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Soulpepper was founded in 1998 by twelve Toronto artists who dreamed of a company that would produce lesser known theatrical classics. Soulpepper has since become an important part of Toronto's theatre scene. It often presents Canadian interpretations of works by such noted playwrights as Harold Pinter, Thornton Wilder, Samuel Beckett, Tom Stoppard and Anton Chekhov.
László Marton, artistic director of the Vígszínház in Budapest, Hungary and one of the most important contemporary theatre directors, has had numerous productions over the years at Soulpepper: Molnár's The Play's the Thing (1999, 2003), Chekhov's Platonov (1999, 2000), Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (2001, 2002), Feydeau's A Flea in Her Ear (2001), and Ibsen's The Wild Duck (2005).
Soulpepper's founding members are Martha Burns, Susan Coyne, Ted Dykstra, Michael Hanrahan, Stuart Hughes, Diana Leblanc, Diego Matamoros, Nancy Palk, Albert Schultz, Robyn Stevan, William Webster, Joseph Ziegler
In 2005, the Soulpepper Theatre Company moved into its permanent building, the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. The joint project with the George Brown College theatre school was designed by local firm KPMB Architects and is located in Toronto's historic Distillery District.
The theatre 2016 spring-summer schedule was announced in November 2015, including the first three parts of Suzan-Lori Parks' Father Comes Home from the Wars American Civil War saga, as well as debut works by five new directors. Schultz has underscored the 2016 schedule as a key part in the theatre's evolution from a classics-based company to one committed to gender equality and cultural diversity. From June to August, Soulpepper will also be filming a television series based on Ins Choi's Kim's Convenience, which is set to premiere on CBC-TV in the winter of 2016.
In January 2018, Albert Schultz was publicly accused of sexual misconduct by four professional actresses who worked with him at Soulpepper. The women involved are Kristin Booth, Diana Bentley, Hannah Miller and Patricia Fagan. Lawsuits on their behalf were filed against both Schultz and Soulpepper. Schultz resigned his position as artistic director on January 4, 2018, saying: "While I will continue to vigorously defend myself against the allegations that are being made, I have made this decision in the interest of the future of the company into which I poured the last 20 years of my life, and in the interest of the aspirations of the artists and administrators of the company."
Soulpepper believes strongly that the connection between young people and the arts is best fostered through a direct relationship with the artists on our stages. At the centre of all of Soulpepper's education initiatives is the notion of mentorship: a direct and personal relationship between young people and our artists. For this reason, all education programs at Soulpepper are led by the artists of Soulpepper, actors/directors who are leading practitioners of their craft in Canada. Each participant of these programs will leave our home, the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, with many meaningful and ongoing relationships with the artists of Soulpepper.
School Partnerships - Every year, Soulpepper commits to providing collaborative arts programs to a selection of schools in need of arts programming. Since 2001, Soulpepper has had the opportunity to work with a variety of schools including Queen Victoria Public School, Dundas Public School, Central Technical School, Earl Haig Secondary School and Market Lane Public School.
In Schools - Soulpepper In The Schools Program provides a bold model for arts education partnerships between public schools and the theatre. The goals of the Soulpepper program are: to encourage students to make connections between music, literature, performing arts and their own lives; to enrich their vocabulary and extend their means of expression; to become familiar with Shakespeare's stories and language; to experience, learn, and practice drama techniques.
ESL - Soulpepper believes that exploring classical text helps to release voice, encourages an interest in language and helps youth find power in speaking. To date Soulpepper has worked with English as a Second Language students in two Toronto high schools to develop and facilitate programs that introduce young people to classical text in a playful way.
Soulpepper strives to play a significant role in the development of future generations of theatre artists through the Soulpepper Academy. This full-time, paid training program was launched in 2006. Selected through an exhaustive nationwide search, 8 artists undertake a one year residency to further develop their skills under the guidance of leading theatre practitioners, further their careers through involvement in Soulpepper productions, teach in the classrooms of the local community, mentor youth and develop a collective creation.
The Soulpepper Academy program is divided into two phases. The first is strongly focused on training and pedagogy, while the second shifts to performance/production with ongoing training.
After a nationwide search, the 2011/12 Soulpepper Academy is Akosua Amo-Adem, Qasim Khan, Sarah Koehn, Courtney Lancaster, Justin Many Fingers, Hannah Miller, Paolo Santalucia, and Daniel Williston.
- Parfumerie: Outstanding Production (2010)
- Parfumerie; Outstanding Direction of a Play/Musical, Morris Panych (2010)
- Parfumerie; Outstanding Original Set Design, Ken MacDonald (2010)
- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Principal Role, Diego Matamoros (2010)
- A Raisin in the Sun; Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role, Alison Sealy-Smith (2009)
- Top Girls: Outstanding Direction of a Play, Alisa Palmer (2008)
- The Time of Your Life: Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role, Joseph Ziegler (2008)
- The Time of Your Life: Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role, Stuart Hughes (2008)
- Leaving Home: Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role, Jane Spidell (2007)
- Our Town: Outstanding Production of a Play (2006)
- Translations: Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role, Michael Simpson (2005)
- No Man's Land: Outstanding Performance, William Hutt (2003)
- The Bald Soprano/The Lesson: Outstanding Direction of a Play, Jim Warren (2001)
- Platonov: Best Production; Outstanding Performance, Diego Matamoros (2000)
- Platonov: Outstanding Direction of a Play, László Marton (1999)
- Endgame: Best Production; Outstanding Sound Design, Richard Feren (1999)
- 2015 - Premier's Awards for Excellence in the Arts, Arts Organization Award
- 2008 - DareArts Foundation Cultural Award to Albert Schultz, in recognition of his outstanding work in empowering and educating at-risk youth
- 2006 - Toronto Arts Council Foundation William Kilbourn Award to Albert Schultz, for contribution to the cultural life of the city
- 2006 - City of Toronto Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award to Albert Schultz, recognizing excellence and professionalism in the performing arts
- 2005 - City of Toronto Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award to Martha Burns
- 2004 - Leonardo da Vinci Award for creativity & innovation in the arts, to Albert Schultz
- 2003 - Salute to the City Award, for outstanding contribution to the cultural life of Toronto, to Albert Schultz
- 2002 - Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, for outstanding contributions to the community, to Albert Schultz
- 2002 - Arts and Letters Club Award to Susan Coyne & Albert Schultz, recognizing worthy members of the artistic community
- 2001 - Joan Chalmers National Award for Artistic Direction, to Albert Schultz
- 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 - Lieutenant Governor's Awards for the Arts, recognizing achievement in fundraising
- 1999 - Mayor Mel and Marilyn's Youth Award, for mentoring emerging artists or youth
- Nestruck, J. Kelly (3 November 2015). "Toronto's Soulpepper Theatre Company announces 2016 lineup". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
- "Actresses accusing Albert Schultz of sexual misconduct had to 'suffer in silence,' lawyer says". cbc.ca. January 4, 2018. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
- "Soulpepper artistic director Albert Schultz resigns amid sexual harassment allegations". cbc.ca. January 4, 2018. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
- "Winners Announced for Premier's Awards for Excellence in the Arts". News release. Queen's Printer for Ontario. 12 October 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015.