Street closures around the NAC during Ottawa Race Weekend

New Artistic Director for Zones Théâtrales

The National Arts Centre (NAC) today announced the appointment of Gilles Poulin‑Denis as artistic director of Zones Théâtrales, a biennial showcase of professional theatre from Francophone communities across Canada and the Quebec Regions. The next edition of Zones Théâtrales will be held September 11–16 in various locations in Ottawa–Gatineau.

Originally from Saskatchewan, Gilles Poulin‑Denis is a writer, translator, director and actor. His first play, Rearview, premiered in 2009 by La Troupe du Jour (Saskatoon), was a popular and critical favourite at Zones Théâtrales of that year.

“Gilles Poulin‑Denis is very well positioned to build on the ongoing success of Zones Théâtrales,” said Peter Herrndorf, President and CEO of the National Arts Centre, which produces the event. “Several of his outstanding works were featured in past editions and went on to tour Canada and abroad. In fact two of his most recent works –Dehors and Straight Jacket Winter –are part of the current NAC French Theatre season. We are delighted to welcome Gilles as Artistic Director and look forward to what comes next.” 

“I am honoured to be appointed artistic director of Zones Théâtrales,” said Gilles Poulin‑Denis. “This biennial event has been extremely important to my artistic development: it has allowed me to present my work, meet artists and presenters, and enrich my theatrical practice. This appointment is an opportunity for me to tackle new challenges and strengthen my involvement in the theatre community. My hope is that in the coming years, Zones Théâtrales will continue to provide a meeting point and showcase for theatre artists and companies working outside large Franco­phone urban centres.”

Mr. Poulin‑Denis succeeds René Cormier, who will step down on March 31 following his appointment to the Senate of Canada. As artistic director of Zones Théâtrales since 2010, Mr. Cormier imprinted the last three editions with his infectious energy and his deep respect for the artists he invited to this biennial rendezvous.

The Zones Théâtrales biennial is a festive and unifying event that provides a platform for new work by theatre artists and companies from Francophone communities across Canada and the Quebec Regions. With a varied program of performances, readings and celebrations, it generates national and international interest and attracts an enthusiastic attendance of theatre companies, emerging and established artists, theatre professionals (especially presenters), critics, and members of the theatre-going public.

The most recent edition, Zones Théâtrales 2015, was an unqualified success. A few highlights:

  • 300 artists, artisans, presenters and cultural administrators from across the Canadian Francophonie and Quebec, from Whitehorse to Miramichi by way of Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Thunder Bay, Ottawa, Rouyn-Noranda and Montreal. Also present were several programmers and international partners from Morocco and the Wallonia–Brussels Federation.
  • 9 contemporary plays, including 6 new works.
  • 20 performances, 6 of which sold out.
  • More than one‑third of the programming suitable for young audiences.
  • 7 works in development given staged readings or workshops.
  • 54 presenters, including 21 attending the event for the first time.
  • 3,722 spectators, 21% over the event objective.
  • 6 venues in Ottawa–Gatineau, including a circus tent set up outside the Canadian Museum of History.


Actor, playwright, translator and director, Gilles Poulin‑Denis is a graduate of the acting program at UQAM’s École supérieure de théâtre. Originally from Saskatchewan, he is currently based in Vancouver, where he is the artistic director and cofounder of Productions 2PAR4. His first play, Rearview, premiered in 2009 by La Troupe du Jour (Saskatoon), was a hit at Zones Théâtrales 2009 and on tour. It was published by Dramaturges Éditeurs, won the 2010 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, and was staged in English and French across Canada and in Belgium. His second play, Statu quo, was workshopped at Zones Théâtrales 2011 and presented by NAC French Theatre as part of its series for young audiences, and toured across Canada. As NAC French Theatre’s playwright in residence from 2008 to 2011, under the artistic directorship of Wajdi Mouawad, Gilles developed his third play, Dehors, which was given staged readings at, among other events, the Festival du Jamais Lu (Montreal), the Carrefour international de Québec, Dramaturgie en Dialogue and most recently during Zones Théâtrales 2015 as well as his fourth play, Straight Jacket Winter. The latter two plays were included in NAC French Theatre’s 2016-17 season. Gilles participated in the development of Après la peur, coproduced by the Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui (Montreal) and (e)Utopia3 (Brussels). He is a founding member of the theatre collective Les petites cellules chaudes, with which he cocreatedt the iShow, presented at Zones 2013. Currently, he is one of nine playwrights with Jean Marc Dalpé, Alexis Martin and Yvette Nolan developing Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show, an NAC French Theatre coproduction about the Métis struggle in Western Canada, which will be presented at the NAC in October 2017. He is also working on a project called Ce qu’on attend de moi as part of a creative residency at Montreal’s Théâtre Aux Écuries.



Carl Martin
Senior Advisor, Communications
National Arts Centre
613-947-7000 x560           

Annick Huard
Associate Producer
Zones Théâtrales
613-947-7000 x358

Join our email list for the latest updates!