Stage Door News

Toronto: Coal Mine Theatre unveils its 9th season including two world premieres

Thursday, July 27, 2023

As Toronto’s beloved off-off Broadview stage, the COAL MINE THEATRE, concludes an electrifying 22.23 season, they are delighted to announce their 23.24 programming line-up. The ninth season for the company, 23.24 celebrates yet another major milestone for the COAL MINE – the production of their first World Premiere.

Characteristically marked by must-see award-winners and noteworthy casting, the 23.24 season stages two distinctive Canadian originals alongside a provocative American Obie-winner and one of the great classics of European theatre, further expanding upon their mandate to present challenging, provocative, and entertaining contemporary work in a refreshingly intimate and entirely authentic setting.

“Our ninth season is a big season of firsts for us,” comment company co-founders Diana Bentley and Ted Dykstra.“This will be our first full season in our new home, the first time we will present a classical play, and we have two Canadian originals in the programming, one of which is our first World Premiere developed and produced at the COAL MINE. We are spilling over with excitement. This season we explore the monstrousness and wildness of human nature. It will be our most theatrical season yet and we’re honoured to be working with these acclaimed artists who are coming to play this season!”

The season begins in September with the Canadian Premiere of the 2015 Obie Award-winner for Best New American Play, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ APPROPRIATE. A searingly comic family drama in the spirit of August, Osage County, the play follows the members of the Lafayette family as they return to their crumbling Arkansas plantation home on the occasion of the recent death of their patriarch. COAL MINE co-founder Ted Dykstra - who thrilled audiences with his acclaimed production of Annie Baker’s THE ANTIPODES - directs an illustrious cast including Alison Beckwith, Raquel Duffy, Amy Lee, Hannah Levinson, Gray Powell, Andy Trithardt, and Mackenzie Wojcik. Associate Directed by Matthew G Brown with Set Design by Steve Lucas and Rebecca Morrisand Costume Design by Des’ree Gray and Sound Design by Deanna Choi and Michael Wanless.

In November the COAL MINE is pleased to finally be able to present their remount of Jani Lauzon’s PROPHECY FOG in November. Originally programmed in the 22.23 season, the Dora Award-winning PROPHECY FOG directed by Franco Boni, is an essential contemporary Canadian work that explores what is sacred. Originally produced in the spring of 2019, the play is presented in association with Paper Canoe Projects.

“I am humbled by the lessons I have learned from the stones who are more than my scene partners in Prophecy Fog,” shares Jani Lauzon. “So I asked them. “What do you think about presenting our ceremony in the new COAL MINE Theatre Space?” And they said “YES!”. Because similar to the leadership at the Theatre Centre and Nightswimming who truly understand what it means to support artists, the co-chief engineers, Diana and Ted have created a sacred space in which to present the ceremony we call theatre.”

Next up, in February 2024 the COAL MINE presents a benchmark first in the company’s history - and likely one of the biggest events of the theatrical season - the World Premiere of DION: A ROCK OPERA.

A fully sung through rock opera based on Euripides’ The Bacchae, DION: A Rock Opera is co-created by Ted Dykstra and Prince Edward Island poet and novelist, Steven Mayoff. Provocative and visceral – DION will be directed by Canadian Theatre titan Peter Hinton-Davis and Associate Directed by Kiera Sangster and Come From Away’s highly sought after Bob Foster serves as Musical Director. Joining this powerhouse creative team is an equally eminent cast including musical artist Sate, with Max Borowski, James Daly, Saccha Dennis, Allan Louis, Jacob MacInnis, Carly Street, Taurian Teelucksingh, and Kelsey Verzotti. With Set and Costumes by Scott Penner and Lighting Design by Bonnie Beecher, DION is undoubtedly an unmissable theatrical event.

DION is a wild and provocative musical about the limits of reason and the potential for disorder and revenge that lies inside the cry for freedom,” adds Peter Hinton-Davis “This is a world that begs for the glamour and grist of rock and roll: the sense of divine power and human aspiration, crowds of followers and fans, groupies and grifters, prophets and politicians. I am reminded of how powerful the role music plays in moments of social upheaval, revolution, and change. There are shades of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW or PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE here, as much as THE BACCHAE or HAMLET. But rather than homage or nostalgia – it’s a new-born re-invention of the rock opera for today.”

“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard. You thought 2 Pianos, 4 Hands was good? Just wait,” says Diana Bentley, Co-Artistic Director.

The 23.24 season will conclude with a new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s timeless classic, HEDDA GABLER, by Liisa Repo-Martell and directed by Moya O’Connell who so recently astounded Toronto audiences with her performance in THE SOUND INSIDE. A masterpiece of literary realism, at the centre of Hedda Gabler is one of the great dramatic roles for women in the canon - a deeply elusive character filled with longing in a world that has nothing for her. Stepping into this demanding and iconic role for the first time is the COAL MINE’s own Diana Bentley.

“There are moments when you realize an artistic endeavor and a human soul are in perfect sync,” says Moya O’Connell. “When Diana and I first spoke about directing and the theatre I came away from our time together thinking "Jesus she's smart and charming and brutally, ruthlessly honest. I need to spend more time in her orbit". And then we began speaking about HEDDA GABLER. And it became clear to me that Diana MUST play this part. Her magnetism, intelligence, experience, hungry heart, and ability to cut through bullshit, yet navigate it with a knowing grace was electrifying. Diana is electrifying. To be in her orbit is to feel a little bit more alive. She sets a room on fire.”

Lisa Repo-Martell adds, "I cannot wait to see Diana bring her wicked wit and wild heart to tackling one of the most outrageous and compelling characters in the history of theatre. She is a fearless, hilarious, and original artist. Her Hedda will be all of those things."

Bentley will be joined on stage by an exceptional acting company that includes Nancy Beatty, Andrew Chown, Shawn Doyle, Qasim Khan, and Nancy Palk, and the luminous lead singer of indie rockers METRIC Emily Hainesjoins the team to compose the original score. Joshua Quinlan will design Set and Costumes.

Tickets for the 23.24 season productions are available now beginning at $35 for previews and arts workers and ranging from $60-72.50 for regular performances. For more information visit


APPROPRIATE (Canadian Premiere)

September 24th – October 15th (Media night: September 28th)

Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

Directed by Ted Dykstra

Starring Alison Beckwith, Raquel Duffy, Amy Lee, Hannah Levinson, Gray Powell, Andy Trithardt, and Mackenzie Wojcik

In this searing comic drama, the estranged members of the Lafayette family return to their crumbling Arkansas plantation home to settle the accounts of their recently deceased patriarch. As they sort through a hoarded lifetime of mementos and junk, they discover a gruesome relic that sends them spiraling into a dark history of repressed memories and family secrets. A breakout play from one of the theatre's most exciting and provocative young writers.

Winner - 2015 Obie Award for Best New American Play


The Coal Mine Theatre in Association with Paper Canoe Projects Presents

November 12th – December 10th (Media night: November 15th)

Created and performed by Jani Lauzon

Director: Franco Boni

From award-winning artist, Jani Lauzon, Prophecy Fog begins with a journey into the Mojave Desert in search of Giant Rock, armed with the question: can a site still be sacred if it has been desecrated?

We encounter a girl in the mountains of B.C with a pocket full of stones, the rainbow warrior’s prophecy, and a mysterious inscription that obscures our past.

“We come from the stars, we are star people.”

PROPHECY FOG weaves together the performance skills of veteran raconteur Jani Lauzon and the expertise of Environmental Designer Melissa Joakim, along with Director Franco Boni to elicit a conscious remembering of ancient prophecies that speak to rock teachings, star beings and earth changes.

Top Ten Shows 2019 – NOW Toronto, Toronto Star

“Simply put, Prophecy Fog is a mind-expanding experience that no one should miss.” - Christopher Hoile, Stage Door

DION: A ROCK OPERA (World Premiere)

February 4th – February 25th (Media night: February 8th)

Created by Ted Dykstra and Steven Mayoff

Directed by Peter Hinton

Musical Direction by Bob Foster

Starring Sate, Max Borowski, James Daly, Saccha Dennis, Allan Louis, Jacob MacInnis, Carly Street, Taurian Teelucksingh, and Kelsey Verzotti.

Sacred and profane, DION: A ROCK OPERA is a fully sung rock opera based on Euripedes' The Bacchae.

Pentheus, the conservative right-wing leader of a city-state "somewhere in time" on this earth, arrives home from a trip to learn that all the disenfranchised people in his kingdom have taken to the hills, following the non-binary, self-proclaimed Demi-God Dion. Rumour has it the runaways from society are drinking a strange brew and are often seen running through the hills naked in states of ecstasy. The runaways include almost all of society’s women, including Pentheus’ mother Agave and his Uncle Cadmus.

Pentheus has heard of this Dion. They are his cousin. They claim Zeus as a father and Pentheus' Aunt Semele as a mother. Pentheus has made it clear the story is a lie that Semele made up to excuse her wantonness. Dion wants revenge for this slandering of his mother. That is why they are back and why they allow themselves to be captured and brought to Pentheus in chains.

Pentheus is then seduced into dressing up as a woman and heading to the hills to see what goes on for himself, where he meets his end...

HEDDA GABLER (World Premiere)

May 5th to May 26th (Media night: May 9th)

Written by Henrik Ibsen

Newly adapted by Liisa Repo-Martell

Directed by Moya O’Connell

With original score by Emily Haines

Starring Diana Bentley with Nancy Beatty, Andrew Chown, Shawn Doyle, Qasim Khan, and Nancy Palk

Canonized as a masterpiece of literary realism, Ibsen’s HEDDA GABLER dramatizes the experiences of the titular character, Hedda, the daughter of a general who is trapped in a marriage and a house that she does not want. Mesmerizing, enigmatic, destructive, and filled with a passion for life that cannot be confined, Hedda strives to find a way to fulfil her desires by manipulating those around her, leading her down a shocking path of destruction.


Since this artistic home for Toronto’s East End was founded in 2014 by co-artistic directors Diana Bentley and Ted Dykstra, The Coal Mine Theatre has become one of the most talked-about and critically acclaimed theatres in Toronto. It was modeled after the Off-Off Broadway theatres in New York and branded as Toronto’s Off-Off-Broadview Theatre. In its intimate space on the Danforth, The Coal Mine has for eight seasons presented some of the most challenging, stimulating, and award-winning scripts from Canada and around the world.

In 8 seasons, each consisting of only 3 or 4 shows, The Coal Mine theatre has amassed some 40 Dora nominations, over a dozen Doras, many Toronto Theatre Critics’ Awards, and a fiercely loyal subscriber base. Their new home on the corner of Woodbine and Danforth, after a devastating fire in their old location, has already become a source of great neighbourhood pride. Partnerships are being formed with local businesses, making The Coal Mine, truly, a community theatre to be proud of.