Magnetic North Theatre Festival is Canada’s only national theatre festival. We showcase Canadian theatre performances which spark conversation, demonstrate diversity, and make us think.

What We Do

Magnetic North Theatre Festival is unique among Canadian theatre festivals because of its traveling nature. We make our home base in Ottawa and host the festival in the nation’s capital every other year, which places us in a different Canadian community in the alternating years. This one-of-a-kind mandate allows us to bring performances to different communities and expose different stories to various people from across the nation.

Our annual festival features a wide range of programming, including Magnetic Encounters. Magnetic Encounters are events allowing audiences to connect and interact with artists outside the theatre. From yoga to panels to backstage tours, Magnetic Encounters provide a different perspective and are often offered free of charge!

In addition to interaction with artists, we are proud to provide a forum for those within Canada’s theatre industry to explore issues and support the growth of touring and presenting networks across the country. Our Industry Series helps launch touring Canadian theatre nationally and globally. This series provides economic opportunities for Canadian theatre professionals who promote their wide range of talents.

Been There


Our first festival was in Ottawa during 2003 and since then Magnetic North Theatre Festival
has traveled on even number years. So far, we’ve been to:

  • Edmonton (2004)
  • St. Johns (2006)
  • Vancouver (2008)
  • Kitchener-Waterloo (2010)
  • Calgary (2012)
  • Halifax (2014)
  • Whitehorse (2016)

Where We Started

In 2001, the festival was championed by a passionate group of theatre professionals from across the country – people who believed an annual theatre festival showcasing Canadian productions would help foster audiences for emerging and contemporary theatre companies in Canada. This group included former Artistic Director of English Theatre at the National Arts Centre Marti Maraden, Taylor Raths, Raymond Chandler, Lucy White, Donna Spencer, Jamie Grant, Katherine Kaszas, Victoria Steele, and Allan McInnis.

No country is a great country if it doesn’t also nourish its soul. It is by its soul that it is truly known in the world and endures in the memory of mankind. Those of us writing to you are the volunteers who comprise the advisory board of Magnetic North Theatre Festival. This dynamic celebration of Canadian theatre is now in its fourth year of life […]. We hope that you will nurture Canada body and soul, and take pride in the diversity and creative brilliance of its people.’
Marti Maraden, in a letter written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper

What We’re Doing

Since 2003, the staff and supporters of Magnetic North Theatre Festival have worked to strengthen communities by providing an honest partnership by engaging in conversation. In building relationships, Magnetic North demonstrates how next-generation Canadian theatre talents are moving forward with diverse, accessible, and adaptable performances suitable for all Canadians. To achieve these objectives, we travel the festival to a new community every second year to allow all Canadians to experience the performances being created across our diverse country.

We invite you to join us at this year’s festival. See a show, stop by an event, attend a fundraiser, volunteer, or make a donation so we can continue to share Canadian theatre talent across the country.

Artistic Directors

Mary Vingoe – Founding Artistic Director, 2002-2007
Barb Howatt – Founding Managing Director, 2002-2007
Ken Cameron – Artistic Director, 2007-2010
Ann Connors – Manging Director, 2007-2012
Ann Connors – Executive Director, 2011-2012
Brenda Leadlay – Artistic Executive Director, 2012-2016
Brendan Healy – Artistic Director, 2016 – present
Jennifer Fornelli – Managing Director, 2013 – present