Stage Door News

Port Hope: Capitol Theatre appoints Rob Kempson as new Artistic Director

Thursday, August 12, 2021

The Capitol Theatre today announced the appointment of theatre artist Rob Kempson to the role of Artistic Producer. Kempson joins the Capitol full-time in October, working alongside with Managing Director Erin Peirce and Artistic Director Susan Ferley, who will conclude her tenure at the end of 2021.

Kempson is a director, writer, and educator who brings 15 years of experience in the non-profit professional arts sector. He has served in various artistic leadership positions, including as Associate Artistic Director at the Thousand Islands Playhouse (Gananoque, ON) and as Associate Artistic Producer at Theatre Passe Muraille (Toronto, ON). 

Earlier this year, Kempson was named Co-Artistic Producer of ARC, an ensemble-based company dedicated to producing international work. He was also the founding Artistic Director of timeshare performance, a multi-award-winning Toronto-based collective, and has worked across the province as a freelance director and playwright.
With experience as both an artistic and administrative leader, Kempson is well-known for his commitment to community engagement. His career has been marked by an integrated approach to arts education, finding opportunities for participation and engagement in professional theatre-making with audiences of all ages.
Olga Cwiek, President of the Capitol Theatre and Chair of the board of directors, described the Capitol’s new artistic leader as “richly-experienced in every facet of theatre - programming, production, audience development, artistic training, community outreach. 
“These are all critical dimensions of the Capitol Theatre’s place as a community-engaged arts organization with a growing regional market,” Ms Cwiek said. 
Kempson said "stepping into this role at the Capitol right now feels a bit like kismet. The organization is seeking a fresh new vision to lead us out of the pandemic and into a more inclusive future, while I am seeking a new artistic challenge.” 
“I am eager to connect with the community and create a robust theatre that celebrates what is unique about Northumberland County. I am deeply honoured to build on the legacy of this rich cultural jewel."
Managing Director Erin Pierce welcomed Kempson “to the Capitol family and Port Hope community. His experience will be a huge asset as we move forward. As a team, I am confident we will weather whatever comes next in our changed and changing world to ensure that the theatre is safe, accessible, and relevant to the many different audiences we serve.” 
Kempson will begin his transition into his new role alongside Susan Ferley, who is concluding her three-year tenure as Artistic Director of the Capitol Theatre. 
Cwiek paid tribute to Ferley’s “creative contribution to sustaining the viability of this organization during the most difficult conditions imposed by the pandemic.” Ferley will be programming the remainder of the 2021 season, with Kempson’s programming to commence in 2022. 
This announcement coincides with the theatre’s plans to unveil the expansion completed during the pandemic. This expansion is a direct result of deep investment from the community and will allow for regular programming in the Sculthorpe Theatre, as well as space for production facilities and visual art exhibitions. 
After closing due to pandemic restrictions in March 2020, the Capitol is now beginning its re-opening plans this month with outdoor concerts hosted under the theatre's iconic marquee. The theatre will announce plans for opening its doors to indoor performances in September, according to the provincial safety guidelines. 
Ticketholders will be contacted with more information at that time.
The Cameco Capitol Arts Centre (known as the “Capitol Theatre”) is a community-engaged arts organization committed to producing and presenting high quality professional and amateur theatre, live music, film, and other special events in the historic and picturesque small town of Port Hope. The Capitol Theatre was designated by the Government of Canada as a National Historic Site in 2017.

Photo: Rob Kempson. © 2020 Andrew Rowat.