Stage Door News

Toronto: Soulpepper announces its 2019 summer-fall season

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Soulpepper Theatre Company today announced the Summer-Fall season, with new artistic programming from July to November 2019. The full line-up of the season, programmed under the leadership of former Acting Artistic Director Alan Dilworth, includes a collection of five exceptional plays about identity, friendship, love, and belonging, as well as two Soulpepper Concerts. The season welcomes three directors making their Soulpepper debuts. All programming and casting details can be found at

“What makes a classic? What is a modern classic? In our hyper-connected, hyper-speed moment how does a work from another time and place speak to us now? These are the questions our season is built on. Our concerts celebrate and re-invent classics. I feel that every play in our season is a modern classic. And in celebration of the multiplicity of truths explored in our modern classical offerings we have brought together a remarkable group of artists to breathe life into these extraordinary works,” said Alan Dilworth. “In my outgoing role as Soulpepper’s Acting Artistic Director, I am thrilled to welcome directors Philip Akin, Jani Lauzon, Andrea Donaldson in their Soulpepper debuts, and I welcome back the multi-talented, multi-disciplinary Frank Cox-O’Connell, and Soulpepper’s celebrated and beloved powerhouse Artistic Director Weyni Mengesha.”

“This season offers familiar stories that resonate with our times, but told through new lenses and by new voices. Welcoming artists into our company always opens up new opportunities for collaboration and creative growth, and I’m excited to see what we create together,” said Weyni Mengesha, Artistic Director.

“Audiences look to Soulpepper for that perfect mix of classic plays, new works, and musicality, and this season is no different.  Alan has brought together a rich programme of treats for everyone to enjoy, and we can’t wait to bring it to fruition,” said Emma Stenning, Executive Director.

Mainstage programming begins in July with Sam Shepard’s desert drama, Fool For Love, directed by Soulpepper Academy graduate Frank Cox-O’Connell, running alongside the brand new Soulpepper Concert The Promised Land: Steinbeck Through Song, created by Slaight Family Director of Music Mike Ross and Sarah Wilson, joining the poetry of master songwriters and storytellers – Bruce Springsteen, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, and Bob Dylan – to illuminate the search for the American dream.

Fool For Love clearly speaks to our cultural moment, but what excited me most is how the play subverts its timeliness. Yes, we have this last cowboy standing at the edge of America trying to not take on the sins of the father, and we have his lover trying to forge a new way, free from the past and the cycles of dysfunction - which all feels very relevant. But their way through defies any clear meaning – it’s not aspirational, it’s not cautionary, it’s just… drama – sexy, funny, scary, smart, bloody drama. It’s about how we love, and how we change – it’s people performing open-heart surgery on themselves, during a high-speed chase,” said Frank Cox-O’Connell.

In August, Obsidian Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Philip Akin directs his first production at Soulpepper with the Tony Award-winning comedy Art by Yasmina Reza. “For me the power of art is expressed uniquely inside each of us. Each new viewer sees something revelatory that ricochets in some fashion and we cannot help but respond. I am pleased to be directing Art for my Soulpepper debut,” said Philip Akin.
The unravelling of a seven-year affair follows with Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, marking Nightwood Theatre’s incoming Artistic Director Andrea Donaldson’s directorial debut at Soulpepper. “Betrayal is psychological chess at its finest. It is ruthless, delicious, and intelligent. As a director, I can’t help but love works that demand extreme precision. And what a thrill to work on this play, with such an esteemed company of artists, for such a discerning audience. Betrayal is pure pleasure, the highest level of entertainment - a masterwork,” said Andrea Donaldson.
Beginning in September, Soulpepper Artistic Director Weyni Mengesha directs her first production since taking leadership of the company, with the ageless masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams – winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Rounding out the Mainstage productions in the Summer-Fall season is the modern Canadian classic Almighty Voice and His Wife by Daniel David Moses. Jani Lauzon, who played the character White Girl in the original 1991 production, directs for the first time at Soulpepper in October.  “I had the great pleasure of acting in the World Premiere of Almighty Voice and His Wife and fell in love with the play then,” said Jani Lauzon. “A few years ago I realized that it was one of the shows I really want to direct. Daniel David Moses has written an extraordinary play – it’s a love story, it’s so beautiful, it’s got historical knowledge, and he’s rolled it into a very moving piece of theatre.”
Finally, in November, the sold-out hit Concert The Riverboat Coffee House: The Yorkville Scene, created and led by Frank Cox-O’Connell and Slaight Family Director of Music Mike Ross, returns to the stage for a celebration of stories and songs that made a modest basement in Yorkville the hottest place to be.
The 2019 Summer-Fall season also includes the previously announced World Premieres of two partner presentations, Welcome To My Underworld from RARE Theatre Company in the fifth partnership between the two theatre companies and the signed music musical The Black Drumfrom the DEAF CULTURE CENTRE, supported by Soulpepper.
Soulpepper is pleased to offer American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted performances to Art on August 25 and 27, 2019 as well as the previously announced ASL performances of August: Osage County on June 6 and 8, 2019. ASL Interpreted performances are sponsored by TD Bank Group. After a tremendous first experience of offering Relaxed Performances for shows in the 2018-19 season, Soulpepper will be offering a relaxed performance of Betrayal on September 15, 2019. Relaxed performances are intended specifically to be sensitive and welcoming to all patrons who may benefit from a more relaxed theatre environment. For full details about the ASL and Relaxed Performances see

Exclusive ticket access to the Summer-Fall programming is on sale to current subscribers today as of 1:30 p.m. Public subscriptions sales begin on March 19. Single tickets go on sale April 30.
Soulpepper’s current Mainstage programming continues with: Little Menace: Pinter Plays by Harold Pinter, directed by Drummond-Dorrance International Fellow Thomas Moschopoulos; Wedding at Aulis by Sina Gilani, directed by Alan Dilworth; Copenhagen by Michael Frayn, directed by Katrina Darychuk; The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney, directed by Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu; August: Osage County by Tracy Letts, directed by Jackie Maxwell; and a new concert from Mike Ross and Tom Allen, 88 KEYS.
For details on all of Soulpepper’s programming, visit or call the Young Centre Box Office at 416.866.8666.


Sam Shepard
Directed by Frank Cox-O’Connell

Some people you just can’t quit. On the edge of the desert, passions are buried deep, and secrets even deeper. Eddie has come to bring May out of hiding and win her back, no matter who stands in the way. This celebrated work from Sam Shepard combines his characteristic dark humour with a raw energy that won’t let go.

Fool For Love runs from July 13 to August 4, 2019. Opening night is July 18, 2019.

Yasmina Reza
Translated by Christopher Hampton
Directed by Philip Akin

There’s no accounting for taste… or friends. Lines are drawn when an extravagant purchase leads three life-long friends to question the bonds they’ve taken for granted. A sharp comedy about modern friendships.

Tony Award Winner – Best Play
Lawrence Olivier Award – Best Comedy

Art runs from August 9 to September 1, 2019. Opening night is August 15, 2019.

Harold Pinter
Directed by Andrea Donaldson

Described as “the greatest of all Pinter’s plays” (Daily Telegraph), Betrayal charts a compelling seven-year romance, told in reverse chronological order. Witness a love story unravel with poetic precision, rich humour and extraordinary emotional force.

Lawrence Olivier Award – Best New Play

Betrayal runs from August 28 to September 15, 2019. Opening night is September 4, 2019.

Tennessee Williams
Directed by Weyni Mengesha

As Blanche’s fragile world crumbles, she turns to her sister for solace – but her downward spiral brings her face to face with a brutal, unforgiving reality. Tennessee Williams’ timeless masterpiece is a raging portrayal of what it means to be an outsider, in a society where we’re all desperate to belong.

Pulitzer Prize for Drama

A Streetcar Named Desire runs from September 21 to October 13, 2019. Opening night is September 27, 2019.

Daniel David Moses
Directed by Jani Lauzon

Romeo and Juliet. Orpheus and Eurydice. Almighty Voice and His Wife. This powerful true story is shaken up and reimagined into an eloquent tale of tragic love and a fully theatrical exorcism of the hurts of history. A modern classic about the role of Indigenous people in Canada.

Almighty Voice and His Wife runs from October 11 to November 3, 2019. Opening night is October 17, 2019.


Each original Soulpepper Concert revolves around a time, place, or artist crafted by a team of incomparable performers. The Concert Series is led by Slaight Family Director of Music Mike Ross.

Created by Mike Ross and Sarah Wilson
Music Directed by Mike Ross

Bruce Springsteen, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, Bob Dylan and more – America’s master storytellers and songwriters have captured the struggle to realise the American dream. Join us as we reimagine their music to illuminate the works of famed novelist John Steinbeck and the search for The Promised Land.

The Promised Land: Steinbeck Through Song runs from July 12 to 27, 2019.

Created by Frank Cox-O’Connell and Mike Ross
Music Directed by Mike Ross
Directed by Frank Cox-O’Connell

Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Murray McLauchlan, and Neil Young – before they were icons, they all played The Riverboat. Opened in 1964 in the basement of a Victorian row house, the Riverboat Coffee House was the launching pad for Canadian singer-songwriters. Soulpepper’s sold-out concert returns with Mike Ross directing a celebration of the stories and songs that made Yorkville the place to be in the free loving sixties.

The Riverboat Coffee House: The Yorkville Scene runs from November 6 to 17, 2019.


RARE Theatre Company
Directed and Dramaturged by Judith Thompson

Nine blazing hot works written and performed by new Canadian dramatists with gate crashing ideas, delicious poetry and unique characters woven into a spectacular journey to the Underworld, in search of the self.

Welcome To My Underworld runs from May 8 to 25, 2019. Opening night is May 9, 2019.

By Adam Pottle
Directed by Mira Zuckermann

A young woman’s life is turned upside down when her tattoos come alive and propel her on a fantastical journey in search of her inner voice. Faces, hands, and movements become poetry as a global cast of Deaf actors tell their story through physical theatre, signed music, projection, and motion capture. Audiences are invited to experience this pioneering new work unlike any other.

The Black Drum runs from June 15 to 29, 2019. Opening night is June 20, 2019.

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Photo: Young Centre. © Tom Arban.