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what’s on(line) + celebrating soheil parsa

June 17, 2021

july marks the beginning of a new year for the theatre centre.

Everything we’ve accomplished could not have been possible without your presence, feedback, energy, and participation — thank you! As we head towards the end of our fiscal year on June 30, we’re asking for your help so we can continue supporting artists.

“The Theatre Centre is uniquely a hub for artists to create & explore without the pressure of production. There is no other venue so purely suited to the creative process. Most are risk averse & oriented towards the end presentation so heavily, the artist doesn’t feel liberated in creation, so the end product is compromised. It’s like picking fruit too early. The Theatre Centre is a fantastic organic orchard, and our theatre ecology is greatly bettered by their artist-first mission & mandate.” –Anand Rajaram, Exploration Artist

Canada Helps is making your gift go further this month! Until the end of June, every $1 donated gives us a chance to win $20,000 through the Great Canadian Giving Challenge. If you like the work we do but can’t contribute at this time, we understand. We value the support of our community in all its forms. We appreciate you staying connected and hope you’ll consider sharing this message with your own communities.

let’s celebrate: soheil parsa, barbara hamilton memorial award winner

Photo by Sean Howard

On June 16, Soheil Parsa, Artistic Director of Modern Times Stage Company and former Theatre Centre board member, received Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts‘ Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award celebrating artists who demonstrate excellence in the performing arts and are dedicated to advocating and being an ambassador for the arts. If you know Soheil, you’d know that describes him to a tee, and we’re so excited to see him recognized in this way.

In nominating Soheil, General & Artistic Director Aislinn Rose wrote: “No other artist in this city has gifted us a clearer lens through which we can see that diversity makes the work better. And I think any artist who has worked with Soheil will agree with me when I say, ‘and Soheil always wants to make the work better’.”

Soheil is a groundbreaker. As an immigrant in Canada he recognized there were few opportunities for him as a racialized artist, and so he built a company to create his own opportunities. He infused that company with deeply human values, showing us the possibilities of what a truly inclusive artistic process could look like, and smashing open opportunities for so many others in our community — some of whom have gone on to start companies of their own.


Soheil Parsa is an award-winning director, actor, writer, dramaturg, choreographer and teacher, whose professional theatre career spans forty years and two continents. In his native Iran, Soheil completed studies in Theatre Performance at the University of Tehran and began a promising career as an actor and director. Arriving in Canada with his family in 1984, Soheil completed a second Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies at York University and then went on to establish Modern Times Stage Company. In 1995 Soheil received a New Pioneers Award by Skills for Change for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts by a recent immigrant to Canada. Soheil’s work at Modern Times has been recognized with 6 Dora Mavor Moore Awards, a Chalmers Fellowship in 2002, and a Senior Creation Grant from the Canada Council, as well as a number of international prizes and master class requests. In 2007 and 2010 he was short-listed for the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre Celebrating Directors, the highest honour in Canadian theatre. Soheil was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award for his contribution as a theatre artist to Canadian society.

We also want to congratulate the amazing Jani Lauzon (Prophecy Fog, co-produced by The Theatre Centre and Paper Canoe Projects in association with Nightswimming) for taking home the John Hirsch Director’s Award!

Click here to watch her acceptance speech.

bookmarked: "the hazy economy of cannabis" by alanna mitchell

Illustration by Jeffrey Kam

When Canada legalized recreational marijuana, a team of statisticians set out to decode how much exactly the weed business is worth. For the latest edition of The Walrus, science journalist Alanna Mitchell (Sea Sick, produced by The Theatre Centre) looks at the difficulty and importance of collecting data on the economic contributions of a newly legal drug—and on the wider underground market.

learning, unlearning

May 27, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced that the remains of 215 children were found in unmarked graves on the site of a residential school in Kamloops, BC; since then, 104 children have been discovered at the site of a residential school in Manitoba, 35 in Saskatchewan, and as more sites are searched, more children will be found. On June 5, just days into Pride month, David Gomez was beaten unconscious on Hanlan’s Point Island, a beach where queer people have gathered for decades. On June 6, a white supremacist murdered four members of a Muslim family — Salman AfzaalMadiha SalmanYumna Salman, and Grandmother — on their evening walk, leaving the 9-year-old sole survivor Fayez Salman in serious condition.

What does it mean to be Canadian? Settlers beam with pride when travellers note how “nice” Canadians are compared to Americans, as if who we aren’t is more important than who we are, but the myth of the “nice Canadian” is a flimsy delusion that comes at a grave cost.

Photo by Steve Russell for the Toronto Star

Indigenous people have been saying their children never came home. Muslim people have been saying Islamophobic rhetoric fuels white supremacist violence. Queer and trans people have been saying people are targeting and harming them. Marginalized communities have known exactly what the problem has been, and yet conversations and policies addressing white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia, and settler-colonialism remain superficial, prioritizing white comfort over black and brown lives.

No amount of EDI training will eradicate the violence marginalized people face because the problem is not solely educational; it’s a staunch unwillingness to dissect, examine, and abandon whiteness as a cultural force. White people constantly deny and ignore the experiences of marginalized people, then feign shock when confronted with reality. These events, while tragic, are not shocking at all. All you have to do is listen.

The racist legacy of Canada’s residential schools is still reflected in current policies by Alicia Elliot

As Muslim-Canadians, do we not have a right to live without fear? The constant re-traumatizing following a family’s murder in London by Barâa Arar

On Grief, Rage, & the Performance & Need for Palatability when it comes to Our Pain by Ameema Saeed

Introducing X University: An Open Letter To The Community From Indigenous Students by Indigenous Students from X University

If you’re able, consider donating to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, the Salman family sadaqa jariya fund, and David Gomez’s healing fund.