Wednesday, October 12, 2011

News: Peter Hinton Stepping down as head of NAC English Theatre

(submitted by Ottawa editor Natasha Gauthier)

NAC press release:
Peter Hinton to step down as the NAC’s Artistic Director of English
Theatre after completing seven successful seasons

Ottawa—After seven extraordinary years as the National Arts Centre’s Artistic Director of English Theatre, Peter Hinton will be stepping down in August of 2012. Mr. Hinton first joined the National Arts Centre in 2005 and has built many exciting initiatives during his tenure. Most significantly, Mr. Hinton spearheaded the reestablishment of NAC’s Resident English Theatre Company in 2009 which today brings more than 30 actors from across the country to the NAC every year to work on several productions together.

Mr. Hinton’s commitment to Canada and to building creative partnerships with artists and creators from across the country has been evident from the moment he stepped into his role as Artistic Director. In 2006, he programmed the first all Canadian season at the NAC’s English Theatre and each year since he has made a special commitment to Canadian playwrights including an annual production of work by Aboriginal artists. One of the highlights of the 2011-12 season will be Shakespeare’s tragedy, King Lear, directed by Mr. Hinton—with a cast of Aboriginal actors from across the country and starring the renowned August Schellenberg as Lear. Already, ticket sales are exceeding projections for this season.

“Peter Hinton is a builder and he leaves the NAC in much better shape artistically with his visionary role in the creation of the Resident English Theatre Company,” said Peter Herrndorf the President and CEO of the National Arts Centre. “Peter Hinton has become a true mentor to the students of the National Theatre School through The Ark his annual three-week intensive workshop where professional and student actors work and learn together. We will miss his passionate commitment to artists and to his audience.”

Mr. Hinton became legendary during his tenure at the NAC for speaking to the audience from the stage on every single night before the curtain went up. His personal connection to theatre goers helped build a devoted following across the country.

“The NAC is a unique gift to the people of Canada. It has been a privilege to be a part of its legacy and to build its meaningful place with artists and audiences across the country. I have learned so much about Canada and the vitality of our national theatre community,” said Peter Hinton the Artistic Director of the NAC’s English Theatre Department.

Mr. Hinton brought some extraordinary productions to the NAC including the 2007 world premiere of Margaret Atwood’s, The Penelopiad, the first co-production between Britain’s Royal Shakespeare Company and a Canadian theatre company.

Mr. Hinton is a great believer in national partnerships and presentations from theatres representing every region of Canada. These have included the English language premiere of And Slowly Beauty…by Michel Nadeau, translated by Maureen Labonté (co-produced with Victoria’s Belfry Theatre); Shakespeare’s Dog by Rick Chafe (co-produced with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre); Night by Christopher Morris (the NAC English Theatre’s first project with artists from Nunavut and co-produced with Toronto’s Human Cargo); Sheldon Currie’s Lauchie Liza & Rory (co-presented with Nova Scotia’s Frankie Productions and Mulgrave Road Theatre); and Michel Tremblay’s Saint Carmen of The Main, translated by Linda Gaboriau (co-produced with The Canadian Stage Company in Toronto).

Mr. Hinton’s artistic life beyond the National Arts Centre was rich in achievement—including his extraordinary production of When the Rain Stops Falling which he directed at the Shaw Festival this past summer. The National Post’s theatre writer Robert Cushman wrote that the play was “staged with Hinton’s signature qualities of imagination and sensitivity, and also with his ability to draw from his actors, work that’s both committed and combustible. At the curtain call some of the cast seemed close to tears, as if this were one show they didn’t want to let get away.”

In September while the production was onstage at the Shaw Festival, Mr. Hinton travelled to Fogo Island, Newfoundland, where he led The Ark: Ibsen on Fogo Island a three week masterclass and workshop with a company of professional actors, theatre artists, translators, philosophers and students from The National Theatre School of Canada (in partnership with the Fogo Island Arts Corporation). These three-week long theatre retreats were Mr. Hinton’s creation: an opportunity to study and explore a period of theatre history or a playwright in an intensive manner.

Mr. Hinton will programme the 2012-2013 English Theatre season of the National Arts Centre, and he will help select the members of the NAC’s 2012-2013 Resident English Theatre Company.

Mr. Hinton’s lifetime achievement as a nation-builder of Canadian culture was recognized by the Governor General when he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in December 2009. A Search Committee to find a successor will be Chaired by the Managing Director of the NAC’s English Theatre, Nancy Webster.

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