It’s official: British director Tim Carroll will take over as artistic director of the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake when Jack Maxwell steps down in December 2016. Carroll, who is called “T.C.” by his friends, is best known in this country for his productions of Shakespeare’s Richard III and his all-male production of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night starring Mark Rylance, which came to Broadway from London last year and earned him a Tony Award nomination.
He is now beginning the year-long process of learning the lay of the land at the venerable festival dedicated to George Bernard Shaw and plays that examine the modern world.
Right out of the box, Carroll arguably has a higher profile than his predecessor. Over his 25-year career, he has directed prominent plays and operas and is especially known for his direction of the works of Shakespeare, including at the Stratford Festival, where his production of King John is well remembered. He was artistic director of Kent Opera for seven years and associate director of Shakespeare’s Globe in London. He is a founding member of The Factory, an experimental theater in London, where he directed highly praised productions of Hamlet, The Seagull, and The Odyssey.
In an interview after the announcement of his selection, Carroll explained that his candidacy started out when he was called to give a recommendation to a colleague. The search committee became interested in Carroll himself, and he decided to become a candidate when his friend dropped out of the running.
After a career as a freelance director some have opined that the time had come for Carroll to settle down. Not really.
“I was talking to a friend about why I should be interested to sit down at one festival for a prolonged tenure,” he began. “My friend pointed out that I have the ability to take a cast of actors and develop them into a strong ensemble, but when you are a freelance director, when the production is over, that ensemble simply disperses. This would be an opportunity to cultivate and sustain a great ensemble.”
And so, rather than “settling down,” we could say that Tim Carroll plans to “settle in” at the Shaw Festival.
He has not yet had an opportunity to see most of the actors in the existing Shaw Festival ensemble.
“While I was a candidate,” he explains, “there was a concern that I would be recognized in the audience. But now that I have been hired, I will spend the next few days seeing all of the shows here. I am sure there is some nervousness, just as there is when a new head coach arrives and looks over the players on any team.”
Sports analogies come easily to Carroll. He is a huge Manchester United fan.
“This will be a process,” he says. “I look forward to getting to know this festival well and to settling in at Niagara-on-the-Lake.”