Photo: W. Wolfe-Wylie – Cahoots (Crossing Gibraltar) 2008
by Marjorie Chan
How can theatre be more welcoming to diverse audiences?
This is a question that preoccupies my mind, as I suspect it does for other smart companies looking at the make-up of the streets compared to the people in their seats.
Two days ago, it was revealed over $5 Million per year of federal investment in multiculturalism programming from Citizen and Immigration Canada goes unspent. This funding will now be reduced.
Though disappointing, this doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. When I was Associate Artistic Director of Cahoots, I created a youth program called Crossing Gibraltar, a theatre training and outreach program, tailored especially for refugee and newcomer youth. Over the four years of the program, we ran over a dozen adaptive programs across Toronto, and gave performance training to over 150 newcomer and refugee youth, some as new as 7 weeks in Canada.
In 2008, we went through the enormously bureaucratic and redundant application for funding from Citizen and Immigration Canada.
The program we applied for was not listed anywhere. We had sought out funding, and were directed to a program that was closing but still had funds available. The officer was passionate and eager to see these funds allocated, and excited about our theatre projects. Although the application was unnecessarily dense, we were well motivated, as it offered funding at 2 – 3 times what was available to us from arts councils.
It was easy to see though how community organizations, especially grassroots ones primarily not working in English would’ve struggled, and thus the monies would be unspent. It was a slog, but we persevered. And even though we knew there were funds available, we were thrilled to hear that we were successful for our entire ask!
Then, we read through the requirements in reporting. Then, the multiple pages of requirements in spending. Then, the requirements of the selection of the participants. In the end, Cahoots declined the funds, much to the disappointment of the friendly officer.
The reporting and spending requirements were simply too bureaucratic and not feasible in the day-to-day operations of a program for a small theatre company. Because it would incorporate the Citizen and Immigration Canada logo, all communications with participants had to be vetted prior to beginning of the program, and had to be a certain percentage English or French. (But what about our communications with the parents for our groups that were wholly Burmese and Karen? And who had just arrived the past spring?)
Under the program, we could not offer any honoraria to participants, an integral part of the program’s success in getting buy-in from immigrant parents. In the end, they conceded that $1/day per youth was permitted but only if we eliminated the food budget line. (Occasional Halal pizza and vegetarian samosas were also integral to the buy-in from parents. And with some refugee youth, they were simply not in a place to learn hip-hop or puppetry when they were preoccupied with hunger.)
Lastly, the requirements to select participants was too rigid. They involved checking paperwork, country of birth, last known countries before Canada, confirmed registration in the school system and on and on and on. The process was completely antithetical to the spirit of the program, which was an invitation to participate in the performing arts for newcomers to Canada.
The conditions of the program would have easily kept youth away instead of welcoming them. I don’t know for sure if we ever worked with youth who did not have their paperwork in place. We may have. I don’t know. But I do know every youth we worked with valued the program highly and wanted to be there.
Our programs ran successfully without that funding, finding other opportunities in the councils and in private funding. As we brought the youth closer to theatre, we were also introducing them to Canada. We did so by maintaining the values that I think most Canadians would appreciate: friendship, acceptance, openness. We welcomed them.
Back to the question: How do we welcome more diversity in our audiences? There are many answers, and many ways to address that disparity. (I’m working on it!) But I wonder, I do wonder, do we have any chance of welcoming new Canadians to the theatre, if our country cannot welcome them first?
Happy Canada Day.
Marjorie Chan is the incoming Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre, a company devoted to creating works that reflect Canada’s diversity in all forms.
With the deadline for HATCH 2014 applications coming up on July 12, Praxis and Harbourfront Centre will be hosting a live twitter chat to discuss the HATCH program this year, how work can integrate with social media (which is something we are specifically looking for) and also to field any questions that might be out there.
Praxis started incorporating an open source theatre approach as part of our HATCH residency in 2010, and we hope to add a little of this to how we curate as well. What are you thinking? What are we thinking? Let’s put it all our there and see what’s going on.
On Tuesday we will have a livestream of all the tweets using the hashtag #HatchTO here on praxistheatre.com.
See you back here after the long weekend. Happy Canada Day!
Four days will quickly steep themselves in nights;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.
-William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Nina Kaye is the Artistic Director of Unspoken Theatre Company. She is a Jill-of-all-trades, with experience as a playwright, director, producer, costumer, dramaturg, and actor.
Unspoken Theatre presents Let’s Misbehave: A 1920′s theme night of music, theatre, dance, and film!
Join them on Friday June 28 as they celebrate the Roaring Twenties in honour of their new play in development, Walking Around in a Dream by Natalie Kaye.
Well, hello, Toronto Theatre Community! It’s Pip again, sending you another dispatch from the booth of the Tarragon Mainspace. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve missed y’all.
Once again, the most wonderful time of the year is upon us. I am not speaking, as Andy Williams was, of Christmas, nor of the start of the school year, as the Staples commercials would have us believe. No, friends, the Dora Mavor Moore Awards are upon us, and it’s time once again for us to gather as a community, celebrate the best work of the season, mutter about who was robbed, and get shit-faced drunk with all of our friends and colleagues.
But looking at all the nominations that have been posted, can we not all agree that among the many worthy commendations, there were a few categories missing? That there is some work missing from the roll call of excellence this season? That perhaps 50 awards are just, at the end of the day, not enough? Allow me to stand before you and say that I believe they are not.
These, in my humble opinion, are some of the awards I would like to see added to the Doras next season.
Outstanding Vanity Project Disguised As Art
I think it’s time we recognized all those people who put so much time and effort into building shows that have very little to recommend them except the opportunity for said artists to put on a show. I think we can all agree that the most difficult part of this project would be deciding the criteria by which it will be judged. What ratio of art to vanity makes for a truly great vanity project?
Outstandingly Irritating Warm-Up By An Actor Or Actress
Stage managers, technicians, and front of house staff are invited to submit videos to the jurors for their consideration.
Patron’s Gold Star Award
Don’t you think it’s time that we recognized the most important people in the arts – the patrons who consume it? The best part is that this award may be given with full irony, so it could go to either the person who was actually a doctor in the house, or the woman who called your front of house manager an anti-Semite because he wouldn’t let her bring a cookie into the theatre. Imagine the suspense!
The Milford Award for Best Technician
Because the best technician, like a Milford Man, is neither seen nor heard, actually showing up to accept this award is considered grounds to revoke it. (BONUS: One fewer acceptance speech to sit through!)
Outstanding Achievement In Social Media Promotion
I mostly just hope that by making this an awardable category, my Facebook feed will become more interesting and less full of uninspired pleading.
Outstanding Efforts Made In Drunkeness At The Postshow Party
Last man standing at the postshow party receives a bucket with a clown on it, and an extra-large poutine.
Oustanding Video Design
Oh, let’s face it: it’ll be 2054 and all actors will be holograms performing on a VR stage before there’s a video award at the Doras.
I’ll see you all on Monday evening, gentle readers. Happy Dora Awards, and may the odds be ever in your favour!
Sarah ‘Pip’ Bradford is the Mainspace Technician of Tarragon Theatre and a lemur enthusiast. She blogs here (tips from pip) and here (The Christopher Pike Project), and also live tweets really bad books @pipbradford #pipreads. She may make fun, but she unabashedly loves the Doras, and she can’t wait to see them again.
The issues that created the Idle No More movement require extreme methods to achieve change.
Yvette Nolan (Algonquin) is a playwright, dramaturg and director. Her plays include BLADE, Job’s Wife, Video, Annie Mae’s Movement, Scattering Jake, from thine eyes, Ham and the Ram, The Unplugging, The Birds (a modern adaptation of Aristophanes’ comedy. She is the editor of Beyond the Pale: Dramatic Writing from First Nations Writers and Writers of Colour, and of Refractions: Solo, with Donna-Michelle St Bernard.
Directing credits include Justice, Café Daughter (Gwaandak Theatre), Tombs of the Vanishing Indian, Salt Baby, A Very Polite Genocide, Death of a Chief, Tales of An Urban Indian, The Unnatural and Accidental Women, Annie Mae’s Movement (Native Earth), The Ecstasy of Rita Joe (Western Canada Theatre/National Arts Centre), The Only Good Indian…, The Triple Truth (Turtle Gals). From 2003-2011, she served as Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts, Canada’s oldest professional Aboriginal theatre. She is currently working on a book on Native theatre in Canada.
Hayden King is Pottawatomi and Ojibwe from Gchimnissing (Christian Island) in Huronia, Ontario.
He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics at Ryerson University.
In addition to work in the academy, Hayden has served as the Senior Policy Adviser to the Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Director of Research for the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Scholar-in-Residence for the Conference Board of Canada and Governance Consultant to BeausoleilFirst Nation.
Wanda Nanibush is an Anishinabe-kwe mother, curator, image and word warrior from Beausoleil First Nation.
Nanibush has published in FUSE magazine, Literary Review of Canada, MUSKRAT magazine and in the book: This is an Honour Song: Twenty Years Since the Blockades amount others. She is an Idle No More Toronto organizer and history buff. ”
Unlike the previous two #CivilDebates, this debate will not be modled on the Parliamentary debate system. Discussion will be broken into five sections:
5 minutes from each of the speakers responding to the statement:
The issues that created the Idle No More movement require extreme methods to achieve change.
Up to 5 minutes each for each of the speakers to respond to any of the ideas put forward by the other speakers.
Reading of 21 Provocative Statements. 7 each provided by by the speakers, but not-attributed.
Opportunity for audience members to respond to one of the statements for two minutes. Debaters may also participate.
Conclusion. An opportunity to define the final portion of the discussion to discuss any actions, opportunities or ideas have been illuminated by the discussion.
Debate 3: Idle No More
June 18, 2013; doors 7pm, debates 7.30pm The Theatre Centre Pop-Up, 1095 Queen St. West, at Dovercourt PWYC at the door. No RSVP required. Hashtag: #CivilDebates
Click here for more information about the Civil Debates series in partnership between The Theatre Centre & Praxis Theatre.
Andrew Kushnir with Julie Tepperman, Mayko Nguyen and members of the Ensemble in Passion Play. Photo: Keith Barker
The Canadian premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Playbegins tonight! Produced by a tryptic of indie theatre companies Outside the March, Convergence Theatre and Sheep No Wool, Passion Play explores the collision of religion, politics and theatre and the impact playing iconic biblical roles has on individuals and communities. Outside the March’s Katherine Cullen explores the meaning of the word ‘passion’.
The word Passion is an ambivalent word. It has a few somewhat contradictory meanings. According to ye olde, Online Etymological Dictionary Passion can mean the following:
Passionate (adj.): “early 15c., “angry; emotional,’ from Medieval Latin passionatus “affected with passion,” from Latin passio. Specific sense of “amorous” is attested from 1580’s. Replaced Old English polung, literally “suffering” from polian (v.) “to endure.”Sense of “sexual love” first attested 1580’s; that of “strong liking, enthusiasm, predilection” is from 1630’s.
Maev Beaty as Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Keith Barker
Suffering, pain, emotional, desire, love. That’s a real cross to bear for one word. Its various meanings bring forth a varied pallet of human emotions that speak to a duality of experience. It is possible that the word Passion contains in it, then, a promise of what it means to be human: to live in a state of utter ambiguity and vulnerability.
In many ways, Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play explores this social and historical drive of human beings to eradicate this ambiguity from our experience. One way to clean up the mess of human nature is to impose rules and order through various ideologies (organized religion, monarchy, political systems), icons (Jesus, Queen Elizabeth), and leaders and dictators (Hitler, Ronald Reagan). That way we don’t have to feel our passionate discomfort. To be told how to think and act can be easier than thinking for yourself.
To legitimate and sanctify only certain modes of being closes down the countless ways that we perform our humanness. There is a massive ethical price to be paid for the eradication of our inner diversity. Some of the characters in this play step outside the boundaries of arbitrary power and pay for it with their sanity or their lives.
For such an epic play, the show has a real humility to it. For one, it is very funny and never takes itself too seriously. There is a lot of room for humor when people are trying to fulfill roles they are not suited for. Maybe it is in these moments of laughter where ambiguity can live unencumbered by our desire to separate the black from the white.
(L-R) Mayko Nguyen, Julie Tepperman, Jordan Pettle & Katherine Cullen. Photo: Keith Barker
On a personal note, this play reminds me of being a child. Child-logic is different from adult logic. I remember accepting all kinds of ridiculous notions to be true (i.e. imagining that if I held my breath I would become invisible and could eat as many cookies as I wanted with my mom in plain sight. Didn’t work out the way I planned). I miss that way of thinking, even if it didn’t get me the results I wanted.
In the world that Sarah Ruhl has imagined, there are “big beautiful fish puppets” that carry people off in “enormous boats.” It reminds me of lullabies and bedtime stories. It reminds me that dreamland can merge with reality, and magic feels strangely possible. Maybe this is the place where we are best equipped to handle ambiguity.
Theatre Centre Artistic Director was presented with The George Luscombe Award for Mentorship at The 2013 Dora Nomination Announcement. Pictured here with Theatre Ontario PTTP supported mentee @ Theatre Centre, Zoe Sweet.
INDEPENDENT THEATRE PRODUCTION DIVISION
BOBLO – Co-Produced by Kitchenband and The Theatre Centre
The Lesson – Modern Times Stage Company
Mr. Marmalade – Outside The March
THE WAR OF 1812 The History of the Village of Small Huts, 1812-15 - Presented by VideoCabaret in association with the Young Centre for the Performing Arts
Laws of Motion – Small Elephant Co-op, Dani Kind and Kate Zeigler
OUTSTANDING NEW PLAY
Adam Seybold – The De Chardin Project – The Quickening Theatre
Daniel Karasik – The Biographer – Tango Co.
Jordan Tannahill – Post Eden – Suburban Beast
Michele Smith and Dean Gilmour – As I Lay Dying – Theatre Smith-Gilmour
Sky Gilbert – A Few Brittle Leaves – The Cabaret Company
Christopher Stanton – Laws of Motion – Small Elephant Co-Op, Dani Kind and Kate Zeigler
Melee Hutton – The Dumb Waiter – Wordsmyth Theatre
Michael Hollingsworth – THE WAR OF 1812 The History of The Village of Small Huts, 1812-15
Mitchell Cushman – Mr. Marmalade – Outside The March
Soheil Parsa – The Lesson – Modern Times Stage Company
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE
Andrew Musselman – Catalpa – Blood in the Alley
David Ferry – The Lesson – Modern Times Stage Company
David Fox – When The World Was Green : A Chef’s Fable
Gavin Crawford – A Few Brittle Leaves – The Cabaret Company
Mark Wilson – The Dumb Waiter – Wordsmyth Theatre
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE
Amy Keating – Mr. Marmalade – Outside The March
Cynthia Ashperger – Feral Child – Suburban Beast/ Jordan Tannahill
Deborah Drakeford – BEA – Actors Repertory Company
Michelle Monteith – The Lesson – Modern Times Stage Company
Virgilia Griffith – Honesty – Suburban Beast / Jordan Tannahill
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE - ENSEMBLE
The Ensemble of BOBLO – Co-Produced by Kitchen Band and The Theatre Centre
The Ensemble of Mr Marmalade – Outside The March
The Ensemble of THE WAR OF 1812 The History of The Village of Small Huts, 1812-15 – Presented by VideoCabaret in association with the Young Centre for the Performing Arts
The Ensemble of Laws of Motion - Small Elephant Co-Op, Dani Kind and Kate Zeigler
OUTSTANDING SCENIC DESIGN
Anahita Dehbonehie – The Lesson – Modern Times Stage Company
Andrea Mittler – The Dumb Waiter – Wordsmyth Theatre
Jon Grosz/ Mitchell Cushman – Mr. Marmalade – Outside The March
Jung-Hye Kim – Boblo - Co-Produced by Kitchen Band and The Theatre Centre
OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN
Angela Thomas – The Lesson – Modern Times Stage Company
Astrid Janson - THE WAR OF 1812 The History of The Village of Small Huts, 1812-15 – Presented by VideoCabaret in association with the Young Centre for the Performing Arts
Jon Grosz/Mitchell Cushman – Mr. Marmalade – Outside The March
Sheree Tams – A Few Brittle Leaves – The Cabaret Company
Teresa Przybylski – As I Lay Dying – Theatre Smith-Gilmour
OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN
Andre Du Toit – As I Lay Dying – Theatre Smith-Gilmour
Andy Moro – THE WAR OF 1812 The History of The Village of Small Huts, 1812-15 – Presented by VideoCabaret in association with the Young Centre for the Performing Arts
Jason Hand – The De Chardin Project – The Quickening Theatre
Michelle Ramsay – The Lesson – Modern Times Stage Company
Rebecca Picherack – BOBLO - Co-Produced by Kitchen Band and The Theatre Centre
OUTSTANDING SOUND DESIGN/COMPOSITION
Andrew Penner – Boblo – Co-Produced By Kitchen Band and The Theatre Centre
Jake Blackwood - THE WAR OF 1812 The History of The Village of Small Huts, 1812-15 – Presented by VideoCabaret in association with the Young Centre for the Performing Arts
James Mckernan – The Dumb Waiter – Wordsmyth Theatre
Thomas Ryder Payne – The Lesson – Modern Times Stage Company
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O, no! It is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his ending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved. - William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116 -
Praxis Theatre is guest curating the 10th anniversary HATCH Season in 2014. We are very excited about this partnership. The experience Praxis Theatre had at HATCH creating Section 98 in 2010 was integral to our development as a multi-platform performance creator.
HATCH is designed to incubate and foster invention and innovation in performance practice and over the past decade has become a vital laboratory for development within the local performance ecology. The opportunity to work and experiment with support and resources from Harbourfront is a significant one.
For a decade, HATCH has empowered many of Toronto artists to push the boundaries of contemporary performance including: Erin Shields, Anita Majumdar, Joan Kivanda, Brendan Healy, Hannah Moscovitch, Small Wooden Shoe, Trevor Schwellnus, Jordan Tannahill, Jess Dobkin, Philip McKee, UnSpun Theatre, Reena Katz, and Derek Kwan.
For HATCH 2014, we are particularly interested in projects that experiment with how social media can be used artistically in creation and performance. The deadline for applications is July 12, 2013.
Ame Henderson and Evan Webber in Dedicated to The Revolutions (HATCH 07)
We invite projects from emerging creators as well as established artists engaging in new collaborations or entering into new artistic territory. Performance proposals from artists working across all disciplines, including, but not limited to: dance, theatre, performance art, music, digital art, etc. are encouraged. Of specific interest are proposals that demonstrate how HATCH will benefit the development of the project and the artist.
In addition to providing mentorship over the course of a year, HATCH enables the concentrated experimentation and incubation of an idea that culminates in a public presentation, recognizing how vital audience feedback is to the creative process. Companies and artists selected to participate in HATCH will receive a one-week residency in the Studio Theatre, located at Harbourfront Centre.
The Studio Theatre is an intimate, 192-seat proscenium venue featuring a full lighting grid, raked seating and sprung stage floor. Use of the residency period is at the discretion of the artist and needs of the project (i.e. workshop, rehearsals, performance, etc.) but there must be at least one presentation of the work for the public at some point in the week.
“After the years and years of weaker and waterier imitations, we now find ourselves rejecting the very notion of a holy stage. It is not the fault of the holy that it has become a middle-class weapon to keep the children good.”