Stage Door News

Toronto: Nightwood Theatre announces Andrea Donaldson as its new Artistic Director

Monday, February 4, 2019

Nightwood Theatre’s Board of Directors are thrilled to announce Andrea Donaldson as the new Artistic Director.With nearly 20 years of professional experience, Andrea has been a vibrant presence in Toronto’s theatre scene.She has worked as a playwright, actor, and producer but most significantly she has focused her career onDirecting and Artistic Direction with a strong emphasis on new play development and nurturing women’s voices.Andrea will assume her new role in May 2019. Kelly Thornton will remain Artistic Director until April 30, 2019.

The Search Committee, led by Susan Hodkinson, Chair of Nightwood’s Board of Directors, were pleased toreview 50 applications and following a rigorous interview process were excited to share the announcement ofAndrea’s appointment. Hodkinson remarked, “I am thrilled that Andrea has agreed to be our next ArtisticDirector. Andrea’s work speaks for itself, and her creative and artistic direction will propel Nightwood to newheights. Andrea is a collaborative, purposeful and compassionate leader and the Board looks forward tosupporting her in her goal to make Nightwood the company of choice for artists and staff alike.” The committee,comprised of Board members and artists, included Karon Bales, Audrey Dwyer, Diane Flacks, Sharlene Kanhai,Andrew Moodie, Barbara Moses and Caroline Ursulak.

Artistic Director Designate, Andrea Donaldson: “Nightwood was founded with the objective of carving out aspace that did not exist for Canadian female artists. I am grateful to this legacy and am devoted to extending itsreach, carrying Nightwood into its vision as a world-renowned cultural centre; as the essential home for thecreation of extraordinary theatre by female-identifying artists, and as Canadian theatre’s most inclusive andintersectional space of empowerment and opportunity. I am committed to producing stunning works that speakto the pressing concerns of our time: reflecting the diversity of our city and our country, with the deep value thathow we make something is as important as what we make.”

Managing Director Beth Brown is excited to welcome Andrea to her new role. “I am thrilled that AndreaDonaldson will be joining us as the new Artistic Director of Nightwood Theatre. Her dedication and experience inthe theatre industry is admirable and I look forward to the new perspective that she will bring to theorganization. Over the past five years, I have had the pleasure of working with Andrea as the dramaturge forWrite From The Hip, as well as a Director for various Nightwood productions including Lo (Or Dear Mr. Wells) byRose Napoli and our recent production of Grace by Jane Doe. She has the talent, determination and drive and issomeone who shares the values of the organization and is ready to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Outgoing Artistic Director Kelly Thornton said: “I am delighted to welcome Andrea Donaldson to her newposition. Her many years as the Program Director of Nightwood’s Write From The Hip play developmentprogram, as well as her experience as Associate Artistic Director at Tarragon Theatre, give her a solid foundationto now take up this exciting leadership opportunity. I have endless admiration for her work as a director and hersure and steady hand in play development gives me great confidence in Nightwood’s future. Andrea is apassionate and intelligent artist and I am inspired by her vision. It is simply thrilling to see her long-standingdedication to the company now propel her to this position. She is poised for great success.”


Andrea was born and raised in Toronto, attending Claude Watson School for the Arts from grade four to gradethirteen, and then travelled out west to The School for Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University, generatorof such companies as Vancouver’s Boca Del Lupo and Theatre Replacement. Her years of interdisciplinarytraining synthesized into a practice that included devising, performing and directing new works for the stage.Upon resettling in Toronto, she found work partners in Theatre Gargantua, The Blyth Festival, Theatre Direct,and the Urge Collective, as well as a fortuitous meet-up with now long-time-collaborator Governor GeneralAward winning playwright Erin Shields.

For the last decade, Donaldson has been almost exclusively developing and directing new works for the stage.This naturally lead to a relationship with Tarragon Theatre, where in 2012, Andrea was offered the role ofAssistant/Associate Artistic Director. During her four seasons at Tarragon, she directed three season shows andcontributed to the development of dozens of new Canadian plays. In 2014, she took on the role of ProgramDirector for Nightwood Theatre’s Write From the Hip – a unit for exceptional emerging playwrights, in which shedeveloped Rose Napoli’s Lo (or Dear Mr. Wells) and Grace by Jane Doe, Nightwood’s most recent production.

Donaldson’s directing credits include Grace by Jane Doe (Nightwood Theatre in Association with Crows Theatre),Rosamund Small’s TomorrowLove (University of Waterloo), A Beautiful View by Daniel MacIvor (Festival Players,Prince Edward Country), Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival),Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare in the Ruff), Beverley Cooper’s Janet Wilson Meets the Queen(Great Canadian Theatre Company), Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information (RCPA), Arun Lakra’s Sequence(Tarragon Theatre), Chelsea Woolley’s These Peaceable Kingdoms (NTS), Erin Shields’ Soliciting Temptation(Tarragon Theatre), Erin Shields’ Beautiful Man (Summerworks), Deaf collective Spill Propogation’s Une Parcellede moi... (Espace René-Provost, Gatineau), Elena Belyea’s Cleave (NTS), Adam Underwood’s Tyumen Then(Toronto Fringe), and the following Dora-nominated projects: Lo (or Dear Mr. Wells) by Rose Napoli (Nightwoodin Association with Crows Theatre), Quiver by Anna Chatterton (Nightwood Theatre), Anna Chatterton’sGovernor General nominated Within the Glass (Tarragon Theatre), Erin Shields’ Mistatim (Red SkyPerformance), Meagan O’Shea’s The Atomic Weight of Happiness (Theatre Direct), Maev Beaty and Erin Shields’Montparnasse (Theatre Passe Muraille), Jason Long’s Offensive Fouls (Theatre Direct), and Erin Shields’ TheUnfortunate Misadventures of Masha Galinski (National tour).

Andrea was invited into The Stratford Festival’s Michael Langham Workshop in Classical Direction assisting ChrisAbraham on The Matchmaker and Othello, and was honoured with Stratford’s Jean Gascon Award for Direction.She won Best Director Award - International Youth Drama Month - Shenzhen, China for Mistatim, which hasplayed to over 500,000 children internationally. Andrea has been nominated twice each for the PaulineMcGibbon Award, the John Hirsch Directing Award and the Gina Wilkinson Award, and has received a DoraAward for Outstanding Performance & Outstanding Production for performing in the Urge Collectivecollaboration of And By the Way, Miss (Theatre Direct).

Andrea is driven to create arresting works that expose private moments in a public fashion, most often using hervoice to illuminate underrepresented voices and perspectives. Her directing has been described by critics as“sensitive,” “visually stunning,” “hilarious,” “thrilling,” “whip-smart,” “sublime,” and “bold.”

Andrea has been a regular guest director and coach at the National Theatre School of Canada, was a guestdirector with the 2018 Soulpepper Academy, and has mentored dozens of up-and-coming artists in the city. Sheis married to comedian Rob Baker (Second City/Baroness Von Sketch/writer for CBC’s Workin’ Moms), andmother to ten-year old mathematician/pianist Theodore Fitz.

Photo: Andrea Donaldson. © 2019 Dahlia Katz.