Stage Door News

Toronto: Tarragon Theatre announces retirement of Artistic Director Richard Rose

Friday, June 26, 2020

Tarragon Theatre announces that longstanding Artistic Director, Richard Rose, will retire at the conclusion of the 2020/21 season, after 20 years at the helm of the theatre.

Richard’s guidance and unwavering support of artists have been hallmarks of his time at Tarragon – a commitment he maintains during this period as he works with the Tarragon community to pivot and find new ways for audiences to access meaningful artistic content.

Producing and directing some of the most challenging productions in Tarragon’s history, Richard’s stewardship has been inseparable from Tarragon’s success, and his vision has helped further define Tarragon’s role in contemporary Canadian theatre.

“Richard’s creative work has captivated Toronto audiences since 2002,” says Board President Elaine Stavro. “Enemy of the People, Hamlet, Guarded Girls and Dora winner Scorched will long be remembered. His talent for selecting brilliant new plays like Buffoon, Mr. Shi and His Lover, or re-staging Canadian classic's like Harlem Duet, cannot go unnoticed. Beyond his directorial skills, Richard’s tenure has been punctuated by encouraging Canadian playwrights like Hannah Moscovitch (Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes, Infinity), Drew Hayden Taylor (Cottagers and Indians) and Daniel MacIvor (New Magic Valley Fun Town, The Best Brothers) to name only a few. In addition, he has mentored several generations of directors and dramaturges who now have found homes across the country.”

“Looking to the future, Tarragon is excited by this moment of change and to move forward with a continued focus on new Canadian plays and playwrights, with a refreshed outlook on our core principles and a continuation of being the frontrunners in Canadian theatre,” says Stavro.

Since taking the helm in 2002 after Urjo Kareda’s passing, Richard has embraced Tarragon’s mandate to allow new Canadian work to thrive, guiding playwrights to four Governor General’s awards and ten nominations, as well as producing and/or directing multiple Dora Award-winning productions, including six winners of Outstanding New Play.

At the Tarragon, Richard has directed over thirty productions including Guarded Girls by Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman (Dora Award Outstanding New Play), Buffoon by Anosh Irani, New Magic Valley Fun Town by Daniel MacIvor, The Realistic Jones by Will Eno, Hamlet by William Shakespeare (Dora Nomination for Direction),The Summoned by Fab Filippo, Abyss by Maria Milisavljevic, A God in Need of Help by Sean Dixon (Dora Nomination for Direction), This is War by Hannah Moscovitch, Forests by Wajdi Mouawad, Another Home Invasion by Joan MacLeod, Courageous by Michael Healey (Dora Nomination for Direction and Production), Molière by Sabina Berman, Scorched by Wajdi Mouawad (Dora Award for Direction and Production), Democracy by Michael Frayn, The Oxford Roof Climber’s Rebellion by Stephen Massicotte, Léo by Rosa Labordé (Dora Nomination for Direction and Production), No Great Mischief adapted by David Young and the company from the novel by Alistair MacLeod, Remnants by Jason Sherman (Dora Award for Direction), simpl by Peter Froehlich (Dora Nomination for Direction) and Prague by John Krizanc. In 2011, Richard was awarded the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts from the Canada Council.

Richard’s tireless work on behalf of artists has extended beyond the stage, with the development of several unique positions and programs at the Tarragon designed to further support the theatre community. He created Tarragon’s Workspace program, providing conditions for long-term play development and rehearsal/performance space, with support from Tarragon artistic staff for up-and-coming theatre companies; The Bill Glassco Playwright-in-Residence post, which provides a playwright with a two-year salaried position and the Urjo Kareda Residency for a young up-and-coming artist, both supported by The Youssef-Warren Foundation; the Bulmash-Siegel Award for Emerging Playwrights funded by the Bulmash-Siegel Foundation; and the Ellen Ross Stuart Opening Doors Award, which supports the mentorship of a young playwright just out of university. Richard has read and dramaturged thousands of plays in the course of his 20 years at the Tarragon, and mentored countless emerging directors in the development of their craft.

From 1978 to 2002, Richard was the founding Artistic Director of Necessary Angel Theatre and developed and directed over twenty of the company's productions including John Krizanc’s Tamara (Dora Award for Direction and Production) and The Half of It, Michael MacLennan’s The Last Romantics, Kathleen Oliver’s Swollen Tongues, Colleen Murphy's The Piper and Beating Heart Cadaver, David Young's Clout, Inexpressible Island (Dora Nomination for Direction and Production) and Glenn (Dora Nomination for Direction), Jason Sherman’s Its All True and Three in the Back, Two in the Head, the collective creations Mein (Dora Award for New Play/BITEF Festival, Belgrade Audience Choice Award) Hysterica and Desire, introduced the work of Howard Barker to Canada directing his Seven Lears (Dora Award for Direction and Production), The Castle, The Possibilities (Dora Nomination for Direction) and The Europeans (Dora Nomination for Direction), Colleen Wagner’s The Monument, Anton Chekhov's The Seagull and Milan Kundera's Jacques and His Master. Richard has also adapted and directed several productions including the critically acclaimed Censored (from Bulgakov's A Cabal of Hypocrites) which was nominated for both the Dora and Chalmers Awards; he co-adapted Michael Ondaatje's novel Coming Through Slaughter(nominated for both the Dora and Chalmers Awards), Boom by Georg Buchner and Timothy Findley's novel, Not Wanted on the Voyage.

Elsewhere, Richard was the Director of the Young Company, Stratford Festival (1994 to 1996) and Associate Director at the Canadian Stage Company (1994 to 1996). For the Stratford Festival he has directed, among many others, The Merchant of Venice, Titus Andronicus, The Two Gentleman of Verona, The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, Coriolanus and The Comedy of Errors. Richard has directed nearly thirty productions at theatres across Canada including Canadian Stage Company, Factory Theatre, Theatre by the Bay, the Blyth Festival, the NAC English Theatre, Great Canadian Theatre Company, Centaur Theatre, the Charlottetown Festival, Rising Tide Theatre, Manitoba Theatre Centre as well as the National Theatre School of Canada and York University. Outside his work at Tarragon Theatre, Richard most recently directed Harold Pinter’s Betrayal at Theatre Calgary (Betty Mitchell Nomination for Direction), No Great Mischief at Neptune Theatre (Merritt Award Nomination for Direction and Production) and Fire by Paul Ledoux and David Young for Theatre Calgary (Betty Mitchel Award for Production) and the Charlottetown Festival.

The Tarragon Board and staff, and network of artists, volunteers, and loyal patrons, will miss Richard’s guidance, dedication and friendship. Richard will program the 2021/22 season before moving on, and a search for his replacement will begin immediately. Tarragon looks forward to returning to the theatre together to celebrate Richard’s enormous contribution when it’s safe to gather in person once more.

Photo: Richard Rose. © Cylla von Tiedemann.