MONTREAL, September 2020 – After 22 years as Infinithéâtre’s Artistic Director, Guy Sprung will be stepping down at the end of February and director/producer/actor Zach Fraser will take the reins of the company in March 2021. Fraser thanked Infinithéâtre’s Board of Directors for their trust in him, “I am thrilled and humbled by the members of the board placing such an important and beautiful responsibility in my hands.” The dynamic team supporting Fraser in his new title includes theatre veterans Ellen David as Artistic Producer and Oren Safdie as Head of New Play Development. As incoming artistic director, Fraser’s undertakings have already begun; in addition to directing upcoming production King of Canada, he and Sprung look forward to working together during this busy transitional time while Fraser plans for the future, starting with the 2021-22 season.
“Faced with the daunting task of finding a successor to Guy Sprung, who has been the company’s driving force since its beginning, and after a year and a half search, the board has tremendous confidence in our unanimous choice of Zach Fraser,” said Board President Gerry Lipnowski. “Zach has earned the respect of the arts community in Montréal as an award-winning creator and teacher. His wide-ranging achievements and vision for the future position him as the right person to continue leading the company in its role as a frontrunner of relevant and contemporary Montréal theatre,” he added.
Sprung has created quite a legacy since taking over Theatre 1774 in 1998, renewing the mandate, and renaming the company. “It has been an extraordinary journey,” said Sprung, “I have had the privilege and honour of working with incredible writers, actors and theatre artists. We developed and produced or co-produced the world premieres of over 40 new Québec plays and performed in over 20 different venues around Montréal, most of which were non-traditional spaces. Our work has been seen across the province, at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, in New York City, Toronto and Stratford, as far away as Edinburgh, Cairo, Tokyo and Beijing, and in French at Place des Arts. Encouraging collaboration and exchange, we hosted two international companies as well as nurturing numerous exciting smaller companies. It is time to let new artistic energy take the helm. Zach Fraser is a brilliant, imaginative, committed theatre artist with both strength and sensitivity, who will steer Infinithéâtre in exciting directions.”
Fraser feels fortunate to follow Sprung as the company’s second artistic director, “Sometimes in the thick of the action, sometimes from a distance, I have long been an admirer of the work done by Infinithéâtre. Guy has been a role model as an artist compelled to tackle important and complicated themes, exploring multiple arenas for creating theatre, and continuously fostering a place for local and emerging artists to develop and share their voices,” he emphasized.
TRANSFORMATIVE VISION CONTINUES
Building on Sprung’s and Infinithéâtre’s reputation for inclusivity, Fraser will continue to encourage playwrights from all walks of life; offering an outlet to diverse artists of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, religions, and ages. At this particular moment in time, the world is reminded of the importance of including artists that have been historically under-represented, or at times misrepresented—the company is dedicated to exploring their stories.
Fraser recognizes there is much work to be done, “On both the social and artistic levels, in our intimate and international communities, we are in a moment of essential inward reflection requiring genuine outward action. Society is expressing unease, many are suffering and feeling demoralized; there is pent-up rage, understandably so. Theatre must respond and evolve. We must listen to the pulsations within our communities and as artists, help people digest and express all that we are collectively feeling. For theatre-makers in this city, so fortunate to have a platform from which to dialogue, it is a welcomed opportunity to investigate who we are, what we stand for, and how we can be better versions of ourselves for the benefit of all.”
VITAL PROGRAMS THRIVE
Infinithéâtre is known and respected for its playwriting initiatives, and those will not only continue, but will increase in scope with Head of New Play Development, playwright Oren Safdie, a highly-accomplished stage, television and film writer, theatre artistic director and teacher. “It is my goal to develop a powerhouse of Québec English playwrights second to none,” said Safdie. “This starts early; I will be going into schools, scouring the city and province for young talent, offering up playwriting workshops, and making sure there is an avenue for the upcoming generation to be heard.” Along with The Pipeline, Write-On-Q! and The Unit will be a year-end competition and presentation of ten-minute plays by young playwrights to get them to the next level.
ACTRA and META-honoured actor/director/producer and Theatre Lac-Brome’s new Artistic Director, Ellen David comes on board as Artistic Producer, where her crucial input includes collaborating in discussions around season planning, project development, and artistic and strategic vision. “Going back decades, having watched Guy from the perspective of a student, as an actor, and as a professional associate and colleague, I am in awe of his dedication to producing and brokering new plays, new talent and new directions. With incoming Artistic Director Zach Fraser, a gentle giant of talent and creativity, I know that Infinithéâtre is poised to tackle the future in capable and caring hands and I am thrilled to be a part of this next phase.”
Sprung’s final programming choices for the season include King of Canada by Paul Van Dyck from Oct. 20-Nov. 1 at the KIN Gallery and Marc-André Thibault’s Mazel-Tov in March 2021.
The Infinite Playwrights’ Chat Room continuing Zoom/Facebook series is Sept. 10: Mazel Tov by Marc-André Thibault, Sept. 17: Children of Egypt by Alice Abracen, Sept. 24: M1ndf0ck_ by Zaynab Bourezza, and Oct. 1: Ceasefire by Laura Flynn. www.infinitheatre.com
A word from Fraser, David and Safdie about Infinithéâtre.
For Infinithéâtre’s artistic mandate, click here.