Enlightening The Speed of Ideas: Shaw in the 21st Century at the Shaw Festival

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Tony Kushner headlines two day conference on the core of the Shaw Festival’s mandate July 23-24 in Niagara-on-the-Lake

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This brilliant playwright will discuss the influence of Shaw’s work and ideas, as well as his own work, with one of Canada’s leading literary interviewers, Eleanor Wachtel.

The Speed of Ideas: Shaw in the 21st Century, a theatrical forum, a two day conference of engaging debate and discussion about the core of the Shaw Festival’s mandate and the necessity of provocative ideas, will take place on July 23 and July 24, 2011 at the Court House Theatre and Studio Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This unique, not-to-be-missed event begins at 10 a.m. on July 23 with CBC Radio’s Eleanor Wachtel in discussion with Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright Tony Kushner at the Court House Theatre.

Certainly a writer who could be considered a contemporary Shavian, Tony Kushner has allowed the influence of Shaw to permeate his current work, An Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. He is also celebrated world-wide for his extraordinary cri de coeur and ultimate challenge to the status quo, Angels in America. This brilliant playwright will discuss the influence of Shaw’s work and ideas, as well as his own work, with one of Canada’s leading literary interviewers, Eleanor Wachtel.

In addition to Tony Kushner, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog) will sit down with Philip Akin, artistic director of Obsidian Theatre and director of this season’s production of Topdog/ Underdog, to talk about what part theatre can and continues to play in the expression of ideas that challenge assumptions and inspire debate. Rounding out the weekend talks will be an appearance by author and The Guardian’s theatre critic Michael Billington. The author of State of the Nation: British Theatre since 1945, Michael Billington will speak about the relevance of Shaw’s plays in our time.

Other artists taking part in thought-provoking panels over this weekend include award-winning Canadian playwrights Linda Griffiths, Michael Healey, Ann-Marie MacDonald, John Murrell; directors Philip Akin, Jackie Maxwell, Christopher Newton, Alisa Palmer, Morris Panych and Lisa Peterson. Shaw Ensemble members include Benedict Campbell, Diana Donnelly, Sharry Flett, Deborah Hay, Claire Jullien, Jim Mezon, Graeme Somerville and Blair Williams.

The schedule for The Speed of Ideas: Shaw in the 21st Century, a theatrical forum is as follows:

Day 1 –Saturday July 23
CBC Radio’s Eleanor Wachtel in conversation with American playwright Tony Kushner, Court House Theatre, 10 a.m. (Q&A with audience and book signing to follow).

Playwrights Inspired by Shaw, Studio Theatre, 2 p.m.
Reviving the Female Voice, Studio Theatre, 3:30 p.m.

Day 2 – Sunday July 24
Supermen/Superwomen: The Actors at the Shaw Festival, Studio Theatre, 11 a.m.
Michael Billington: Shaw’s Plays Today, Studio Theatre, 12:30 p.m.
Directing Shaw, Studio Theatre, 2:30 p.m.
A conversation with Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, Studio Theatre, 3:45 p.m. (Q&A with audience and book signing to follow).

Ticket prices for the Niagara-on-the-Lake event are $275 for two days with a special price for students/arts workers of $150. To attend either day one July 23 or day two July 24 the cost is $150 with a special students/art workers price of $75. Admission to the Tony Kushner event only is $45 and has limited availability. All prices are plus applicable tax.

A full two-day schedule is available for download at http://www.shawfest.com/Home/Our-50th-Season under 50th Packages and Events.

The Shaw Festival’s milestone season began April 7, 2011, runs until October 30, 2011 and features productions of My Fair Lady, Candida, On the Rocks, The Admirable Crichton, Drama at Inish – A Comedy, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The President, Maria Severa, Heartbreak House, Topdog/Underdog, When the Rain Stops Falling on the Festival’s four Niagara-on-the-Lake stages. For additional information on this season of celebration, please visit http://www.shawfest.com/Home/Our-50th-Season. For tickets and information on theatre packages, visit http://www.shawfest.com or call 1-800-511-7429 or 905-468-2172 (local).

Visa Infinite is the official payment card of the Shaw Festival.

About the Shaw Festival
In the spirit of Bernard Shaw, the Shaw Festival provokes the mind and stirs the soul through a theatre experience so compelling that, year after year, ever-broadening groups of artists, audiences and supporters are drawn to our work in Niagara-on-the-Lake and beyond. Visit http://www.shawfest.com/news for other Shaw Festival media releases.

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