Coal Mine Theatre Announces Departure Of Co-Founder Diana Bentley

Bentley will step down from her role as Co-Artistic Director and Artistic Producer at the end of the current season.

By: Mar. 21, 2024
Coal Mine Theatre Announces Departure Of Co-Founder Diana Bentley
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Concluding a decade of shaking up the east end with challenging, provocative, hit productions, COAL MINE THEATRE has announced that co-founder Diana Bentley will be completing her tenure as Co-Artistic Director and Artistic Producer at the end of the 2023/2024 season.

A trailblazer for the company since its inception in 2015, Diana is known to COAL MINE and Toronto audiences for her visceral performances, skillful producing, and most recently for her acclaimed directorial debut of YERMA. She has led the company in the creation of four new venues, produced over 30 Toronto and Canadian premieres, helmed The Marketing Division of the company, as well as moved the theatre into development and premieres of new Canadian work. She is the recipient of a Dora for producing and an Equity Award of Distinction for sparking a cultural shift in theatre workspaces across Canada.

“It's very hard to find the right words to express everything that the Coal Mine has meant to me over the last decade of my life,” says Bentley. “When I co-founded it with Ted in 2015 it was out of a young and burning passion to helm my own creative ship and create challenging, provocative, and gritty theatre. I had no idea that the Coal Mine would become its own beautiful bright light of the Toronto and Canadian theatre scene. To say I'm proud of what we have created would be a huge understatement.

Bentley continues, “As I reflect on this chapter of my career, I'm overwhelmed by the beautiful and deeply impacting collaborations I've had with all of the artists I have worked with. My relationships with directors, actors, designers,production managers, crew people, volunteers, writers, agents, donors, board members and patrons has shaped who I am as a woman and creator. Through these collaborations I have learnt about the craft of theatre, but more importantly I have learnt about life. I have had the best, most full and inspiring days with Coal Mine, and then days of challenge, stress, and despair. But through it all, I have learned some of the most significant lessons of my life and built the most meaningful bonds.

“It's now time for me to embark on the next chapter of my creative life. What it will hold, who knows? I am excited to take all the knowledge I've acquired and embark on unknown adventures, and I am full of gratitude. Full of love. Thank you to my community and this audience and to my forever champion and partner Ted Dykstra who has always had an unswerving and unshakeable faith in me.” 

“There would be no Coal Mine Theatre without Diana Bentley,” says Dykstra. “Most people would be appropriately lauded just for the performances she has given over nine seasons. But Diana is so much more than that.  As head of marketing, she has branded this company in her own unmistakable style, and with almost no budget has made the Coal Mine's presence known throughout Toronto and beyond. It was her sheer willpower that has, to date, built us four incredible venues, each an improvement on the last, yet each being exactly what it should and could be. One of them, in fact, was where we were married. So, this is also of course an incredibly personal story.”

Leading into the COAL MINE'S tenth season, Diana leaves the company with another stunning season of theatre helmed by Ted Dykstra, who will take the reins as Artistic Director. 

“Diana has a seat on our board for as long as she wants and this gives me great comfort going forward, as I know she will therefore always be a part of what we're doing. So, though we are moving on, and she will be sorely missed, we also know that when we need her advice, it will be there for us. I mean, we do live in the same house!” adds Dykstra.

In the last year, COAL MINE has added six new part-time staff members and a Managing Director will be brought on in the months to come to complete the team - an announcement will be forthcoming.

About Coal Mine Theatre

The Coal Mine Theatre is Toronto's premiere Off-Off-Broadview theatre! Coal Mine brings Canada's most influential theatre artists back to where many of us started out - in an intimate but transformable black-box space. Get close to the action at Coal Mine Theatre; there's no professional theatre experience like it in Toronto.

Since its founding in 2015 by Diana Bentley and Ted Dykstra, The Coal Mine Theatre has become one of the most talked-about and critically acclaimed theatres in Toronto, independent or otherwise. For eight seasons, in its intimate storefront space on the Danforth, the Coal Mine has presented challenging, stimulating, and award-winning scripts from Canada and around the world. Its productions routinely feature a thrilling combination of well-known and up-and-coming theatre artists, whose outstanding work regularly results in sold-out shows and extended runs.