DAREarts Blog

Discipline, Action, Responsibility, Excellence

July 12th – Shaw Festival Treats DAREarts to a Day of Heartbreak House

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“Things are rarely as they seem” was one of the quotes that the DAREarts group grasped both emotionally as well as intellectually due to the Bernard Shaw’s wonderfully engaging play “Heartbreak House”.The three hour play, staged on a boat being built within the eccentric Captain Shotover’s house, challenged the children and adults alike to question change and stagnancy.

Upon arrival we were greeted by eight Shaw Festival representatives all eager to ensure our day was as fun and educational as possible.

Our backstage tour was very informative and the special attention paid to us by the Running Crew and Stage Hands brought an innocent glow to the childrens’ smiles.

Suzanne Merriam’s improvisation workshop provided each child an opportunity to express his/her creative side through low and high status as well as escape from their identities as they created new characters for themselves.

The walk through NiagaraontheLake and lunch on the theatre’s veranda overlooking the rock pond provided a dreamlike escape from our children’s rushed city lives in Toronto.

Set in Sussex England in 1914 just before the Great War, Heartbreak House challenges the themes of gender inequality, socialism, human rights, war, and truth.

The Shaw Festival‘s incredible study guide provided a fantastic map for the youth to follow in preparation for the play.

Discussion of Denial, Marriage, Manipulation, Dominance, Betrayal, Defiance and SelfAwareness bantered before the show on the bus and during the two intermissions between the youth, who spanned in age from 12 – 20.


On the bus ride home each child shared intimately his/her feelings of how the play had affected them.

“Humans make everything very complicated and entangled.

“I know the play may have been a dream or reality but I felt like I was in a dream — the whole thing was like a war.

“I’m a science guy so I saw a human struggle for an equalibrium – that is when there is a struggle to balance.

“Life. It is just life. That is what the play is about: Life. That is it.”


Before setting out it was expressed to the children that the goal of day was that their souls, hearts and minds be filled and rejuvenated by the artistic food and generosity of the Shaw Festival but that their bodies be exhausted. Goal accomplished.

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