November 2022 Newsletter

Message from the President

Greetings to all!

Over the past 2 years, I have enjoyed spending time with you each month sharing whatever stream of consciousness that enters and makes a passing acquaintance with my frontal cortex. My admiration for those scribes who make a living producing a weekly column, never mind a monthly musing has grown immensely.

I have always loved the written word, and particularly writing which features irony, or wit and/or gentle humour. So here I find myself, in the waning days of my 2 year term as Guild President struggling and (almost) mute on how I might best bid you all a fond goodbye.

And so, I have turned to two of the Shaw Festival’s “greats”, Shaw, and his fellow countryman Oscar Wilde, as they both can always be counted on for a quote or two to match whatever the occasion requires.

Turning to GB, he opines; "I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye." Not completely helpful but, as always thought provoking.

Thankfully Wilde has come to the rescue, putting one firmly in one’s place when he offered this piece of pithy wit; Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go”!

Absolutely brilliant, couldn’t have said it better myself, no, really, I couldn’t.

It has been my absolute honour to represent you as your President for the past 2 years, it has been so rewarding on many levels. It has had its challenges, and I know I did not always get it right, but not for the want of trying or lack of effort. Thank you all for extraordinary effort,and achievements in the face of the ever-changing circumstances we have all endured since March 2020; let’s hope for a better time for incoming President Mary Mizen and her EC Team.

In my immediate future, there is an abbreviated period of rest, followed by a long anticipated Antipodean Adventure, in the company of the ever-understanding, patient and redoubtable, Diane.

I wish you and your loved ones all best wishes for the Holiday Season.

Alan Walker, President

Recap: Shaw Guild Service Recognition Event October 17th 2022

As promised in October’s Newsletter, what follows is a summary of the remarks that Tim Carroll (TC) and Alexis Milligan made at our Volunteer Service Recognition Event. What follows is presented in a mix of styles, some formal wording together with more conversational style content. At points in this summary there are also pauses for explanatory notes.

I extend my gratitude to those of my EC colleagues that provided me with great assistance in this, namely Susan MacDonald, Mary Mizen, Laurie Harley and Cheryl Morris.

Recap: Shaw Guild Service Recognition Event October 17th 2022

TC’s Opening Remarks

  • Shaw Guild Volunteers are key in providing patrons with their first experience when attending the Theatre

  • Volunteers should promote the “the risky play”, usually staged in the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre, Everybody being the example for this season.

  • These are plays that may/may not make much money but which everyone should see

  • For the 2023 season that play will be The Clearing.

  •  TC also mentioned that the approach to role allocation used in Everybody will also be used in staging The Game of Love and Chance, and each performance of the play will be improvised rather than scripted

  • TC also reminded us that the Spiegeltent will be used for this production;  (For those Guild Volunteers unfamiliar with the term Spiegeltent, it is a large travelling tent constructed from wood and canvas and decorated with mirrors and stained glass, intended as an entertainment venue.)

Other production-related gems provided by TC:

  • TC provided background on his collaboration of the production of Mahabharata with Ravi Jain.  He then led the assembled Volunteers in a pronunciation exercise if Mahabharata, initially with mixed results.  His personal experience of this ancient Indian epic was as a student, attending and being influenced by Peter Brook’s famous production

  • Gypsy is considered by Paul Sportelli as the greatest ever musical!

  • The Shaw will continue to offer concerts in the BMO facility and Outdoors @ Shaw next season

  • In answer to a question, he stated that Shaw does not offer multiple musicals as they are expensive to mount, particularly considering costs of employing orchestra musicians

  • To nobody’s great surprise, and despite the valiant and persistent efforts from the assembled audience, including some slyly loaded questions, TC would not be drawn on any casting information for the upcoming season 😊

TC then introduced Alexis Milligan’s topic with these remarks:

  • As the Shaw Link evolved after its creation during COVID, Shaw recognized that Kiera Sangster and Alexis were a good team and doing valued work, so they were asked to become involved in Becoming a Better Shaw

  • We’ve seen that anyone who is different (that is, not like me) wasn’t inclined to be part of our work in NOTL

  • We must have a steadier determination as a company, be more welcoming, and show that this is a place that includes everyone

  • It’s “convention” how we think, but we confuse it with reality

  • Don’t forget that in Medieval times, female roles were played by men, as women were not allowed to do so; What was on stage 20 years ago was different than what we see now, and will be different 20 years from now

  • In particular when students visit, they can’t just see white actors; they should see those opportunities as open to all

  • Diversifying our company is the easy bit; what’s harder, in general, is how we treat each other

  • We’re not interested in judgment and prejudice, but how we think and look at each other

  • That’s what we need to work on – and in reference to the work that George Webber has been involved in (including with the Guild and the Ambassadors) the new training is not “scary” or where anyone is made to feel uncomfortable

  • And that’s what the Shaw Link has been assigned to do, to put the flesh on the bones

Alexis’ Remarks

  • She has been working a lot recently (and just completed her Masters) on Whole Person Communication: the relationship between art, communication, experience and neuroscience

  • In her work, she has seen a disconnect between how we see each other and connect as individuals

  • Question: how many people know about The Shaw’s values (approximately 50% raised their hands)

  • Those values represent who we are, what we believe — they amplify our human connection If you are not familiar with the Shaw Values, what follows is an extract from the Shaw’s website:

  • The Shaw’s Value Statement Banner Headline Reads as follows – This is not easy work. It is often the hardest work, and it requires something extra of all those undertaking it – artists and audiences alike.

  • We believe everyone should be treated fairly equally and respectfully

  • It is a simple principle, and yet we know that, in practice, it has not been true of the world in the past and is not true now. The world we live in puts systemic, societal barriers in the path of people who belong to marginalized communities. Historical structures that privilege some identities over others have been particularly problematic in the performing arts, where identity is immediately manifest. In the theatre this has been especially true of traditional Western and Anglophone drama.

  • At the Shaw, we can and must change that. If we become a just and equitable place where everyone can bring their full, authentic selves to their engagement with our art, we can transform the Shaw into a company that includes everyone. This will require us all to understand and recognize the barriers each person faces, and to commit ourselves to the work of removing them. We won’t get it right instantly, or perhaps ever, but the point is to move forward.

  • Alexis also made the connection between these Shaw’s values and the banner displayed in the room that displayed the Guild’s Mission statement, as follows;

  • Engage Volunteers - Enrich the Volunteer Experience - Enhance the patron experience - Extend our reach in the community

  • Whatever your talents, there is a volunteer role for you at the Shaw Guild

  • G.B. Shaw “ I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can”

  • This is about engaging as a community on a human level, beyond race or differences

  • As we began working with the Guild on EDI in the spring, we could see a disconnect; the Guild and Shaw had started out on separate paths but are now working in close collaboration and having conversations with each other, and work as a team

  • We rolled out EDI pilots this year which considered Whole Person Communication

  • Going forward, we need to possess knowledge of our programming in order to know how best to interact with patrons; this is a fundamental part of what we do

  • How do we create these lasting impressions? Not as a “one and done”

  • Language is evolving every year; our plays will be different every year, and we need to be ready

  • We know the incredible group of company members who live here temporarily often have a difficult time in NOTL, and the landscape of our community is very important

  • Our Whole Person Communication will roll out in February 2023; we want this to bring us together to say this is where the magic is and I’m part of the larger community

  • George Webber and I are going to work together on training to give you everything you need to help in your personal communication related to EDI principles

  • We plan to produce information on our plays, which may also lead to EDI issues we may have to address

  • We hope they will give you the tools you need to have dynamic conversationsOur connection with the Guild is changing - it’s becoming bigger and broader

Summary response to questions

  • The dominant Western culture is all around us - we have to create change and make space for change

  • We expect there will be sessions in February, May and August, each focusing on 3-4 shows. Each session will likely be 2-3 hours, and we’ll provide you with information ahead of time; we are asking for your time, and it’s going to take time

  • We can use plays as vehicles to talk about EDI, and we will develop role-playing activities, and re-create scenarios that have happened at The Shaw to help you respond.

Shaw Guild Executive Committee 

by Laurie Harley, Past President

As we say good-bye to our 60th anniversary year, what better time to shine the spotlight on the Leadership Team who have guided us to an outstanding 2022 season.

It’s been quite a year for the Executive Committee – record-breaking fundraising, almost 2,000 shifts filled by hosting and greeting volunteers, events to educate and engage us every month, and all the while navigating the ongoing challenges of COVID-19.

Before I leave the Executive Committee and pass the “Past President” baton over to Alan Walker, I invite you to join me in recognizing an amazing group of dedicated volunteers.

President, Alan Walker:  our “cricket-loving” wise and generous leader

Vice President, Mary Mizen:  “Queen of Fundraising” – net 2022 fundraising  $49,935 WOW

Treasurer, Joe Allevato:  A treasure of a treasurer – and our favourite humorist

Secretary, Deborah Williams:  The master of DropBox, keeping us all organized

Communications Chair, Cheryl Morris:  Keeping us connected – if there’s a project underway, Cheryl is there

Membership Chair, Susan MacDonald:  Welcomed 45 new Guild volunteers and led the launch of the IDEA Team’s workshops on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Volunteer Events Chair, Brenda Weafer:  Finding new ways for us to connect over coffee

Docent Chair, Arlene Carson:  Welcoming the return of backstage tours and adding six new Docents to the team

Shaw Festival Gardens, Jane Catcher:  Keeping gardens beautiful not just for us to admire but as an outdoor performing space to delight audiences

Greeting Chair, Marg Mather:  Supporting a remarkable 1,184 volunteer shifts with a team of 82 active greeters

Hosting Chair, Greg Fedoryn:  Welcoming 21 new hosts and, working with Hosting Captains, supporting 784 volunteer shifts

MVP Chair, Margot Devlin:  Training us to return to MVP and patiently responding when we forgot our passwords

Spotlight on Volunteers:  John Anderson

Many of you will have had the great pleasure of working with John, in either his Greeting and Hosting roles, or both. John hails from the bucolic UK county that is Surrey, growing up in the town of Sutton, mentioned in the Domesday Book (Sutton is mentioned, not John).

But I digress; John packed his bags and crossed “the Pond” in 1965, to begin a new life in Canada. After a long and successful career in the steel industry, John and his wife Fran, moved from Burlington to Niagara-on-the-Lake in 2014. He and Fran had been regular visitors to Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Shaw Festival since 1978.

Following the move to NOTL, and for a time, John continued to work part time with Stelco; to describe John now as being fully retired, seems odd, given that he is one of the busiest of Greeters and Hosts, although by his own words, he is a pretty lazy guy – as if!

He has been a member of the Guild since 2015, and credits/blames a certain outgoing President for introducing him to our organization. When not working at the Guild, John plays mah-jongg - although by his own admission, Fran is much the better player - he reads voraciously, as he loves and appreciates the written word, and hence his love of the Shaw.

In his spare (sic) time he is also something of a sports fan, supporting the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and his hometown English soccer team, Sutton United who unfortunately currently languish in the English game’s lower leagues. Man and boy he has also supported Chelsea FC which speaks volumes about his loyalty, as this had in the past more of a hope over experience proposition.

Any time spent in John’s company is time well spent, especially when he is on Guild duty. He is known by patrons and Guild colleagues alike for his welcoming manner and for his gentle humour. He is a dedicated supporter of the Guild and the Shaw, is a wonderful ambassador for all we do, and a great friend . . .

John Anderson!

From the Activities Corner

Brenda Weafer, Volunteer Event Chair (and Team)

Volunteer Events in 2023

It seems as though the 2022 season is barely behind us and we are in the thick of holiday cheer with White Christmas and a Christmas Carol gracing our stages for the month ahead. Our last event was the Volunteer Recognition Day in October, and a wonderful time was had by all who attended.  We are already thinking ahead, though, and soon will be meeting with Shaw folks to outline our calendar of events for the upcoming season. Expect some of the traditional and well-loved events to return, and there may even be some surprises ahead!  

You may notice the name change from Activities to Volunteer Events.  That was to avoid some confusion in signing up in MVP under the right banner. Anyway, we are pleased as it is a good descriptor of what we do: create events for the enjoyment and enrichment of Guild Volunteers!  If you are interested in joining our team this coming year, please let us know by emailing Brenda Weafer. We have a lot of fun together creating memorable events for you!

In the meantime, have a wonderful, warm holiday season. May it be merry and bright.

Working Together to Create the Shaw Magic

by Susan MacDonald, Membership Chair

Our 60th anniversary was special in so many ways, and we finish off this year with great hope for the future.

We were back at the theatre, picking up where were left off almost two years ago. We revived old skills and learned new ones. The Shaw was returning to normal, but normal has also meant new responsibilities for all of us. This year has given us a chance to take stock of how we think and look at our patrons, our company members and each other. In particular, we’ve started on a journey — that will be ongoing — to understand equity, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) in our personal communication: how to listen to and treat each other without judgement.

The Shaw is committed to being a place where everyone is welcomed.  EDI training sessions are planned for employees and volunteers next year to help understand more and bring us closer together as a group and community.

This year we held a series of workshops during the Summer and Fall that gave us a head-start. To everyone who took part, “Thank you.” I hope you found the workshops insightful and enjoyable. I know we all benefit from this knowledge.

Season’s greeting everyone. Enjoy the holiday!

News from the Driveway:  Christmas 2022

by Marg and John Mather, Chair, Shaw Guild Greeting

As we approach Christmas this year, it is with mixed emotions.  Our term as Greeting Chair has come to an end We will miss the fun times of organizing, filling cancellations, emails and more emails…..or maybe not!!  But we certainly will miss our wonderful team of Greeters who we have come to know and consider our friends.

But the good news is, we will be out there next year with you Greeting in the cold, heat, wind, rain and snow!!

To everyone in the Guild, as you gather with family and friends, we wish you a Holiday Season filled with joy and special memories.  And here’s to a bright, COVID-less 2023!

Be safe, be happy and enjoy! And, Happy Holidays!

Holiday Wishes from Hosting

By Greg Fedoryn, Host Chair

It has been quite an adventure this special 60th Anniversary year at the Shaw. As COVID 19 continued to evolve and adapt so did the Shaw Company and the show went on. Well maybe not quite the way it was originally planned and cast.

Shaw Hosting met this season’s many challenges head on and performed its role most admirably. Thanks to our over 200 Host Volunteers who gave generously of their time and skills in fully supporting the Shaw throughout this Anniversary year.

A special acknowledgement to our Host Captains, who kept the Host ship on course despite the many Host substitutions required this year due to illness in our Company.

We are now in the home stretch, closing out this most memorable outstanding season. Amen

I wish all of you a most joyous and healthy holiday season and all the best in the coming New Year. We have lots to look forward to in our next 2023 Shaw season.

Gardens Fun, Fellowship, and Food: Our Finale

by Paddy Parr, Shaw Gardens Convenor

After three long years in “COVID-pause”, our gardening group was thrilled to once again gather recently for our decades-long tradition of a holding a lively, year-end POT LUCK LUNCH! 

The (27) attendees were most grateful to our Shaw hosts for providing us with a ‘dark-day’ rehearsal hall with all the trimmings, and the green light for this culinary extravaganza filled with fellowship and fabulous food!!

With our happy hearts, and full tummies, we collectively tipped our sun hats, to bring Season 2022 to a close!   See you next Spring, Shaw Festival. Wishing you all a most joyous, healthy and safe holiday season.

News from Backstage

by Arlene Carson, Docent Chair

The Docent team is back in tour mode for the Holiday Season. We have a good number of school groups coming in to see both White Christmas and A Christmas Carol. Public tours started up again on November 12th and will run on Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m. until December 18th. Still time to contact the box office for complimentary tickets for yourself and a guest!

The Education Department of the Shaw Festival or “Beyond the Stage” has been headed by the wonderful Suzanne Merriam, Senior Manager, since I started volunteering as a Docent back in 2008. Over the years she has worked closely with the Docent team, providing us with many amazing opportunities to enrich our knowledge of both the Shaw Festival and the productions each season. Suzanne has announced her retirement and will be leaving the Shaw family for new adventures in the new year. All of us on theDocent team would like to thank Suzanne for her leadership and wish her the very best in the future. We will all miss her!

Finally, I would like to thank my team of incredible volunteers for a tremendous effort this year and their unfailing good humour and dedication.

Happy Holidays everyone from Arlene and Georgia (below)!

60th Anniversary Summary

by Mary Mizen, Vice President

As 2022 draws to a close, we can look back on an incredible season of volunteering at the Shaw Festival.  This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Shaw Festival – and 60 years of support from our volunteers!

Our extended season started in February and many times required volunteers to remain flexible.  We continue to remind patrons about ever-changing COVID protocols.  When some performances of Damn Yankees were changed to a concert format, we explained to patrons arriving at the theatre.  We filled an incredible number of volunteer shifts this season.  And we celebrated many highlights along the way!

Here are just some of the accomplishments of Guild Volunteers so far in 2022:

  • More than 12,000 shifts were filled by Guild Volunteers this season!

  • 1,084 Greeting shifts have been filled by our Greeters

  • Hosts have managed 784 Hosting shifts

  •  1,802 patrons have attended backstage tours and Docents have conducted a total of 151 backstage tours

  • The Activities Team organized at least one social event for volunteers each month, with additional events added during the summer

  • More than 1,300 hours were clocked by the Guild Gardeners maintaining and upgrading the theatre gardens

  • We raised almost $50,000 (after expenses) from our annual Garden Tour, Sip, Savour & Stroll, and our sponsorship efforts.  The Guild donated to the Shaw $25,000 towards the production of A Christmas Carol and $10,000 to 1922 – In Concert

In addition to all these accomplishments:

  • 45 new volunteers joined the Shaw Guild, and we now have a total of 331 registered volunteers

  •  Guild Volunteers embarked on new education in conjunction with Shaw employees, learning about diversity, equity and inclusivity.

Our season is not yet complete, as we move into the holiday play season, and our number of volunteer shifts will grow.  But we have had an amazing year!  Our volunteers continue to support the Shaw Festival with professionalism and pride.  Happy 60th Anniversary to all of us!

Holiday greetings from other members of the executive committee

Happy holidays to all Shaw Guild Volunteers!  We’ve had an amazing season celebrating our 60th year of volunteering at the Shaw Festival.  As we wind down the year, I hope you can enjoy time with your family and friends, and I hope your holidays are filled with purr-fect warmth, cheer and happiness! From Mary and Alice (below)!

Happy holidays!  I look forward to an exciting 2023 with other Guild Volunteers, doing what we love to do – supporting the Shaw Festival! From Cheryl and Juno (below)

May the Holiday Season end the present year on a Happy note and make way for a bright New Year.  Season’s Greetings to all. From Deborah.

Be sure to follow the Shaw Guild on Instagram and Facebook.  Wishing everyone a very Merry and Safe Holiday Season. From Jo Ann.

Winter’s deepest sleep
Hides an inner life
Its glow
Is the dream of spring.
Happy holidays, everyone. From Joe

In Memoriam:  Bob Olley

Bob passed away in October, and is survived by his wife of over 65 years and partner in life’s adventure, Shirley. He was inordinately proud of his children and grandchildren, and they all spent many happy holidays visiting their grandparents in NOTL.

Bob and Shirley retired to Niagara on the Lake in August 1993. Bob had been a Professor of Economics at the University of Saskatchewan for 30 years. They knew no one but they quickly met neighbours.. They joined the Shaw Guild, the Supper Club, the Scottish Society, the Golf Club (Bob) and the Girl Guides (Shirley).

Bob was a life-long learner and avid reader. He and Shirley travelled the world. His endless curiosity and thirst for knowledge led to many laughs, adventures, and personal and professional achievements. He loved his life in NOTL but finally had to leave in 2019 due to failing health.