For the past 25 years, Janet Munsil has lived and breathed the Intrepid Theatre.
But now, the curtain is falling on her time as the theatre’s artistic director. Last week, Munsil announced she’ll be stepping down at the end of the upcoming season.
“Twenty-five years seems like a good landmark number of years to be in one place,” she laughed.
“I’ve been around it a long time and have grown up with it. I haven’t even thought about working anywhere else.”
Munsil first moved to Victoria from Port Alberni to study theatre at the University of Victoria, where she picked up skills in stage and company management. After graduation in 1992, she joined the company at the age of 25.
Since then, the theatre has flourished as a space to showcase local and national independent performing arts.
Munsil played an important role in bringing the Victoria Fringe Festival, Uno Fest and the new OUTstages Festival to local audiences, and has brought more than 1,000 shows by artists from around the world to the city during her tenure.
But one of her proudest accomplishments has been expanding the reach of the theatre with the opening of a number of venues, such as the Metro Studio on Quadra Street and the Intrepid Theatre Club, to shine a spotlight on independent artists and plays not normally seen in mainstream theatre.
“It was pretty much impossible to be an emerging theatre artist in Victoria and be able to show your work before these venues were made available,” said Munsil, adding company spaces are now booked almost every night with a wide range of performances and all-ages concerts.
“That’s really important for the health of the performing arts community in Victoria. People aren’t just going to school, getting their degrees and moving to Toronto, they’re sticking around a couple of years and trying to make new performances of their own . . . and keeping theatre alive by making relevant theatre.”
But the job hasn’t been without challenges. Finding funding to add venues proved difficult.
Now, Munsil believes the theatre is in good financial shape and poised for more growth — a perfect opportunity to take her final bow.
“Janet’s humble yet unstoppable dedication to include the next generation’s artistic voice . . . is one of the many reasons why she is a pioneer in the Canadian arts and culture community,” said Heather Lindsay, the theatre’s current general manager who will take over the artistic oversight of the company.
Up next, Munsil, who is better known as a playwright, will devote her time to writing a number of plays for Real Wheels Theatre in Vancouver and The Powerhouse in Vernon.
She’ll also try her hand at directing Twelfth Night for the Greater Victoria Shakespeare festival this summer.
The Intrepid Theatre is also celebrating its 30th anniversary season. For more information about upcoming festivals and shows, visit intrepidtheatre.com.