The Great Canadian Theatre Company announces its new Artistic Director

This recent 2011/2012 season for the Great Canadian Theatre Company marked the last season under artistic director, Lise Ann Johnson, who stepped down from the position after seven years providing the GCTC’s audiences with great Canadian theatre. At the beginning of July, the GCTC announced that Eric Coates will succeed her as the company’s new artistic director.

From the official press release, July 3rd:

GCTC Board Chair, Nhanci Wright announced today that Eric Coates will be the next Artistic Director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. “GCTC is thrilled to have such an experienced and respected member of the arts community joining us as our new Artistic Director. Eric is an excellent choice to lead GCTC into the future,” says Chair Nhanci Wright.

Mr. Coates will be stepping down from his current position as the Artistic Director of the Blyth Festival, where he has worked in a variety of disciplines since 1995 and joining the GCTC team in September.

Eric Coates’ directing credits in Blyth include Dear Johnny Deere, Vimy, Against the Grain, Queen Milli of Galt, The Ballad of Stompin’ Tom, The Gingko Tree, I’ll Be Back Before Midnight, Having Hope at Home, and The Drawer Boy.  He has also directed for Thousand Islands Playhouse and Drayton Entertainment.  For CBC Radio: The Train, broadcast live from Blyth Memorial Hall, and twelve episodes of The Morning Scoop. Eric is extremely proud of the festival’s new play development record since he became artistic director in 2003: twenty-eight world premieres, eleven scripts published, and two finalists for the Governor General’s Award (Reverend Jonah by Paul Ciufo and Innocence Lost: A Play about Steven Truscott by Beverley Cooper).

As an actor, Eric spent four seasons with the Stratford Festival and has performed in regional theatres in Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and New York. He has also appeared in several Canadian television series, television movies and the feature films Angel Eyes and The Pianoman’s Daughter. He has been a guest instructor for St. Clair College Performing Arts and he served on the advisory committees for Ryerson Theatre School, of which he is a proud alumnus. He has adjudicated Sears Drama Festivals for the Avon Maitland and Wellington County School Boards, and most recently adjudicated the Western Ontario Drama League’s festival entries. Eric is the President of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT).

Eric Coates states, “The Great Canadian Theatre Company represents an artistic ideal that I have shared throughout my career. For the last seventeen years, I have worked almost exclusively on new Canadian work and I look forward to continuing this practice in a vibrant and engaged community of fellow artists. GCTC is what we all strive to be as artists: independent, socially conscious, politically active and passionate. And, for the first time in my life, the words ‘Go, Sens!’ will cross my lips. I look forward to this appointment with great anticipation.”

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