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York University MFA Directors Program
In collaboration with Canadian Stage

The York University MFA in Theatre – Stage Direction in Collaboration with Canadian Stage brings together one of Canada’s pre-eminent theatre schools, with vibrant MA/PHD studies and an MFA in Design, and one of the country’s leading not for profit contemporary theatre companies, to offer highly specialized, advanced training in large-scale theatre directing in a two-year program.
Students are deeply immersed in the professional world of theatre as they integrate their studio work at York with involvement in artistic projects at Canadian Stage. The program is customized for each student based on their experience, artistic orientation and goals. Key elements of this enriched academic experience include the opportunity to direct a Canadian Stage production and an internship with a major national or international theatre. Artistic and General Director Matthew Jocelyn and Lead Mentor Peter Hinton serve to guide students in the MFA program, working closely with graduate faculty in York’s Department of Theatre.

2015-2016 Candidates

Tanja Jacobs

Tanja Jacobs is an award winning actress, director, creator and teacher. She has had an extensive career, working at theatres across Canada with many of this country’s foremost artists. Recent companies include:  Crow’s Theatre; Porte Parole; Necessary Angel; The National Arts Centre; Theatre Columbus; Soulpepper; Manitoba Theatre Centre; Mirvish Productions; Caravan Farm Theatre; Stratford Festival; Tarragon Theatre; Citadel Theatre; Neptune Theatre; Canadian Stage. For her work as an actress in Toronto, Tanja has received eleven Dora nominations and three awards. Tanja has directed new plays for the Toronto Fringe: Michael Healey's Yodellers ; and Bride of Sasquatch; also for Summerworks: Sean Dixon's France, or The Niqab; The Painting (also by Sean Dixon); Johann's Cabinet of Wonders; The Eleventh David. She has been a guest teacher, mentor and director at the National Theatre School, the University of Toronto, Dalhousie University, George Brown Theatre School, and Humber Theatre School. She was Artist in Residence at Crow's Theatre, where she is an associate artist. Recently, she directed Martin Crimp's version of The Seagull for the National Theatre School and also for the Fountain School of the Performing Arts at Dalhousie. As an actor, Tanja completed the national tour of Annabel Soutar's Seeds, a documentary play created by Crow's Theatre and Porte Parole, and is part of the team that created The Watershed, a new work about the politics of fresh water commissioned for the Pan Am Games made by the same companies.  With collaborator Philip McKee, Tanja created and performed Bloody Family, an ongoing adaptation of The Oresteia through a residency at the Theatre Centre.

Alistair Newton

Alistair Newton is a Toronto-based director of theatre and opera, Dora nominated playwright, and founding Artistic Director of Ecce Homo Theatre.  Alistair’s work has been seen at the SummerWorks, Rhubarb, and Next Stage Festivals as well as the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, and his recent project Of a Monstrous Child: a gaga musical closed the main stage season at Buddies in Bad Times in 2013.  In addition to his work in independent theatre, Alistair has participated in projects at several of Canada’s major artistic institutions including The National Arts Centre English Theatre (The Ark, 2006), The Canadian Opera Company (Apprentice Director, Ensemble Studio, 2009/10) and The Shaw Festival of Canada (Neil Munro Intern Directors Project, 2014) where he recently directed Three Short Plays by Samuel Beckett, marking the first time Beckett’s work has appeared at the festival.  For three seasons, Alistair functioned as Assistant Coordinator of The Young Creators’ Unit at Buddies in Bad Times, where he also completed a residency as Apprentice Artistic Director under Brendan Healy. In 2016, he will be assistant-directing Peter Hinton's production of Alice in Wonderland at the Shaw Festival. Alistair holds a BFA from The University of Victoria and is a member of the Director’s Lab of Lincoln Center Theater.  eccehomotheatre.com

Unique Artistic Mentorship

We are also delighted to look back at how this program has grown and helped to provide the tools for some of tomorrow’s greatest artistic leaders. The 2015.2016 season at Canadian Stage features two productions, in collaboration with the Theatre Department in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design at York University – both helmed by the outgoing MFA candidates. Shakespeare in High Park in July, 2015, presented Julius Caesar and The Comedy of Errors directed by recent graduates of the second intake Estelle Shook and Matjash Mrozewski, respectively. In April 2016, the season ends with the premiere of new work by Canadian playwright and recent Governor General's Award Recipient for Drama, Jordan Tannahill.  Performed as a double bill, Botticelli in the Fire and Sunday in Sodom will also be directed by Shook and Mrozewski, respectively. Directors Peter Hinton and Chris Abraham mentored the students over the two years.
The inaugural graduates of the program, Ker Wells and Ted Witzel, directed Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew for the Summer 2013 Shakespeare in High Park and also directed as part of Canadian Stage’s 2013.2014 Season The Flood Thereafter and Yukonstyle by Sarah Berthiaume, a rising star of Quebecois theatre, under the mentorship and guidance of award-winning director Kim Collier.
Lead support of Canadian Stage’s participation in York University’s Master of Fine Arts in Stage Direction is provided by BMO Financial Group.  Maintaining its commitment to the program, BMO Financial Group also generously supports the directional talents of the graduates as presenting sponsor for Shakespeare in High Park.