Following a five-month search, we’re thrilled to announce the appointment of theatre artist, curator, and cultural manager ted witzel as Buddies’ sixth artistic director. ted is currently on-boarding with staff, and will step officially into the role on October 10, 2023. Please join us in welcoming him!
“Buddies made me the artist I am today, and I think that’s true for a lot of queer artists in this city and beyond,” says ted. “Buddies is built on the principles of queer liberation—it’s a space for chasing freedom, as communities, and as artists. I love that this theatre’s identity has always been a collective product of all the people who gather and create here. This is a place for encountering radical queer creativity and all its transgressive sexy possibilities. Our job is to enable artists exploring the edges of queer art: now and into the future.”
With over 15 years of experience as a director and arts leader, ted steps into this role with an impressive background in arts management, artistic curation, and new work development. He also has a long history with Buddies as an artist and director – you might recognize his work from mainstage productions such as the Dora-nominated LULU v.7 // aspects of a femme fatale (2017/18), The Scavenger’s Daughter (2018/19), and most recently The Afterparty as part of Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce presented in partnership with TO Live as part of Buddies’ 2020/21 hybrid season.
Most recently ted was a guest curator for the 2023 SummerWorks Festival, and last year completed a four-year tenure as Artistic Associate and Laboratory Director at the Stratford Festival, where he oversaw the company’s research and development programs. He is also a member of the Theatre Committee at the Toronto Arts Council. He has been an artistic leadership resident at the National Theatre School (2018), and was a member of the Banff Centre’s 2019 cultural leadership cohort. ted was in the inaugural cohort of the York University/Canadian Stage MFA in directing, and has been an artist-in-residence at Harbourfront Centre, Buddies, and Institut für Alles Mögliche (Berlin). He also runs independent theatre collective the red light district.
the hiring process
Ted joins Buddies at a pivotal moment in our company’s history. Now entering our 45th anniversary season, Buddies has spent the past three years strengthening processes around pay equity, improved work-life balance within production schedules, and new workflow systems designed to improve communications and development practices. We’ve also returned to pre-pandemic programming numbers and audience numbers, with over 14,000 folks attending performances in-person and online over the past two seasons.
The artistic director hiring process was designed in collaboration with the Laboratory for Artistic Intelligence and invested community members. Over 40 diverse artists from across Canada, with a notable depth and breadth of expertise, applied for the position. The search committee included: Anu Radha Verma (board member), Brendan McMurtry-Howlett (board member), Bilal Baig (Residency artist), Cara Eastcott (artist and Disability consultant), sue balint (producer and curator), Pat Bradley (consultant, past OAC Theatre Officer), and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (artistic director of New Harlem Productions).
“We were looking for a candidate with a strong artistic vision, impressive management skills, a deep understanding of Buddies’ history and context, and a demonstrated commitment to organisational change and the fostering of community relationships,” said Anu Radha Verma, Board Member and search committee member. “ted not only impressed us with meeting these criteria: his capacity to contribute to both artistic programming and strategic business development will be an important part of Buddies’ continued life as a transformative space for queer artists and audiences alike.”
“My experience working with [ted] was inspiring. He showed in his practice what artistic leadership could be. He was present whenever needed. He made space, held space, and was always willing to learn. As a leader, ted is not afraid to go to bat for his artists and his community. He understands the importance of making room for everyone. He has the fortitude and strength to navigate through the challenges that come with necessary change.”
– Tawiah M’Carthy, Theatre Artist
“In wilds of transmisogyny that have characterized so many of my experiences in the arts, ted has won my trust and respect, and I am deeply grateful for the ways he has made room for and supported me as an artist and as a person.”
– Dasha Plett, Theatre Artist
“Conversations around inclusion and equity can be tough, should be tough, but ted handles them with ease and results happen […] just the thought of ted as the next leader of Buddies puts the largest smile on my face and gets me incredibly excited to experience what that will be.”
– Jani Lauzon, Theatre Artist
“I think that when people champion new voices in the way that ted has, intergenerationally and genuinely, they’re building a new landscape and facilitating the existence and documentation of a new canon of queer work and, therefore, queer history.”
– Heath V. Salazar, Theatre and Performance Artist
“I see ted as somebody who can bring intersectional communities together and support and advocate across differences, Buddies will be in tremendous hands under his guidance and heart.”
– Aria Evans, Dance Artist and Intimacy Director
Photos of ted by Dylan Mitro, styling by Chelsea Preston, makeup by Alison Henthorn. Photo of Dasha by Tim Plett. Photo of Jani by Denise Grant. Photo of Aria by Nabra Badr. Photo of Heath by Sam Gaetz.