Artistic Director of Shaw Festival renews contract.

by Lynn on March 15, 2011

in The Passionate Playgoer

G.B. Shaw

From a press release with comment at the end:

Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell Renews Contract. Ms Maxwell continues at the helm of one of Canada’s preeminent theatre festivals.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, March 14, 2011 . . . Shaw Festival Board of Governors Chair Gary Comerford revealed today that Jackie Maxwell will continue as The Shaw’s Artistic Director for another four years.

“As the Shaw Festival embarks on its momentous 50th season, the Board of Governors of the Shaw Festival are very pleased to announce that Jackie Maxwell’s contract has been extended for four more years,” said Gary Comerford, Chair of the Shaw Festival Board. “It is because of Jackie’s outstanding artistic leadership and dedication that the Shaw Festival is recognized as one of the finest theatrical companies in North America.”

Ms. Maxwell commented, “I am so proud of the work presented at The Shaw and feel privileged that the Shaw Festival’s Board of Governors has given me the opportunity to further contribute to The Shaw’s theatrical story by leading it into its next 50 years.”

Named Artistic Director Designate in 2001, Ms. Maxwell joined the Shaw Festival for the 2002 season to work alongside former Artistic Director Christopher Newton. On November 1, 2002, she officially assumed the position of Artistic Director making her the Shaw Festival’s eighth Artistic Director.

Inspired discourse and passionate discussion continue to be the signature of The Shaw under Ms. Maxwell’s tenure. Not only has she sustained and strengthened The Shaw’s mandate, but has also invigorated and expanded it to include the voices of Canadian and female playwrights, contemporary Shavians and new visions of Shaw himself, as well as introducing and opening The Shaw’s fourth performance space, the Studio Theatre.

During The Shaw’s landmark 50th season, Ms. Maxwell will direct the Canadian premiere of Lennox Robinson’s Drama at Inish – A Comedy and the world premiere of the Jay Turvey/Paul Sportelli musical Maria Severa.

The Shaw Festival’s milestone season begins April 7, 2011, runs until October 30, 2011 and features an array of diverse theatre on the Festival’s four Niagara-on-the-Lake stages. This momentous season also includes productions of My Fair Lady, Heartbreak House, The Admirable Crichton, On the Rocks, Candida, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The President, Topdog/Underdog, When the Rain Stops Falling and a special 50th season two-day event, The Speed of Ideas – A Theatrical Forum featuring award-winning playwrights Tony Kushner and Suzan-Lori Parks and author and renowned theatre critic Michael Billington.


Jackie Maxwell has a clear vision about the Shaw Festival and she’s stayed the course through the rough and the better times. Certainly her championing of women artists, as playwrights, directors, designers, and actors is one of her many accomplishments. The quality of the results is undeniable. I’ve heard some cynics suggest an agenda here. But if a male artistic director focused such attention on women artists he would be hailed as foreward thinking. When a woman does it, it’s called an agenda. Phooey.

And pushing and expanding the mandate is also a terrific accomplishment of Ms Maxwell. She doesn’t dumb down her seasons to attract some ‘other’ audience. She is true to her convictions, standards, and vision and I think the payoff is clear.

Bravo on the renewed contract.

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