Stage Door News
Toronto: Nina Lee Aquino to step down as Artistic Director of Factory Theatre
Thursday, May 27, 2021
The Factory Theatre Board of Directors wishes to express its deep appreciation to Nina Lee Aquino for her passion and leadership during 10 transformative seasons pushing the boundaries of Canadian theatre as Factory’s Artistic Director. Nina has been a guiding force for the company for a decade during which she has mentored emerging talent, created a platform for diverse voices to be heard and a stage for the best in Canadian theatre. Nina has begun preparations to step down from her role at the end of the 2021/2022 Season.
“On behalf of the Board I want to thank Nina for the impact she has had in her role with Factory Theatre. As an artist she is always looking for a new challenge and we look forward to building on the solid foundation she has built,” said Len Racioppo, Chair of the Board of Directors. “On a personal note, I have truly enjoyed working with Nina and her generous partnership in building the theatre and serving our wonderful audiences. I look forward to seeing her creations beyond the Factory stage.”
Nina Lee Aquino is an award-winning Filipino-Canadian director and dramaturg who has tirelessly advocated for the representation and flourishing of BIPOC voices in Canadian theatre. She was the Founding Artistic Director of fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company and former Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre. She has directed world premieres and revivals at theatres across the country and has won a multitude of awards including the Ken McDougall Award, the John Hirsch Prize, the Margo Bindhart and Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award, as well as a Toronto Theatre Critics Award for Best Direction and three Dora Awards for Outstanding Direction. During her tenure, Factory cemented its reputation as a national leader for the development of new work and emerged as a leading training ground for the next generation of diverse Canadian theatre creators.
Nina’s longstanding relationship with Factory Theatre began in 2001 as a dramaturgy intern. Following her internship, Nina became Artistic Producer of the CrossCurrents Festival, bringing diverse voices to the stages and launching the playwriting careers of numerous BIPOC creators, and also served as Associate Artistic Director. From 2012-2014, Nina was Co-Artistic Director, and beginning in 2015, Nina was appointed sole Artistic Director of Factory Theatre, the first person of colour to lead the organization and the first woman of colour to serve as Artistic Director of a venued theatre company in Canada.
“During my 10 years as Artistic Director, I’ve experienced it all – risk, failure, and reward; flops and hits; and now, leading the company during a worldwide pandemic. While navigating Factory’s path wasn’t always easy, I wouldn’t trade any of it. As much as this company has asked of me, it has also given me so much in return. Serving as the Artistic Director of Factory Theatre will remain one of the greatest privileges of my career,” said Aquino.
Over 10 seasons, Nina programmed world premiere and Toronto premiere productions from playwrights such as David Yee, Anusree Roy, Marjorie Chan, Yvette Nolan, Kat Sandler, and Jeff Ho, among others; programmed bold and imaginative re-interpretations of classic Canadian plays from Judith Thompson, Colleen Wagner, David French, Linda Griffiths, Daniel MacIvor, Anosh Irani, and Claudia Dey; Fostered relationships with some of the best theatre companies from across the country and brought their productions to Toronto audiences through Factory’s CrossCurrents Canada presentation series; and secured Factory’s reputation as a leader in developing new plays and a champion of writers. Nina Lee Aquino’s name will join the illustrious list of Factory Theatre alumni artistic directors that include Ken Gass, Bob White and Jackie Maxwell.
A highly sought-after mentor, Nina Lee Aquino’s steadfast support for nurturing and training the next generation of theatre artists is among her most important achievements. Factory’s Training Enhancement Programs offer paid mentorship, professional development, and training opportunities for early career actors, directors, playwrights, and future artistic leaders of colour, and to date have helped to launch the careers of over 100 of Canada’s finest artists, transforming the landscape of Canadian theatre.
On the heels of Factory’s 50th Anniversary Season and our innovative and ambitious all-virtual and completely free 2020/2021 Season, Nina Lee Aquino leaves Factory in a strong artistic and financial position, firmly established as a leader and trailblazer in the Canadian theatre landscape.
“I’m looking forward to the next adventure of my theatrical journey, but I also find myself looking back on the last 10 years and feeling deeply grateful to the Factory community: the hundreds of writers, directors, designers, actors, and craftspeople who came together to make daring new work; the thousands of donors and volunteers who have given time, money, and energy to the creation of theatre that challenges, reflects, and provokes them; and the tens of thousands of audience members who have supported us over the years; it is everyone who believed in the ever-changing landscape of what it means to be Canadian and wholeheartedly welcomed those stories onto our stage. Although I never imagined ending my tenure during a pandemic, in the end it doesn't matter, because whether in person or digital, I am so proud of what we’ve built together in this chapter of the company’s rich history. I am looking forward to passing the baton to the next AD who will take Factory to new and exciting heights,” said Aquino.
Further details about the search for the next Artistic Director of Factory Theatre will be announced in the coming months. Nina Lee Aquino will remain in her position until the end of the 2021/2022 Season.