Factory Theatre has found its new artistic directors – and, as it turns out, it didn’t have to look very far.
Nina Lee Aquino and Nigel Shawn Williams, who were appointed interim artistic leaders of the Toronto theatre company in September, will now assume the leadership on a permanent basis as co-artistic directors. A four-person search committee comprised of playwright Brian Drader, director ahdri zhina mandiela, dramaturg Brian Quirt and Elyse Parker from the board of directors were said to have reviewed submissions from across the country before making their decision.
In a release, board of directors chair Ron Struys said the pair were selected as a result of a “thoughtfully prepared proposal and their dedication to both honouring and reinvigorating Factory Theatre’s mission and programming.”
Artists with deep roots at Factory, Aquino, a Dora Award-winning director, and Williams, a Shaw Festival company member, will have their work cut out for them in getting the theatre back on track. It has been mired in controversy since the board fired founder Ken Gass last summer – and the interim artistic team was put in place at a time when many other prominent Canadian theatre artists were boycotting the downtown institution billed as the “home of the Canadian playwright.”
Aquino will be stepping down from her position as artistic director at Toronto’s Cahoots Theatre Company to take her half of the position. She is currently performing on Factory’s main stage in her own play, Every Letter Counts, in a production directed by Williams.