Mike Payette has been hired as the next artistic director of Tarragon Theatre – a choice that will initially land as a surprise in Toronto’s theatre scene when it is officially announced today.
Here’s a 36-year-old director whose career has been built mostly at English-language theatres in Montreal. One who currently runs a company for young audiences called Geordie and who has never worked at the Tarragon – or, indeed, seen more than a handful of plays on its stages.
But a closer look at Payette’s résumé reveals an artist who has a deep affinity with Tarragon’s history, and plenty to offer its future.
The lifelong Montrealer, who will become the fourth artistic director in Tarragon’s half a century of existence, describes the theatre company he’s taking over in September as “on the precipice of evolution.”
“Here’s a moment for building something new with a fresh voice, but also building on the legacy,” he said, in an exclusive preannouncement interview with The Globe and Mail.
Payette’s connection to that legacy is clear from his CV. With Tableau D’Hôte, an independent company he co-founded in 2005 while studying at Concordia University, he directed the (often overdue) English-language professional Montreal premieres of numerous “Canadian classics” created at the Tarragon under its three previous artistic directors.