Who we are now
A not-for-profit, registered charity incorporated in 1985, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival Inc. continues to provide exciting contemporary and traditional productions of plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Each summer, two full-length plays are performed in repertory by professional artists, in large tents on the banks of the beautiful South Saskatchewan River in the heart of Saskatoon. The festival runs from the first week in July until mid-August. Matinees are performed during certain weekdays and all weekends. See our show schedule for detailed information.
Each season, our barren riverbank perch is amazingly transformed into a summer cultural paradise combining mainstage performances with numerous festive activities. The month of May will see the raising of our mainstage tent, with its 282 seat capacity, along with our smaller tents, collectively known as the Elizabethan Village, which house the Community Stage. During the month of June, the energetic activity of crew and cast prepare the site and rehearse in great anticipation of the season's opening. Our site also features Sir Toby’s Tavern and Riverside Deck – the only riverside tavern in Saskatoon.
In addition to performances taking place on the mainstage, companion activities such as Medieval Feasts, workshops, tours, art displays, special matinees, and the Community Stage offer great variety for our patrons. Our Community Stage is Saskatoon’s only summer-long free performance venue for emerging local artists, community groups, and individuals providing valuable public exposure and recognition not readily available elsewhere.
Where we came from
Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan has a long and exciting history of innovation and cutting edge arts programming on the riverbank. There is one simple reason for that – the people. Under its origin of Nightcap Productions, founder and first Artistic Director Gordon McCall brought a group of exciting theatre artists together to put up the first production - A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This was in the summer of 1985 on the old Bowling Green just a stone’s throw away from our current site. During Gordon’s tenure from 1985-1991, the festival saw the production of seven of Shakespeare’s plays plus a remounted national tour - a landmark bilingual production of Romeo & Juliette. These productions celebrated the festival atmosphere and challenged the lines of how Shakespeare can be done and are remembered fondly to this day – it's hard to forget Caliban's magical entrance from under the surface of the water of a submerged hot tub!
After years at the festival as stage manager and production manager, Mark von Eschen stepped into the role of Artistic Director to see the longest and most consistent period of the Festival’s leadership and artistic output. Mark directed a staggering 28 productions for the festival over his tenure and was known for his personal connection with his audience. From his first A Midsummer Night’s Dream to swinging broadsword tragedies audiences had a great time at his shows. In 2004, Mark also stepped into the shoes of Executive Director to take leadership of the company’s financial health. With his many years of dedicated and passionate work for the company, Mark is responsible for the restructuring, refocusing, and leadership that erased deficits and brought the company to a fiscally healthy position to head into the next era.
In 2014, the leadership of the organization of the company was passed to Will Brooks as Artistic Producer. The future will hold a commitment to the artistic innovation and cutting edge work began by Gordon, the exciting range of programming begun by Henry, and the organizational health painstakingly built by Mark.
Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Mandate
To make the experience of Shakespeare enriching and accessible to all.
To mount professional productions of plays by William Shakespeare and other related works, and to celebrate the skills and talents of Saskatchewan artists, in a manner accessible to all.
- To maintain our identity as a summer festival while exploring other venues for performance
- To be professional
- To employ local artists
- To maintain fiscal responsibility
- To be accessible
- To provide opportunities for other local performers
- To recognize the educational opportunities and benefits that Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan can provide.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
- Rick EwenChair
- Eric ClineVice-Chair
- Angie FergussonTreasurer
- Karen HaywardSecretary
MEMBERS AT LARGE
- Sheldon Born
- James Davie
- Leslie Fenyes
- Mike Furi
- Carey Hyndman
- Corinne McKay
- Joanne Rochester