Mark von Eschen leaving Saskatoon's Shakespeare

After 20 years with the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival, artistic director Mark von Eschen is leaving for a new job.

Festival begins the search for new leader

Mark von Eschen taking on a new challenge as stage carpenter at TCU Place. (CBC News)

Parting is such sweet sorrow. It is a Shakespearean quote that is poignant in this province's theatre community today.

Mark von Eschen has been a mainstay with the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan festival. After 20 years, he's decided to end his run.

von Eschen is moving on to a new job as stage carpenter at TCU Place. He says it was a difficult decision to make. "I love Shakespeare," he explains. "Think of going to the most beautiful place in the world. And then think of going there every year for 13 years. It's a wonderful place to be but it just seems like it would be good to go to a different wonderful place."

von Eschen told the CBC he decided to leave for a number of reasons including financial stability, a new challenge and creative opportunities among them.

His career with the festival has seen many ups and downs. von Eschen began in 1990 as a production manager, technical director, stage manager and associate artistic director before taking the lead role.

In 2001 he took over from Henry Woolf as artistic director. von Eschen remembers 2004 as a particularly tough time for the festival as it faced financial troubles and an unusable tent.

Despite these challenges, he stuck with the festival. A statement released by the organization says von Eschen, "leaves the company in the best financial position of its history."

So now the search is on for a new leader for its 30th anniversary season. Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan is now looking for someone to fill a one-year term as Artistic Producer.