*Banner photo of a post-show conversation by Falanafoto

We're a professional theatre company in Calgary known for offering a unique experience to our audiences.

 

OUR MANDATE IS TO PRODUCE CANADIAN THEATRE THAT CREATES MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION AROUND SOCIAL ISSUES.

OUR WORK IS ...

INVENTIVE –  Whether it's a comic-book musical that explores artistic responsibility, a wacky physical comedy about ocean health, or a drama about consumer debt performed on a parked city bus, our unique mixture of challenging subject matter and artistic skill leads to pieces that are loved by audiences and critics alike. 

RELEVANT – We program and develop plays that delve into the full complexity of an issue. Expect work that is thought-provoking and emotionally engaging, along with a chance to connect with other Calgarians from different walks of life through our nightly post-show discussions.

ACCESSIBLE – We're always working on new ways to crack the theatre doors open for a wide range of Calgarians, whether that's touring shows to community halls around the province, doing a free run of a play that's live-streamed online, or offering tickets at no cost through our Pay-It-Forward program. 

LOCAL – Since 2009, in addition to great existing scripts by Canadian writers, we've produced seven World Premieres by Albertan creators, most of which were in development with us for at least two years. All of these new scripts were nominated for Betty Mitchell Awards for Outstanding New Play and many have gone on to future productions, publication and touring!

 
  ELLEN CLOSE Artistic Director

ELLEN CLOSE
Artistic Director

  CLARE PREUSS Incoming Artistic Director  (November 1, 2018)

CLARE PREUSS
Incoming Artistic Director

(November 1, 2018)

 
  DANIELLE WHYTE Managing Director

DANIELLE WHYTE
Managing Director

  JESSIE PAYNTER   Production Manager

JESSIE PAYNTER
Production Manager

Ellen is an actor, playwright and producer who has worked with Downstage in various roles since 2007. Her performance credits include Pride and Prejudice (Theatre Calgary & National Arts Centre), Blood: A Scientific Romance (Sage Theatre) and Unity (1918) (ATP). As a member of the Downstage Creation Ensemble, she shares a Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding New Play for In the Wake as well as nominations for Good Fences (ATP’s playRites) and Bus(t). For Downstage, she has performed in Bone CageArm’s Length Embrace and My Family and Other Endangered Species, an adaptation of Carla Gunn’s Amphibian that Ellen co-wrote with Braden Griffiths (Best Play, Calgary Critics Awards; Nominee, Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama.)

 

Clare is an acclaimed multidisciplinary artist who has worked across Canada as well as in Germany, Lebanon, Switzerland, Uganda and the USA. She has strong roots in Alberta: Clare grew up in Lethbridge, got her first acting job at the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod and graduated from the University of Alberta’s BFA Acting Program. Companies she has collaborated with include Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, Banff Centre, BeMe Theatre, Blyth Festival, Buddies in Bad Times, Bayimba International Festival, Cahoots Theatre, Driftwood Theatre, Factory Theatre, fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre, FRICTION GROUP, Gwaandak Theatre, Native Earth Performing Arts, New Harlem Productions, Theatre Monnot, National Arts Centre, Nightwood Theatre, Paprika Festival, Paramount Pictures, Ramshackle Theatre, Sony Pictures, Stratford Festival, SummerWorks, Sundown Theatre, Theatre Direct Canada, Theatre Passe Muraille, Why Not Theatre and Young People’s Theatre, among others. Clare is a recipient of the Houselighters of the Citadel Theatre Award and has been nominated for the Pauline McGibbon Award, John Hirsch Director Prize, John Hirsch Director Award and twice for the Gina Wilkinson Award. In addition to her new role at Downstage, Clare is an Associate Artist with Volcano Theatre.

 

Danielle is an independent filmmaker and producer. She has worked on more than 40 film and television productions, including CBC’s television series Heartland and has earned several Rosie nominations (AMPIA) including Best Production Design for City of Noise (MindMosis Productions), Best Short for Bad Dad (Awkward Silencio Films) and Best Student Production for Human Resources (SAIT Productions). She is an executive producer at Belle of the Brawl Entertainment and a perennial judge and advisory board member for the Ten Scary Minutes Online Film Festival. Danielle is a graduate of the Cinema, Television, Stage and Radio program at SAIT Polytechnic and holds an MBA from the Haskayne School of Business.

 

Jessie is a technical director, lighting designer, and video designer who works in both theatre and dance. Recently she has done lighting designs for Ride (Lunchbox Theatre), Exploder (Ghost River Theatre with Western Canada High), Robin Hood (Red Deer College), as well as the National Music Centre. She was the Technical Director of the 2017 Ignite Festival (Sage Theatre), and is the Technical Coordinator for the Calgary International Film Festival. She has worked in a design and/or technical capacity for companies such as the National Arts Centre (Ottawa, ON), Project X Theatre (Kamloops, BC), Imago Theatre (Montreal, QC), Rising Tide Theatre (Trinity, NFL) and Western Canada Theatre (Kamloops, BC). Jessie is a graduate of the production program at the National Theatre School of Canada.


Our Board of Directors

Our volunteer Board uses their diverse professional backgrounds to provide oversight and strategic guidance.

Interested in applying to join us? Download our Board Application Form or email ellen at downstage.ca for more info. 

  SALIMAH KASSAM, President

SALIMAH KASSAM, President

Salimah is a highly empathetic, resourceful and driven leader who is determined to make meaningful impacts on people and systems in Calgary. She is driven to envision and execute strategy, galvanize resources, track results, and make lasting shifts in society. Subject matter expert in policy development, asset-building, poverty reduction, social housing, community economic development, arts advocacy and behavioral economics. Key player in launching, building and executing Calgary’s poverty reduction plan and Canada’s national financial empowerment movement. Salimah currently acts as a Strategist for United Way Calgary and Area.

  HEATHER CAMPBELL,    Vice-President

HEATHER CAMPBELL,
Vice-President

As a Procurement Development Manager, Heather supports Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO)’s efforts in development of the Renewable Electricity Program and other procurement development activities for power generation in the commercial business unit. She is a licensed Professional Engineer practicing in Alberta, Canada.

Heather has a diverse energy industry career spanning two decades, having held technical, commercial, and business advisory positions within petrochemicals, oil and gas, energy consultancies, and energy industries.

Heather holds a Bachelor of Engineering Science degree in Biochemical and Chemical Engineering from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Laws in Energy Law and Policy from the University of Dundee.

A lifelong volunteer, Heather is a member of the Advisory Council for Western Engineering and a member of the Legislative Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Calgary. Downstage’s innovative and edgy approach to the development and production of Canadian theatre continues to inspire Heather’s role as a community arts leader.

  ASHLEY TOWNS, Treasurer

ASHLEY TOWNS, Treasurer

Ashley is an accountant working in Canadian corporate tax for an international public accounting firm. She has a diverse portfolio of clients, the majority of which operate in the energy sector. Ashley obtained her Bachelor's of Commerce from the University of Calgary in 2011, became a Chartered Accountant in 2014, and completed CPA's In Depth Taxation program in 2017. This is Ashley's first year on Downstage's board, and as a theatre enthusiast, she could not be more excited to get to work with such a high-impact organization. 

 

  MAUREEN SHEPPARD, Secretary

MAUREEN SHEPPARD, Secretary

Maureen is an entrepreneur and professor who owns and operates Cobb’s Adventure Park and ScreamFest, and teaches part-time at Mount Royal University. In her spare time, she loves to travel and has visited all continents except Antarctica (still on her bucket list!). She has recently had the opportunity to combine her passions of travel and entrepreneurship through road trips throughout North America collecting baby wallabies for Cobb’s Adventure Park!

Maureen joined Downstage as she has always enjoyed theatre but particularly theatre that introduces multiple perspectives on meaningful issues and theatre that makes you THINK. She also sees Downstage continually creating and supporting brilliant work!

  MATTHEW BLOCK, Director

MATTHEW BLOCK, Director

I'm a lawyer currently working as a Crown Prosecutor.  As one of the original board members, I’ve always had a deep interest in Downstage and its progress. Why I think Downstage works is that it finds ways to be different and provocative without doing so just for the sake of being different and provocative. As someone who works in a field where I see a myriad of social issues playing out every day, I see the value to the conversations that Downstage looks to create around these issues.

  MARYAM DASHTI, Director

MARYAM DASHTI, Director

The theatre bug bit Maryam early on in her high school years. Having experienced the impact and power of live theatre, and its ability to captivate an audience with a message, Maryam has been a strong theatre advocate for years. 

During her career in Oil and Gas, Maryam has maintained various extracurricular leadership roles, developing a stronger and more connected workplace culture. Aiming to go beyond the workplace and into the community, Maryam saw the perfect opportunity to combine her love for theatre, open dialogue and community involvement in Downstage. As Chair of the Audience Outreach Committee, Maryam and the members of the Committee are responsible to expand the audience and reach of Downstage, while enhancing the dialogues which Downstage seeks to reveal. After all, "what you reveal, you heal."

  SILVIA KOSO, Director

SILVIA KOSO, Director

Working for United Way of Calgary and Area, Silvia strives to contribute to addressing social issues and improving the lives of all Calgarians. Trained as a physician in her native Serbia, with Master of Public Health from University of Alberta, and as a fitness instructor, Silvia is committed to supporting people inenhancing their health and wellbeing. Silvia is a lover of all performing arts, regular patron of many, and a performer of some. She is particularly passionate about supporting Downstage, because of its commitment to making theatre accessible and inclusive, and partnering with community groups in creating theatre.

  BRENT PICKERL, Director

BRENT PICKERL, Director

President of SANDSTONE Asset Management during the day and an active Board member of Downstage at night.  Actually neither truly leave my mind, things you are passionate about never do.  I love Downstage’s transformative power to tell stories.  There is no limit, not to who is involved nor what is discovered.  I hope the meaningful conversations they create go on long after curtain call.  In my past life I have been involved with Calgary Bridge Foundation for Immigrant Youth, Calgary Arts Development Authority, CSpace and the City of Calgary Awards.

  GRACE WASCHUK, Director

GRACE WASCHUK, Director

 

JOEL DOUGLAS, Director

KATE EASTON,
Director

Grace is a commercial litigation lawyer with McCarthy Tétrault. She holds degrees from Queen’s University and the University of Saskatchewan. Originally from Regina, Grace spent several years studying and working in Ontario and now calls Calgary home.

Grace enjoys supporting Downstage’s innovative theatre work as a board member through participation with its audience outreach and fund development initiatives.  

In her spare time, Grace enjoys engaging with Calgary’s arts and startup communities, travelling and spending time in the Rockies.

 

 

 

Biographies to come!

 

 

The Downstage Performance Society was created in 2004 by Founding Artistic Director Simon Mallett. Take a look at our production history below for a taste of our past work.

2017-18
* Hosted Intimacy for the Stage Workshops for Performers & Directors
* Partnered with CalgaryCan on the pilot version of the Bottle Picker Monologues
* World Premiere of Extremophiles by Georgina Beaty at the High Performance Rodeo
* Presented Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts and Punctuate! Theatre productions of Bears by Matthew MacKenzie and Minosis Gathers Hope by Christine Sokaymoh Frederick
* Supported two productions by emerging companies: Azimuth Theatre’s Alberta Emerging Company Showcase of Cardiac Theatre’s The Listening Room by Michaela Jeffery, and  Tiny Bear Jaws’ Miss Katelyn's Grade Threes Prepare for the Inevitable, written and performed by Elena Belyea

2016-17
* Crime Does Not Pay by David Rhymer & Kris Demeanor
(World Premiere, with Forte Musical Theatre & the support of Hit & Myth Productions)

2015-16
* Benefit by Matthew MacKenzie (World Premiere)                          
* My Family and Other Endangered Species by Ellen Close & Braden Griffiths,
adapted from the novel Amphibian by Carla Gunn (as part of Vertigo Theatre's Y Stage Series)

2014-15
* rihannaboi95 by Jordan Tannahill                                                
* Good Fences by the Downstage Creation Ensemble (Community Tour)

2013-14
* A Bomb in the Heart by Wajdi Mouawad, translated by Linda Gaboriau
* My Family and Other Endangered Species by Ellen Close & Braden Griffiths,
adapted from the novel Amphibian by Carla Gunn (World Premiere)

2012-13
* Uprising 2012 (part of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival)
* Bashir Lazhar by Evelyne de la Chenelière, translated by Morwyn Brebner
* Sequence by Arun Lakra (World Premiere)

2011-12
* In a World Created by a Drunken God by Drew Hayden Taylor
* Good Fences by the Downstage Creation Ensemble (World Premiere)
* Sia by Matthew MacKenzie

2010-11
* Goodness by Michael Redhill
* Uprising 2010
* And So It Goes by George F. Walker
 

2009-10
* Enoch Arden in the Hope Shelter by Judith Thompson
* Uprising 2009
* Bone Cage by Catherine Banks
* In the Wake by the Downstage Creation Ensemble (World Premiere)

2008-09
* Palace of the End by Judith Thompson
* The Piper by Colleen Murphy
* Bus(t) by the Downstage Creation Ensemble (World Premiere)

2007-08
* Arm's-Length Embrace by Downstage (World Premiere)
* The Dishwashers by Morris Panych
* Habitat by Judith Thompson

2006-07
* Heaven by George F. Walker
* This is for You, Anna by The Anna Project
* Man Out of Joint by Sharon Pollock (World Premiere)

2005-06
* A Line in the Sand by G. Verdecchia & M. Youssef
* Prometheus Bound adapted by George Ryga
* pppeeeaaaccceee by Darren O'Donnell

2004-05
* Dog from the Machine by Downstage (The Culture of Fear, Rights & FreedumbsRogue Wheat & Smoking Broccoli)
* Pulling the Wool by Simon Mallett