Meet our Artistic Director and Executive Director
We have so much to celebrate together as we launch our 50th season here at Theatre Aquarius. We welcome old friends back to our stage – with your favourite playwrights, acclaimed actors, and beloved characters from our first fifty years and proudly showcase new work by the country’s most exciting talents who will lead us into the next fifty.
Join us as we look forward to a season of laughter, recognition, shared dreams and the journey home… with a few very exciting announcements along the way!MARY FRANCIS MOORE, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR | KELLY STRAUGHAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
An award-winning director, actor, playwright and dramaturg, Mary Francis Moore was appointed Artist Director of Theatre Aquarius in July 2021. She has brought her distinctive artistic vision to theatres across Canada and the international stage, most recently as Associate Artistic Director at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown for five years and as the Artistic Curator of Junior International Children’s Festival at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto for four years.
Well-known for championing and developing new works, Mary Francis has created an exciting array of innovative, imaginative & commercially successful programming. She has dramaturged &directed numerous plays that have toured across Canada, the United States & the UK. She has also developed several new musicals with established recording artists Johnny Reid, Amy Sky & Tom Wilson.
Inclusion lies at the root of Mary Francis’ work. As a leader in both artistic & operational contexts, she empowers everyone around her with her passion for cultivating healthy, safe & respectful creative environments.
Her experience and success as a playwright & performer have greatly strengthened her artistic practices. With her fellow collaborators, Annabel Fitzsimmons and Alison Lawrence, Mary Francis co-wrote: the smash-hit play Bittergirl, produced across Canada (including at Theatre Aquarius), in London, England, & showcased in NYC; the book Bittergirl: Getting Over Getting Dumped (published by Penguin Canada, Plume US & Distribudora Brazil); and Bittergirl: The Musical, produced by The Vancouver Arts Club, The Globe, The Citadel Theatre, The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre & The Charlottetown Festival & Drayton Entertainment.
As Artistic Producer of The Dreamcatcher Project, a Canada150 Signature Project that travelled to every province & territory, Mary Francis collaborated with Mi’kmaq visual artist Nick Huard & Mohawk carver Watio Splicer. In addition to providing artistic direction, she led cross-country workshops &community outreach throughout the tour. She also wrote the original verbatim musical The Dreamcatchers, which was performed to sold-out audiences across Canada in such venues as The Canadian Museum of Human Rights, The Canadian Museum of History and culminated in a performance for Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Mary Francis has a long history of artistic mentorship & a deep love of teaching. With the support of the Ontario Arts Council, she co-created and facilitated the Voices of Young Women project which ran for over a decade in Ontario schools. Holding a BFA degree (specialization Drama in Education) from Concordia University, she has taught at elementary schools, universities, theatres, detention centres, and community outreach initiatives for over 25 years.
As Artistic Director, she has brought her distinctive artistic vision to Aquarius with the recently announced National Centre for The Development of New Musicals with Advisory Co-Chairs Michael Rubinoff and Lily Ling.
Mary Francis currently sits on several boards and comittees and has been a guest speaker at the National Conference on the Welfare of the Child.
Kelly Straughan has over 15 years of experience in leadership roles in the arts and culture sector. She is the former Executive Artistic Director at Workman Arts (WA) – the first and largest multidisciplinary arts and mental health organization in Canada. During her time at Workman Arts Kelly facilitated the launch of Workman Arts’ brand new state-of-the-art facilities in the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She also spearheaded the $1 million dollar Slaight Family mental health initiative that grew WA’s Art Training Programs across the Greater Toronto Area.
Prior to her time at Workman Arts Kelly was the Executive Director of the Toronto Fringe Festival. During her time at the Fringe she expanded programming to include the Theatre Entrepreneur Network and Training Program, the Teen Fringe Program and the Fringe Kids Club. She also led the charge towards two record breaking festivals back-to-back. Kelly was also the President of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals.
Kelly previously held the position of Associate Artistic Director at Nightwood Theatre and was the Assistant Artistic Director at Tarragon Theatre for three seasons. Kelly is the currently Board President of the Toronto Alliance of the Performing Arts (TAPA).