Grand Theatre names new Artistic Director

A photo of Rachel Peake at the Grand Theatre CREDIT: GRACIA ESPINOSA
The new Artistic Director for London’s Grand Theatre (pictured) will take up her position starting Oct. 2.

Rachel Peake is a director and playwright for theatre and opera and is now taking on the role of London Grand Theatre’s Artistic Director. Peake assumes the role starting on Oct. 2, and said she is excited to begin working and living in London.

“I like the idea of living in a town that is big enough to have a lot of the amenities and the things that you love about being in a big city but also feels small enough that you can get to know it and that the work that we do can have an impact,” said Peake.

Peake has spent the last few years working as associate Artistic Director of the Arts Club Theatre Company in Vancouver, Canada’s largest urban theatre company. In January, Peake received the Ovation Award for Best Direction for Something Rotten!

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Peake spoke highly of the theatre community in London.

“There’s a great theatre community that surrounds London,” she said. “So, I will be a part of that and work with the artists from here. It’s stimulating to bring my knowledge and experience to this new environment. It’s a beautiful theatre.” Regarding attracting a younger audience to the theatre, the new Artistic Director explained that they are studying the possibility of offering shows at more affordable prices for students, especially those who come from abroad. At the same time, they are also thinking about creative activities to motivate them to go to the theatre because, for Peake, the most crucial thing is to make it clear that everyone has a place in the Grand Theatre.

“Our youth and school-age programming will help create lifelong theatregoers. So, those who attended ELF in the last Christmas show, who went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this year, and those who are involved in the high school project or come to any of these shows will be the future attendees of our theatre,” Peake explained.

Peake already has thoughts about next season.

“I have an extensive history in new play development, so I’ll bring that experience to the COMPASS.”

The COMPASS program brings theatrical or musical works to the stage based on local stories from the London region. The Artistic Director of London’s Grand Theatre in 2016, Dennis Garnhum, oversaw this idea.

Lastly, Peake spoke to the Grand’s iconic status among Londoners.

“It is inspiring that everyone in London, regardless of their socioeconomic status, cultural history, or whatever type of community they belong to, sees the Grand Theatre as their home and feels that the doors are open and welcome here.”