Alan Dilworth appointed new artistic director of Necessary Angel Theatre Company

Alan Dilworth has been appointed artistic director of Necessary Angel, one of the city's most innovative independent theatre companies."Alan is.

Alan Dilworth has been appointed artistic director of Necessary Angel, one of the city’s most innovative independent theatre companies.

“Alan is an artistic visionary with a masterful ability to bring his vision to life on the stage and in his programming,” says Nalini Stewart, Necessary Angel’s board chair. “His passionate humanity and integrity can be evidenced in every facet of his work as a theatre artist.”

Dilworth is the fourth artistic director in the company’s 41-year history, following founder Richard Rose, Daniel Brooks and Jennifer Tarver, who stepped down from the position last January.

According to a press release, there were 42 applicants, and a long list of 22 candidates was given close consideration. Of the short list of eight candidates interviewed, “there was gender balance, and the majority were of diverse backgrounds, reflecting the city itself.”

Dilworth, reached by phone on the weekend at Stratford, where he’s currently directing Mother’s Daughter, the final play in Kate Hennig’s Queenmaker Trilogy, says he is thrilled to take the reins of the company.

“Necessary Angel has always captured my imagination,” he says, pointing out that the fact that the company is without a venue is a wonderful thing.

“It’s always been a company about ideas and the making of meaning,” he says. “I remember talking with Richard [Rose], and we were discussing how you could have the company administratively housed in even a bedroom, and there’s power in that. It’s all about where the imagination, the mind and the creative voice will take you. So for each production, you will seek to find the right place the right vessel for it. And that doesn’t necessarily have to be a traditional theatre.”

In fact, the show that put Necessary Angel on the map was its groundbreaking walkabout 1981 production of John Krizanc’s Tamara, performed at Strachan House in Trinity-Bellwoods Park.

One of Dilworth’s most ambitious past projects was Sarah Ruhl’s epic three-act Passion Play, the collaboration between his company (with his wife, Maev Beaty), Sheep No Wool, along with Convergence Theatre and Outside the March.

In fact, Ruhl is among the artists Dilworth is hoping to collaborate with in his new position at Necessary Angel. Others include poet Anne Carson, choreographers Carlos Rivera Martinez and Denise Fujiwara.

And he will, of course, keep working with his regular collaborators like Lorenzo Savoini, Kimberly Purtell and Beaty.

NOW has been following Dilworth’s career since he and Belltower Theatre first burst on the scene with a pair of SummerWorks shows, Ma Jolie and The Unforgetting. His breakthrough production was helming Erin Shields’s If We Were Birds, which went on to win a Governor General’s Award.

One of his biggest achievements was successfully serving as acting artistic director at Soulpepper during its most tumultuous period, after the Albert Schultz scandal.

“It was very intense, and I didn’t know what outcome there would be,” he says about that time, “but I did know that in terms of the process of navigating the situations and circumstances, that I could work in a way that would be non-reactive that I thought would be very useful.

“I felt that there was definitely a tipping point of people who wanted the organization to survive and to exist,” he continues. “My dream was to have it exist and to continue because there was a lot that I valued there that I wanted to make sure still existed. And there’s many people I love there, and many people who I knew historically who weren’t there anymore, who I loved. My hope was that it could be there for them and for new voices. That was what kept me going.

“I’m lucky to have good conversations with Emma [Stenning, Soulpepper’s executive director] and Weyni [Mengesha, artistic director] and other people on the team there, and a lot of my close colleagues are still there right now and it’s nice to have a break right now just physically for me. I’m relieved to have Emma and Weyni leading the organization right now.”

Dilworth hopes to keep on directing other works eventually. His production of Hennig’s Mother’s Daughter opens at Stratford in June. But he’s excited to “hit the ground running” at Necessary Angel.

“I feel there’s a unique opportunity right now,” he says. “I want to build relationships and start conversations at the company. I want to welcome the audience to the table, and not put any limitations on who that audience member might be.”


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