Tim Jennings - Shaw Festival 2017

On Target with Penny Wolfgang
Sunday, June 11th

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This is on target with penny Wolfgang a program that takes an inside look at what is happening in Western New York with news features and special guests. Now here's your host penny Wolfgang. Hi everybody thanks so much for joining us today and on target and your host penny Wolfgang. And it's fun for me talk to every week and hope you enjoy listening we try to discuss subjects that we think are interesting and important to me. Cover everything that's happening in the Western New York area we think. And once in awhile we talk about the law and listen while we talk about health and culturally then send activities for the summer and and on non but very often we talk about the theater because it's my program penny love gang and I love the theater. As you know if you listen so and return they get an opportunity to talk to somebody from one of our local theater is of course I do. And buy local now our expanding all the way to Canada across the border international this is going to be an international program today. Because it's at time of year almost every year where we try to catch up with our neighbors to know Allison finally know what is happening at the Shaw festival. This may be you don't know like you're gonna find out is to be 56. 56. Seasons for the ash shot Fastenal. And this just in case you're not familiar with that is. What is known as a genteel. Leaks side festival did you know that. Our guest is guy didn't know that but I only knew it because I read the well I've been there fast and tons of course but I never knew it was referred to as they genteel lakeside vessel that actually is a very good description. Because if you'll find out after the get a chance to talk to I guess it's. It's so different and unique as far as so location in the atmosphere. And the productions itself and that it is. Known international him and now I mean just Canada but I mean in unison like far minds like people come from. Other countries to attend Shia fest oh. And now of course from right here in Western New York so let me tell you first of all. That in the studio with us it's Tim Jennings and mr. Jennings is. The executive director. And he is sound sort of new in the scheme of things since he hasn't been there fifty. Six years that's this year. And he is going to Avant and tell us such as two bath than this season itself. But a little bit about the show vessel just in case you. Our listeners are not instantly with it as we are so welcome mr. Jennings welcome to America thank you very unpleasant they afraid of a friendly neighbor. Okay what is back mean. Well I'm a IE just in the last ten years before it took over the Shaw festival last year. Are running theaters here in the US in Seattle and Minneapolis. So. All day US for a long time so. I'm in this not just false pretense is that you have when I said you're from Canada no go okay. In Richmond Canada but I'm also actually the treasurer of the board of her computer associations so I've been working down here a long time. So just done a little bit about your background because I don't know what executive director means it's not an actor I configure that part out that's right. I'm I'm and so did the job description changes slightly with the person and it but in my case I am. The executive director and CEO which means that I'm in charge of all of the business of the Shaw festival. And after is the sort of lead producer Furl the work so. My background is in production lines as I started my career by putting myself through school as a Rinker which is the person hangs lights above the stage. And and to be a stage manager job I've only ever done once. And I got hurt very quickly out of school to be a production manager which was the person who organizes the backstage side of the theater. I worked in that area for a long time and then produced more and more work on my own until I open up a firm doing Madden nearly two thousands and in about 2007 got recruit trump shuttle children's theater and then after that CTC in Minneapolis which is the world's largest theater for families. And shortly thereafter about. The room just under two years ago I guess the Shaw festival called and asked to put coming become their executive director which. To their case Matthew CEO. I'm a good job I think I'm the first. Person to hold its usually we've had a producing artistic director Richmond surged one boss. And now two and Carol and I are the two executives of the organization so that's the kind of change. Yeah I guess you're following in the footsteps of the most renowned person because sent Jacqui nice flow was there for so many years and that's right in that capacity during. She had only only outdone by Christopher Newton social her to her term was fifteen years and Christopher was twenties Elizabeth to last. We've we've only had two artistic director changes in 35 here. During that it has something to do with the theater that's revenue Hillary land has steady jobs you're now. It is a usually. Were a little unusual that we're generally there's 450 of us are full time employees of the Shia festivals so. Making us one of the top five largest theaters and. America so. Now when you're coming from. The states to with the Shia festival which we have already determined is in another country is there and other a lot of differences between you know the theater the expectations. Not so much oil but I mean people between Canadian American theater. There's there's some stylistic differences we come out of a British tradition of theater which tends to mean. That we do a lot more what I would what we're known for at least has classical theater the Stratford festival in Charlotte too large theaters in Canada and salt pepper in Toronto was another classical theater of the Canadian stage company we we tend to focus on the kind of work I would say the American Canon. From which tends to be sort of 19100. Through the current era. Is a very distinct modern style of work and we tend to be more focused and Shakespeare up to now so there's a little more Brett there so. It's a very. The amount to much there is a significant difference the actors all the good work to try to make the cells as. To the best plays they can we do pieces from the American cannon as much as we do sort of older pieces by people entrepreneur and Shaw. Who were named for and I think our particular team of actors are known for doing. What are called classical provocative theater so people like Gibson and check off amount sort of thing but also. More recently especially under Tim Carroll who's unknown Shakespearean and also an American. A British American actually. Where they're branching out and trying smear things so he's just doing all sorts of different kinds were this year than an hour. Normally known for. Now I'm getting a lot of different stories here because this says that Tim Carroll was born and maybe dense ES Manchester. Is in Manchester. In England and England to wish is just wrong that isn't all there is Aaron just and touching yes absolutely so he was born even though is born in England he I mean date he's a US citizen government and a British citizen is not actually a Canadian at all. But but best known probably locally and in the United States for having done the productions on Broadway recently apartment in Richard the third with mark prevalence and Stephen Fry. Which he directed at both for a when he was. Originally the artistic associate of the globe and England where he worked with mark. And then. And then again in the West End and again on Broadway and so he's he's a pretty remarkable directing his credentials are extremely. Impressive he's he's a terrific guy and he's also. It's the thing that they article doesn't mention but I always think is much more interesting is he directs and all over Europe and and and about fifteen languages so he's his party. Quite a remarkable director of the just before it came to a C restricting in the national theater of Norway and his entering working Denmark and Czechoslovakia. And increase in Holland from just amazing range so. You must be you being the festival and it must be excited to have somebody that caliber guy working right. Their own backyard here I am and what's really nice about him is he's one of the nicest guys have their format so it makes for really pleasant working environment. Well let me just you that you allude. To this oh I'm cited by the way if you just tuned in today. To distinguish generally talking to is Tim Jennings the executive director of the Shia festival. And we are talking about this the Shaw festival itself and we're gonna discuss the season and describe it for you so you know what you can look Foley to end the show festival itself which I wanted to talk a little bit about you said that. The mission. Is to not just obviously it's name Shia festivals. But it doesn't only mean plays by shock. No in fact we're we're incorporated that we were inspired by the work of George Bernard Shaw as a social provocateur were in a guy who. Really tried very hard to use theater as. A civic tool for engagement for starting discussions for asking hard questions in fact he was one of the first people to really do that. And the first person to call for a national theater in Britain he was a founder of the London school of economics is a pretty widespread got so the kinds of things he was interest in doing. Which showed included life playwrights. And all sorts of interesting ideas about social provide provocation effect this was a socialist and Fabian socialist. Are the things we're kind of trying to yourselves to figure out how to talk to people and have dialogues about about the world through theater. It is amazing that can be that his who works are real and and his contemporaries ritual. You know you're doing and we shall talk about a relevant today. An up and can appeal and apply to so many issues that are happening. Right in our in modern times and yes they are written under a bit miss but a long time ago were between you feel a 112700. And it seems like it could be today a lot of this a lot of his theories and work since absolute statements. Got it yet dialogue. Absolutely he was he was in earlier doctor if things like. Racial equality and women's rights and the which you know seems so intuitive to us now. I'm but he is also a guy who really good in the production producers and Joan for instance has talked about nationalism in a way that. I think it's a very relevant conversation at the moment and nationals of from several points of views you have a bunch of people who don't agree with each other on. What's right about a woman pushing for a nationalist conversation. But they all agree that she's not which is an interest in space so remain. We may know something about that in the current world. And it definitely. Doesn't when you associate when you think of saint Joan toy that on the playing a you don't think in those terms you know until you can put two and two together into agency they. The comparison the trading community go do think it is as a woman. A young girl who was trying to save the king or you know that kind of thing. That's right that's usually the argument he was making even. A 110 years ago. Was that Jones is a person who was really trying to unite France and France under specific banner an underdog and and the both the church and the the crown were both having some issues with and especially the barons of England who were not very fond of that team kicked out of France. So. Interest history let's get back to. Discussing the visit this season in the different surely different shows in the different. Theaters because. Physically Michelle festival is made up of more than one mostly when you think about. A theater elect we think of Shays for example or Irish classical it's one building at one Gator but China is a lot different. Draws a destination due to re owned four venues. We have the festival theater the courthouse theater the rural church theater. And other Jackie Maxwell studio theater named her recently departed. Artistic director Jacqui Maxwell. And those four venues. Make for a destination point. Niagara on the lake where we're situated is a town of about 161000 people so we don't have a big community it's going to support a very large theater company. All of our guests tend to be people from away so they come to us from all over the world as you noted earlier. And they come deceit and any of eleven shows we actually have. For one of a very few classical repertory ensemble theater left in the world which means we have 65 factors that work for year round of their own a bunch of different players. At the same time. So at the height of the season you can actually see eleven productions in the course of any given week one of about 44 performances across the us. Those oh four theaters so. You know it's really said there's so few people that live in their unlike that you just described yet. But so many people that coming to see the shows and coming as a destination. They always seem to come when I'm there when I wanna be there for. I can't and some sort of action going yeah I can't stand that. But I'm just kidding because they know a lot of people now using to describe this in a minute but there's a very long theater season. In it long and much longer than a minute then the usual. So it is starts in the fall pretty as starts in the spring it goes all the way to to fall pretty much. We do we run from April all the way into too late October and actually. When I first got there recently I asked if we could extend that season so we actually now a production as mr. November and December. So infected concede theater there nine months of the year and during that period. For about it. Eight months of that time we have eleven productions secrets here that's the same time. Should we make a deal I'll tell you when I'm coming union you know don't sell a lot of tickets those days or a or you know registry who who who know Greg Davis can't. Yeah. That second and so now the main theater is known is quote and quote the festival theater for and it's it's sort of found. Law it's larger it's more mod earn its and you can you've been described because I'm traveling messing it up no doubt but I. If an eight iron fifty seat standard proceeding in theater it's a big space like you see any Broadway showing little smaller house sized little larger stage. We can do almost anything and it. And this year. You are doing will we were mentioned saint Joan for. Currently doing timed out after which Tim Carroll or an artistic director it's his first show and so the first thing to premiere of the person to open with saint Joan. Followed by me in my girl which is a British musical. That's a usual let's. Less stellar Elisa is a little bit about this the fact that you'd tend to personal doing the musical. Which I think you do at least one every year traded do via the and I don't know you know how you came about how they show us Estella king that doing a musical you know it's so I have an out. And Allen an app now we college when this wrong. It doesn't seem it doesn't seem like it's the right thing amber yeah but at. Some point early on and Christopher Newton's time be started programming some good some short. Gilbert and Sullivan's and small musicals things that we're sort of musical style pieces. Because as light entertainment to support the rest of the season. Jackie Maxwell during her tenure really move that the main stage and started doing what I would call pretty intense musicals things. That had I'd keep plot Stephen Sondheim pieces that sort of thing really really. The musical theater that would be considered sort of similar in Canon although we've also done things like My Fair Lady not surprisingly because of church Rancho. Tim wanted to try to do something a little more light and fun and combine those two ideas but he also was looking for a player that made sense to Vieira so. Me and my girl is a a to demolish I guess to pick million took her try to trust player of about a girl who caught me who wants to become a lady in this case say. Young men in bills Gibson who happens to be. Caught me. Living in Lamberth a south part of London ends up by discovering him that he's the fourteen Earl Bradford and so he. Is brought to town to be made into a lord and it doesn't really wanna be one and it's very specifically told that he is not allowed to dispute specifically not allowed to bring his girlfriend with them the woman he wants to marry. And be they creative bunch of women in front of him and of course. He just wants his girl so that's the real. Nature of the plot it's not very deep in homage is that million and might fairly be quite a bit defect there's even a reference to them in the play. It's it's a very funny musical and it was three written by Stephen Fry is a good friend of artistic director Jim Carroll's. Back in the eighties it once several Tony's during that period of time when it came here to the US has lows in the west and a bunch Olivier is. The very. Very funny play. And a really good times what's really starts this summer. So and this sort of thing probably that you used to appeal to like a large segment of the death of dealing insular ally ally jerk you know more so then. When you talk about the other guys more serious dramas. Yeah I usually as again people are coming to see you are a bunch of different theater while they're in town and so. What we try to do this season which is a little different than before it's too. Is to give them the widest range of place possible and so this is certainly the latest pair that you'd see in the course of the festival. Tom but it gives you the chance that your embassy for five plays of her weekender for a few days to have some emits light and frothy at the start that offer finish it off. So anomaly. I anomaly that's what I was gonna say remember until next Wednesday because you're supposed better lately it's better late than never OK I just so people don't think I'm totally losing it is what did she tell you that I so in a moment. You can hear her. About some of the other offerings but I want to tell you again that we we have the privilege today of talking to Tim Jennings who's the executive director. Of the Shaw festival about to be sure fest well. And down the years a few of you mentioned down the festival theater and then what I think he said before which is there really ain't seen Reid described to a listeners is. That people can come to they spend like a won't. Four weekends and days even a week. And in two in the areas can see all these different types of shows at the different theaters which they described. And it's not it's a destination for people as you said from all over. From all over the world him I mean there's. Regionally grown to be the fifth largest theater in North America didn't say that Obama or we aren't there yet we have with our infect the fifth largest live about a thirty million dollar your budget. Which would be from terrible to. During Shakespeare festival or the the public theater in New York so we're very large theater. Again one of the very few ensemble companies from left the only folks that are like that other than announced that the Gergen Shakespeare festival Luke Stratford festival which is also on just on the road from us in Ontario. And places like the real Shakespeare company at the national theater in Britain so they're they're not a lot of us left that set up a bit of an unusual thing how's that big an ensemble. However. You were asking a little bit about the of the theaters yet and doing so that shirt so. The other shows we we actually we have sort of four different kinds of theaters which is probably useful so the bidders the big festival stage. Which this year as you noted was doing in my girls in German Dracula later in the season with a beer and gets you about. And that's a fun version written by a Scottish playwright and Liz Lockheed which is a very feminist take on Dracula. Actually has a very clear idea of Dracula as. A symbol for women's power and sexuality in the Victorian era which is kind of a fun way to comment that story that's going to be an issue motives it's it's a directive laid out on the golf yes I very topical. Depp though Everyman in the place is scared of every woman in the place and spur interest should. Intelligent being is probably how it should be we victory and then apparently set. Yes my hair. Other guest in the room yelling at Edwards. An amendment the courthouse theater is a bit of thrust stage it's one of our oldest in his section where we started 56 years ago. And this year we're doing. A play about Canadian history called if you 37 the farmers revolt. Which is based on our own attempt to have revolution. Alice 1776. We failed. Hum or at least to the Toronto farmers who tried to have that revolution words were suppressed it may not be part of history that's well known here in the US. But it it ultimately. Caused us to. Our confederation which were celebrating a 150 Europe this year which is our on becoming a country we're no longer colony has of eight and sixty sevens so. And then the other two plays the we're doing her true furnish us under please in the lion which route to imperil our new artistic directors also correcting. A very funny version of the very. Smart play about. How people deal with martyrdom which is an odd thing to say it's a funny play but it's a very funny play. And then wild tales which is on Oscar world's fairy tales which were doing for young kids which is also when you. Thing for us trying things that are for younger children so that will be announced last. Still in people come from let's say you know all the way down stayed in New York which they do war. Massachusetts. The states they can bring their children not to fade totally for something for them. Yes but that until it goes the other is a couple of shows this year that would be good for them I would say. While tails would be great in my girl between noted earlier just death on abuse those two would go very well for teenagers they might like something like Dracula or. Certainly. Plays like. Madness of George the third which was yes you do is getting into that now they did you describe the my favorite hello I love the festival theater of course resist. But really my thing in probably everybody's is the old courthouse. Field court or why do I like that. Uh huh uh huh let's gonna get guests. This trip it's an interesting yeah exactly that makes sense it if it really was the her general courthouse of the area so Niagara on the lake was. In fact and a 225 years ago was the capital of upper Canada and that was the courthouse for that area so it's a really interesting historic buildings and we've been performing their efforts of the 56 years. And and then now. Do we say what we do what the performances are that are taking place there. 1837 the armor by revolts those and there are reasonable then oil spills and then there's a with the little one across the street named little royal George -- judge stuck in the same number of seats as the court knows. This it is just seem like they're they're both about 315. People so. And the royal George this you're doing the madness of George the third which is in fact the king of the brokerages named after so. So that is very very clever it was that was such a big hit a bit you know not just didn't I am I myself so I didn't. In London on how news jokes but I think it was a big hit it in America also. It was and also asked Phil and holding Mattis Hilton George I turn. And very very very Smart piece of Reading by a Alan Bennett. And directed by Kevin Bennett nor relation but the two of them got together we're chatting in Britain Kevin's. Well known director here and has been working overseas with the globe theater as well and so Tim knew him from that. I actually where the where I do see it and I think at that it's peace. Is it's so interesting historically you learn such a different perspective about. A person that we think Americans as well as. And you know. People from Britain or England would never have. Learned in history about the kink in the elkington can enjoy and you learn one way and then watching the show it turns a whole different perspective. Well he he had a definite period after the revolution but he had a definite period where he went through. What one could only call it dementia that was likely caused by some kind of illness and and the place sort of picks up on that period of time so he. In the early eighteen hundreds was was almost committed to a map house for this strange to mention he was going through and there's. The play is all about the struggle of power between the various factions are trying to figure who gets to take over next and how it gonna keep or. Or lose power. And those struggles of the man going through. Who who literally sees himself as the state going through the problems of losing his mind and not knowing what to do about the so it's a it's a pretty powerful piece there's also actually very funny. Yes it is but also it's very current in the sense that that's an issue a several of those are issues that I you know we're concerned with today. And dementia and yet that the effect on the Fam lanes and. There's Manuel and it's especially interesting in the wake of things like people where legacies like children taken over corporations from their parents and him in that case the prince's very. Very clearly cooperation looking forward taking over Britain from his father and perhaps quite ready to do so yet at that time. So there are also doing dancing is landing so which we've seen we in buffalo have seen several times it's analyzed and our theaters and I know it's pretty familiar and and it's it's also very interest in peace. Yes it's fantastic. Dancing at Lewis says is one of my well I I love it it's of the beautiful piece about Ireland and about. An era of family and how people interact with each other in that little plane part of Ireland in the middle of the sort of 1930s. So it's it's a beautiful production and it really stars five of our. Very well known. Female ensemble members I think it's one of the big hits of the season so far. It's always amazing to me how are the ensemble can learn so many to be in and learn. So many minds and hearts and character is during one season. If they all have at least two shows and often understudy a third and we work them very very hard but there are remarkable company. And in fact it's the advantage we have of tapping them on for so long they actually start training together about a month before. They're going to rehearsals and so they're very used to working with each other and have a bit of a shorthand it's a really great to. Meek so so tell us some technical things such as. Where you mentioned along the season is but where two people guardian tickets and down for anything else you want. This guy you're the web since very easy it's Shaw fest dot com and you can. Always call our 1800 number 1806571106. And they'll put your breakthrough and we have a very. It's it's very easy actually just renovated or web sites which really easy to get tickets online to see what's going on there's even a calendar feature the let you figure out what you felt you wanna do. Tim Carroll and I have started this year. Figuring out how to do a bunch of ancillary events so there's a lot more to do lawyer there at the theater. More classes moral lectures more chances to have a plus points many friends. And and night on the lake is a beautiful town we're gonna hear lots of Weiner good good meal in minutes we've got a lot of very good restaurants and something like fifty wineries in the immediate area so it's it's a usually have it be nice way to get away. It's really super charming and as I said before. Just please don't come and you know in the streets in the restaurants not the theater I don't mind but. When it's really crowded when I'm coming that winter there we dot avid others in Canada and other than. And that we have to serve Phillies exit socially and thanked him so much for talking to us. Rendell will see that the show offense still look for Natalie you asked all of Alison thank you so much and world CU across the Reuters soon thanks for listening for bank by about. You've been listening to one target with many Wolfgang. A program that takes an inside look at western new York and our community. If you have any comments or suggestions please write depending Wolfgang at 500 corporate parkway suite 200 Amherst New York. 114 to six.