Chelsea Haberlin

Artistic Director, Neworld Theatre

Chelsea has lived most of her life on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish people, specifically the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations and is honoured to call this gorgeous place her home. She is a white woman of mixed Italian-Scottish-English-Swiss heritage. She is a mom and is married to theatre artist Sebastien Archibald. 

Chelsea has been creating theatre in some form since she was a very little girl making plays in her basement. She is the Artistic Director of Neworld Theatre and Associate Artist with ITSAZOO Productions, a company she co-founded in 2006. As a director she has worked with: ITSAZOO Productions, Neworld Theatre, Arts Club Theatre, Firehall Arts Centre, Theatre SKAM, Pacific Theatre, Delinquent Theatre, Studio 58, and many more. 

Chelsea has an MFA in directing from UBC and a BFA from UVic and is currently an adjunct professor at UBC. She is the recipient of the Sydney J Risk award in directing, the Ray Michal award for outstanding body of work by an emerging director and a two-time winner and five-time Jessie Richardson Award nominee for Outstanding Direction. 


Q: What is your caregiving role?

A: I am Rose’s mom. Rose is 2 and a half years old.

Q: Since becoming an artist-caregiver, my artistic practice…

A: …for the first time in my life, has been balanced with a home life. I struggled to prioritize my personal life but since I was nearing the end of my pregnancy I have made decisions that make more space for Rose and my husband and family.  I think my artistic practice has been paired down, I do less, but deepened, I do it more thoughtfully and rigorously. I bring more care to my work.

Q: It is 5 years from now. What has changed in the performing arts sector around support for artist caregivers?

A: 5 day weeks with 7 hour days are standard. Childcare for artist parents is available in theatres when required. The pay that artists receive allows them to pay for childcare. Being asked what you need and honestly responding is the norm, not the exception.

Q: What is the most exciting, unique or creative strategy you have put in place to support an artist-caregiver (perhaps maybe for yourself!)?

A: When I returned to work from maternity leave, my team at Neworld asked what I needed to feel supported as a new mom back at the office. My needs: working days that were shorter and allowed for pumping breaks, and for baby Rosie to come on the road when touring. Shortening rehearsal days was a no-problem, no-cost change that (surprising no one) worked for the rest of the team, too. And we were able to find resources to fly my partner out on tour to provide childcare while she was in show mode. Following in the instincts of care, we also ensured family-friendly accommodation on tour, and provided a family per diem that could cover meal costs for all three folks on the road.

This model grew as we started working with other artist parents; by asking what they needed and what care we could offer, we have been able to adjust our working practices to suit the people in the room. We’re transparent about this, too, with the rest of the team and our working associations. Foregrounding care and the surrounding conversation allows us to continue expanding our shared capacity for care.