The Shaw Festival, North America's only theatre festival devoted to works written within the lifetime of Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, will expand its mandate in 2000 to include modern plays written about or set in the period of Shaw's life.
The mandate change was announced earlier this year at an election of the festival's 1999 board of governors.
The festival, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, 20 minutes downstream from Niagara Falls, draws Canadian and American audiences and has been hailed as one of North America's great festivals, a competitor with the better-known Stratford Festival, which has a Shakespearean mandate, in Stratford, Ont.
The Shaw Festival, with an annual budget of $14.9 million (Cdn.), has billed itself as focusing on "plays about the beginning of the modern world," and now those plays will include commissions and new works about the period.
"This is the perfect way to mark the millennium and the fact that 50 years after Shaw's death his works come out of copyright in Canada," said artistic director Christopher Newton, in a statement. However, Odette Yazbeck, the festival's senior communications manager, told Playbill On-Line a Shaw play will always anchor the festival on the main stage, the Festival Theatre.
The Shaw Festival runs spring to fall on three stages in picturesque Niagara-on-the-Lake, on the lip of Lake Ontario.
The 1999 season includes Heartbreak House, You Can't Take It With You, Easy Virtue, All My Sons, Getting Married, The Madras House, S.S. Tenacity, Uncle Vanya, Rebecca, Waterloo, Village Wooing and A Foggy Day.
For information, call (800) 511-SHAW.
-- By Kenneth Jones