• About

    Janet Christina Kish

    Janet taught Drama for thirty-three years with the Toronto and legacy Scarborough Boards. She is the former Curriculum Leader of the Arts for Claude Watson Arts Program and the former Head of the Arts at Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate. In addition to teaching, Janet is an accomplished playwright, director, adjudicator and a passionate advocate for integrity and excellence in the arts. She is now fully immersed as an independent artist in the Toronto theatre community as a drama coach, workshop leader and a guest artist in the schools.


    To work creatively and professionally in theatre as a director, assistant director, drama coach, adjudicator, dramaturge and/or playwright.

    Playwright and Director (1985 - Present)

    I have written over twenty plays and have directed well over fifty student productions – from the classics to modern Canadian and even experimental site-specific pieces in London and Oxford, England.

    Curriculum Leader of the Arts / Theatre Educator (1979 - 2012)

    As former department head of the renowned Claude Watson Arts Program at Earl Haig Secondary School, and a Drama teacher with the Toronto District School Board, I have over thirty years experience in directing, producing, designing, writing, and touring for both main-stage and studio productions.

    Devised Theatre Facilitator (2010 - 2011)

    As creator of Hi La Rage Productions, I directed and produced the play The Dreamcatchers performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Scotland in August 2011.

    Bachelor of Education (Drama Specialist) – University of Toronto 1978 - 1979 Honours Bachelor of Arts (Film) - York University 1972 - 1976

    Significant experience training and working with young actors. High proficiency in directing both large and small casts. Extensive background in all elements of production including design (scenic, costume and lighting), producing, publicity, fund-raising and front of house. Adaptable and creative risk-taker with excellent work ethic.

    Recent Projects

    ZED.TO: Byologyc; Actor in the immersive, "live-art" theatre project featured at the 2012 Toronto Fringe and Nuit Blanche

    Director's Lab North: Participant, Tarragon Theatre, June 2012

    RATTLING THE STAGE: A Collection of Monologues, Spoken Word and Short Plays; Co-Author of textbook; and, curriculum support writer.

  • Artist Statement

    I create. I teach. I make theatre.

    I hold this notion that theatre must be daring, different, sincere, urgent and profoundly human. It also has the option to be many other things; it may be subtle, outrageous, gritty, sublime, quirky, sorrowful, hysterically funny, or disturbingly dark. Regardless of its voice, exceptional theatre resonates. It resounds from deeply within us, and gives back the very essence of our shared humanity.

    Having developed my craft for over thirty years, I continue to evolve and grow as a director, playwright and a teacher. I am a work-in-process.

    My aesthetics have shape-shifted as well. Now, I make great effort to find purity and create simplicity. I strive for theatre that is meaningful, provocative and new. I have an affinity for the antihero, the strange, the "Other" and those who are terminally lost. Ultimately, there must be a glimmer of light in the darkness, or if a comedy, flickering shadows behind the lightness. The challenge is to breathe spirit and soul into the work. To achieve this, one must look at the whole picture, looking for the intangible, and seeking the negative spaces. It is the tension between characters, the pauses between the actions, and the silences between the words that create the energy and the life force of the work.

    The most important qualities a director or teacher can instill in actors are the grace to listen, the power to be in the moment, the courage to take risks and the confidence to be truthful. An ensemble must be utterly collaborative and generous. We are part of a noble and colossal tradition, something much larger and greater than ourselves. I expect my actors, playwrights and students to strive for excellence. First, however, I must inspire them to be open, fearless, humble and fully committed to the journey ahead.

    Extraordinary theatre is communal, transformative and transcendent. I believe theatre can and should change you. I hope it will.

  • Services


    Janet is available as a guest artist for schools, corporations, retreats and service groups. She will custom-design your workshop so that it is tailored especially to the needs of the group. Workshop themes include:

    • Scene study
    • Role-playing and character development
    • Team-building/leadership/creative problem-solving/morale-building
    • Conflict resolution (bullying, discrimination, harassment)
    • Physical theatre/ clowning
    • Introduction to playwriting
    • Devised theatre and Forum theatre
    • Playmaking (for elementary level classes)
    • Improvisation
    • Introduction to directing
    • Mounting your own show for Sears Drama Festival
    • How to approach Shakespeare
    • Voice and Movement
    • Relaxation and Stress Busting
    • Breathing life into dramatic text

    Acting, Audition and Public Speaking Coach

    Janet will work one on one with students who plan to audition into a theatre program or school. She can help you select your monologues, provide one-on-one direction and offer cold-reading tips. Janet will also help you conquer stage fright, prep for the interview, as well as provide advice in how to write your application and resume.

    If you are preparing for a public speaking event, Janet can coach you on how to effectively engage your audience.

    Audition and acting coaching can be done in person or arranged by video-conferencing from anywhere via Skype or Facetime.

    Dramaturgy and Playwriting

    Janet offers dramaturgical services to playwrights, emerging artists and independent companies in the development of new scripts and/or plays. Services include one-to-one feedback, research, readings and workshops. Janet is also interested in collaborative writing projects as well as the transcribing of material for devised theatre scripts.

    Janet also is available for curriculum support writing and arts education publishing.


    Janet has over thirty years experience in directing plays ranging from classical Shakespeare to contemporary and experimental theatre. She is equally comfortable working in the traditional large proscenium theatre, a black box studio, or even site specific. She is available as a freelance director and/or consultant for schools and independent theatre companies.


    Janet has an extensive and successful background with various Drama and Fringe play festivals. She is available to adjudicate community and/or student productions.

    Creative Consulting

    If your project, ensemble, collective, or company is artistically immobile and desperately needs new ideas, Janet will guide your group toward dynamic concepts and new directions whether it has to do with design elements, publicity, promotion or even inspiring a brand new image.

    For further information, please contact at info@janetkish.ca

  • Testimonials

    About Teaching and Coaching

    "Janet Kish is a drama coach and teacher extraordinaire! Her classroom was a priceless gift. She provided me with the tools to believe in my intuition as an actor. She pushes the boundaries allowing for fear to dissipate and the truth to surface. She takes the time to understand the student/artist tailoring audition pieces to their strengths. I wouldn't have a career as an actor if it weren't for her."
    ~ Raffaele Michael Ciampaglia
    Former Student (1998 -2003)

    Jan is a rare form of educator--one who can inspire creativity, stifle insecurity, connect professionally, and catalyze magic. Her passion is unwavering and she is selfless in her work. Those who have the chance to work with Jan are truly fortunate.
    ~ Rob Kempson
    Associate Artistic Producer
    Theatre Passe Muraille

    "Thank you very much for your guidance and (audition) tips on how to make things organic!"
    ~ Jessica Miao

    "I've known Janet for close to 10 years and I'm always amazed at the calibre of her students and the calibre of their training. Janet ran one of the best High School Drama programs in Toronto. She is a top teacher who understands the importance of individual creativity and collaboration. In a safe environment, she pushes her students to go beyond their self-perceived capacity. Her students hold a very strong understanding and practice of drama, action, mise en scene, conflict and storytelling. They are engaged, take risks and freely explore. Janet's students love her. As well, I love teaching Janet's students."
    ~ Adam Lazarus
    Director, Actor, Playwright
    Acting Instructor, N.T.S, Sheridan, York and U.ofT.

    About Directing, Design and Playwriting

    She's one of the best directors that I'd worked with when it came to theatre. She knew how to keep me in line and keep me working on what needed to be done for the sake of the project."
    ~ Justin Kelly, Actor
    Degrassi, The Next Generation

    "When I sat in the audience of her production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, I specifically remember turning to my partner, as he turned to me, and we both uttered, "Wow". We were left inarticulate by the beauty before us. There was not a moment where the actors disengaged from the text—they loved Shakespeare's language and played it for all its musicality because they had a director who helped them connect to the passion, the pain, the ecstasy and the humiliation with crystal clarity. Added to this powerful connection to the characters and the text, was Jan's magical staging and exquisite sense of design. The court scenes were reminiscent of a deck of cards—black and white and majestically sterile, whereas the forest scenes were pagan—earth tones with lush flora, full of heretical sensuality. Dancers emerged as fairies and satyrs, transforming the space as masked trees slinked about and a sparkling moon lit the stage. Acrobats, pixies on stilts, and nymphs on scaffolding, swinging from vines...we, the audience, gave over and surrendered any sense of disbelief. Jan and her company created a Dream that was disconcerting when awoken from, but what a sublime pleasure it had been to experience it for its brief duration. Her work excited me and made me realize that it is entirely possible to be both an educator and an artist."
    ~ James Harkness
    Playwright, Director, Theatre Educator

    "I am very proud to say that I have had the opportunity to study under the direction of Janet Kish. She has been a very positive influence in my practice as a theatre artist. She is a gracious director and a courageous teacher and artist."
    ~ Tawiah Ben M'carthy
    Actor, Playwright, Director, Creator

    "Seldom does one encounter an inspirational teacher, leader and artist all rolled up into one person. Jan is one such person. I have been particularly impressed with her playwriting. Her carefully crafted words, form rich characters whose stories reach out and touch the psyche, casting light and giving voice and therefore meaning to the deepest of human experience. I believe that is what art, at its best does. That is what Jan's plays do."
    ~ Debbie Barton Moore
    Theatre Adjudicator, Dramaturge

    " Janet Kish is both a playwright and a director with a distinctive voice. Her work always manages to take its audience on interesting and imaginative journeys." ~ Wayne Fairhead
    Executive Director, Sears Ontario Drama Festival

    "What stands out consistently in the productions directed by Janet Kish—and I have seen many—is that no two are the same. There isn't a "Kish style" for Janet's vision is always evolving. Every time the stage leaps to life in a Janet Kish production, I am startled by her visuals and caught up in performances that engage me, challenge me, and make me believe that there are worlds within our world that only the rarest of visionaries can make us see.

    Arts Huron has run an annual play festival for over 20 years. Janet is, by far, one of the highest rated adjudicators we've ever had. Students love her insight into text and her ability to explore their creative vision without trying to reshape it. In short, they LOVE her!"
    ~ Michael Halfin
    Coordinator, Arts Huron Regional Arts Program

    About Creative Collaboration

    "Jan is an outstanding educator and her specialization in all aspects of theatre is second to none. Her long list of production credits has garnered a long list of awards at the Sear Drama Festival, and her work is followed with interest by the education and theatre communities of Toronto and beyond. In Jan's last year of teaching, their production of The Dreamcatchers was invited to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and their collective was acknowledged with the Wayne Fairhead Drama award.

    Jan is well-respected for her contribution to drama education in the Toronto District School Board and across the province. Her dedication to youth, and to outstanding theatre production by and for youth is unparalleled. She is a highly skilled director, dramaturge and writer, and she really knows how to establish conditions for creative risk-taking in educational, community and professional contexts.

    I can't wait to see what artistic project Jan takes on next. I hope to one day work directly with her, and learn from and with her. She is a fine collaborator and a genuine dynamo!"

    ~ Christine Jackson
    Coordinator of the Arts
    Toronto District School Board

    "Janet is an incredible force. Her willingness to step into a project with her whole being is what every director, actor and collaborator would want in a fellow artistic person. Janet's ideas and attitude cross generational boundaries. Janet is always there to add a new perspective on an idea or theatrical moment, and truly sees a project's larger vision and trajectory. I would work with this incredible woman time and time again given the opportunity."
    ~ Elenna Mosoff
    Co-Founder of The Mission Business
    Associate Producer & Director

    "I've worked with Jan in many different capacities and I'm continually impressed and inspired by the dedication and craft that informs her art. She brings a wealth of expertise to everything she touches and her diversity as an artist and theatre educator makes her work vital and relevant. I've worked with Jan in many different capacities and I'm continually impressed and inspired by the dedication and craft that informs her art. She brings a wealth of expertise to everything she touches and her diversity as an artist and theatre educator makes her work vital and relevant.
    ~ Evan Tsitsias
    Playwright, Director & Theatre Artist