashes of bold red.

All this theatrical activity, unique in its scope, has proven popular with audiences. Their support is evidenced by the festival's income breakdown: 72 percent of the festival's operating budget comes from ticket sales, with an average price of $31. And with another 19 percent contributed by corporate and private-sector sponsorship, only 9 percent is derived from government funding.

Its proximity to Niagara Falls, a 20-minute ride away, channels visitors to the festival by thousands, with roughly two-thirds coming from Canada, another one-third from the United States, and 1 percent from other countries. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

For 35 Years, Quaint Village Fetes George Bernard Shaw near Niagara Falls, Festival in Canada Attracts World's Theater Buffs, Vacationers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.