Stage Door News
London, ON: The Grand Theatre announces the appointment of Rachel Peake as Artistic Director
Friday, September 8, 2023
Following an extensive, international search process, the Board of Directors of London’s Grand Theatre is pleased to announce that Rachel Peake has been appointed as the Theatre’s next Artistic Director. Peake, an award-winning, experienced, and driven arts leader in Canada, will assume her new position effective Monday, October 2, 2023.
Working in partnership with Executive Director, Evan Klassen, Peake will drive the artistic vision of the Theatre, and helm its season planning, the COMPASS New Play Development program, and community outreach.
“After an intentional and international search, conducted by Martin Bragg & Associates, the search committee was thrilled to recommend Rachel Peake as the Grand’s next Artistic Director,” says George Kerhoulas, President of the Grand Theatre Board of Directors. “From a substantial pool of strong candidates from all corners of the globe, Rachel stood out as a creative, inclusive, collaborative leader, with an undisputable track record as a director, dramaturge, and creator of new work. The search committee, consisting of a diverse assemblage of Grand Theatre stakeholders, community advocates, and representatives from the culture sector, hold great confidence that Rachel will build upon the successes and legacies of her predecessors while making an indelible mark on the Grand Theatre’s next chapter.”
Originally from Saskatchewan, Peake is a director and dramaturge of theatre and opera. From 2021 to 2023 she was the Associate Artistic Director of the Arts Club Theatre Company (Vancouver, British Columbia), Canada's largest urban theatre company. From 2017 to 2020 she was the Associate Artistic Director of the Citadel Theatre, where she led the Citadel's New Play Development initiatives. A testament to her artistic vision, in January 2023 she won the Ovation Award for Outstanding Direction for her work on Something Rotten!, produced by Theatre Under the Stars. Additional credits in musical theatre and opera include: The Betty Mitchell Award-nominated Macbeth (Calgary Opera), Sense and Sensibility (Arts Club), 9 to 5: The Musical (Citadel Theatre), and The Pearl Fishers (Vancouver Opera).
Rachel’s inspired and diverse work in direction and dramaturgy is celebrated among audiences and her peers in the arts community across the country. Selected highlights include: directing Hyperlink (Elbow Theatre), which was nominated for a Critic's Choice in Innovation; directing and dramaturging the world première opera, Stickboy (Vancouver Opera); directing the première of The Contest of the Winds (Caravan Farm Theatre); and helming SexyVoices, a community-based creation piece about love and sex in the disability community for Realwheels Theatre – a Canadian disability theatre company based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“Being the Artistic Director of the Grand Theatre is a dream job,” describes Peake. “Two theatre spaces with such vibrant history and extensive recent renovations allow for the full breadth of programming I love – plays that spark joy, from the intimate to the spectacular. I am excited to bring my family to London, to settle in, explore, and get to know this amazing community. We are living in challenging times, and I look forward to facing those challenges with energy, vision, and in partnership with the incredible team at the Grand.”
In June 2023, after over seven seasons of exceptional artistic leadership at the Grand Theatre, Artistic Director, Dennis Garnhum formally concluded his tenure at the Theatre. Following his departure, the Grand embarked on a global search for its new artistic leadership, led by Martin Bragg & Associates. From a pool of almost 100 candidates, the Theatre conducted an extensive interview process on a qualified shortlist of candidates, before definitively selecting Rachel Peake as Artistic Director.
On this significant point in the Theatre’s history, Grand Theatre Executive Director, Evan Klassen remarks: “During this time of great transformation and opportunity in today’s theatre landscape, it is truly an honour to embark on a new journey of creative and professional partnership with Rachel Peake as the Grand’s next Artistic Director. Between her breadth of arts knowledge, diverse experience, and unique creative vision, I know that her time with us will be replete with inspiring artistic prospects, new ways of growing, and Grand strides in the way that Londoners experience art and stories on our stages. It is a thrilling appointment, to be sure.”
Photo: Rachel Peake. © 2023 Kristine Cofsky.