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Our New Co-Artistic Directors

Julia Nish-Lapidus

James Wallis

St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival Welcomes new Co-Artistic Directors

Julia Nish-Lapidus and James Wallis are the new Co-Artistic Directors of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival for the upcoming 2024 season.

The duo, who are partners in life as well as the theatre, will begin work this Friday, December 1st, the festival’s Board of Directors announced today.

“We are honoured to be joining the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival as the new Co-Artistic Directors, and are thrilled for the opportunity to lead the Festival into its next phase of artistic excellence,” Julia said.

“We love this festival and its beautiful outdoor waterfront venue,” added James. “There isn’t another theatre with a view like it. We’re excited to get started.”

They currently run a theatre company in Toronto called Shakespeare BASH’d. They’re experienced artists and administrators, having both worked multiple seasons as directors at the Stratford Festival, while also organizing and leading events for the Stratford Festival Forum and education department. Their work as directors and actors has taken them all over the province, working with artists and companies at varying points in their careers and experience levels.

On behalf of the Board and the Selection Committee, Festival Chair Jo-Anne Beckstead welcomed the Co-Artistic Directors to lead the way for an exciting new season.

“We’re very pleased to have Julia and James coming to Prescott to take us into our 22nd year of great theatre right here in Prescott,” Ms. Beckstead said.

“It was also very encouraging that we had an exceptional list of more than 20 applicants from across the country who were interested in being a part of our special festival,” she said.

“I’m very excited to welcome James and Julia to the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival team. We plan to hit the ground running,” Festival General Manager Ingrid Bjornson said.

Julia and James will be getting to work immediately putting together the 2024 season, along with helping spearhead and organize community and fundraising events.


Julia and James have visited Prescott many times to see friends who were working with the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival, and enjoyed performances on the Kinsmen Amphitheatre’s outdoor stage. According to Julia and James, these visits allowed them to get to know the community and see the passion for the work being done here. Their goal, over the 11 years since they co-founded Shakespeare BASH’d, has always been to create entertaining, smart, and engaging theatre, working hard to invite an incredible group of diverse artists to take ownership of their creativity through the process and participate in something magical for their audiences.

Additional QUOTES from Julia and James:

“Our main vehicle has been the work of Shakespeare, but we are interested and experienced in a wide range of work, from musicals to other classical and modern playwrights.

“A common refrain from our patrons and artists who work with us, is that being part of this company feels like family. We believe that theatre requires community and we work tirelessly to build and preserve that. We feel that we are stronger as a team, and our greatest joy and best work stems from our collaborations. As a family, we are committed to building a solid foundation together with the community of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival.

“As individuals, we both share many of the same strengths, in addition to bringing our own unique skill sets to the work; whether it be in the rehearsal room, fundraising endeavors, patron enhancement or strategic planning.”

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