Lisa Gleave prepares to bid farewell to Mermaid

Published on March 12, 2017

Lisa Gleave said she loves the energy generated by audiences watching live theatre and is hoping to bring more diversity to the Chester Playhouse Theatre.

©Colin Chisholm

WINDSOR, N.S. - Lisa Gleave has a long history with the Mermaid Theatre Company in Windsor. It was her first job in theatre at 17, and now, after being in a managing role for more than 10 years, she’s moving on.

She won’t be too far, heading up the management of the Chester Playhouse Theatre.

For Gleave, she said it was time for a change, a new chapter.

“I had a lot of life-changing personal events in the last few years and I think it’s time for me to turn my attention to something new,” Gleave said from inside the historic Mermaid Theatre building on Gerrish Street in Windsor, surrounded by puppets, colourful artwork and mementos from shows past.

“I’ve been here for almost 12 years and I think I’ve done a lot for the company in that time and I think it’s time for someone else to come and bring their fresh passion and ideas to Mermaid.”

Gleave said that in arts organizations there’s a natural “tide that turns” leading to new people in different roles.

“I think it’s a good thing for fresh energy to come into arts organizations every once and a while,” she said. “I think it’s healthy to make changes and have new vitality and fresh ideas.”

Gleave said she’s interested in helping to create more diverse and cross-generational programming at the Chester Playhouse Theatre when she starts there on April 3.

“It’s quite a different job. The job at Mermaid is very stressful, I’m kind of on call 24/7 when we have a show out on the road and we have more shows out on the road than we ever have,” she said. “I’m looking forward to having a less stressful job and presenting more for local audiences.”

Gleave said what she’d remember most about Mermaid is how supportive they’ve been.

“It’s like a family here,” she said.

Gleave grew up in the Windsor area, studying theatre at Acadia University and then working across Canada for different arts organizations before returning home to become the general manager for Mermaid.

“It’s familiar and safe here and everyone knows what my situation has been, but that’s also a reason why I’m glad to move on,” she said. “Sometimes when things are too familiar then you’re not really feeling personally challenged anymore. It’s time for a new chapter.”

Lisa Gleave, who is moving to the South Shore with her son and partner when she starts her new role in Chester, says she’ll be back often to visit.

©Colin Chisholm

Gleave said her proudest moment with Mermaid was bringing Mistatim — a show dealing with First Nations issues including residential schools, reconciliation, and other tough but important themes — to the local stage.

“We had school kids come in and watch it and I feel that was a really important show to bring to the stage here in Windsor,” she said.

Gleave said she’s also delighted that Mermaid has been able to crack into the touring circuit in China, with Mermaid touring their shows all over the globe on a regular basis.

“Mermaid has become a point of pride for the area. More people know about it and they know more about our international activities,” she said. “They also associate us with Windsor being really busy on a Friday night because look, ‘Brett Kissel is here, and look he’s at the Mermaid, isn’t that cool?’ And then maybe they go to our website and see what else we’re doing.”

For Gleave, the energy that an audience emits is intoxicating and visceral, something she’s hoping to generate in Chester.

“Being able to watch an audience all laugh at the same time and all sigh at the same time and in every different language, kids reacting to our shows, yelling out ‘here’s the moon!’ but in Japanese or Chinese,” she said. “It’s pretty amazing and it really shows that humans can be from completely different cultures and walks of life and yet completely connect to the same things they’re seeing on stage.”

Gleave is relocating to Rose Bay, just outside Chester with her partner and son, but said she plans to come back to Windsor often to visit family and friends.

“I want to say thank you (to the people of Windsor) for supporting MIPAC and I would encourage them to get to know Mermaid more,” she said. “There’s still so much for them to discover.”

She begins her new role on April 3, 2017, where she’ll be working with the outgoing general manager until April 15.

The Board of Directors at Mermaid is currently seeking a new general manager.

The theatre company recently received a boost in funding from ACOA as part of the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program.

Lisa Gleave has accepted a new role as the general manager of the Chester Playhouse Theatre after serving as general manager of the Mermaid Theatre for approximately 10 years.

©Colin Chisholm