In 1992, I had only been living in Toronto a couple of years. My apartment was up near York University so a trek downtown seemed like a big expedition – even more so when the destination was a theatre on West Queen West in an old Legion hall basement. But in that year I saw a production at the Theatre Centre which still to this day, 20 years and literally hundreds of other shows later, remains one of the foremost theatrical events I have experienced.
The Last Temptation of Christopher Robin by Michael O’Brien shook me to the core and introduced me to a venue and a group of artists that would become near and dear to me and literally changed how I thought about theatre and what it could do. There are moments of that production that are etched in my mind to this day and actors from it whose careers I have loyally followed since that evening.
I was brought up going to the theatre but to this point that usually meant larger theatres and known writing. It didn’t mean spaces so small you could reach up and touch the ceiling from the last row of seats. But that intimacy of storytelling changes the dynamic and the relationship between the artist and the audience and it engages you in a way a larger theatre just can’t. It becomes a shared experience on a completely different level. And when that storytelling is bold and brave and good, it is a truly amazing experience.
Eleven years later my friend Franco Boni became the Theatre Centre’s Artistic Director and shortly thereafter I joined the Board.
This means I have been on this board for almost ten years – which is crazy! In that time I have worked box office, painted the floor at 2am, peeled craft paper from the walls, and called, emailed and written to ask you for money. I have been treasurer, secretary and chair. And there have been many more moving experiences – with our residency companies and their raw and challenging work – and our full productions that continue to push boundaries and create extraordinary shared experiences. Most recently added to my list of the bold and brave? Liza Balkan’s Out the Window.
I can’t wait to see what’s next…