Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan

Performance of Macbeth, directed by Mark von Eschen, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, 2004.
Deborah Marshall (Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan)

Located in a striped tent on the banks of the Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon, the company was founded by Gordon McCall in 1985 as a summer theatre to develop “a multi-faceted Saskatchewan ensemble company that illuminates Shakespeare and other works for contemporary audiences.” McCall (1985-90) specialized in strongly physical, imagistic productions of Shakespeare, often set in historical or contemporary Saskatchewan. Featuring a young ensemble of actors largely trained in improvisational theatre, the company developed a fast-paced, high-energy house style particularly well suited to Shakespeare's romances and comedies. Of note was the company's bilingual Romeo & Juliette [ sic ], co-produced with Robert Lepage and members of Thé√Ętre Repère, Québec; featuring English-Canadian Montagues battling French-Canadian Capulets in contemporary Saskatchewan, it toured nationally in 1990.

Alternating between striking contemporary and simpler classical interpretations, the theatre under Henry Woolf (1991-2001) settled into its current pattern of offering two plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries in repertory, as well as a second stage of light operetta, cabaret, and shorter, more contemporary, experimental fare. Currently directed by Mark von Eschen (since 2002), the company continues to develop young Saskatchewan actors on its second and mainstage, alongside well-established company members. Featuring a seven-week season, it remains Saskatchewan's oldest, largest and best-developed professional summer repertory company.

Moira Day


Further Reading

Day, Moira. 1996. “Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan 1985-1990: The Stratford of the West,” Essays in Theatre 15 (1): 69-90.