In 1962, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, lawyer and playwright Brian Doherty parlayed his love for the work of Irish playwright Bernard Shaw into a summer theatre festival with the help of a small group of American and Canadian businessmen. Under the banner "A Salute to Shaw" eight performances of Don Juan in Hell and Candida were produced in the Court House auditorium. In this singular act of passion for theatre and culture, the Shaw Festival was born.
Today, with 10-12 productions each year performed in four theatres for an audience of more than 250,000, the Shaw Festival has grown to become a major Canadian cultural icon, a gem in the country’s rich cultural heritage. Inspired by the wit and passion of Bernard Shaw, the Shaw Festival is a contemporary theatre that features a smart, provocative, potent and diverse mix of plays from the past and present. Hailed by John Simon of New York magazine as "the best repertory theatre on the entire continent," the Shaw is internationally acclaimed for the quality of its acting ensemble, its very high production values and the intelligence and depth of its programming. The result is theatre that is entertaining, challenging, surprising and above all else … unique. These plays are lovingly and artfully brought to the stage each year by a talented team actors, directors, and designers, showcasing the incredible tapestry of talent that Canada contributes to the world.
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The Shaw Festival: Behind the Curtain
The Shaw Festival
Learn more about the Shaw Festival's four distinctive theatres.
Learn more about the Shaw Festival's namesake.
Learn about some of the other playwrights featured at the Shaw Festival.
Shaw Festival Executive Director, Elaine Calder reflects on the Shaw Festival.
Learn about the plays performed at the Shaw Festival over the years.