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GCTC Artistic Director Eric Coates Steps Aside

Coates will leave the position at the end of May, 2021. 

Sharon Peake, Chair of the GCTC Board of Directors, announced today that artistic director, Eric Coates, is stepping aside after nine seasons with the company. He will leave the position at the end of May, 2021.

"Eric will be sorely missed by everyone at GCTC," says Sharon Peake, Chair of the GCTC Board of Directors. "His commitment to artistic integrity while pushing the envelope in various ways has made his time at the GCTC an entertaining and exciting one, and he leaves the company in a strong and vibrant place. We thank him for his leadership at the GCTC and within the community, and we wish him all the best as he pursues a new chapter."

Coates helmed GCTC's artistic programming since arriving in Ottawa in autumn of 2012. Though a newcomer to Ottawa, he brought a keen interest in Canadian politics, evident in programming that regularly featured work by playwright Michael Healey (Proud, Generous, and 1979). His commitment to feminist work was front and centre in works by playwrights such as Kate Hennig (The Last Wife, The Virgin Trial), Hannah Moscovitch (This is War, What a Young Wife Ought to Know), Trey Anthony (How Black Mothers Say I Love You), Anita Majumdar (Fisheyes, Boys in Cars), Darrah Teitel (Behaviour) and many others.

During Coates' years at GCTC, the organization retired a capital debt of over $1 million, which he is quick to credit as the work of a motivated board of directors.

"When I arrived at GCTC, Chair Nhanci Wright and Vice-chair Brian Toller were leading the charge to eliminate the capital debt which had been incurred during construction of the new building. I will be forever grateful to them and to Nancy Oakley and Hugh Neilson for their work to liberate GCTC from that debt. It allowed us to breathe and grow in recent years."

Coates served two terms (2009-2015) as president of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT), which helped him to build a strong network with theatres across the country. Notable partnerships during his tenure with GCTC include Shaw Festival, Belfry Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Black Theatre Workshop, Neptune Theatre, Arts Club, Persephone and, most recently, local alliances with Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, and the NAC Indigenous Theatre. He also forged ongoing residencies for Propeller Dance, and the Ottawa School of Art.

Raised in Guelph, Coates began his career as an actor with the Stratford Festival before landing a position at the nearby Blyth Festival, where he spent nineteen consecutive seasons as an actor, playwright, and, ultimately, artistic director (2003-2012). His love of rural life and new play development went hand-in-hand in the Little Village of Blyth, but he was eager for a change when GCTC posted for a new artistic director in 2012.

"It was an ideal transition for me" says Coates "I was able to bring my experience with new play development to an urban setting and explore a different aesthetic with an equally engaged audience."

He plans to remain active as a freelance theatre director, but primarily aims to continue building connections with his extended family on the west coast of Canada.

"In recent years, I've been able to travel to the Salish Sea and spend time on the water with my cousins in the Samish Nation. My fondest desire is to build my Straits Salish language skills and to make a meaningful contribution to the Samish Nation. I'm enormously grateful for the support that I have enjoyed from Ottawa theatregoers, and it's time for me to move along and make space for the next generation of artistic directors. I will miss this company, this city, and the friends who have been so generous throughout my time in Ottawa."

GCTC will be conducting a national search for a new artistic director and will release details of the position shortly.


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