April 2024 Newsletter

Message from the president

Our first show of the season – Witness for the Prosecution – opens this month!

Everyone is looking forward to the new season, and Guild Volunteers are no exception. I’m pleased to announce that the Shaw Guild is sponsoring production of The Shaw Variety Show this season! This donation of $10,000 – along with our $25,000 donation toward A Christmas Carol – represents the first of our financial donations to the Shaw in 2024.
We will continue to look for other ways to continue our support.

We had great attendance at our Scene Shop visit on March 24, and many of us are planning to attend the Spring Preview Luncheon on April 22. The Guild Executive Committee is working hard to accommodate as many volunteers as possible at these events. When the Spring Preview Luncheon sold out in record time, our team worked quickly with Shaw staff, catering and facilities to find a bigger room and allow more people to attend. We will continue to post news of upcoming events in our newsletter, so watch for sign-up dates throughout the season. In addition, more volunteer shifts will open up in MVP as plays open.

Our first Hosting and Greeting shifts will start this month. Docents are already conducting backstage tours, and this month the Gardening team will begin garden clean-up.

During the season, I get requests from various departments at the Shaw for help with specific projects. The request could be help with stuffing envelopes, helping staff at an event, or some other activity that takes a few hours of time. This month some of us are assembling felt flowers that will be applied to the costumes in The Secret Garden.

If you would like to be included in these requests for help, send me an email at president@shawguild.ca. As opportunities come up, I will email with specifics of the request and you can let me know if you would like to participate.

Remember the Shaw Festival Board is interested in getting feedback from patrons about the Shaw, our season and what they like or don’t like. Volunteers are often the first person a patron sees at the theatre, and if you have feedback that you would like to share, please email me at president@shawguild.ca. I will consolidate your input and pass it along.

I’m looking forward to seeing each of you at the theatre!

Mary Mizen, Shaw Guild President

Feel free to contact me president@shawguild.ca

Spotlight on: Maggie Keaveney

"Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."

George Bernard Shaw

Hello fellow Guild volunteers, my name is Maggie.

Like many others, my husband and I are relatively new to Niagara-on-the-Lake. We moved from Ancaster the summer of 2022 to start our semi-retirement years. I have to confess that we’re still trying to work through the concept of semi-retirement.

I am a wife, mother of 3 sons and 2 four-legged furry babies, and Gigi to 3 grandsons. My background is in both the corporate world and as a self-employed entrepreneur. For many years I was Director of Innovation for Laura Secord, traveling extensively to develop new chocolate and ice cream options - it’s a dirty job but somebody’s got to do it! After I left the corporate world, I followed my creative passion and developed my own business. Knowing that chaos can be a place to thrive, I helped frustrated homeowners transform their homes and businesses through design work or home staging.

Once relocated to NOTL, I was first introduced to The Shaw Festival and an amazing and magical world opened up to me. Last season was my first full season of both greeting and hosting. I admit I’m drawn to the opportunities of greeting because I get to meet and welcome so many patrons from near and far who have chosen The Shaw Festival for their special outing. Success to me is the ability to do what you love, every day, and know that you are contributing in a positive manner to society.

I look forward to sharing volunteer opportunities with you this season.


The Shaw Education department is hosting three fun events this season and looking for help from Guild Volunteers. 

If you are interested in helping out - and can meet the required time commitments - please send an email to president@shawguild.ca. Include in your email which event you would like to attend and assist, and you will be contacted with further details.

Mother’s Day Tea

  • This event will be held Sunday, May 12, 9:30 a.m – 1:00 p.m., and will include a craft workshop for guests, followed by a tea.

  • 4-6 Volunteers needed.

  • Volunteers must also attend a workshop rehearsal on Thursday May 2, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

  • Volunteers will assist during the craft workshop and tea, and will help with clean-up.

Father’s Day Tea

  • This event will be held Sunday, June 16, 9:30 a.m – 1:00 p.m., and will include a craft workshop for patrons, followed by a tea.

  • 4-6 Volunteers needed.

  • Volunteers must also attend a workshop rehearsal on Thursday May 2, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

  • Volunteers will assist during the craft workshop and tea, and will help with clean-up.

Mini Manners

  • This event will be held Saturday, June 8, 11:30a.m. – 2:00 p.m., for children and their favourite stuffed animals.

  • 3-4 Volunteers needed.

  • Volunteers will provide assistance to hosts and guests and assist with set-up and clean-up.

Announcing a New Fundraising Event for the Shaw Guild: Autumn Soirée

The Autumn Soirée will be held on Friday, October 4 at Chateau des Charmes Winery. 

An evening of fabulous food, wonderful wine, dancing to a live band and our popular wine pull. The co-leads for this event are Deborah Williams (Secretary for the Guild), and Elizabeth Stronski (Docent), both of whom were part of the core team for Sip, Savour & Stroll, which is replaced this year by the Autumn Soirée.

We will formally announce the event to the public later in April.  But you can put it on your calendar now!  Tickets will go on sale July 5, and we will send notification when that is live.

Mark your calendar now for the inaugural Shaw Guild Gear-Up!

On Monday May 13 from 10:00 a.m. to noon, drop into the Festival Theatre lobby to learn more about the Guild’s many volunteer opportunities, chat with other volunteers about their experiences, and ask questions of your Shaw Guild Executive Committee members. Whether you are a new volunteer or a seasoned veteran, there will be something for you to discover. Plus — refreshments and door prizes!

Sign-up begins on MVP on Monday April 15. We are asking Guild members to sign up to get an idea of how many people will be dropping in, but there’s no limit to the number of members who can sign up. Looking forward to seeing you then!

Brought to you by the Guild Gear-Up Committee: Janice Coles, Margot Devlin, Caroline Montgomery and Brenda Weafer.

Coming May 17 – The Shaw Variety Show! Would you like to participate?

The Shaw Variety Show (sponsored by the Shaw Guild!) will be jam-packed with music, trivia, bits and banter. The show premieres in the Speigeltent on May 17, and will run through to October 6. Director Kristopher Bowman has come to the Guild to ask for our help!

There are three ways you can participate:

  1. The cast is looking for silly prizes that will be handed out during the performance. These prizes could be things in your house that you no longer use e.g. a set of candlesticks, a picture frame, an empty notebook. Maybe you have something to donate that is related to Shaw? This could be your opportunity to donate those items to a fun cause!

  2. They also need unique items that they can build a skit or a story around. Perhaps you were a nurse and would like to donate your nurse scrubs. Maybe you have a helmet from your past life. Someone donated a can of beans … magic beans, anyone?

  3. If you’ve always wanted to be a performer, the Shaw Variety Show needs you! They are looking for volunteers who can be part of the show line-up. Do you have a song to sing?  Can you juggle? Tell jokes? Recite poetry? You can perform solo or with another volunteer or two. Just indicate what you would like to perform and how much time you need. You could be included in one performance of the Variety Show or a couple. The director will give you details and time to prepare.

If you are interested in helping in any (or all!) of the 3 ways listed above, please send an email to president@shawguild.ca  by Wednesday, April 24 and indicate how you would like to be included. You will receive more details as to how to participate, where to drop off your items, etc.

Do You Know About the Green Room?

Info and photos submitted by Arlene Carson

At the bottom of the stairs leading down from the MacDonald Heaslip Lounge is the entrance to The Green Room, an oasis in which to relax, grab a beverage, a snack or a meal. The Green Room is the Shaw’s company cafeteria, but Guild members are most welcome according to Jude Jones who runs the kitchen. This is the same kitchen that cooks up the delicious barbeque we can enjoy at the Pop-Up Patios in the summer months.

Once the matinees at the Festival Theatre begin on Saturday, May 4, the hours will change, but until then, they are:

  • Monday to Friday - 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

  • Saturday - 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

  • Sunday - closed

After May 4, actors are often grabbing a bite to eat before their “half hour call”.  We will make sure that the Guild is aware of the new hours.

If you are looking for a great “all day” breakfast menu, salads, wraps and sandwiches, and some of the best cookies and muffins around, this is your spot. Pop in before a hosting or greeting shift or after your workout in the Shaw Gardens. Find your way down the glass staircase in the lobby of The Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre and you are in for a great treat! Come on in and check it out!

Looking for some fun? Like to be creative?  

Our current Marketing Convenor is leaving us, and we are looking for a replacement to help with promotion of the Autumn Soiree event.

The role involves preparing a marketing plan for the Garden Tour and The Autumn Soiree and working with the organizing teams on the events. The role also includes doing some social media, connecting with local and other media providers, and finding opportunities to raise awareness of Shaw Guild activities.

Some marketing experience and knowledge of social media platforms is required. It is a fun position that allows you to be creative and keep abreast of Shaw Guild activities.  The Marketing Convenor works closely with the Executive Committee and attends monthly EC meetings.

If you are interested in this role, please email info@shawguild.ca.

The Volunteer Events Team is Busy!

by Brenda Weafer, VolunteerEvents Chair

Spring is in the air and the Shaw Festival season has begun! The Volunteer Events team is excited about the opportunities we will be making available to you in coming months.

On March 24, eighty Guild Volunteers gathered at the Shaw Festival Scene Shop in Virgil (photo at right) for a fascinating look at sets for this season. Beyata Hackborn, Set Designer for The Secret Garden, gave us a look at her wonderful design and explained her process in detail.

She was joined by Lesslie Tunmer ( head of Scenic Construction) and Jana Bergsma from Scenic Construction, who discussed some of the opportunities for creativity and some of the challenges they faced in bringing the designs to life. We then were treated to a demonstration of some of the very cool “gags” or illusions these wizards of set construction have come up with, such as flying arrows and blooming roses! It was a wonderful afternoon, and we thank Beyata, Lesslie and Jana for their time, patience and insight.

Tickets for the annual Spring Preview Luncheon went on sale on April 1. Artistic Director Tim Carroll will speak about the upcoming season, and then attendees will enjoy a wonderful quiche buffet lunch (cost is $35.00) in the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre, catered by the Green Room. After lunch, Jay Turvey and Paul Sportelli will discuss their upcoming production of The Secret Garden.

Thank you for your interest in these wonderful opportunities. And thanks, as always, to the wonderful VET team who work so hard to plan these for you.

UPCOMING EVENTS & IMPORTANT DATES (note date changes are in bold text)

  • Spring Preview Luncheon * Show & Tell * – April 22 (Ticketed event)

  • Invitation to a Dress Rehearsal for My Fair Lady – May 3 (No charge)

  • Guild Gear-Up - May 13. Details are in Janice Coles’ article in this newsletter. (No charge)

  • Coffee Connections is back! Last Monday of the month from May – September (No charge) 10:00-11:00 a.m. on the Terrace. Note: NO COFFEE CONNECTIONS JUNE 24.

  • The Shaw Guild Annual Garden Tour – Saturday June 15 (Ticketed event)

  • Garden Tour Appreciation Event, Monday June 24, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. by invitation only to Garden Tour Volunteers

  • Guild Night at the Pop-Up Patio – July 18, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. (No charge to attend, purchased refreshments & food)

  • Shaw/Stratford Cricket Match – in NOTL this year! Watch for the date in August. (No charge)

  • The Shaw Variety Show & Guild Reception – Watch for the date in August. (Entry with purchase of a ticket to the show)

  • Volunteer Recognition Event at the NOTL Community Centre – October 16th (No charge)

  • Shaw Guild Autumn Soirée. – October 4, Chateau Des Charmes (Ticketed event)

  • Shaw Guild AGM, November 25 (on Zoom)

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Gardening Update

by Debbie Steley, Shaw Gardens Chair

After a one week delay due to cold and rainy weather, the Shaw Guild gardeners were able to start the season on April 9!

Each Tuesday morning (weather permitting) we will be out in the gardens of both the Festival Theatre and the Royal George Theatre, creating and maintaining the beautiful gardens for all to enjoy. Hopefully you will be able to take some time to come by and enjoy the gardens as they change throughout the months.

In the photos below are some Guild Gardeners at work!

At left,  Linda Murray and Johanna Geuzebroek. At right, Franca Moss, Art Moss and Marlene Kelly