The Shaw Festival recently revealed that current company member Kimberley Rampersad has taken on the role of Associate Artistic Director for the theatre company. Rampersad, who is an award winning actor, director, and choreographer, has spent 5 seasons at the Shaw Festival appearing in Holiday Inn, The Grand Hotel, and Pygmalion as well as directing the Festival’s most recent production of George Bernard Shaw’s epic Man and Superman with Don Juan in Hell.
In 2019, Rampersad served as the Intern Artistic Director for the Festival during which the theatre states she impressed both current Artistic Director Tim Carroll and her predecessor Kate Hennig. She was also the Neil Munro Directing Intern at the Shaw Festival and the 2017 recipient of the Gina Wilkinson Prize.
“The thing that I am really looking forward to is finding works of Shaw’s contemporaries throughout this world,” Rampersad says, when ask what excites her about this new position. “I’m interested in what was being said while Shaw was saying what he was saying. […] I want [the festival’s programming] to look like the world that Shaw was living in; and right now it’s the small corner he was living in, not the world.”
Previous Associate Artistic Director, Kate Hennig, is now focusing her efforts as the Festival’s Director of Artistic Development overseeing the development of the Slaight Family Academy in order to mentor and inspire future generations of theatre artists. Rampersad began her role at the Festival after completing an Artistic Director Internship at the Metcalf Foundation this March.
“The direction that I hope we go into is keeping more with the spirit of Shaw being an agitator because that’s what he was great at doing. He was an agitator. So I hope to encourage, as a part of my voice here, to keep us in working in that spirit so that our art [can be] a catalyst for these great conversations.”
For Rampersad, Shaw’s texts speak to her because of his emphasis on interrogating gender—particularly traditional societal roles for women. “He speaks to me because of his concept of the new woman, and I’m always so moved by anyone who wants to talk about the spectrum of what it is to be a woman and who is interested in it. I am interested in us as a group of people. I am interested in the variant of ideas—because we’re not a monolith—so that the new woman can express herself and make herself manifest in as many ways as we would say feminism exists,” she says.
“And I think in the same way that’s why I’m interested in Shaw because I’m interested in us saying that we [as women] can still be a group and have ideas that don’t necessarily line up every single one with one another. What’s that push and pull?”
This season, Rampersad is director and choreographer for the Shaw’s production of Gypsy.
“I think I’m interested in him using the theatre as a voice to reach the people. I’m interested in him being a great orator and having his characters discuss great ideas, but within situations that the audience understands.”