Stage Door News

Toronto: Tarragon Theatre names Mike Payette as incoming Artistic Director

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Tarragon Theatre is thrilled to announce award-winning theatre creator Mike Payette as its new Artistic Director. Making the move from Montreal to Toronto, Payette begins at Tarragon September 2021, working through the transition with Managing Director Andrea Vagianos and Artistic Director Richard Rose, who is set to retire at the end of this season. 

Payette is a Montreal-based actor, director and educator who has worked in the arts since childhood.  He was the co-founding Artistic Director of Tableau D’Hôte Theatre and past Assistant Artistic Director for Black Theatre Workshop.  Mike is a two-time Montreal English Theatre Award (META) recipient, is currently on the boards of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) and la Maison Théâtre and moves to Tarragon after serving as Artistic and Executive Director of Geordie Theatre since 2016.

With experience on and off stage at some of Canada’s most notable performance spaces, Payette’s career has been marked with a care for finding ways to connect with and invite in audiences, communities and creators of all ages, realities and experiences, ever conscious of the social impact that art can have. 

"We are delighted to welcome Mike Payette as the new Artistic Director of Tarragon Theatre. After a rigorous, year-long search not deterred by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mike quickly became the clear choice. We’re confident he will continue to build Tarragon’s reputation as a premier venue for new Canadian theatre. And we are excited to welcome Mike to Toronto, another great Canadian cultural hub with an appetite for experimentation and audiences ready for new adventures in theatre-making,” notes Elaine Stavro, Tarragon Board President & Artistic Director Search Committee Member

“I'm grateful for the opportunity to join Tarragon at what is a significant and pivotal moment for the performing arts,” notes Payette, “I look forward to honouring a lauded legacy of creation at Tarragon while emboldening ways artists and audiences engage with our theatre today; inviting new voices to tell their stories, creating opportunities for collaboration across practices, cultures and career-levels and exploring varied forms to tell stories that speak to, celebrate and challenge the world around us. I can’t wait to discover more of the vibrant Toronto arts community and to begin this work with Tarragon.”

“I’m so excited to welcome Mike to Tarragon Theatre as our next Artistic Director! As a creator from Montreal with extensive credits at theatres across the country, Mike brings an entirely new perspective to the Tarragon community of artists and public. And Mike’s sectoral leadership at PACT and investment in Theatre for Young Audiences at Geordie Theatre will be invaluable as we look to Tarragon’s future and seek to engage more communities and intergenerational audiences.” comments Managing Director Andrea Vagianos.

Stavro continues, “Through the search, our committee received impressive applications from across Canada and internationally, evidence of a tremendous pool of talent and passion for Canadian theatre. So we leave this process feeling invigorated, not just for Tarragon, but for the national theatre community and future of innovation in the live performance space.”

The Tarragon Theatre Artistic Director Search Committee was assembled in early 2020 to address the retirement of longstanding Artistic Director Richard Rose. “We’d like to thank our Artistic Director Search Committee, especially facilitator Jeanne LeSage and our artistic community members, for their tireless enthusiasm, input and hard work throughout the process!” exclaims Adam Bryk, Tarragon Artistic Director Search Committee Chair & Board Treasurer.

“The Tarragon team looks forward to welcoming Mike and working together as we launch the next 50 years of Canadian play-making, building on Tarragon’s legacy of extraordinary contemporary theatre with his fresh outlook,” concludes Vagianos.

As previously announced, Richard Rose will program the 2021-2022 season, ahead of Payette’s arrival this September.

Tarragon Theatre is Canada’s home for groundbreaking contemporary playwriting. For over 48 years, Tarragon Theatre has created, developed and produced new plays by home-grown artists as well as significant works from the world stage, vitally contributing to the important legacy of a Canadian culture. Tarragon assists 30+ emerging and established playwrights each year through residencies, grants, dramaturgical support, and training programs. Since its founding, over 190 works have premiered at Tarragon and over 500 scripts have been created and workshopped, receiving 34 nominations and 11 wins for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Richard Rose has been the Artistic Director since 2002. For the 2020-21 season, Tarragon has transitioned from in-person theatre to a fully online series, with 18 plays presented as part of an online Acoustic series. Tarragon Acoustic Subscriptions are available, as well as Single Tickets for all events from

Photo: Mike Payette.