Tuesday, February 14, 2012

News: (Ottawa) GCTC artistic director stepping down

After seven years as artistic director of GCTC (Great Canadian Theatre Company) in Ottawa, Lise Ann Johnson has decided to step down. The announcement was made by board chair Nhanci Wright who noted that Ms Johnson had several accomplishments to her credit during her tenure including the company's move to a new venue. Ms Johnson also created the company's successful festival of alternative theatre, undercurrents. Ms Johnson will leave in the Fall of this year and a selection committee is being formed to find her replacement. (GLC with Natasha Gauthier, Ottawa Editor for The Charlebois Post - Canada)

Press release:

GCTC Artistic Director Lise Ann Johnson to step down 
at the beginning of the 2012-13 season.

GCTC Board Chair, Nhanci Wright announced today that Lise Ann Johnson will step down as Artistic Director at the beginning of the 2012-13 season.  Ms. Johnson has been the Company’s Artistic Director for the past seven years and will end her term in the fall of 2012.

Nhanci Wright adds “GCTC is very grateful to Lise Ann for shepherding the company through one of its most important transitions, and we will be sad to see her go.  During Lise Ann’s tenure, the company built, opened and embraced the new Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre.” Ms. Johnson joined GCTC in 2005, and along with General Manager Nancy Oakley, was instrumental in helping the company move from its former home in a converted truck repair garage at 910 Gladstone Avenue to the new purpose-built Irving Greenberg Theatre in 2007.  “As Lise Ann helped lead the company through this transition, she expanded the company’s reach into the community and continued the company’s long history of producing dynamic, exciting theatre.”

Lise Ann Johnson stated, “GCTC has just celebrated its fifth season at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre.  Now that the company is firmly established in its new home, and given the incredible momentum of the Taking Care of (Unfinished) Business fundraising campaign, this is the perfect time for GCTC to start looking ahead to the next exciting phase of its future.  I am extremely proud of everything this company has accomplished and will miss working with the staff whom I love dearly, but after seven wonderful years, it’s time for a new Artistic Director to bring new ideas and new energy to the company.”

After seven successful seasons, Lise Ann is one of the company’s longest serving Artistic Directors.  Lise Ann brought her passion for Canadian creation to the company, and during her tenure the company developed and produced eleven world premieres.  Lise Ann placed particular emphasis on producing work written by playwrights originally from or currently based in Ottawa, including plays by Pierre Brault, Arthur Milner, Hannah Moscovitch, Richard Sanger, Rosa Laborde, Morwyn Brebner and Andrew Moodie. Ms. Johnson also sought out and collaborated with local theatre companies such as A Company of Fools, Sleeping Dog Theatre, New Theatre of Ottawa, and the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama to develop and premiere new productions.  

Lise Ann was enthusiastic about supporting the development of emerging artists and companies based in Ottawa.  Since its move to the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre, GCTC ran many professional development programs for new companies and artists, including playwrights units, a directors unit, a production mentorship program, master classes and internships.  Most recently, she created the highly successful undercurrents festival in 2011, which is now in its second edition.  The festival is designed to showcase original creation by independent theatre companies and features both local and national work.   Lise Ann says, “undercurrents is one of the most exciting things to happen to GCTC since our move to the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre.  It’s a wonderful platform for new work, new artists and new audiences.  Patrick Gauthier has done a great job producing the festival, and I will really miss working with him on it.”

Along with programming GCTC’s seasons, Ms. Johnson continued to direct one or two plays each season.  In particular, she will be fondly remembered by audiences for her productions of Plan B by Michael Healey, her award-winning production of The Syringa Tree by Pamela Gien, and Heroes by Gerard Sibleyras. She will direct Circle Mirror Transformation, GCTC’s final production of the current season, as well as a production in the 2012-13 season.  She is currently planning the 2012-2013 season, which the company will launch on April 11, 2012. 

“We were all sad to hear the news that Lise Ann is leaving,” adds Nancy Oakley, GCTC’s General Manager.  “She is one of a long line of strong Artistic Directors the company has hired over the years.”

The company is pleased to announce that Board member, Bruce Nicol, will be heading the selection committee for the national search.   The committee will be comprised of members of the board, GCTC staff and community.  The position will be posted immediately and the search committee will follow a well established process for searching and hiring senior management. The company expects to have a new Artistic Director in place by the fall of 2012.
Nhanci Wright says it is an exciting time for the company. “In the past 12 months, the GCTC Board has eliminated half the debt on the building.  This momentum will see us clear the remaining debt and launch us into the next phase of producing provocative and uniquely Canadian theatre.”

About the Great Canadian Theatre Company:
GCTC is celebrating its 37th Anniversary Season in 2011 – 2012 and we have great cause to celebrate our achievements. In that time, we have developed from five people who joined together at Carleton University with little more than an idea, to become a vibrant independent professional theatre company. GCTC is committed to the production of new Canadian work, and to producing theatre that provokes examination of Canadian life and our place in the world.  We continue to commission and workshop new work by Canadian playwrights, as well as mentor emerging artists and theatre companies through professional development programs.  Website: www.gctc.ca

Media Contact:
Sheilagh D’Arcy McGee – media@gctc.ca  

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