The Board of Directors of the Blyth Centre for the Arts has announced the appointment of Marion de Vries as the next Artistic Director of the Blyth Festival. "Making the choice of one person from a short list of people with superb skills and experience was an excruciatingly difficult task, so now, with this decision happily behind us, the Blyth Festival's Board of Directors is looking forward to the exciting years that lie ahead, with Marion as our Artistic Director," says Wendy Hoernig, Board President.
Marion de Vries is delighted to return to Blyth. "Blyth Festival is celebrated locally, across Canada and around the world for the original Canadian plays created and produced here over the past 38 summers - plays that are rooted in rural and farm life and inspired by stories from this community. As a farm girl myself, Blyth plays speak to my heart, bringing me here for over 20 years as an artist and loyal audience member. I am deeply honoured to be entrusted with taking over the reins as Artistic Director from my heroes Peter Smith, Eric Coates, Anne Chislett, Katherine Kaszas and Janet Amos - all of whom I thank and applaud. I am thrilled to work with the Board, Staff, Volunteers, Artists and the Community to lead Blyth Festival into its 40th Season and beyond."
Marion de Vries is a director, playwright, dramaturge and producer. She is a former Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre, and of Native Earth Performing Arts (interim). Marion has directed award-winning and acclaimed world premieres and productions of plays and musicals at Theatre Passe Muraille, Blyth Festival, Festival Players of Prince Edward County, SummerWorks Festival, Toronto Fringe, Centre for Indigenous Theatre and Factory Theatre. Some of her favourite shows include the DORA-nominated plays The Yoko Ono Project by Jean Yoon and Little Dragon by Keira Loughran (TPM), Andrew Moodie's Wilbur County Blues (Blyth), Maynard Collin's Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave and the new musical Ship of Fire which she co-wrote (Festival Players). Her own plays have been enjoyed by audiences in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, London, Winnipeg, and Thunder Bay, including Jumping Mouse (DORA Award nomination, co-written with Columpa C. Bobb), idiot (SummerWorks Contra Guy Award), mercedes (NNNN - Now Magazine), and big face (Chalmers Canadian Play Award finalist). Marion has been Playwright in Residence with Nightwood Theatre and Blyth Festival through the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council, and a member of playwright units at Tarragon Theatre, Canadian Stage and Banff Playwrights Colony. She is currently commissioned by Blyth Festival for her musical Kitchen Radio. Marion is a recipient of the OAC Chalmers Arts Fellowship and the Harold Award. She is a member of Playwrights Guild of Canada, and holds a BFA Theatre from York University and a BES Honours Geography from University of Waterloo.
Marion will join the company in August to work with Interim Artistic Director Peter Smith, before taking the helm in September. "Blyth is the place that calls you back and it is so excellent that Marion has heard the call and is going to be the artistic director of this very fine Canadian Theatre Company. I'm looking forward to working alongside her in August and even more excited to witness the magic she will perform in the years to come."
The Blyth Festival is a summer repertory company with a specific interest in new Canadian work that reflects life in rural communities. The company operates in Blyth Memorial Hall, a 450-seat heritage building in the village of Blyth, Ontario, population 1000. The festival's commitment to grassroots work is shared by a core audience that lives within an hour's drive of the village.