The Shaw Festival: Behind the Curtain offers viewers a glimpse into the workings of one of North America’s most distinctive theatre companies. Since 1962, the Shaw Festival, located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, has carved a niche in the theatre world by showcasing provocative and engaging plays from its namesake Bernard Shaw, his contemporaries and current theatrical provocateurs. The Shaw Festival is entertaining, challenging, surprising and above all—unique.
The production team was given behind-the-scenes access to the Shaw Festival during its 2012 season. Following the productions of Come Back, Little Sheba and Hedda Gabler, the film captures key moments from dress rehearsal, set design and construction, costume design and the extensive back stage logistics required by Shaw’s uncommon staging and scheduling. During rehearsals, actors and directors reveal insights into the creative process that goes into making world class theatre.
The Shaw Festival: Behind the Curtain captures the Shaw's rare approach to theatre and the treasure of the Shaw's repertory acting company that is at the core of festival. “The Shaw Festival is a place where you get to do scripts that are not done almost anywhere else,” says Ric Reid, one of the 60 Canadian actors in the ensemble company. “There is a risk at the Shaw that is quite amazing and quite wonderful,” adds theatre critic Gary Smith.
Jackie Maxwell has served as Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival for more than a decade. “When the plays are really working the connection to the audience is made,” she says, “it’s truly a vital experience for all concerned and it encourages us to keep producing theatre that is memorable and unique.”
The Shaw Festival: Behind the Curtain premiered July 19, 2013. Check local listings to see when it's airing on your local PBS station.