Iris Turcott was tremendous force in Canadian theatre and Canadian dramaturgy, and today the flag at the National Arts Centre flew at half-staff in tribute to her incredible legacy. We send our condolences to her family and many friends, as her loss is keenly felt by our community.
Iris passionately supported the development of new plays across Canada. Among many others, she worked with Adam Pettle, Joan MacLeod, Michel Marc Bouchard, Brad Fraser, Tomson Highway, Ronnie Burkett, Robert Chafe, Daniel MacIvor and Anusree Roy. She spent seventeen years as company dramaturge at the Canadian Stage, and worked at the Stratford Festival in the development of Daniel MacIvor’s Best Brothers (2012) and Judith Thompson’s The Thrill (2013). She was the company dramaturge at Factory Theatre, co-founder and co-artistic director of Playbill Theatre. She was also the dramaturge for Ronnie Burkett’s internationally acclaimed Theatre of Marionettes.
Throughout her career, Iris was involved in a number of international co-commissions including the Royal Exchange in Manchester, the Melbourne Festival, and the Abbey Theatre. Active in arts education, Iris taught at the National Theatre School of Canada. With Keith Turnbull, she edited Canada On Stage: Scenes and Monologues (Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2006). In 2008, she was awarded the George Luscombe Award for mentorship in theatre. In 2013, she was selected as Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Honorary Award recipient for her devotion to Canadian theatre, and her work with Canadian plays and playwrights.
She was a former member of the Board of Directors for the LMDA (Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas).
In recognition of her contributions to Canadian theatre, playwright Robert Chafe wrote: "Iris was the purest artist I’d ever met. Money truly didn’t matter to her. Recognition didn’t matter to her. Story did. Being true to an audience did. Honouring them. She loathed sentimentality, but she loathed pretension more. She demanded emotional honesty. She demanded engagement."