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Announcements

Leadership Changes Ahead for Theatre Direct

June 8, 2018 |The Board of Directors of Theatre Direct announces today that after 17 seasons, Artistic and Executive Director Lynda Hill has decided to step down from her current role at the end of 2018 in order to lead the WeeFestival of Theatre and Culture, and to pursue other creative projects.  This news sets in motion the search for new leadership of the 42-year old professional theatre for young audiences beginning in late June and ending in early September to allow for a smooth and supportive transition.

Ms. Hill says “I’m so excited for the future of this incredible company. The time is ripe for new vision and energy behind Theatre Direct as it charts exciting new territory in the creation of theatre by, for, and with young people. I am tremendously grateful for the privilege of serving Theatre Direct’s community of young people, educators, families, and artists over the years. Finally, I’m looking forward to focusing on the development and programming of the WeeFestival and a continued collaboration with Theatre Direct as we move toward our next international edition in 2020.”

Launched as a project of Theatre Direct in 2014, the biennial WeeFestival of Theatre and Culture for Early Years recently celebrated its 3rd edition welcoming nearly 6,000 young children and their families over 10 days of programming from around the world in 6 different venues across Toronto.  With the growth of the festival and plans to move toward annual programming, Theatre Direct has decided to initiate the process of establishing WeeFestival as a separate entity under Hill’s leadership.  

Highlights of award-winning productions during Lynda’s tenure include the interdisciplinary And, by the way, Miss...conceived and created by URGE collective (2004), Beneath the Banyan Tree by Emil Sher with choreography by Lata Pada which toured nationally and to the UK, Binti’s Journey adapted by Marcia Johnson from the novel The Heaven Shop by Deborah Ellis, which also toured across the country, and the opera Sanctuary Song by Marjorie Chan and Abigail Richardson which premiered at the 2008 Luminato Festival in partnership with Tapestry Opera.

Shortly after commencing her tenure at Theatre Direct in 2001, Ms. Hill scribed this statement which has guided the company over her time. “Our work is driven by a belief that young people deserve truth not diversion, that they have a right to meaningful cultural content and experiences. We view our audience as thinking, feeling, complex individuals-not a market, not future audiences, but emerging citizens that demand relevant theatre that engages all their faculties, feelings and intellects. Our audience inspires us to tackle big questions in the same way children and youth ask them: honestly, directly, and, courageously.”

In addition to founding the WeeFestival, Lynda drove Theatre Direct’s exploration of theatre creation for the very youngest co-creating two new works for the company, Old Man and the River, a tabletop puppetry work created with Thomas Morgan Jones which has toured extensively and, more recently, Flying Hearts, a dance/theatre performance created with choreographer Michelle Silagy which recently toured schools with programs serving children with developmental disabilities.

Board Chair Fanny Martin says on behalf of the Board: “Lynda’s contributions to Theatre Direct, starting in 2001, have been tremendously profound for the both the company’s growth and for the development of young people’s theatre in Canada. She has overseen the development of so many original projects showcasing some of the country’s most dynamic young talent and garnering multiple Dora Mavor Moore nominations and awards. She has also grown Theatre Direct’s educational programs and established it as a leader in the field. We are standing on firm ground with Lynda’s amazing work behind us, as we embark on a future phase of creativity with a new leadership.”

About Theatre Direct Canada

Entering its 42nd year, Theatre Direct Canada is one of the Country’s leading theatres for young audiences whose award-winning productions have reached audiences in schools and theatres touring throughout Ontario, across Canada and overseas. Theatre Direct’s work has been recognized with multiple Dora Mavor Moore Awards and nominations including 10 Chalmers Canadian Play Awards, and the Canada Council Theatre for Young Audiences Prize.  For more information on Theatre Direct visit www.theatredirect.ca

About The WeeFestival of Theatre and Culture for Early Years

The WeeFestival was founded in 2014 as an international, biennial festival dedicated to arts in early childhood.  Presented in May in multiple venues throughout Toronto’s downtown, the festival has welcomed thousands of young children and their families to performances from Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Scotland, France, South Africa, as well Canadian works from Manitoba, Vancouver, Ontario, and Quebéc. The festival has also begun to seed and commission new work premiering three new pieces over the last two editions. In addition to performances, the festival hosts conference activity, professional development workshops and a host of family events including the Victoria Day “WeeFestival Family Day”.
For more information on The WeeFestival visit www.weefestival.ca

 

Contact Fanny Martin, Chair fanny@artoffestivals.com