Jillian Keiley is an award-winning director from St. John’s, Newfoundland and founding Artistic Director of Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland. Since August 2012 Keiley has been the Artistic Director for English Theatre at Canada's National Arts Centre.
Keiley was born in 1970 and raised in the Goulds, a small farming community just south of St. John's. She attended St. Kevin's High School, where her love of theatre was born. She enrolled at York University, and completed the Theatre Directing Program in 1994. While attending York she spent her summers back in St. John's where, under the tutelage of Lois Brown (then Artistic Animateur of Resource Centre for The Arts Theatre Company (RCAT)), she founded the Splash Cabaret Series. The series fostered her direct artistic collaborations with the up and coming members of the St. John's theatre community. Upon her graduation from York, she moved permanently back to St. John's and set about her first major production In Your Dreams, Freud (1994), in which she brought together a cast of 45, many of whom she had come to know and work with under the Splash banner. Freud was first mounted in St. John's as fundraiser for RCAT. It was such a hit that it was remounted three months later. Keiley and the production crew of the show founded Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland as a company to facilitate this remount. Keiley would go on toe serve as Artistic Fraud's Artistic Director for 18 years.
Keiley's early work was marked by its size and its goals of mathematical precision. She was deeply inspired by the work of Edward Gordon Craig, and sought in her large chorus driven pieces to emulate an director driven theatre marked by performance driven spectacles. Her next piece following Freud was The Cheat (1996), a movement piece for 82 performers based on the music notation of Bach's Fugue in G Minor. In 1997 she created and premiered Under Wraps with Robert Chafe and Petrina Bromley. Under Wraps was a two person story of gay unrequited love told atop a 40' x 60' parachute cloth. Under the cloth there was a chorus of 16 who sang and manipulated the sheet to create a constant visual and aural accompaniment to the action above. Under Wraps was Keiley's first collaboration with Chafe and Bromley. It played three sold out runs in St. John's and toured to Halifax (1999), Calgary (2000), Banff (2000), and Vancouver (2000). In 2013, Keiley, Chafe, and Bromley updated the show and remounted it with a brand new cast.
In 2002 Keiley directed Tempting Providence, Chafe's play which was commissioned and premiered by Theatre Newfoundland Labrador (TNL). The show was created for TNL's Gros Morne Theatre Festival. It was an instant success and toured consistently from 2003-2014. During this period Jillian was an annual instructor of Chorus with the National Theatre School, and directed productions in Australia, Ireland and across Canada.
Jillian took over from Peter Hinton as the Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre English Theatre in 2012
- Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council's Emerging Artist Award - 1996
- Canada Council’s John Hirsch Prize - 1998
- Siminovitch Prize for Directing - 2004
- Memorial University of Newfoundland Honorary Doctorate of Letters - 2009