Jillian Keiley unveils first season with the National Arts Centre

Tara Bradbury
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Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to be prominently featured

In this file photo, Jillian Keiley takes a break from rehearsals for her last production in St. John’s before heading to Ottawa to become the artistic director of the National Arts Centre’s English theatre department. — File photo by Barb Sweet/The Telegram

Newfoundland and Labrador artists will make up a significant part of the National Arts Centre’s (NAC) English Theatre 2013-2014 season.

What else would you expect, asks artistic director Jillian Keiley.

“There was no doubt that I was going to come out with guns blazing for my first season,” the St. John’s native and Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland founder told The Telegram last week, laughing. “What else am I going to bring?”

Keiley revealed her plans for her inaugural season with the NAC during an event in Ottawa Tuesday afternoon, as well as the actors for this year’s ensemble, chosen by

Keiley and associate artistic director Sarah Garton over a six-month long audition tour with more than 600 potential performers.

Among the chosen actors is Petrina Bromley of St. John's. She has worked with Rising Tide Theatre, the Resource Centre for the Arts, Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador and Artistic Fraud.

“I put her in as a lynchpin,” explains Keiley, noting Bromley’s talents for acting, singing, composing and directing. “I think of all the contributions Petrina has made to Newfoundland and Labrador, and she’s just so multi-talented and multi-faceted. She’s a massive asset to have in a company. I need 10 Petrina Bromleys — and I think I’ve got them, though I had to look high and low across the country.”

Bromley and the rest of the ensemble will open the NAC’s season in September with Moliere’s “Tartuffe,” adapted by and starring Andy Jones.

The play was commissioned by New World Theatre Project last year, and ran in Cupids last summer. Next, the cast will perform a holiday production of the musical, “The Sound of Music,” as well as the satirical “ENRON” by Lucy Prebble.

Other productions to be performed throughout the season are “Kim’s Convenience” by Ins Choi from Soulpepper Theatre of Toronto, “Seeds” from Annabel Soutar of Porte Parole in Montreal, Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” “dib and dob and the journey home” by David S. Craig and Robert Morgan, Hamlet (solo) by Raoul Bhaneja, and Robert Chafe’s “Oil and Water,” Artistic Fraud’s version of the Lanier Phillips story, directed by Keiley, which has been touring successfully for two years. Bromley stars in the play.

“These are works that I think really represent what I can offer,” Keiley explains, adding she took in theatre productions and read reviews across the country before choosing a lineup. “If I think a show is a really great theatrical piece, I’ll consider it,” she said. “If I think it’s exciting or that people will be excited to go see it, I’ll bring it in.”

Keiley brings a new approach to collaborations to the arts council, she says, believing the NAC must be involved in working in communities to support and develop new pieces and help bring them to the stage. The hope is that some of the productions will eventually be part of the NAC lineup.

“It’s like investment banking for theatre,” she said. “I take very seriously the idea of contributing back to the general theatre ecology.”


Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: National Arts Centre, English Theatre, The Telegram Resource Centre New World Theatre ENRON Soulpepper Theatre of Toronto

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Ottawa, St. John's Cupids Montreal

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