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Rachel Aberle Appointed Next Artistic Director of Green Thumb Theatre

Artistic Director Patrick McDonald Passes Reins and Announces Retirement

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VANCOUVER, BC -- After a distinguished 32 year tenure, Patrick McDonald announced today that he will be stepping aside as Artistic Director of Green Thumb Theatre at the end of 2020. After several seasons working closely with McDonald, Green Thumb's Associate Artistic Director and award-winning theatre artist Rachel Aberle will assume the role effective January 1, 2021.

McDonald has led Green Thumb Theatre since 1988. The theatre organization, which was founded in 1975, tours to schools and other venues across the country and internationally. McDonald’s dedication to placing youth engagement and artistic integrity on an even plane has underpinned the organization’s mission of providing socially engaged professional live performance to young people, regardless of geographic or economic status. 

Says McDonald, “I am proud of how, as a company, we have stayed to course over the last three decades continuing to create new, engaging, and challenging work about the issues young audiences are dealing with. I am especially proud of the number of scripts we have brought forward that are now a part of the growing canon of Theatre for Young Audience scripts produced world-wide.”

As performing arts organizations across the globe face uncertainty and calls for innovative programming,  McDonald is confident he is leaving the theatre in good hands, stating: “Rachel Aberle, in collaboration with General Manager Breanne Harmon and our current staff will, without doubt, continue this legacy and meet the current challenges head-on. They are ready, and they will do well."

Aberle, who made her professional performance debut with the company, has penned two critically acclaimed plays for the organization. Her play STILL/FALLING, which explores themes of adolescent mental health, premiered in 2015 and has been performed over 180 times across North America and received a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award for Significant Artistic Achievement. THE CODE, which explores themes of consent and cyberbullying, premiered in 2018 and was recognized with a Jessie Award for Outstanding Production, the Sydney J. Risk Prize for Outstanding Original Script by an Emerging Writer, and was included on Tapeworthy’s Best of Stage 2018 – selected out of almost 200 shows worldwide. Aberle has held the position of Associate Artistic Director with Green Thumb since 2017. 

“I am humbled and honoured to be asked to serve as Green Thumb's next Artistic Director,” remarked Aberle. “I have grown up at Green Thumb, under the mentorship and guidance of Patrick McDonald. During these difficult times, I take this role on with a deep appreciation of the complex challenges the company faces. I believe that now, more than ever, young people deserve opportunities to explore the struggles they face on a daily basis. This is the work that Green Thumb has always done, and work that I am excited to continue to do.”

During his tenure, McDonald has commissioned over 50 new plays from emerging and established playwrights, and has directed more than 75 productions. McDonald has received Jessie Richardson Awards for both Outstanding Direction and for Continued Excellence in the Field of Theatre for Young Audiences. In 2009 he received the Jessie Richardson Award for Career Achievement, and in 2013 he was a recipient of the Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award. In addition to the extensive school touring program, McDonald established mainstage production partnerships with more than 20 arts organizations nationwide and internationally.

“We are humbled to have worked with Patrick and marvel at his creativity and tenacity in moving youth theatre forward,” said Cheryle Beaumont, Chair of the Board. “With a long and committed history with Green Thumb and a wealth of experience to bring to her new role, we are most pleased to welcome Rachel Aberle to the position of Artistic Director this coming January.”

Breanne Harmon, General Manager, says “Patrick’s long history at Green Thumb has seen him mentor hundreds of emerging artists, administrators and playwrights, offering endless opportunities and truly elevating theatre for young people across the country. He will be leaving Green Thumb with a strong legacy.”  

Looking to the future, Harmon adds, “Rachel is passionate, knowledgeable and a true champion of ensuring young voices are represented truthfully. I look forward to our new partnership.”

About Green Thumb Theatre:

Reaching 5 million young people since its founding in 1975, Green Thumb Theatre creates and produces plays that explore social issues relevant to the lives of children, youth, and young adults. Green Thumb tours and creates theatre that celebrates the language and stories of today’s generation to stimulate empathy, debate and critical thinking. All productions are accompanied by comprehensive study guides for students and educators in order to support further education and discussion. Green Thumb shows have toured to every school district in the company’s home province of BC, and to every province and two territories in Canada. Green Thumb has also presented works across North America, touring to Mexico and to 36 states in the U.S., as well as to Europe, Asia, and Australia. Green Thumb original productions have been subsequently staged by 200 theatre companies worldwide and translated into 11 languages.

Rachel Aberle and Patrick McDonald available for interviews

Media contact: Georgia Beaty, Education & Outreach Coordinator | outreach@greenthumb.bc.ca

Posted on

September 15, 2020