On Thursday, Artistic Director Aislinn Rose announced The Theatre Centre’s 2019/20 programming at one of the company’s signature (and delicious) community meals. The focus of the year ahead is on the idea of “reckless generosity”.
“A couple of years ago, UK artist Dawn Walton introduced us to the words ‘reckless generosity’,” explained The Theatre Centre’s Artistic Director Aislinn Rose. “The term was coined by screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce, who described reckless generosity as the engine of innovation. It’s about taking risks and actions without necessarily knowing where they will lead, without fear of failure, and even without much hope of reward. Since we opened our new doors 5 years ago, we’ve been trying to place the principle of generosity at the heart of everything we do, and so this articulation of reckless generosity has provided us with clarity about what this can mean for us and our community.
“There can be a tendency, especially in the non-profit sector, to work from a place of scarcity: the idea that there are not enough resources to go around, so you have to hold them close to protect them. But in our experience, we have found that resources go further when you share them, and working from a place of abundance begets abundance.”
While the notion of generosity has long been at the core of the company’s Residency program—with the offer of time, of space, of resources, of mentorship—in more recent years, The Theatre Centre has worked to increase its support of the work beyond the initial production.
“We were finding ourselves in this strange position of having to say ‘goodbye and good luck’ to artists who’d had a home with us for four years, and we wanted to find a way to continue to support these artists after their work left the building,” commented Rose. “Moving the work had been a long-held ambition at The Theatre Centre, but it has only been in recent years that we really turned our attention – and our resources – to touring in a significant way. Almost immediately we discovered a strong international appetite for the artists and the work we’ve been supporting and developing.”
After a hugely acclaimed run of their co-production of Daughter at the Edinburgh Fringe last year, The Theatre Centre returns to Edinburgh this summer with their production of Sea Sick, science journalist Alanna Mitchell’s searing, hilarious, and timely look at the state of our global ocean and climate change. The work has toured nationally and internationally since it opened The Theatre Centre’s new home in 2014, and the company is confident that the Edinburgh run as part of this year’s Canada Hub lineup will ensure it has a great future ahead.
Meanwhile, Daughter continues to capture the interest of presenters and audiences alike. After traveling to Australia’s Sydney Festival in January, the company heads across the pond for Latitude Festival in Suffolk, England. Closer to home, last year’s multi-Dora-nominated hit, Secret Life of a Mother, will be presented by Crow’s Theatre in their east-end home.
A cornerstone of the investment in touring support is this year’s launch of the company’s new Creative Producer training program. The program is designed to advance the skill set of experienced producers in the performing arts sector, increasing their abilities to support artists as they make, produce, and tour new work. At the end of the training period, the producers will not only have expanded their own knowledge and experience but will also be available to the community and can share their skills in national and international producing. The Theatre Centre believes this investment in the next generation of Creative Producers could have a major impact on the Toronto and Canadian performance ecology.
The Theatre Centre announced Toronto-based producers Rachel Penny and Sascha Cole as the first to join the program, starting with the Sea Sick tour to Edinburgh. The company also announced they are working with Artist and Producer Leslie McCue to support a 3rd producer-in-training from the Indigenous community. The support for the 3rd producer is being provided in partnership with Central Fire, The Theatre Centre, and Judy Harquail. All three trainees are receiving a $20,000 honorarium to participate in the program, with mentors including Rose, Judy Harquail (Ontario Presents), Leslie McCue (Central Fire), Karilyn Brown (formerly of Performing Lines, Australia), and Franco Boni (PuSh Festival).
Sascha Cole, a Creative Producer trainee, commented: “I’ve always brought an artistic lens to my producing practice and I am thrilled that The Creative Producer’s Training Program will allow me to further explore how that can be articulated, while building the skills to work in an evolving theatre ecology. The Theatre Centre’s strong national networks, and their international scope, make it an exciting place to learn, collaborate, and continue to build my practice as a producer looking for innovative ways to connect Canadian theatre with audiences at home and around the world.”
“I’m honoured to be invited to be a part of this program,” said Rachel Penny, Creative Producer trainee. “The Theatre Centre has been a site of incredible learning and community for me for many years and I’m looking forward to new challenges working with the brilliant roster of artists creating in this space!”
The three Creative Producers in training will work alongside the projects in The Theatre Centre Residency program to live-test their learning—from idea to production to moving the work. See below for more information about the 2019/20 Programming that was announced today.
The Theatre Centre programming falls under five pillars:
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 musician Rae Spoon, Mi’kmaq poet Shannon Webb-Campbell and cellist Cris Derksen.
• 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.
• Jennifer Tarver is collaborating with Nunuvat author and storyteller Michael Kusugak, along with singer Christine Duncan.
On ECT Collective Production
Dr. Suvendrini Lena is a practicing Neurologist at Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital. Together with the On ECT Collective, Lena is exploring how fragmentation and loss of identity in schizophrenia relates to the fragmentation we all experience.
A young man (later known as ‘Zephyr’) immigrates to Toronto from Martinique. As a black psychiatrist he grapples with racial discrimination and begins to hear voices. The doctor becomes the patient. Live performance, video, and interactive audio are woven together to create an immersive theatrical exploration of schizophrenia. The audience is invited to witness the story as well as to become the protagonist of their own perceptual journey.
Developed in Residency at The Theatre Centre, the project will be co-produced by The Theatre Centre and the On ECT Collective in November 2019. More details will be announced shortly.
Produced by Punctuate! Theatre in association with The Theatre Centre
Written and Directed by Matthew MacKenzie
After the Dora-winning run of Bears and the Dora-nominated production of After the Fire, Matthew Mackenzie and Punctuate! Theatre return to The Theatre Centre for an in Association production of The Particulars.
The Particulars is the story of one man’s struggle to maintain a daily routine born of emotional denial in the face of a home invasion. By day, Gordon forges systematically ahead, assiduously in control of every aspect of his life. But by night, the scratching which he has begun to hear in his walls is unravelling him, driving Gordon to the edge of cosmic desperation.
• With the recent change in leadership, The Theatre Centre has created the new role of Producer to directly support The Theatre Centre’s projects, productions, and artists. The Theatre Centre announced that staff member Alexis Eastman will take on the new role. As a skilled administrator, coordinator of The Theatre Centre’s Condo Project, and independent artist, Eastman brings many skills essential to the position. Having managed the national tour of This is the Point and supported Monday Nights at Luminato, this is a natural progression for Eastman, who will begin to take on more Residency projects and Theatre Centre productions.
The Theatre Centre presents a Hong Kong Exile and fu-GEN Theatre Production
Created by Natalie Tin Yin Gan, Milton Lim, Remy Siu, and David Yee
Performed and co-created by April Leung and Derek Chan
Direction: Milton Lim
Text: David Yee
This multimedia performance investigates malls as racialized spaces of cultural creation and clash where fashion, food, and commodity tether communities to a vital sense of home. A collaboration between ground-breaking Vancouver interdisciplinary super group Hong Kong Exile and Governor General’s award-winning playwright David Yee of fu-GEN Theatre.
In bittersweet and humorous dialogues, Jaha Koo and his clever rice cookers take the audience on a journey through the last 20 years of Korean history, combining personal experience with political events and reflections on happiness, economic crises, and death.
Last year saw The Theatre Centre make a greater commitment to helping artists and companies forge relationships with national and international presenters early on, so the work can find touring audiences after the first production at The Theatre Centre
Co-produced by The Theatre Centre and QuipTake with Pandemic Theatre
Presented by Latitude Festival
Written & Performed by Adam Lazarus
Co-created by Adam Lazarus, Ann-Marie Kerr, Jivesh Parasram, Melissa D’Agostino
Directed by Ann-Marie Kerr
The controversial, Dora-nominated production written and performed by Canada’s Bouffon King Adam Lazarus heads to England for the Latitude Festival. More touring news to come.
Produced by The Theatre Centre
Created and performed by Alanna Mitchell
Directed by Franco Boni with Ravi Jain
Alanna Mitchell’s Dora Award-winning look at the state of the global oceans has already toured extensively both nationally and internationally and will head to Scotland for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as part of CanadaHub.
Secret Life of a Mother
Crow’s Theatre presents
The SLOM Collective and The Theatre Centre co-production
Written by Hannah Moscovitch with Maev Beaty and Ann-Marie Kerr
Last year’s multiple Dora-nominated production about modern motherhood makes the long trek east of the DVP for a remount at Crow’s Theatre. A playwright writes an exposé of modern motherhood: a confessional piece about her own darkly funny and taboo-breaking truths. One of her oldest friends, an actress, tells this story, and through it, her own motherhood secrets start to surface. Tickets on sale now through Crow’s Theatre.
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 Creative Producer training program: a learning opportunity for the next generation of Creative Producers who can strategically build national and international relationships, and share that knowledge within the sector
• The monthly Community Meal is a chance for artists, staff, neighbours, and friends to gather in the Café for an affordable home cooked meal.
• Twelve 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.
• After a wonderful inaugural year, that saw many beautiful community events including Durga Puja and Deep End Weekend, The Theatre Centre will continue its long-term relationship with Nova Dance to provide space and a home-base for Nova Bhattacharya’s renowned dance company.
• For the fifth year, The Theatre Centre will host Volcano’s Conservatory.
• After a successful test version of The Night Shift (an experiment where The Theatre Centre turned over the building to a “Night Shift” of creators) this innovative use of time and space will return in 2019/20.
• The Condo Project: working with The Bohemian Embassy residents to co-develop social and cultural activities for condo residents.