“A Day in the Life” with Toronto creative Diana Bentley

With roots in London, Ontario and London, UK, Diana Bentley’s early love of literature, theatre and small, dark spaces prepared her well for her role as co-Chief Engineer of Toronto’s Coal Mine Theatre.

Even as she was finishing her BHA-English Lit. degree at the University of Toronto, Diana began pursuing her dream of becoming an actor and theatre maker. Early years in the biz included much time spent in acting, voice and on-camera classes, a year at LAMDA, and another year in the Canadian Film Centre’s prestigious Actors Conservatory. Concurrently, Diana produced and acted in a bunch of successful theatrical productions around Toronto and people started wondering who was this talented young woman with the chops and the vision and the great hair? Now, a dozen years later, her resume boasts leading roles in theatre, film and TV, in addition to an outstanding list of creative triumphs at Coal Mine, where she acts, produces and kills it alongside husband and Co-Chief Engineer Ted Dykstra.

As if these feats weren’t impressive enough, she’s also a devoted mom to baby Henry, a gardener who out-Englishes the English, (with dazzling beds full of roses, day lilies and honey suckle), a snappy dresser, a passable cook, a skin-care enthusiast, an inspired kitchen dancer, (in the tradition of early Britney Spears and Beyoncé), a superb listener, a loyal friend, a dragon slayer and a deeply funny weirdo—but you didn’t hear that last one from me.

Unpredictable as weather, (just like Maria from “The Sound Of Music”, one of Diana’s favourite musicals), it’s hard to imagine what Diana and her indomitable spirit will be up to in a decade. Whatever it is, it’s bound to be provocative, sure to impress, and certain to be from the heart.

-By my best friend Rae Ellen Bodie

Diana Bentley - We live in the ‘Deep East’ as I like to call it— at Main and Danforth. Our mornings consist of a walk along the Danforth or down along The Beaches.
Diana Bentley – We live in the ‘Deep East’ as I like to call it— at Main and Danforth. Our mornings consist of a walk along the Danforth or down along The Beaches.
Baby Henry is eleven months so...this picture sums up how fun this stage is!
Baby Henry is eleven months so…this picture sums up how fun this stage is!
Our favourite coffee shop to hit up in the morning is Zav’s at Woodbine and Danforth. The owners are so lovely and Arya makes incredible coffee.
Our favourite coffee shop to hit up in the morning is Zav’s at Woodbine and Danforth. The owners are so lovely and Arya makes incredible coffee.
I head to the Coal Mine where I either produce all day, or start rehearsals. Right now I am in rehearsals for Knives in Hens with Jim Mezon and Jonathon Young pictured here.
I head to the Coal Mine where I either produce all day, or start rehearsals. Right now I am in rehearsals for Knives in Hens with Jim Mezon and Jonathon Young pictured here.
Jonathon Young and I rehearsing on the Coal Mine Stage. We get to rehearse on the set as it is being built which is an awesome luxury.
Jonathon Young and I rehearsing on the Coal Mine Stage. We get to rehearse on the set as it is being built which is an awesome luxury.
Diana Bentley - Trying on my costume for the first time! Costumes by Michelle Tracey.
Diana Bentley – Trying on my costume for the first time! Costumes by Michelle Tracey.
Diana Bentley - Ted and I try to get a date in as often as we can. We love Local 1794 on the Danforth near Coxwell. We sit at the bar and enjoy a catch up!
Diana Bentley – Ted and I try to get a date in as often as we can. We love Local 1794 on the Danforth near Coxwell. We sit at the bar and enjoy a catch up!

 

What ‘hood are you in?

East York

What do you do?

I am the Co-Chief Engineer of the Coal Mine Theatre which means I’m the Executive Producer. And I’m an actor too.

What are you currently working on?

I’m rehearsing Knives in Hens by David Harrower for Coal Mine Theatre. Opens September 25 and closes October 13.

Where can we find your work?

You can find me in Frontier on Netflix, on stage at the Coal Mine Theatre in Knives in Hens, or coming soon on Television in Hudson and Rex for City TV

 

 

Joel Levy
About Joel Levy 1716 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography