April 8, 2021 update on live performances and events at the NAC.

NAC English Theatre Delivers an Adventurous Season of World Class Theatre

News Release

NAC English Theatre Delivers an Adventurous Season of World Class Theatre

March 16, 2019 – OTTAWA (Canada) – For 2019-2020, NAC English Theatre Artistic Director Jillian Keiley has programmed a season that celebrates the ingenuity, imagination and insight it takes to make sense of Canada's place in a rapidly evolving world. From the provocative to the fantastical, the extraordinary artists in this season offer a veritable feast of world class theatre. 

“In the past few years there has been a seismic shift in the way Canadians see our world and the way our theatre makers imagine the stories and perspectives within it,” said Ms Keiley. “The debates happening around Canadian dinner tables are being reflected on Canadian stages, illuminated by intelligence, mischief and wit.”

The Theatre series offers a wide variety of programming as we open with Marie Clements’ tender and provocative The Unnatural and Accidental Women, exploring the continuing crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls across Canada. This is followed by the return of Ottawa’s own Hannah Moscovitch, with 2b Theatre’s hit klezmer music-theatre hyrbid Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story. The new year opens with an adventure for all ages, as the classic The Neverending Story arrives on the stage, directed by Jillian Keiley and produced in association with the Stratford Festival, followed by Michael Frayn’s award-winning Copenhagen, a fictional account of heated words and profound ideas exchanged between two physicists during World War II. The series closes with Erin Shields’ critically acclaimed take on Paradise Lost, inspired by John Milton’s epic poem of the cosmic battle between good and evil.

The Studio series presents three distinct performances, beginning with Jeff Ho’s poised and heartfelt trace, in which he follows his own linage from three generations of fierce Chinese mothers to himself. We are then invited to Indo-Caribbean-Hindu-Canadian artist Jivesh Parasram challenge to concept of cultural identity in Take d Milk, Nah?. The series finishes with an astonishing theatrical social experiment, as four strangers from opposing backgrounds confront their differences in Porte Parole’s The Assembly - Montreal.

The 2019-2020 English Theatre season is an invitation for audiences to experience an adventurous season of world class theatre, viewed through a uniquely Canadian lens.


Ms. Keiley continues to be one of the busiest artists in Canadian theatre, recently directing a special production of Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland’s Between Breaths Orchestral in St. John’s, which featured the original cast and band backed by the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra. She is currently in rehearsals at the Stratford Festival for The Neverending Story, opening this spring, before returning to Between Breaths, as the show prepares for its presentation in the NAC’s Azrieli Studio this May. She recently extended her term as Artistic Director for NAC English Theatre until 2022.

Subscribers can renew their Fixed Series subscriptions as of March 16th and their Create Your Own subscriptions as of April 24th.  New subscriptions can be purchased as of May 24th. Single tickets for the majority of programming will go on sale June 20th.

For additional information, visit the NAC website at nac-cna.ca/en/englishtheatre/2019-2020.


The National Arts Centre collaborates with artists and arts organizations across Canada to help create a national stage for the performing arts, and acts as a catalyst for performance, creation and learning across the country. Founded on June 2, 1969, the National Arts Centre is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019 with an array of special programming and activities throughout the year.  A home for Canada’s most creative artists, the NAC strives to be artistically adventurous in each of its programming streams – the NAC Orchestra, English Theatre, French Theatre, Dance and NAC Presents. NAC Indigenous Theatre will begin its first season of programming in the fall of 2019. The NAC’s National Creation Fund invests up to $3 million of privately raised funds every year in 15 to 20 ambitious new works by Canadian artists and arts organizations. The NAC building has recently undergone two extensive renewal projects, generously funded by the Government of Canada, that have re-oriented the NAC to the city; allowed the NAC to become more welcoming and accessible; and returned its performance halls and production facilities to contemporary standards. The NAC is at the forefront of youth and educational activities, offering artist training, programs for children and youth, and resources for teachers in communities across Canada. The NAC is also a pioneer in new media, showcasing the performing arts across the country through the Kipnes Lantern, the largest transparent LED installation in North America; using technology to teach students and young artists around the globe; creating top-rated podcasts; and providing a wide range of NAC Orchestra concerts on demand. The NAC is the only bilingual, multidisciplinary performing arts centre in Canada, and one of the largest in the world.

NAC English Theatre and The National Arts Centre Foundation extend a warm thank you to Dr. Kanta Marwah for establishing the Dr. Kanta Marwah Endowment for English Theatre. Special thanks to the members of the NAC Foundation Donors’ Circle and Corporate Circle who generously support English Theatre at the National Arts Centre and the National Youth and Education Trust. The Official Hotel Partner of NAC English Theatre, the Embassy Hotel and Suites, Sun Life Financial, presenting partner of the NAC’s Share the Spirit program and Via Rail, Official Rail Partner. A thank you also to the Government of Canada for its support.



Sean Fitzpatrick
Communications Officer, English Theatre
National Arts Centre
613 947 7000 x389 (toll free 866 850 2787 x389)



The Unnatural and Accidental Women
By Marie Clements    
Directed by Muriel Miguel
An NAC English Theatre/NAC Indigenous Theatre Co-production
September 11 – 21, 2019 Babs Asper Theatre

Award-winning Métis-Dene playwright Marie Clements’ tender and provocative The Unnatural and Accidental Women courageously demands that we never forget the continuing crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls across Canada. In this remarkable play, the spirits of ten women bear witness to each other’s lives and deaths as they convene to support Rebecca’s search for answers about her own mother, who went for a walk and never returned.

Using humour and deeply rooted ancestral knowledge to tell their stories, The Unnatural and Accidental Women fearlessly walks Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, pushing us ever closer to truth and remembering.

Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story 

By Hannah Moscovitch with songs by Ben Caplan and Christian Barry
Directed by Christian Barry
A 2b theatre company (Halifax, NS) Production
October 16 – 27, 2019 Babs Asper Theatre

Part high-energy musical and part darkly funny folktale, Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story stars genre-bending sensation Ben Caplan, one of Canada’s most riveting and compelling performers. Written by Ottawa’s own Hannah Moscovitch, this klezmer music-theatre hybrid is inspired by the true story of two Jewish Romanian refugees who immigrated to Canada in 1908.

Shifting seamlessly between heartbreak and joy, Old Stock is about losing everything and finding the courage to make a new start.



Written, composed and performed by Jeff Ho
Directed by Nina Lee Aquino
Produced by Factory Theatre (Toronto)
November 12 – 23, 2019 Azrieli Studio

This poised, witty and heartfelt piece by Jeff Ho brings to life a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother – each of whom made difficult and life-altering decisions to protect their families, moving from China to Hong Kong to downtown Toronto.

With gambling debts, unfaithful husbands, rebellious teenagers and several tables of gossiping Majohng players, trace draws a line from occupied China to present-day Toronto, revealing universal truths about hardship and hope along the way.


Take d Milk, Nah?

Written & Performed by Jivesh Parasram
Co-Created by Jivesh Parasram, Tom Arthur Davis, & Graham Isador
Directed by Tom Arthur Davis
A Pandemic Theatre (Toronto) / Rumble Theatre (Vancouver) Touring Co-production
Original production by Pandemic Theatre and b current performing arts with the support of Theatre Passe Muraille
January 14 – 25, 2020 Azrieli Studio

From delivering a calf in Trinidad to navigating the turbulent waters of the Maritime-Canadian education system in a post 9/11 world, Indo-Caribbean-Hindu-Canadian Jivesh Parasram offers the Hin-dos and Hin-don’ts for those living in the margins and the mainstream, with telling observations about trying to find your place in the world.

Take d Milk, Nah? is a highly-hyphenated story about the search for identity - and the inevitable hazards this entails...and cows. Parasram mixes self-deprecating humour with gut-punching truth to ask, who benefits by the constructs of cultural identity.

Hold on to your chakras – your mind is about to be blown.

The Neverending Story
Based upon the novel by Michael Ende
Adapted by David S. Craig
Directed by Jillian Keiley
An NAC English Theatre Production in association with the Stratford Festival
January 29 – February 15, 2020 Babs Asper Theatre

Embark on the quest of a lifetime

Hiding in an attic to avoid school bullies, a strangely magical book falls into the hands of ten-year-old Bastian: the tale of a hero’s quest to save the world of Fantastica from the encroaching emptiness called the Nothing. But is Bastian just a reader of this extraordinary story – or a vital part of it?

Filled with spectacle and wondrous other-worldly creatures, this beautiful coming-of-age tale of the trials of childhood and the triumph of imagination will delight and inspire the whole family.

The Assembly - Montreal
By Alex Ivanovici, Annabel Soutar and Brett Watson
Directed by Chris Abraham
A Porte Parole (Montreal) Production
February 25 – March 7, 2020 Azrieli Studio

In this astonishing theatrical social experiment, playwrights Alex Ivanovici, Annabel Soutar and Brett Watson dare you to look away from the tribalism and polarization that threaten the civility of public discourse today.

 Four strangers are brought together, each with opposing political, social, cultural and religious views, to hash out their differences. Discussing issues like freedom of speech and immigration, they must also consider the quality of their conversation, transcending their ideological differences by listening not just to reply, but also to hear.

This unnervingly entertaining production reminds us that the survival of our democracy we profess to cherish might just require one awkward, conflict-soaked meal at a time.


By Michael Frayn
An NAC English Theatre Production
March 25 – April 5, 2020 Babs Asper Theatre
Copenhagen is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.

“But why?”

So begins Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen, the enigmatic thriller that details the unravelling bond between Nobel laureates Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg – once great friends who had revolutionized atomic physics in the 1920s. Years later, the world has changed, and the two find themselves on opposite sides of a catastrophic world war.

Copenhagen asks the purpose of Heisenberg’s clandestine trip to see Niels and Margrethe Bohr in 1941. Was it to rekindle their broken friendship or were Heisenberg’s motives more sinister? This riveting play questions what is true and what is certain, while revealing why things must be the way they are.

Paradise Lost
By Erin Shields
Directed by Sarah Garton Stanley
An NAC English Theatre Production
April 22 – May 3, 2020 Babs Asper Theatre

Paradise Lost was originally commissioned and received its world premiere at the Stratford Festival, Ontario, Canada on August 17, 2018 in the Studio Theatre.  Antoni Cimolino, Artistic Director and Anita Gaffney, Executive Director.

Heaven and Hell are turned upside down in this retelling of John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost by Governor General Award-winning playwright Erin Shields.

Satan and her army of dark angels have been expelled from Heaven and Satan is not happy. Learning that God has created a delicate new creature called ‘human,’ she vows her revenge and escapes from Hell in order to undo all the Almighty has wrought, shrewdly navigating the sticky quagmire of free will. Never has the boss of the underworld been more ambitious or entertaining – or the line between good and evil been so unclear – as in this “funny, shocking, and thought-provoking” offering hailed by The Globe and Mail as one of the best new plays of 2018.