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About Us

MARCH, 2017 – It is with fondness and gratitude that we announce that in April, 2017, Simon Mallett, Founder and Artistic Director of Downstage, will be moving on from the company after 13 seasons to pursue an exceptional opportunity to be announced in the coming months.

Stepping into the role of Artistic Director will be Ellen Close, who joined Downstage in 2007 and has been Artistic Producer since 2013. Click here to read the full release.


Downstage is a Calgary-based company dedicated to producing Canadian theatre that creates meaningful conversation around social issues. Our work provokes vibrant dialogue between Calgarians both informally and through our nightly post-show discussions. With a focus on new work created by local artists, we offer artistic experiences that are entertaining, inventive, thought-provoking and highly relevant to your everyday life.

Our plays have tackled topics as diverse as queer identity & bullying, homelessness, and anxiety among youth, while the work of the resident Downstage Creation Ensemble has explored questions of ocean health (In the Wake), personal debt (Bust) and the relationship between oil & gas and agriculture in Alberta (Good Fences). Our plays have received critical acclaim and awards, including five Betty Mitchell Awards and two Calgary Critics’ Awards in recent years. We are also a Resident Company of Arts Commons, curating the Motel Theatre as an affordable venue for a range of smaller companies and emerging artists.

We’re working hard to make our shows accessible to a wide range of Calgarians - whether that’s by touring our creation work to community halls around the city and province (like the Downstage Creation Ensemble’s Good Fences), doing a free run of a play that’s livestreamed online (rihannaboi95 by Jordan Tannahill) or offering tickets at no cost through our Pay-It-Forward program.

Join us for a show and add your voice to the conversation!


My Family and Other Endangered Species by Ellen Close & Braden Griffiths, adapted from the novel Amphibian by Carla Gunn
(as part of Vertigo Theatre's Y Stage Series)
Benefit by Matthew MacKenzie

Good Fences by the Downstage Creation Ensemble (Community Tour)
rihannaboi95 by Jordan Tannahill

Good Fences by the Downstage Creation Ensemble (Community Tour Pilot)
A Bomb in the Heart by Wajdi Mouawad, translated by Linda Gaboriau
My Family and Other Endangered Species by Ellen Close & Braden Griffiths, adapted from the novel Amphibian by Carla Gunn

Uprising 2012 (part of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival)
Bashir Lazhar by Evelyne de la Chenelière, trans. by Morwyn Brebner
Sequence by Arun Lakra

In a World Created by a Drunken God by Drew Hayden Taylor
Good Fences by the Downstage Creation Ensemble
Sia by Matthew MacKenzie

Goodness by Michael Redhill
Uprising 2010
In the Wake by the Downstage Creation Ensemble
And So It Goes by George F. Walker

Enoch Arden in the Hope Shelter by Judith Thompson
Uprising 2009
Bone Cage by Catherine Banks
In the Wake by the Downstage Creation Ensemble

Palace of the End by Judith Thompson
The Piper by Colleen Murphy
Bus(t) by the Downstage Creation Ensemble

Arm's-Length Embrace by Downstage
The Dishwashers by Morris Panych
Habitat by Judith Thompson

Heaven by George F. Walker
This is for You, Anna by The Anna Project
Man Out of Joint by Sharon Pollock

A Line in the Sand by G. Verdecchia & M. Youssef
Prometheus Bound adapted by George Ryga
pppeeeaaaccceee by Darren O'Donnell

Dog from the Machine by Downstage (The Culture of Fear,
Rights & Freedumbs, Rogue Wheat & Smoking Broccoli)
Pulling the Wool by Simon Mallett


Simon Mallett - Artistic Director

Simon is the Founder & Artistic Director of Downstage, and has directed many of the company's previous productions including Bashir Lazhar, In the Wake, Good Fences, Sia, My Family and Other Endangered Species and Benefit. He has also worked with a number of other companies including Vertigo Theatre, Alberta Theatre Projects, Lunchbox Theatre, New West Theatre and Theatre Calgary, where he is the Associate Director on A Christmas Carol. Simon is the recipient of The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award, the 2014 Calgary Critics Award for Best Director and has been nominated for several Betty Mitchell Awards, including three nominations for Outstanding Direction, winning the award in 2014.

Ellen Close - Artistic Producer

Ellen is an actor, playwright and producer. Her performance credits include Pride and Prejudice (Theatre Calgary & National Arts Centre), Blood: A Scientific Romance (Sage Theatre) and Unity (1918) (ATP). She is a member of the Downstage Creation Ensemble, with whom she shares a Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding New Play for In the Wake as well as nominations for Good Fences (ATP’ s playRites) and Bus(t). For Downstage, she has also performed in Bone Cage, Arm’s Length Embraceand and My Family and Other Endangered Species, an adaptation of Carla Gunn’s novel Amphibian that Ellen co-wrote with Braden Griffiths (Best Play, Calgary Critics Awards). My Family and Other Endangered Species was recently published by Playwrights’ Canada Press.

Lara Schmitz - Artistic Associate

Lara is an actor, arts educator, and emerging director. Her performance credits include Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Alberta Theatre Projects), Twelfth Night (The Shakespeare Company), Bashir Lazhar (Downstage), Time Present (Lunchbox Theatre), and The General (Quest Theatre). She travels around Alberta as a residency artist with Quest Theatre and is a facilitator for Inside Out Theatre’s local VIA (Village Improv for Alzheimer’s) program. She directed Beard by David van Belle (Sage Theatre's IGNITE! 2015), assistant directed The Winter’s Tale (TSC), and will be assistant directing Peter Hinton on the upcoming production of All’s Well That Ends Well (TSC/OYR High Performance Rodeo).

Jessie Paynter - Production Manager

Jessie is a technical director, lighting designer, and video designer who works in both theatre and dance. She has worked in a design and/or technical capacity for companies such as the National Arts Centre (Ottawa, ON), Project X Theatre (Kamloops, BC), Imago Theatre (Montreal, QC), Rising Tide Theatre (Trinity, NFL) and Western Canada Theatre (Kamloops, BC). Jessie is a graduate of the production program at the National Theatre School of Canada.


Downstage has a highly-engaged volunteer Board of Directors who use their diverse professional backgrounds to provide oversight and strategic guidance. To learn about the application process, contact Artistic Producer Ellen Close at and download our Board Application Form.

Brenda Lang
Bissett School of Business, Mount Royal University

Heather Campbell, P.Eng.
Regional Director
Sustainable Development Technology Canada

Maureen Sheppard
Cobb's Corn Maze & Family Fun Park and ScreamFest
Joel Douglas, CA
Manager, Financial Reporting
Northern Blizzard Resources Inc.

Matthew Block
Crown Prosecutor
Salimah Kassam
United Way
Calgary and Area
Miguel Mori
Freelance Percussionist; Student
Haskayne MBA
Kate Easton
Manager, Technology and Optimization
ConocoPhillips Canada
Maryam Dashti
Business Advisor
Shell Canada

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