Stage Door News

Ottawa: Jillian Keiley to complete her tenure as NAC English Theatre Artistic Director on August 31, 2022

Thursday, July 22, 2021

The National Arts Centre (NAC) today announced that Jillian Keiley will complete her tenure as Artistic Director of the NAC English Theatre on August 31, 2022. Ms. Keiley will program works for the 2022–2023 season, which will be presented after her departure.


Since she began her tenure in 2012, Ms. Keiley brought many exciting productions, delivering a national representation of the country to the stages at the NAC.

“Working in the English Theatre of the National Arts Centre has been the most challenging and most fulfilling experience of my life,” said Ms. Keiley. “The amazing staff's dedication to bringing together artists and audiences has been my joy, the willingness of the institution to open its heart and doors to change has been my inspiration, and the honour of spending hours, days and months with Canadian theatre’s most genius thinkers and most gifted artists has been my greatest privilege. I had planned originally to only stay for eight years, we extended it into ten years, and although it cracks me in two, I know it's time to go and pass the torch to a leader with a thrilling new vision for our National Theatre.”

She added: ”My mother told me to never waste a day. I can look back over the ten years at the NAC and know that our team didn’t waste a second and made the most of anything we could. I will miss them all deeply. I look forward to new adventures in the theatre and to discovering all the great things in store for the NAC’s future.”


“Jillian has been a transformational leader of English-language theatre at the National Arts Centre,” said NAC President and CEO Christopher Deacon. “Her radical innovations have created a legacy of positive change that will echo long after she leaves her post. She developed, with her Associate Artistic Director Sarah Garton Stanley, the Cycle research projects which engaged artistic communities in issues of Indigenous bodies of work, deaf, disability, and mad arts, as well as climate change. She has been a leading voice for diversity, equity and inclusion at the NAC, presenting a vast array of voices and stories during her tenure. One of the most radical initiatives has been the welcoming of Black Theatre Workshop as the NAC’s inaugural Co-Curating Company. I am a huge fan of Jillian. She has the NAC’s lasting admiration.” 


Directorial highlights of Ms. Keiley’s tenure as NAC English Theatre Artistic Director so far include Between Breaths, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, A Christmas Carol, Twelfth Night, Tartuffe, Oil and Water and two co-productions with the Stratford Festival, The Neverending Story and Alice Through the Looking-Glass. In 2017, she took the NAC on the road, touring her production of Tartuffe through Newfoundland and Labrador. Over the past year, Ms. Keiley maintained a national voice for theatre by commissioning Grand Acts of Theatre and Grand Acts of Great Hope, which buoyed the spirits of artists and audiences across the country. Over the same period, Ms Keiley engaged with members of the IBPoC arts community to guide a response to anti-Black racism with the introduction of the Co-Curator Company in Residence program, which began in December 2020 with the appointment of Black Theatre Workshop.


The process to find a successor for Ms. Keiley begins today. The successful candidate will begin on September 1, 2022. For more information about the process, please visit the NAC Career Opportunities Web page.

Photo: Jillian Keiley.