Residency: Announcing the World Premiere of Loss by Ian Kamau
April 25, 2023
“Children get attached, their eyes search when a parent leaves a room; loss makes us scared to let go.”
Luminato Festival Toronto presents
Loss by Ian Kamau
Produced by The Theatre Centre
Created by Ian Kamau, co-written by Ian Kamau & Roger McTair, with Composer Bruce A. Russell
Developed in Residency at The Theatre Centre
On stage June 14 — 18, 2023 at The Harbourfront Centre Theatre
Photo by Bryan Brock
Toronto, ON — The Theatre Centre is thrilled to announce Loss by Ian Kamau, featuring poems by his father, writer & filmmaker Roger McTair, music composed by Bruce A. Russell, Kamau, and Njo Kong Kie, video by award-winning filmmaker Tiffany Hsiung, and environmental design by acclaimed installation artist Javid Jah. The world premiere of Loss will be presented at the 2023 Luminato Festival Toronto.
In 2011 Ian Kamau got sad. He had lost a job and an important relationship. He released an album to an excited community, but found himself isolated. He spent the winter alone in bed. The question “why do I feel like this” led him to ask “how did my grandmother die”, which led to an almost 10-year investigation of the story of how his paternal grandmother died when his father was just ten years old in Trinidad.
This investigation became Loss, a multi-media performance that begins as a mirror into a winter of depression, and slowly unravels a multi-generational family story of loss through an orchestration of memories using live music, film, and storytelling. Loss is an exploration of grief in Afro-Caribbean communities, and a collective move toward healing shared with the audience.
In this way, Loss uses storytelling to examine how the impacts of mental health and depression manifest through the lens of communities who are marginalized and mistreated by institutions such as hospitals and mental health facilities.
“At some point in my artistic practice I began telling my own stories. When I did that, people started coming up to me afterwards, sharing their stories with me, too. My experience was reflecting something within themselves. Loss is a mirror in that way: my story, relationships, and communities can reflect parts of your story, relationships, and community. For some people, this is how healing could begin.” — Ian Kamau
Photo by Cassandra Popescu
The Theatre Centre’s General & Artistic Director, Aislinn Rose, was one of the individuals who approached Ian after an early Residency showing of Loss in 2015.
“I felt I had to tell him about my own family, and why his story meant so much to me – not realizing at the time that this is exactly what happens with audiences when and wherever Ian performs. I’ve witnessed it every time elements of the work have been shared.
Ian is an incredible artist across many forms, but most importantly he is a brilliant thinker and storyteller. It has been the privilege of my career to work so closely with him over the last several years, and I cannot wait to see what stories audiences will want to share after experiencing the completed work.” — Aislinn Rose, General & Artistic Director, The Theatre Centre
Residency is The Theatre Centre’s new work development program that provides artists with the necessary space, funding and mentorship over long periods of time to craft ideas still in their infancy into finished works that are provocative, innovative, and ambitious. The Theatre Centre has supported the development of Loss for 9 years.
The multimedia live-arts experience Loss is also a reflection of artist Ian Kamau’s interdisciplinary career that crosses music, film, poetry, city building, and design. But he says that ultimately, this is just a story.
Loss will be performed live at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre from June 14 -18, 2023, as part of Luminato Festival Toronto. Tickets are on sale now at LuminatoFestival.com
Luminato Festival Toronto presents Ian Kamau’s Loss, produced by The Theatre Centre June 14 — 18 at The Harbourfront Centre Theatre (231 Queens Quay West)
Loss is a deeply honest, live retelling of an intergenerational family story, written by Ian Kamau and his father Roger McTair.
This multi-media performance begins as a mirror into a winter of depression, then slowly unravels the mystery surrounding the death of his paternal grandmother Nora Elutha Rogers.
An orchestration of memories using live music, video, and storytelling — Loss is an exploration of grief in Afro-Caribbean communities, and an immersive experience towards healing shared with the audience.
ASL (American Sign Language) Interpreted Performance will take place on Thursday, June 15, at 8pm
Relaxed Performance will take place on Saturday, June 17, at 2pm
Financial Accessibility: All tickets to Loss are “pick your price” starting at $15 inclusive of all fees and taxes.
About Ian Kamau
Ian Kamau is an artist, writer, and designer from Toronto. He has released seven music projects including the self-produced album One Day Soon (2011) and has published articles, short stories, and poems in publications by Vice, Coach House Press, and Book Thug. The son of pioneering filmmakers, he was the founding executive director of Nia Centre for the Arts, has a Bachelor in Design and a Masters in Environmental Studies from York University, and a Masters in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University. His research includes cultural production, storytelling, and critical city building with a focus on mental health and actualization.
About Roger McTair
Roger McTair is a Trinidadian-Canadian writer, pioneering documentary filmmaker, and poet whose stories and poems have been published in the Caribbean, Canada, and the U.S.
An alumni of Ryerson University’s Film and Photography program, he taught media writing at Seneca College at York University in Toronto, and has a keen critical interest in literature, theatre, and philosophy. He has lived in Toronto since 1970.
Ian Kamau, Creator and Performer
Ian Kamau & Roger McTair, Writers
Tiffany Hsiung, Filmmaker
Jeremy Mimnagh, Video Designer
Bruce A. Russell, Composer
Javid Jah, Environment Designer
Shawn Henry, Lighting Designer
Aislinn Rose, Dramaturge
David Mesiha, Co-sound Designer
David Heeney, Co-sound Designer
Cat Calica, Costume Designer
Tara Mohan, Stage Manager
Hazel Moore, Assistant Stage Manager
Rachel Penny, Producer
Beth Wong, Producer for the Theatre Centre
Daniel Bennett, Production Manager and Technical Director
Maya Royer, Associate Production Manager and Technical Director
“Just Us” performance dedicated to Black audiences
June 16, 2023 at 8pm is a Black Out Night in collaboration with Just Us Events Toronto. Just Us Events is dedicated to creating exclusively Black events, spaces and experiences for Black identifying folk. We love and appreciate our Non-Black POC and white partners, allies, family and friends. However, if you are not a part of the Black community, we welcome you to attend a performance on another night.
Loss was developed in Residency at The Theatre Centre, and received support from the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, School without Borders, and TO Live. The Theatre Centre Residency Program is generously supported by lead sponsor BMO Financial.
Thank you to the Theatre Centre’s Major Programming Supporters: Toronto Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, The Government of Canada, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Toronto Arts Foundation, BMO Financial, Metcalf Foundation, The Slaight Family Foundation, Kingfisher Foundation, The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation.
Luminato Festival Toronto
Luminato Festival Toronto, the city’s international festival of arts and ideas, returns this summer from June 7th to June 18th with an exceptional program set to invigorate Toronto with creativity. Luminato Festival Toronto is a convenor and catalyst for big, bold contemporary works of art. Each June, Luminato kicks off the summer with a festival to welcome the world to Toronto, commissioning, producing, and presenting exceptional Canadian and international artists. Throughout the year, Luminato works with artists from the diverse cultures and communities of the city’s region, supporting creative development, and bringing their art to the world stage. We connect local voices with global conversations and ground our work in equity, inclusion, accessibility, and sustainability. Most importantly, we believe in the power of art to start conversations and inspire audiences.
About The Theatre Centre
The Theatre Centre is a nationally recognized live-arts incubator and community hub. Our mission is to offer a home for creative, cultural and social interactions to invent the future.
We make work that spans disciplines and genres; work that pushes the boundaries of what is considered “art”. Our programming and our role as a community space are inextricably linked. Art is not made in a silo: it is connected to the world around it.
Residency is The Theatre Centre’s structured two-year program (sometimes longer!) providing groups/artists with the necessary space, funding and mentorship to craft ideas still in their infancy into finished works that are provocative, innovative, and ambitious. We look for good ideas, drawing us to projects led by directors, designers, composers, choreographers, architects, visual artists, and even a neurologist. Residency facilitates a highly collaborative artistic process that starts by asking: “what do you need?”