Hart House Theatre’s Marketing Assistant Lindsey Middleton discusses her burgeoning thespian career. The U of T alumna describes how profoundly the Theatre helped to shape her aspirations – both outside and inside the House – and how it continues to do so for today’s artistic students.
You may have seen alumna Lindsey Middleton in a national ad campaign for food delivery, counting sesame seeds on a hamburger bun to measure the value of the speedy service. But this is just the tip of the iceberg for this graduate of the University of Toronto Mississauga Theatre and Drama Studies program in collaboration with Sheridan College.
In fact, Lindsey is quickly becoming a household name in television, film and theatre at the same time as working as the Marketing Assistant at Hart House Theatre. She weaves together these two worlds seamlessly, crediting the House for providing the supportive bedrock of her career.
Performing was undoubtedly Lindsey’s calling. “I never considered doing anything else. It’s what I always wanted to do,” she says.
She began acting at the age of five, playing a lion in the nativity scene in her small-town church's Christmas pageant. From there, Lindsey played Peter Pan in Peter Pan and Mr. Mistoffelees in CATS at her local community theatre. Once moving to the big city, she took on the roles of Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet to name a few.
At U of T, she co-founded Well Fought Theatre Company and co-produced December 1917: The Halifax Explosion, a play that toured to Halifax in 2012. Once graduating, she co-founded Theatre by Committee, which would later produce and create critically acclaimed indie theatre from 2014 to 2020. She also co-produced and played the role of Vanessa on the internationally award-winning TV series Out with Dad, which ran for seven years. For this, Lindsey won two Indie Series Awards for Best Supporting Actress and an IAWTV (International Academy of Web Television) Award for Best Female Performance in a Drama. She was also nominated for a Canadian Screen Award.
Additionally, she co-created, produced and acted in the TV series Just Hysterics (2018-2019).
Two years later, Lindsey co-wrote Unmute and I Love You and It Hurts with Theatre of the Beat. Her first play, Session, premiered at the Paprika Festival.
More recently, she was recognized by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) as an emerging artist for one of their talent development programs: the TIFF Series Accelerator.
Active at Hart House Theatre for Over Ten Years
Hart House Theatre has played a major role in Lindsey’s career. She has been involved with this Theatre for more than a decade. This began in her undergrad years via the Hart House U of T Drama Festival. Here, she acted in one of the productions and participated in the student-run Hart House Players, designed to showcase U of T talent. For this, she won a Dougie Award, the U of T Drama Coalition Awards named after Doug Floyd, Hart House Theatre’s Director of Theatre and Performing Arts.
After Lindsey graduated, she performed in two productions at Hart House Theatre – Bone Cage (2013) and We the Family (2015) – then served as the Assistant Director for the sold-out run of Legally Blonde: The Musical.
Lindsey began working at Hart House Theatre part time in 2016, next assumed a permanent position in 2019 and then took up her current role in 2021. Today, as Marketing Assistant, she handles advertising and social media, mentors students and assists with venue partnerships with indie companies. “I lend a hand in marketing because a lot of indie companies don’t have that support,” she explains, adding, “I love to jump on to each show and say: ‘Hey, where do you need help?’ I find that very fulfilling.”
The student festivals are a highlight. “They provide an amazing opportunity for anyone at U of T to get involved. Our Hart House U of T Drama Festival is mainly students, but our new Hart House U of T Festival of Music and our Hart House U of T Festival of Dance are open to anyone associated with U of T. It’s a way to bring like-minded artists together. There’s no audition; it’s for people who want a space to share their art. There are opportunities to network, collaborate, build something and watch it grow. It’s very exciting to see U of T talent.”
Hart House Theatre has 428 seats and when you are an emerging artist, the chance to perform on a stage that big is rare, she emphasizes. “It’s a special place that allows people to come and learn and use the space how they want to. This is beautiful because, as an artist and an undergrad, it’s very hard to find opportunities to incubate and create.”
Lindsey has championed productions that have seen success outside of the University – at the Toronto Fringe Festival, for example. Some have gone on tour. “It’s really exciting to see people go off and keep working in the industry,” she says. “Hart House Theatre can be a stepping stone for young artists.”
Hart House is a Place of Support
One of the key things that this Theatre offers is unprecedented encouragement. “It became that place for me where I always felt abundantly supported, both as an employee and as someone who is pursuing an artistic career outside of this Theatre. It’s a place where I feel so safe and happy to go to work.
“As an artist, Hart House Theatre has opened a lot of doors for me,” she says. “I’ve met many incredible professionals that became mentors. This Theatre provides space, access and opportunity to a young person to grow, flourish and learn.”
The Doug Floyd Effect
The legacy of this Theatre is also impressive. “For over 100 years, Hart House Theatre has fostered some of Canada’s most illustrious talent – Donald Sutherland, the late Norman Jewison, Lorne Michaels and more. There are so many people who got started at Hart House.”
As part of this remarkable legacy, Lindsey acknowledges the influence of the Director of Theatre and Performing Arts. “There is no Hart House Theatre without Doug Floyd. As much as he will be bashful, it’s true: that man keeps this place going; he keeps the spirit of it alive.
“When I think of Hart House Theatre, I think about kindness. I think about giving people opportunities to learn, fail, succeed and everything in between. The grace you’re given to learn is rare. I’ve worked in many places, and I don’t often see that generous, pay-it-forward style of leadership. I wish I could rewrite society to have more of this kindness.”
Encourages Students to Join
Lindsey encourages all to get involved. “Find every workshop, try all of it and see what you like. Come and network, come and learn. Hart House Theatre is a place where people can try things on – acting, directing, writing – with the safety of training wheels.”
Some days, in quieter moments, Lindsey slips into the Theatre, to soak up the history and reconnect with her love of the art. “I go stand in the Theatre for a bit, thinking this is pretty special, this place that I really care about.” She feels fortunate to be here because “you get to keep this legacy, this space, alive.”