As one of the largest cohorts in Canadian history approaches retirement, it’s not only businesses that need to consider how they will transition leadership. Victoria is very fortunate to have a number of local theatre companies with long histories. Over the past few years, several have successfully negotiated changes in leadership. In the arts, handing over the reins does not mean the former artistic director or founder is actually retiring – far from it.
Jim Leard founded Story Theatre Company For Young People in 1981 with the hope it would last five years. He made the promise to keep it local by hiring young artists who lived and trained in the region and it’s this philosophy that led to the transition of former Company Manager David MacPherson into the role of Artistic Director. Currently Leard is working on a WW I production with the Royal BC Museum using soldiers’ and nurses’ letters as the narrative base. An actor with many credits in film and TV, he continues to make short videos and is helping his son, actor Jeff Leard, create and produce his shows.
Leard is also Head of Acting at the Canadian College of Performing Arts.
Besides his Story Theatre duties, MacPherson has his hands full with directing projects–The Crucible in 2016 at Langham Court Theatre, and, upcoming for Theatre Inconnu in 2017, a remount of his original play, Whiskey Fugue and Requiem – and is currently at work on a play about the lives of George Burns and Gracie Allen.
Lina de Guevara, originally an actor in her native Chile, founded Puente Theatre with the mandate to bridge cultures, tell the stories of the disadvantaged, give voice to the silenced, and respect the artistic talents that are inherent in all human beings.
After 23 years at the helm, de Guevara is succeeded by Mercedes Batiz-Benet who is already bringing her unique stamp to new and ongoing projects–one of which is the popular WorldPlay series of play readings from around the world, taking place this year in April and May. Puentetheatre.ca
De Guevara continues to teach –offering a number of classes through UVic Continuing Studies (starting in February) – direct and act and is looking to revive two projects from 2016 – Alice’s Gift with Bell’Arte Music Drama and Grace Salez’ River of Time. Linadeguevera.ca
Janet Munsil, who stepped down as Artistic Director of Intrepid Theatre after 25 years in which she produced more than 45 festivals, is now focused on directing and playwriting.
Her adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice opens the 25th anniversary season at the Chemainus Theatre Festival in February. Later this summer she directs Love’s Labour’s Lost for the 27th Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival and Born Yesterday for Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre’s 9th season. At Intrepid Theatre, General Manager Heather Lindsay moves into the position of Executive Director.
Ian Case produced shows at Craigdarroch Castle for fifteen years under the banner of Giggling Iguana before taking a break in 2014. He continues to direct – more recently for David Elendune’s Outpost 31 at the Victoria Fringe Festival – and design (costumes for Shockheaded Peter at Theatre Inconnu) and is also the Director of the UVic Farquhar Auditorium where he recently introduced a Family Series. His close collaborators, David Radford and Christina Patterson of Launch Pad Theatre, are now presenting a complete season of shows at the Castle with the next production being an adaptation of Shakespeare, Much (Less) Ado About Nothing Mar. 23-Apr. 8.