Stage Door News

Ottawa: The National Arts Centre welcomes audiences back to live performances in 2021/22

Thursday, August 19, 2021

The National Arts Centre today launches the 2021-2022 season and announces ticket sales for in-person programming this fall. The excitement will begin on September 10 with a concert by Alexander Shelley and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Southam Hall, followed by the Zones Théâtrales festival on September 13.

For the last year and a half, the NAC has supported the renewal of the Canadian performing arts by working with artists and arts organizations across the country on a number of digital initiatives, including livestreamed performances. Now, with public health measures beginning to lift and provincewide vaccination rates increasing, the NAC will safely reopen for live performances, setting the stage for audiences and artists to reconnect in-person and engage with the performing arts.

“After many months of hard work and preparation, the National Arts Centre is ready to reawaken that live performance feeling that comes from attending a show in person,” said NAC President and CEO Christopher Deacon. “With your safety top of mind, the NAC’s stages will once again come alive with Canada’s most creative artists in music, theatre and dance. Our 2021–2022 season will feature an exciting and diverse range of voices and perspectives that help tell stories of who we are and who we aspire to become. We want to welcome back long-time attendees but also engage with new audiences, particularly those from equity-seeking groups. Everyone is welcome at the NAC.”  

As the NAC transitions to an in-person performance model, the well-being of audiences, artists and staff will remain the highest priority. The NAC will continue to monitor the evolving public health situation, and health and safety protocols, including seating capacity in the halls, will reflect ongoing public health guidelines. To learn more, visit

The NAC will announce additional programming and ticketing information for winter 2021-2022 this fall.


As the NAC safely welcomes audiences back into the halls, select livestreamed performances will continue, allowing audiences across Canada to experience the works on the NAC’s stages.

NAC Orchestra (Alexander Shelley, Music Director)

The NAC Orchestra is coming alive in a new light, taking bold steps in programming by bringing more diverse creative voices to the stages for a vibrant experience of storytelling and music. The NAC Orchestra’s 2021–2022 season is a rich tapestry of artistically ambitious works woven together with audience favourites from classical to pops and family. There will be in-person audiences for every performance, and the majority of concerts will be livestreamed for audiences at home.

The Orchestra’s season-opening concert, an emotional program that moves from darkness to light, includes works by Karen Donnelly, Trevor Weston, Vivian Fung and Gabriel Dharmoo, and will culminate with Tchaikovsky’s brilliant Symphony No. 4.

Other fall highlights: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, and Artist-in-Residence James Ehnes in a lively program of violin showpieces by Saint-Saëns, Sarasate and others. Celebrated French pianist Hélène Grimaud will make her long-awaited return to Southam Hall to perform Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto. Principal Guest Conductor John Storgårds leads a brilliant program with Canadian violinist Leila Josefowicz. And Mohawk and Two-Spirit singer-songwriter Shawnee Kish joins Alexander Shelley and the Orchestra to launch NACO Playlist, a fun new series of concerts curated by guest artists and members of the Orchestra who share their favourite classical music playlists. (Winter and spring performances will be announced later in the fall.)


NAC English Theatre (Jillian Keiley, Artistic Director)

NAC English Theatre re-emerges transformed in 2021–2022, as Black Theatre Workshop (BTW), the inaugural Co-Curating Company in Residence, reveals their programming vision for a National theatre. In planning for this groundbreaking year, English Theatre Artistic Director Jillian Keiley and BTW Artistic Director Quincy Armorer have assembled an inspiring lineup of theatre, symposia and national artist development. Season highlights include Michael Frayn’s award-winning Copenhagen, a fictional account of heated words and profound ideas exchanged between two physicists during the Second World War. The spring delivers a blazing critique of a classic with Calpurnia by Audrey Dwyer, a play that will forever change how you think about Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Black Theatre Workshop programming as Co-Curating Company-in-Residence launches with The Epistle of Tightrope Time, a one-man, multi-character tour-de-force written and performed by the legendary Canadian actor, poet and playwright Walter Borden. And Black and Blue Matters is a satirical, interactive Hip-Hop musical, written by Omari Newton and directed by Diane Roberts, that deconstructs the justice system, truth, white supremacy, and the nature of post/neo-colonial trauma. 


NAC French Theatre (Brigitte Haentjens, Artistic Director) 

Designed by Brigitte Haentjens and led by incoming artistic director Mani Soleymanlou, NAC French Theatre's 2021–2022 season explores notions of transition. Composed of nine productions, the 2021–2022 season for the general public offers a sensory journey that navigates the border between reality and imagination.

The long-awaited return to the stage will be hailed by 2042, a unifying event created by Soleymanlou that will feature some 30 artists from the Ottawa–Gatineau region. The season also includes Brigitte Haentjens' most recent production, Rêve et folie (“dream and madness”), performed by Sébastien Ricard; Savèches, une fragmentation contemporaine en trois mouvements, based on a poetry collection by the Acadian writer Jonathan Roy; and Les dix commandements de Dorothy Dix by designer and director Stéphanie Jasmin (winner of the 2018 Siminovitch Prize) that features Julie Lebreton. French Theatre will also welcome, for the fifth time, the exceptional work of Joël Pommerat, this time with Contes et légendes, an anticipatory fictional documentary.

Associate Artistic Director Mélanie Dumont has crafted French Theatre’s exuberant and exciting Youth Programming season. A cosmic bingo, meetings in secret locations, a forest made of sounds, a miniature theatre, and children in control of their own lives—there's something for everyone in the family.


NAC Indigenous Theatre (Kevin Loring, Artistic Director)

Highlighting the distinct natures of Indigenous artists perspectives, territories, cultures and languages, NAC Indigenous Theatre’s 2021-2022 season begins with two productions in partnership with the Zones Théâtrales festival—Jocelyn Sioui's Mononk Jules, a work inspired by the life of Sioui’s great-uncle, Jules Sioui, one of the greatest Indigenous heroes of the 20th century; and Émilie Monnet’s stunning original work, Okinum, an intimate reflection on the notion of inner barriers that is performed in three languages –French, English and Anishinaabemowin, the language of the land. The season also includes TRACE, an extraordinary and highly kinetic contemporary dance piece by Red Sky Performance, inspired by Indigenous (Anishinaabe) sky and star stories, and co-presented with NAC Dance. In December, Indigenous Theatre will host a one-night celebration in honour of an iconic artist’s 70th birthday with TOMSON HIGHWAY: KISAAGEETIN **(I love you/Je t'aime). The evening will include live and virtual tributes and music, as well as visits from special guests.

NAC Dance (Cathy Levy, Executive Producer)

NAC Dance is thrilled to welcome dance artists back onto the stages, and live audiences back into the halls. This highly anticipated season invites audiences to rediscover the milieu’s exceptional range of contemporary expression and unique storytelling, and offers opportunities for making new discoveries.

The 2021-2022 season features diverse range of works by 14 companies—12 from across Canada and two international troupes. Five companies postponed from previous seasons will bring their remarkable works to the NAC’s stages—José Navas/Compagnie Flak, Alan Lucien Øyen/winter guests (Norway), Guillaume Côté, Anne Plamondon and Dimitris Papaioannou (Greece). They will be joined by an array of new creations, exciting remounts and mixed bills from some of Canada’s brightest creators and performers, some of whom are new to Ottawa audiences. They include Andrea Peña & Artists, Out Innerspace, Ballet BC, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, BJM Danse, Mélanie Demers/MAYDAY, Bboyizm and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. From contemporary expression to classical ballet, and from intimate interdisciplinary work to spectacular family- friendly fare, this season offers something for everyone. 

NAC Popular Music and Variety (Heather Gibson, Executive Producer)

NAC Popular Music and Variety is excited to welcome audiences and artists alike back to all four NAC stages and to fill them with live music.

Major international stars like Feist, Chilly Gonzales, Bruce Cockburn, Bahamas and Charlotte Cardin return with blockbuster performances. The exciting Sessions series with the NAC Orchestra is back, featuring shows with Esperanza Spalding and Carly Rae Jepsen.   Also returning to the NAC are some Canadian favourites including AHI, Digging Roots, Donovan Woods, Louis-Jean Cormier, Beyries, Whitehorse, Hannah Georgas and Ariane Moffat. And the emerging artist series Fridays at the Fourth will allow audiences to discover some of the most exciting new Canadian artists performing today.

The full lineup is available on the NAC website. Many more concerts will be announced in the coming months; stay tuned to the NAC’s channels for updates. 


Zones Théâtrales (Artistic Director Gilles Poulin-Denis)

The recently announced Zones Théâtrales, a showcase and gathering for professional theatre from Francophone communities across Canada and from the regions of Quebec, will take place from September 13-18. It’s an opportunity to discover fully staged theatre productions, new plays and works in progress, and to meet the artists behind them. Tickets are available now at


Tickets for NAC performances taking place up until November 30 are on sale as of 10 a.m. on August 19th. Performances scheduled after that date will go on sale later this fall, and additional programming will be announced in fall. Please note that select music performances scheduled beyond November 30 also go on sale today.

To purchase tickets to upcoming NAC performances, visit Ticketmaster to purchase tickets online or call 1-888-991-2787 (ARTS). In-person purchases at the NAC Box Office are suspended until further notice.

For more information, please visit


Numerous projects in the 2021-2022 season, including Feist: MULTITUDES, Violence by Marie Brassard and White Out by L'eau du bain, were developed with support from the NAC’s National Creation Fund, which provides Canadian artists with the additional time, space and resources they need to create great work. Marking its fifth year in 2022, and fueled entirely by generous donors from across the country, the fund makes investments in the development of compelling and ambitious new Canadian works in theatre, dance, music and inter-disciplinary performing arts. For more information on the National Creation Fund and upcoming projects, visit