New Artistic Director
Announcing Persephone Theatre’s New Artistic Director: Heather Cant
After a year of deep counsel in our community to set new priorities for Persephone Theatre’s artistic direction, our leadership search committee, Board of Directors, and staff are pleased to announce the appointment of incoming Artistic Director, Heather Cant.
Heather Cant is a multi-faceted theatre practitioner who has worked as a director, actor, playwright, dramaturg, and producer. She has experience with everything from large scale productions to interactive micro-performance and has worked at theatres across Canada, including the National Arts Centre, Western Canada Theatre, Citadel Theatre, Gateway Theatre, Persephone Theatre, Thousand Islands Playhouse, Chemainus Theatre, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, Pi Theatre, Axis Theatre, Presentation House, Upintheair Theatre, Project X Theatre, Urban Ink, and SkirtsAfire.
In addition to her freelance work, Cant has over 8 years of arts leadership experience. She served as Associate Artistic Director of Western Canada Theatre for six and a half seasons and was Artistic Producer of Project X Theatre for two seasons. She is the Artistic Producer of Phenomania Arts Society and the creator and curator of Secret City, an ongoing digital theatre project that explores the secret life of public spaces in an ever-growing list of cities. Cant recently completed her MFA in directing at the University of Calgary where she developed a practice called Process-As-Relation, an anti-imperial paradigm for centering intersectional empathy in creation — a vital lens that she brings to her new role.
“We are truly thrilled that Heather is coming to join our team at Persephone Theatre,” says Persephone Board Chair, Nikki Hipkin. “There were a number of excellent candidates we had to choose from, but Heather’s unique skill set is the perfect match for us because she has more than just experience working in theatre. She is deeply attuned to the unique needs of the times we’re in and she is passionate about evolving our theatre institutions in partnership with the community. Both those values are integral to our organization. Heather also has strong connections to her home province of Saskatchewan and healthy artistic relationships across Canada. She’s driven to serve the local community while ensuring our work is relevant, timely, and connected to the larger arts and culture scene in Canada. There is so much opportunity in front of us at this time, and we can’t wait to get started with Heather at the artistic helm.”
Relaying her desire to lead Persephone’s new artistic direction, Cant says, “I admire the commitment to deep self-reflection Persephone and the board have demonstrated this past year, and I am grateful to the artist working group and the broader community for the guidance and encouragement they have offered the organization during that process. Their transparency during the process revealed to me that our values are very much aligned, and I feel like we will be able to make great strides together towards social responsibility, equity, and inclusion in our industry. Transformation is a perpetual process, and I am looking forward to working with the staff, board, and the local artists to ensure that Persephone Theatre continues to evolve and thrive as a vital contributor to the community.”
Persephone General Manager Kristen Dion echoes Cant, adding, “This season, our team here has really dug in and done the work. Everyone’s committed to new processes and ways of working that are more inclusive, empathetic, and rigorous about serving the community. In many ways, we’ve been readying ourselves for someone exactly like Heather to now move our work forward. Who she is as a person — her skills, experience, worldview, and demeanour — really make her the exceptional artist, producer, and administrator that she is. In everything she does, Heather works in service to the theatre community — the artists, the audience, and everyone who contributes to making the art happen. That’s always been something I’ve admired and appreciated about her work, and I’m just ecstatic to have her as a partner to steer the organization onward.”
Born in Moose Jaw, with family based in Saskatchewan, Cant has both family and creative ties to the community. Saskatoon audiences may remember Heather from her roles onstage in Hamlet and The Merry Wives of Windsor at Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, or from her work as the assistant director on Persephone’s production of Mary Poppins. “Having had the good fortune to work in Saskatoon twice before, I know how much talent and creativity the arts community here has, and how devoted audiences are,” adds Cant. “I can’t wait to get to know the community better and to create exceptional theatre together. Kristen and the team at Persephone Theatre have done tremendous work navigating the incredibly tumultuous circumstances brought on by the pandemic. While the pandemic is by no means over, I am encouraged by the careful planning they have done for the fall of 2021 that Persephone is well positioned to bring live theatre back to the stages of the Remai Arts Centre once again, as health mandates allow. I am excited to join Kristen in stewarding Persephone to a bright new future.” Heather joins the team at Persephone Theatre on September 15, 2021.