The Shaw Festival has announced the resumption of its "Toronto Project" and has also signed artistic director Christopher Newton to a new five-year contract.
Begun in 1982, The Toronto Project was designed to give the summer Festival a presence in Toronto during the winter season, as well as providing an opportunity for the company to explore plays beyond of its mandate of those written during the lifetime of George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950).
Over a six year period, up to 1988, the Festival co-produced nine plays, but lack of funds shut the project down. Last season, steps were taken to revive it when a partnership was formed between the Shaw and Toronto's Tarragon Theatre. It allowed four playwrights to write new scripts and then workshop them at the Shaw.
Now, with a one-time grant of C$85,5000 from the Canada Council, this relationship will not only continue, but expand to include a co-production of one of the commissioned texts during Tarragon's 1998-99 season.
As for Newton, already one of the longest-serving artistic directors in North America (he has been at the Shaw for 18 years, half the Festival's lifetime), his leadership has been in large part responsible for building a financially stable company that is renowned for its tight ensemble work and rigorous stagings of rarely produced, early twentieth century, plays. He will now see the Festival into the year 2000.
For more information call the Shaw Festival at: 1-800-511-Shaw.
By Mira Friedlander