Former Artistic Director, French Theatre

Brigitte Haentjens

Last updated: January 10, 2023

NAC French Theatre Artistic Director since 2012, Brigitte Haentjens studied theatre in Paris with Jacques Lecoq before moving to Ontario in 1977. She quickly emerged as a major force in the Franco-Ontarian cultural community, first in Ottawa and then in Sudbury. As artistic director of the Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario for eight years, she revitalized the company with an artistic energy that attracted attention across Canada, Quebec and France. In 1991 she moved to Montreal, where she established a reputation for her powerful, original and personal style. She was the artistic director of the Nouvelle Compagnie Théâtrale from 1991–94, and founded her own company, Sibyllines, in 1997 to deepen her artistic vision in a context of greater freedom. Selected directing credits include Heiner Muller’s Quartett (which won several Masque awards, including best production of the 1995–96 season and—as did Brigitte’s production of Louise Dupré’s Tout comme elle—the Prix de l’Association québécoise des critiques de théâtre), Combat de nègre et de chiens (Bernard-Marie Koltès), La cloche de verre (Sylvia Plath), Woyzeck (Georg Büchner) and L’opéra de quat’sous (Brecht/Weill).

Recipient of the 2017 Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for lifetime artistic achievement, the 2007 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre and the 2007 Gascon-Thomas Award, Brigitte Haentjens was named artistic director of NAC French Theatre in 2012 (the first woman to occupy the position). For this outstanding artist, acclaimed for her exceptional contribution to Franco-Ontarian theatre, the appointment represented a kind of homecoming and an acknowledgment of her highly original and compelling artistic practice. A passionate lover of literature, a director keenly interested in issues of female identity, power and sexuality, she is known for dazzlingly innovative productions marked by uncompromising rigour. They include most recently Une femme à Berlin and Molly Bloom. She is also the artistic director of the Montreal-based company Sibyllines, which she founded in 1997.

The NAC French Theatre has presented many of Haentjens’ works since her nomination as Artistic Director, including  Le 20 novembre by Lars Norén (2013) ; La nuit juste avant les forêts with Sébastien Ricard (2013); Ta douleur, a theatrical choreography with Anne Le Beau and Francis Ducharme (2013); Molly Bloom, inspired by James Joyce’s Ulysses (2014) and Shakespeare’s Richard III (2015). 

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