The 2018/19 year marks two milestone anniversaries for The Theatre Centre, the 40th anniversary of the organization’s founding, and the 5th anniversary of moving into our permanent home! For 40 years, The Theatre Centre has been committed to investing in artists and developing new work and new ways of working. Moving into 1115 Queen St. 5 years ago allowed us to further that commitment and start to redefine what a theatre can mean to its community.
“40 years ago, a group of young artists, who didn’t see their voices reflected in the cultural scene, came together to create a space for their work. The crazy shit they did in those early years inspired future generations of artists at The Theatre Centre to value experimentation, failure, collaboration, and generosity. It’s been said that The Theatre Centre’s great strength is the consistency of its inconsistency. It’s our superpower. It’s been a true honour, not only to steward the resources of this place, but to uphold the institutional value of uncertainty. As daunting the task, The Theatre Centre has never wavered in its pursuit to sow seeds of imagination and understanding.” – Franco Boni, Artistic Director, The Theatre Centre.
This year’s programming features intimate and personal works from a diversity of people and places. “We are honoured that artists trust us with their most personal stories” says Aislinn Rose, Creative Producer at The Theatre Centre.
The Theatre Centre programming falls into 5 pillars: creating, producing, presenting, moving the work, and sharing.
Residency is a structured two-year program which provides groups/artists with the necessary space, funding, and mentorship to craft ideas still in their infancy into works that are both provocative and innovative. Currently in Residency:
• Rimah Jabr is a Brussels and Palestine-based playwright now working in Toronto. Jabr, along with visual artist Dareen Abbas, is creating a new performance piece (Broken Shapes) investigating what happens to humanity in the context of borders, surveillance and fear.
• Stewart Legere, and his group the Accidental Mechanics, is working with a cross-country collective of queer artists and thinkers to create The Unfamiliar Everything. The piece ruminates on isolation and loneliness within the Canadian queer community, and dissects the notion of the “chosen family.” Collaborators include playwright Jordan Tannahill, musician Rae Spoon, Mi’kmaq poet Shannon Webb-Campbell and cellist Cris Derksen.
• Neurologist-in-residence Suvendrini Lena continues to develop On Every Corner a Terrorist, an immersive theatrical exploration of schizophrenia. The work challenges the idea that there are clear boundaries between perceptual experience in schizophrenia and the altered states we may all experience and recognize at times.
• Co-written by Toronto-based writer, designer, and music artist Ian Kamau and his father, writer Roger McTair, and with composer Njo Kong Kie, Loss confronts a family history of mental illness and uncovers the story of Kamau’s paternal grandmother. In addition to Residency showings at The Theatre Centre, Loss will travel to Montreal for a workshop production with La Chapelle (November 1-2, 2018).
• Jennifer Tarver is collaborating with Nunuvat author and storyteller Michael Kusugak, along with singer Christine Duncan on the beginnings of an idea that will be announced in greater detail later in the year.
• Secret Life of a Mother, developed in Residency at The Theatre Centre by Hannah Moscovitch, Maev Beaty, and Ann-Marie Kerr, will premiere October 2018. An honest look at pregnancy, birth and early motherhood, this personal piece subverts and rewrites prevailing narratives around childbearing and maternity with biting humour, lush theatrical metaphor, and disarming gothic honesty.
• Jani Lauzon’s Prophecy Fog, originally developed through The Tracy Wright Global Archive and produced by Paper Canoe Projects, Nightswimming Theatre, and The Theatre Centre will premiere in May 2019. Based on a journey to the Mojave Desert to visit Giant Rock, Prophecy Fog uses text, video, and music to weave a conscious remembering of ancient prophecies, rock teachings and star beings.
• Matthew MacKenzie (playwright and director of the Dora Award-winning Bears) returns to The Theatre Centre with his new play After the Fire (Co-produced by Punctuate! Theatre, Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts in association with Native Earth Performing Arts and The Theatre Centre).
• After last year’s presentation of Race Cards at Progress Festival, Selina Thompson will return to The Theatre Centre with her one-woman show, Salt. Thompson retraces one of the routes of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle in a show about grief, ancestry, home, forgetting, and colonialism
• Blood on the Dance Floor, created and produced by Ilbijerri Theatre Company will travel to The Theatre Centre as part of a National tour. A choreographer, dancer and writer from the Narangga and Kaurna nations of South Australia, Jacob Boehme was diagnosed with HIV in 1998. In search of answers, he reached out to his ancestors. Through a powerful blend of theatre, image, text and choreography, Boehme pays homage to their ceremonies whilst dissecting the politics of gay, Black, and poz identities.
• From Quebec City, L’orchestre d’hommes-orchestres will bring the company’s signature musical style and collaborative approach to The Theatre Centre. In The New Cackle Sisters, Gabrielle Bouthillier and Danya Ortmann play singing sisters from the American countryside of the ‘40s. Based on the yodelling style of the DeZurik Sisters, this bustling orchestra offers an event that is more of a carnival show or musical circus than just a concert.
• Déjà vu 50 years of photography by Shozo Ushiroguchi will be presented in The Theatre Centre Gallery in September 2018. Shozo Ushiroguchi began making black and white photographic prints over 50 years ago when he moved from Japan to Germany. Over the years, his black and white prints have continued to reflect an interest, as shared by many of the generation of the 1960s, in themes of political protest and social change.
Last year saw The Theatre Centre make a greater commitment to “moving the work”, helping artists and companies forge relationships with presenters early on, so the work can find touring audiences after their first production at The Theatre Centre.
• Daughter, the controversial, Dora-nominated production written and performed by Canada’s Bouffon King Adam Lazarus heads to Scotland for the Edinbugh Festival Fringe.
• Sea Sick, Alanna Mitchell’s Dora-Award winning look at the state of the global oceans has already toured extensively both nationally and internationally and will now visit 9 cities and towns throughout Ontario.
• This is the Point, Co-produced by Ahuri Theatre and The Theatre Centre and the winner of three Dora Awards, heads out on the road for its inaugural tour. The team is thrilled to share this piece about love, sex and disability with a wider audience outside of Toronto.
A fundamental belief at The Theatre Centre is that resources go further when you share them. That philosophy informs many of their partnerships and initiatives, including:
• The Condo Project (with support from the Toronto Arts Council), an initiative to engage local residents from the nearby Bohemian Embassy in social and cultural activities. From a Concierge Appreciation Party, to a reading series, Yoga classes, café deals, and pop-up coffee events, the project is creating opportunities for residents and the theatre to forge new relationships.
• The monthly Community Meal is a chance for artists, staff, neighbours, and friends to gather in the Café for an affordable homecooked meal.
• The Objectorium (an artists multiple store) and two gallery spaces highlight and promote the work of visual artists year round.
• Eleven years ago The Theatre Centre teamed up with City of Craft and every December they host the city’s best crafters and artisans over a three-day event, which sees over 4000 attendees.
• A long-term relationship with Why Not Theatre, and the continued support of their RISER Project.
• A new long-term relationship with Nova Dance to provide space and a home-base for Nova Bhattacharya’s renowned dance company.
• For the fourth year, The Theatre Centre will host Volcano Theatre’s Conservatory.