Monday, 23 April 2018

ONstage Openings for the week of April 23

ONstage Now Playing in Central Ontario
Guys and Dolls at VOS Theatre (Cobourg)
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Southwestern Ontario

Apr. 26, All My Sons at St. Marys Community Players
Apr. 27, The Rocky Horror Show at Stratford Festival [in previews]
Apr. 27, Twelve Angry Men at Elmira Theatre Company

In Toronto

Apr. 26, Selfie at Young People's Theatre [with previews from Apr. 23]
Apr. 26, There Goes the Bride at NAGs Players
Apr. 27, Perfect Wedding at The Village Players, Bloor West Village
Apr. 27, Stellabration at ACT II Studio Theatre

In Central Ontario

Apr. 27, The Addams Family at Peterborough Theatre Guild

ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Chariots of Fire at The Grand Theatre (London)
The running ensemble
Photo by Christina Kuefner

In Eastern Ontario

Apr. 24, Opry Gold at Upper Canada Playhouse (Morrisburg)
Apr. 26, Gracie at Great Canadian Theatre Company (Ottawa) [with previews from Apr. 24]
Apr. 26, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest at Domino Theatre (Kingston)
Apr. 27, Butterflies are Free at Smiths Falls Community Theatre
Apr. 29, Steel Magnolias at Rural Root Theatre Company (Constance Bay)

In South Central Ontario

Apr. 28, sweaty and soulful at Shadowpath Theatre Productions (Thornhill)

ICYMI: Check out last week’s openings

For all the theatre playing across Ontario, visit Theatre Ontario’s ONstage theatre listings on our website

Friday, 20 April 2018

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters

Equity in Theatre Symposium

Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


TO Toasts


In Case You Missed It

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Today we feature four stories:
The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2018.

Learn more about Theatre Ontario's Professional Theatre Training Program

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Darwin Lyons

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Darwin Lyons trained in directing with Ravi Jain at Why Not Theatre in Toronto

(March 23, 2018)  This is a blog post about my thoughts after assistant directing Animal Farm, the play, written by Anthony MacMahon and directed by Ravi Jain. Animal Farm tells the tale of human adults, dressed in farm animal costumes, arguing about equality and equity in the political landscape of neoliberalism. The main response from people leaving the theatre is, “I have never seen anything like that in my life.” Some of those people said that with joy, some said it with a fire lit inside of them to start a revolution, some said it with confusion, and some said it with discomfort.

Anthony’s adaptation takes the rhetoric and tone of the novel and applies it to our time. Animal Farm is the closest thing I have seen to Epic Theatre in Toronto. Epic Theatre is Brecht’s idea of theatre as a tool to distance, and alienate the audience. I’ve always understood this to mean making an audience think as well as feel, to disorient them by not giving them catharsis. (Brecht scholars can contact me to point out the inaccuracies of my interpretation at ArguringAboutExactlyWhatDeadPeopleMeantIsOfNoInterestToMe@yahoo.com). Animal Farm brings us in and makes us feel, then pulls us away and makes us think. The modulated voices and rhetoric distance us and make us think about current political partisanship; but the sweet characters and hilarious jokes pull us in and make us feel. This push and pull can be unsettling. We are rarely unsettled in the theatre. We are familiar with being entertained, saddened, catharted, or disappointed but not unsettled. So what do audiences do with this feeling? Audiences are reacting differently with the feeling of being unsettled, and we can learn a lot about ourselves from how we deal with that feeling.

Animal Farm asks us to look at privilege. It asks us to look at how tempting it is to take glutinous care of ourselves while ignoring others’ starving. It asks us to see how easy it is to tell ourselves that we have power because we worked for it, not because it was handed to us through genetics and chance. It shows us how a lack of stability mixed with a lack of political and emotional education creates angry and dangerous masses. Animal Farm asks us to confront what makes our world, right now, unlivable for some and exorbitant for others.

Jennifer Villaverde, Raquel Duffy,
Michaela Washburn, Leah Cherniak.
Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann
In order to be sustainable, theatre needs to exist in capitalism. It is supposed to sell and make people want to come back and buy more tickets. Artists need people to buy their art, otherwise they won’t be able to survive and they won’t be able to make more art. Comedies sell well because they make us feel good, and we know what to expect. Tragedies sell well because they give us catharsis, and again we know what to expect. But if art has to be entertainment, and entertainment has to have a bottom line, can art ever explore areas of humanity beyond the binaries? I think it’s really cool that Animal Farm is so unsettling and is presented on such a large platform. I think it’s cool because I find our current world unsettling. I think art can be many different things, I think it can entertain, it can teach me and it can stir me to change. It can also placate me and allow me to tune out the world around me. How do we reconcile art that unsettles, with art that needs to inspire audiences to spend more money?

Besides Animal Farm I have rarely seen an audience listening so intently but without unified reactions. What I mean is that usually when an audience is on the edge of their seat they all laugh together, gasp together, or cry together. In the case of Animal Farm the audience is listening, but one person will laugh uproariously while another gasps in fear. What this is teaching me is that the push and pull of Epic Theatre is different for each person. One person might laugh at the satire of the one percent, and another might feel attacked. I think this push and pull is what is valuable. This push and pull makes me question my reactions, it makes me question what makes me unsettled. That feeling of being unsettled can make me put my head in the sand, or can make me ask myself: why do I want to feel placated? Do I want to live in a world that is full of selfishness and hate? Do I want to be full of selfishness and hate? I think that from that push and pull, from witnessing what my fellow audience members laugh and gasp at, we can push forward our conversations about our world.

Animal Farm looks at two revolutions, one against a tyrannical farmer and one against an oppressed pig turned oppressor. The second revolution, which we (spoiler alert) don’t see the aftermath of, is the most interesting to me because it teases at the revolutions needed of our time. As an artist, I struggle with ending a play on a question mark. Sometimes I think a question mark is the most useful because it asks the audience to come to their own conclusions. Sometimes I think as artists we need to offer alternative options. Animal Farm’s ending is really unsettling to me, I think because it is the revolution being asked of us now and I don’t know what would come next. We didn’t know what would come after Monarchy, but we fought for something better. What we have now is still oppressive and unequal, so what can we do to change it?

The ensemble of Animal Farm at Soulpepper Theatre
Photo by Cylla von Tiedmann
It is interesting to watch audiences take in Animal Farm, and then process it in conversations about Trump and Doug Ford at intermission. This play is so close to our life (maybe minus some pig costumes). What audiences are teaching me about this play is that we are in a new political moment. Epic Theatre was created in moments of need for political upheaval. Epic Theatre tried to make its audience wake up, to see their current circumstances with new eyes and then take action. As I read the news these days, I try to play a simple game with myself. The game is: how will this period in time be taught in history classes of the future? What will 15-year-old students think when they hear that the United States voted in an admitted sexual assaulter and white supremacist? Will they be baffled when they hear that we knew about global warming but didn’t stop filling landfills? What will young law students say when they study the cases of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine? Will they be appalled by how we allowed these injustices to happen? I hope so. I hope the generations of the future will think us horrendous. But more than that I hope that that we are at a turning point as a society. I hope we are beginning to wake up and that we will use this “awakeness” to make an equitable world, to have our own Animal Revolution.

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2018.


Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Cole Alvis

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Cole Alvis training in directing with Nina Lee Aquino at Theatre Passe Muraille in Tkarón:to


(February 27, 2018) One of my responsibilities as Assistant Director of The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey at Theatre Passe Muraille is to write the land acknowledgement. It is my preference for this protocol to be spoken aloud prior to a performance by a leader from the theatre or artist connected with the work.

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s Dramaturge and Rhubarb Festival Director Mel Hauge speaks her acknowledgement over 20 times between both venues during the two-week festival. This commitment to addressing each audience is not always possible for performance venues and arts leaders often resulting in well-intentioned yet uninformed staff members speaking the obligatory words with cursory knowledge of the protocol and its meaning to the organization and/or the artists about to perform.

Nina Lee Aquino is the Artistic Director of Factory Theatre and for the recent run of Bang Bang by Kat Sandler requested Donna-Michelle St. Bernard and Kwaku Okyere write a recognition of the territories connecting the art on the stage with their understanding of this protocol. This acknowledgement was prerecorded, treated with a sound design to ensure artistry and incorporated into the opening moments of the production. Artists are moving this protocol forward to ensure there is context and a personal touch linking this action (recognizing territories) and the forthcoming production.

We are following suit for The Drawer Boy and Ojibway actor and comedian Craig Lauzon joined me recording the protocol complemented by sound design from Michelle Bensimon. It is important for this production (with Craig playing Angus) that people consider the original caretakers of the territories where Theatre Passe Muraille sits along with those where the quintessential Canadian play The Farm Show (inspiration for The Drawer Boy) took place. Through my work with Falen Johnson (Mohawk) and Jill Carter (Anishinaabe-Ashkenazi) I have learned how to recognize the territories here in Tkarón:to. Resources that supported my search for the original caretakers of what is now Clinton, ON include: 


I share these websites as resources for others looking to craft their own land acknowledgments and encourage you to consider âpihtawikosisân’s perspective in this article to ensure you move forward in a good way.

Here is the text for the pre-recorded land acknowledgement at our production of The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey at Theatre Passe Muraille (Feb. 28 - March 25, 2018):

Lauzon: (introduce yourself in your language) My name is Craig Lauzon. I’m an Ojibway actor playing Angus in this production.
Alvis: And my name is Cole Alvis, I’m a Métis artist and the assistant director.
Lauzon: We recognize the original peoples of this territory: the Haudenosaunee, Wendat and Mississauga Anishinaabe nations.
Alvis: The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey is set on a farm near what’s now called Clinton, Ontario. The original and ongoing caretakers of that area are the Haudenosaunee, Odawa and Anishinabek peoples.
Lauzon: We are grateful to the elders, water protectors and language keepers of these territories past, present and future.
Alvis: Stories have been told here since time immemorial and we recognize their power to move and transform.
Lauzon: This play is about storytelling and we invite you to learn about the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant that continues to govern these territories today. 
Alvis: There is one intermission in this performance. Out of respect for the actors please dim and silence your phones. Photography and video is not permitted. 
Lauzon: Meegwetch for attending our production of The Drawer Boy in celebration of Theatre Passe Muraille’s fiftieth season on these lands and waterways.

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2018.


Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Sabah Haque

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Sabah Haque begins training in artistic producing with Tom Arthur Davis and Jivesh Parasram at Pandemic Theatre in Toronto, Vancouver BC, and Victoria BC


(April 10, 2018)  I. Am. STOKED. Working with Jiv and Tom over the past year has been fun, and full of discoveries. To travel with The Only Good Indian, the first show we’ve worked on together, with THE Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, who’s always keeping it real, is a seemingly small but GIANT dream come true. I have never been to the west coast, so that in itself is thrilling. But to go to the west coast to work on theatre with three of the coolest, authentic, daring, and pleasant artists I know? Do I know a word to describe that?

I’ve already booked my travel and accommodations. I have an uncle and cousin who live in Vancouver—already planned to have lunch. My friend visited Vancouver over the summer and sent me Snapchats of his adventures—already planning to send those same snaps. I am meeting with Kristina from Generator, and Jiv and Tom this week to chat about the west-coast-based artists I am to meet—already day-dreaming about those coffee meet-cutes instead of doing my job. I get to meet MORE cool, authentic, daring artists. #FanGirl

I am looking forward to learning more about touring, experiencing that touring life, and to continue to contribute to The Only Good Indian. I imagine I will be spilling an endless stream of questions, sharing lots of laughter, and wrestling with the challenges of facilitating long table discussions and navigating QLab. I am looking forward to being someone Tom, Jiv and Donna-Michelle can rely on while they focus on their performance. I am looking forward to meeting new people, asking new questions, and making my world bigger.

The only thing that really expresses how I feel about this program is the triumphant cackles that rumble from my gut. Happens every few hours. They conclude with a grin and leave a warm feeling in my sappy heart, just like a slice-of-life anime.

Thank you so much for supporting this phase of my training with Pandemic Theatre.

Until next time

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2018.

Learn more about Theatre Ontario's Professional Theatre Training Program

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Andrea Scott

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Andrea Scott training in producing with David Auster at the Stratford Festival

(April 3, 2018)  Well, I made it. We are at the official six-week point of my tenure at the Stratford Festival supported by Theatre Ontario’s PTTP program, and the Ontario Arts Council. I arrived on February 20 and had no idea if I would enjoy the experience of being a student again. But what was I thinking? I loved school, and being mentored by David Auster, the best producer at the largest theatre company in the country, is incredible.

ted witzel
On my first day at the Stratford Festival I was given a desk in the Director’s Office. I was seated next to ted witzel (who is being mentored in Leadership by Artistic Director, Antoni Cimolino), a wonderful person to bounce ideas off of as they pertain to the intricacies of theatre production. The first couple of weeks had me sitting at my desk, kind of working on my own projects guiltily while waiting to hear from David or Bonnie. Eventually I realized that it made complete sense for me to continue building and nurturing my own projects while absorbing producing knowledge from my mentors.

I treat my mentorship like a full-time job, even though I’ve been told that I’m not obligated to be in the office every day. But I like the routine of working on something, anything, theatre-related every single day. It has served me well. Initially I would be pulled into meetings David would have with different department heads where they would discuss issues that I would have to figure out myself when I was producing a show: how far in advance to begin promotion, how much on-line, in print, and on social media; where will we source xyz if this is the cap on how much we can spend; how did we do last year compared to this year and what can we do differently? Like a sentient mushroom, I sit in the room, absorbing every nuanced discussion about the business of making art.

Since my arrival I have learned about Strategic Planning for the future, audience retention, marketing, how last year’s sales compare to this year’s, how important the ‘Not in Our Space’ initiative is to the company, and had an opportunity to observe the wardrobe and props department creating whimsy and magic out of textiles and zip ties. Everyone at the festival has made me feel very comfortable and welcome. My calendar is full of meeting invites from multiple departments so I’m not just getting an education in producing; I am getting a comprehensive overview of every area in the theatre that makes the season a success.

But let me be clear: I’m a black woman in a mainly all-white space. I spoke up about diversity in a meeting two weeks ago and it was terrifying. I am not a Stratford employee and many of the people at the meeting were very important. Kamala Harris is a politician and lawyer serving as a junior US Senator. She is also black and been subjected to some of the worst dog whistle politics you can imagine in this current administration. On March 19, she wrote, ‘My advice to black girls everywhere: whenever you find yourselves in a room where there are lots of people who don’t look like you—be it a classroom, a boardroom, or a courtroom—remember you have an entire community in that room with you, all of us cheering you on.’ I heard these words in my head when, heart racing and voice shaking, I spoke up; women of colour need to speak up in rooms where the marginalized rarely get a voice.

Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and author of Dear Madam President: An Open letter to the Women Who Will Run the World, speaks to the fact that concept of women in powerful leadership positions in business and politics is still a radical idea for a patriarchal society. Adding race to that equation makes the obstacles seem even more insurmountable but I have been invited to sit in the rooms and asked to speak. I’m not in Strategic meetings out of politeness and I need to get over my own fear of sounding stupid or, heaven forbid, making people feel uncomfortable. Discomfort is useful, and if my presence disrupts spaces in a way that moves ideas forward then I will take advantage of this unique opportunity that I manifested for myself a year ago. Palmieri says it best, ‘If you inhibit yourself, you’re not just inhibiting yourself, you’re robbing everyone else of your perspective, and if you don’t look like everyone else, and if you’re one of a few women in the meeting…your perspective matters more, not less.’

B.J. the Swan for
the Stratford Swan Parade
My last six weeks at the Stratford Festival will be about taking up space, speaking up, and going to the Swan Parade on April 8. I will conduct research in the mornings, brainstorm with administrative staff at lunch, and write in the evenings, making this the best idea I’ve ever had for my career as a theatre professional in Canada; I could not be happier.

Related Reading:


The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2018.

Learn more about Theatre Ontario's Professional Theatre Training Program

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Upcoming opportunities from Theatre Ontario, from our members, and from other arts service organizations.

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

The Curtain Club in Richmond Hill
invites director submissions
for their 18/19 season
  • Deadline to apply to direct for the 18/19 season at The Curtain Club community theatre’s in Richmond Hill is today.
  • Deadline to apply to direct for the Fireworks Festival at Alumnae Theatre in Toronto is April 20.
  • Ryerson University’s Centre of Free Expression is hosting a community event “Are Arts Funders Starting to Define the Arts” on April 23 in Toronto.
  • The next Paprika Festival Monologue Jam for writers under 30 is April 24 in Toronto.
  • ArtsBuild Ontario is holding a webinar on “Balancing Programming and Space Rentals” for venue operators on April 24.
  • Deadline to apply for Ontario Arts Council Théâtre – projets francophones grants is April 25.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Scarborough Theatre Guild community theatre invites applications for artistic staff for their 18/19 season.

Check out these items, and other postings from our members.
Theatre Ontario individual members can also access Auditions, Job Postings and Discount Ticket Offers on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Honouring Excellence by Students in Theatre

Do you know an outstanding student who has made a commitment to the drama/theatre community in his/her/their school?

Teachers and schools can honour those students with Theatre Ontario’s Certificate of Excellence—and with commencement season approaching, now is a terrific time for recognition!

Theatre Ontario’s Certificates of Excellence are awarded to an individual who has shown diligence, excellence of participation, and/or outstanding commitment. The person receiving the certificate may have worked as a performer, technician, organizer of the drama club, or may simply have been of great support and encouragement to others, during or after school hours.

Monday, 16 April 2018

ONstage Openings for the week of April 16

ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
The Cemetery Club at Scarborough Theatre Guild
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Southwestern Ontario

Apr. 17, The Music Man at Stratford Festival [in previews]
Apr. 20, Million Dollar Quartet at Theatre Aquarius (Hamilton) [with previews from Apr. 18]
Apr. 20, Chariots of Fire at The Grand Theatre (London) [with previews from Apr. 17]

In Toronto

Apr. 17, Fun Home at The Musical Stage Company [currently in previews]

In Central Ontario

Apr. 19, Guys and Dolls at VOS Theatre (Cobourg)
Apr. 20, A Comedy of Tenors at Northumberland Players (Cobourg)
ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
The Merchant of Venice at Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre

In Eastern Ontario

Apr. 20, The Diary of Anne Frank at Brockville Theatre Guild


For all the theatre playing across Ontario, visit Theatre Ontario’s ONstage theatre listings on our website

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Congratulations to the Professional Theatre Training Program Spring 2018 Grant Recipients

We are pleased to announce the latest recipients of training grants through Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP). We thank all those who applied to the program.

Over $42,500 was awarded in total among the following 13 recipients:
  • Thomas Alderson will train in directing with Ashlie Corcoran at Arts Club Theatre Company in Vancouver BC
  • Sehar Bhojani and Brendan McMurtry-Howlett will train in artistic direction with Jillian Keiley at the National Arts Centre of Canada in Ottawa
  • Logan Raju Cracknell will train in lighting design with David DeGrow at Cahoots in Toronto and on tour
  • Sabah Haque will train in artistic producing with Tom Arthur Davis and Jivesh Parasram at Pandemic Theatre in Toronto, Vancouver BC, and Victoria BC
  • Christine Horne will train in directing with Eda Holmes at Canadian Stage in Toronto
  • Taryn Jorgenson will train in directing with Richard Rose at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto
  • Stephanie Kast will train in writing and producing with Joshua Bainbridge in North Bay
  • Tijiki Morris is training in directing with Erin Brubacher at Aga Khan in Toronto
  • Scott Emerson Moyle will train in intimacy direction with Tonia Sina at Intimacy Directors International in Toronto and Chicago USA
  • Nancy Anne Perrin will train in design for opera with Michael Gianfrancesco at the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto
  • Samyuktha Punthambekar will train in arts management with Mitchell Marcus at Musical Stage Company in Toronto
  • Julia Tribe will train in community engaged theatre and performing arts with Ruth Howard at Jumblies Theatre in Toronto
  • Anne White will train in directing and artistic direction with Adam Paolozza at Bad New Days in Toronto

Over $98,000 was requested during this application round. The next application deadline for this program is October 1, 2018.

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline except performance.

Learn more about the Professional Theatre Training Program

This program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Upcoming opportunities from Theatre Ontario, from our members, and from other arts service organizations.

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Theatre Ontario's "Intimacy for the
Stage for Performing Artists" workshop
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadline to apply for Festival Players of Prince Edward County’s Academy for Young Actor Training is April 13.
  • Deadline for nominations for TAPA's Dora Ancillary Awards (The Silver Ticket and the Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award for Leadership in Administration) is April 16.
  • Deadline to apply to direct for the 18/19 season at The Curtain Club community theatre’s in Richmond Hill is April 18.
  • Deadline to apply to direct for the Fireworks Festival at Alumnae Theatre in Toronto is April 20.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Theatre Direct is hosting a workshop on “Creating Theatre for Very Young Audiences” as part of the WeeFestival in Toronto from May 14 to 18.

Check out these items, and other postings from our members.
Theatre Ontario individual members can also access Auditions, Job Postings and Discount Ticket Offers on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Welcome Toronto Irish Players and Ottawa Little Theatre to Theatre Ontario Festival 2018

Theatre Ontario is thrilled to welcome the final two productions that will perform at Theatre Ontario Festival 2018 in London. These productions are chosen from Ontario’s regional community theatre festivals, and are a showcase of outstanding community theatre from across the province.

On Thursday, May 17, the Toronto Irish Players return to Festival with their production of Little Gem by Elaine Murphy. Representing the Association of Community Theatres—Central Ontario (ACT-CO), and chosen as Best Production in the Comedy category at the ACT-CO Festival by adjudicator Heather Dick, Toronto Irish Players were the recipients of last year’s Elsie Award for Outstanding Festival Production.

On Saturday, May 19, Ottawa Little Theatre will present Dead Accounts by Theresa Rebeck, representing the Eastern Ontario Drama League. This show was chosen as Best Production in the EODL Full-Length Festival by adjudicator Bea Quarrie. Ottawa Little Theatre hosted last year’s Theatre Ontario Festival, and last represented EODL at Festival in 2005.

As previously announced, Theatre Ontario Festival 2018 will feature detailed adjudications with Maja Ardal, a Voice and Movement workshop led by Dan Ebbs, a Playwright-in-Person reading, and awards and parties celebrating community theatre in Ontario.

The annual Theatre Ontario Festival is a showcase of outstanding community theatre productions; a classroom for passionate, dedicated community theatre artists; a celebration of excellence in community theatre; and a destination bringing together theatre lovers from across the province. Theatre Ontario Festival 2018 runs May 16 to 20, and is hosted by London Community Players, in partnership with Theatre Ontario and the Western Ontario Drama League.

Join us at Theatre Ontario Festival 2018

Monday, 9 April 2018

ONstage Openings for the week of April 9

This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages
ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Alexander Showcase Theatre

In South Central Ontario

Apr. 12, The Attic, the Pearls and Three Fine Girls at Theatre Aurora
Apr. 12, The Dixie Swim Club at Whitby Courthouse Theatre
Apr. 13, Boxed In at Georgetown Little Theatre
Apr. 13, Hilda's Yard at Theatre Burlington

In Southwestern Ontario

Apr. 11, Stage Kiss at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake) [in previews]
Apr. 12, The Merchant of Venice at Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre
Apr. 13, Exit Laughing at Theatre Sarnia

In Toronto

ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Heroes at Players' Guild of Hamilton
Steve O'Brien, Michael Hannigan, Erik Peters
Photo by Lynne Jamieson
Apr. 9, Risky Phil at Young People's Theatre
Apr. 10, Fear and Misery of The Third Reich at George Brown Theatre School
Apr. 10, Take d Milk, Nah? at Theatre Passe Muraille
Apr. 11, The Provoked Wife at George Brown Theatre School
Apr. 12, Mouthpiece from Nightwood Theatre at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre [with a preview on Apr. 11]
Apr. 13, Fun Home at The Musical Stage Company
Apr. 13, Queen Marie at Alumnae Theatre Company

In Central Ontario

Apr. 10, Jonas and Barry in the Home at Port Hope Festival Theatre
Apr. 12, Harvest Moon Rising at South Simcoe Theatre (Cookstown)

In Eastern Ontario

Apr. 12, Sal Capone: The Lamentable Tragedy of at National Arts Centre—English Theatre (Ottawa) [with previews from Apr. 10]


For all the theatre playing across Ontario, visit Theatre Ontario’s ONstage theatre listings on our website

Friday, 6 April 2018

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters

Theatre Ontario Staff and Members of
the Youth Advisory Committee on World Theatre Day
  • Thanks to everyone who joined us on World Theatre Day.  You can catch up with the recording of the Facebook Live broadcast (autoplays), and the snapd photo gallery.
  • New data from People for Education show that, despite the widely recognized importance of arts education, equitable access to arts programs and resources is an ongoing challenge for Ontario’s schools. Students in small and rural schools, in schools with higher levels of poverty, and in schools with lower levels of parental education are less likely to have access to learning opportunities in the arts. You can also read media reports from the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and the CBC (autoplays).

Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


In Case You Missed It

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Join Us at Our "Movement and Voice" Workshop at Theatre Ontario Festival 2018 in London

Dan Ebbs
Theatre Ontario will be hosting a free “Movement and Voice” workshop with Dan Ebbs as part of Theatre Ontario Festival 2018 for participants eager to enhance their skills.

Dan’s workshop will focus on body dynamic, finding characters instinctively, personalized warm-ups, mime, natural body resonance, and enunciation.

Theatre Ontario Festival is a showcase of outstanding community theatre productions, a symposium for passionate, dedicated community theatre artists, a celebration of excellence in community theatre, and a destination bringing together theatre lovers from across the province. Festival 2018 runs May 16 to 20 in London.

Learn more about our Theatre Ontario Festival 2018 Movement and Voice Workshop

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Upcoming opportunities from Theatre Ontario, from our members, and from other arts service organizations.

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Grant Writing Information Session
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadlines for applications for Ontario Arts Council grants (Arts Organizations in Communities and Schools: Operating, Major Organizations: Operating, Multi and Inter-Arts Organizations: Operating, and National and International Residency Projects) is today, with Arts Service Projects on Apr. 10.
  • Deadline for nominations for the Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award from PACT, the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, is April 6.
  • The Council of Ontario Drama & Dance Educators is holding a Directing Intimacy workshop for secondary school teachers on April 7.
  • Deadline for applications for directors of Markham Little Theatre’s 2018/19 season is April 9.
  • The Canadian Event Safety Summit is on April 11 in Toronto.
  • Deadline to apply for Festival Players of Prince Edward County’s Academy for Young Actor Training is April 13.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Shadowpath Theatre Productions “Into the Woods We Write” workshops are coming up on Apr. 28 (ages 18+) and May 26 (ages 14-18) in Richmond Hill.

Check out these items, and other postings from our members.
Theatre Ontario individual members can also access Auditions, Job Postings and Discount Ticket Offers on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

ONstage Openings for the week of April 3

This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages
ONstage Now Playing in Eastern Ontario
A Streetcar Named Desire at Ottawa Little Theatre

In South Central Ontario

Apr. 5, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at Marquee Theatrical Productions (Newmarket)

In Southwestern Ontario

Apr. 4, The Glass Menagerie at The Grand Theatre (London) [with a preview on Apr. 3]
Apr. 4, The Magician's Nephew at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake) [in previews]
Apr. 6, The Ghost Island Light at Guelph Little Theatre
Apr. 6, Hilda's Yard at Theatre Woodstock
Apr. 6, Heroes at Players' Guild of Hamilton

In Toronto

Apr. 5, Mixie and the Halfbreeds at fu-GEN Theatre Company [with previews from Apr. 3]
Apr. 6, The Cemetery Club at Scarborough Theatre Guild
Apr. 6, The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Alexander Showcase Theatre

In Central Ontario

Apr. 5, The Ghost Island Light at Owen Sound Little Theatre
Apr. 6, Screwball Comedy at Theatre Orangeville
ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Hairspray at Drayton Entertainment: Hamilton Family Theatre Cambridge
Stephanie Pitsiladis and Company
Director & Choreographer: David Connolly, Music Director: Steve Lavoie
Set Designer: David Boechler, Costume Coordinator: Julia Holbert
Lighting Designer: Jeff Johnston Collins
Photographer: Liisa Steinwedel

In Eastern Ontario

Apr. 5, The Curious Savage at Belleville Theatre Guild [with a preview on Apr. 3]
Apr. 5, The Drawer Boy at Studio Theatre Perth
Apr. 6, Betroffenheit at National Arts Centre—English Theatre (Ottawa)

ICYMI: Check out last week’s openings

For all the theatre playing across Ontario, visit Theatre Ontario’s ONstage theatre listings on our website

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Live Your Passion with the Summer Theatre Intensive Youth Scholarship – Returning in 2018

Theatre Ontario is excited to announce that our Youth Scholarship will be returning for our Summer Theatre Intensive in 2018.

Beginning May 1, Theatre Ontario invites youth across the province to apply for a scholarship to the 2018 Summer Theatre Intensive in Stratford, Ontario. The scholarship is aimed at sending one youth artist to train at one of our Summer Courses FREE OF CHARGE. We will be providing the course, meals, accommodations, Stratford Festival ticket and a travel stipend for one lucky participant between the ages of 16-26.

The Summer Theatre Intensive concept was first tried in 1973 with one directing course offered at Trent University in Peterborough. From those initial 21 participants, the intensive has continued to grow and has helped train thousands of participants in the past 45 years.

Learn more about the Theatre Ontario Summer Theatre Intensive Youth Scholarship

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Upcoming opportunities from Theatre Ontario, from our members, and from other arts service organizations.

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadlines for applications for Ontario Arts Council grants (Arts Organizations in Communities and Schools: Operating, Major Organizations: Operating, Multi and Inter-Arts Organizations: Operating, and National and International Residency Projects) is April 4.
  • Deadline for nominations for the Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award from PACT, the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, is April 6.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • Scarborough Theatre Guild is making their 2019-20 season a “Directors’ Choice” season. The deadline for submissions of productions is May 15.

Check out these items, and other postings from our members.
Theatre Ontario individual members can also access Auditions, Job Postings and Discount Ticket Offers on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Today we feature five stories:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2018.

Learn more about Theatre Ontario's Professional Theatre Training Program

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Sara Topham

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Sara Topham trained in teaching Pure Movement with Shona Morris at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London UK


Shona Morris and Sara Topham working together at the
Stratford Festival. Photo by Peter J. Thompson
(February 5, 2018)  I think one of the most complex pieces of learning in the quest to grow as an actor is understanding how to allow all the disparate lessons and theories and light-bulb moments one experiences along the way in classes and coaching sessions and workshops, to actually be a part of the process of putting on a play. From the moment a contract is signed there begins an avalanche of paper—schedules, design sketches, measurements sheets, props lists, line notes,  all of which make one feel the pressure to move towards a result. And all of these things are organized in lines and grids which have the ominous effect, on me at least, of creating the illusion that the work is linear. And even though I have had multitudes of  conversations about process over product over my training and career, inevitably, on the floor as I am working, those lines and grids intrude and create a pressure to achieve something that will give me, and the director, and my fellow artists, some reassurance that I'm going to get 'there' (an elusive place which actually can never be reached because it doesn't exist!) I know I am not alone in this struggle, and I also know that I have found ways of dealing with the pressure over the years, ways of choosing process even when the voice in my head was screaming about product. Most of the time, if I have been successful in that attempt, it has involved some element of Pure Movement work.

I think this is fundamentally why I am so drawn to developing the capacity to teach Pure Movement; I know from experience that it is impossible to be pushing for results, or in one's own way, or paralyzed with anxiety while dropping your weight in a Pure Movement swing! To be in the body, is to be in present time, and from that place all things are possible. In recent years I've been in a lot of rooms where a director or another teacher will say something to an actor like: "You're not in your body." Or: "Get in your body." And I always find myself thinking… "If they knew how to be in their bodies, they would be!" This is one of the situations where Pure Movement, I think, can be a profound gift in a rehearsal process. We all know that the body returns to what it knows, what you teach it. It's why athletes and dancers break movement down the way they do. For a ballet dancer fifth position is home base. It's why from such a young age you are using it 1000 times a class—making it fundamentally sound so that your body will find its way there naturally and without question. Which means that even if something goes wrong, you make a mistake, you slip, you wobble, your body will seek what you have taught it and give you the grounding to let the past be the past and be able to move forward in a useful way because a grounded fifth position is a reflex, no matter what has come before.  Athletes drill and drill and drill so that in the moment that the ball comes to them and there's only a split second to make the perfect move, their brains can creatively solve the problem knowing that when they ask their bodies to follow through on that solution, they will—because they have drilled them and built useful reflexes. I once heard a sports person refer to this as 'the freedom of rigour.’

So what is our equivalent? As actors, how can we find ways to create 'home bases' for ourselves that are as reflexive as fifth position and which are useful places to create from? For a long time my only reflexes were grip and push, and I know that's true for a lot of the student actors I work with. If it wasn't going the way I thought it should be, my body's instinct was to grip and push and it always made my work less good. (Still does—it’s not like I've solved it entirely! Just consciously working on it!)  It's tricky, acting. It's subjective. There is no pirouette to spin or High C to sing or goal to score; only moments of connection that we are constantly in the process of seeking. We are looking to make ourselves, as a wonderful director once said to me, "A totally relaxed being with a volcano inside." That, I am coming to understand, is what a useful home base is. For me anyway. So the aspirations of Pure Movement—alive, engaged, energetic, released, free—have given me a way of training my body to be in the place I need it to be onstage. And because the head and the body are not separate things, when my body is in that free alive space, my head is clearer and less able to get in my way.

Sara Topham and Rob Curtis in Love Me Do at the Watford
Palace. Movement by Shona Morris. Photo by Max Lacome
This last week has been full of all these thoughts swirling around in my head as I sat in the corner during Shona's movement classes, or in an acting or voice class, or rehearsals for the yearly Greek play projects (all of which I was generously welcomed into by the staff at RADA in order to observe how these students are attempting to connect their understanding of their bodies in movement class with the idea of acting.) It's also been a very full week of practical work as Shona and I locked ourselves in studios and continued to dissect the physical and pedagogical elements of Pure Movement. My notebooks are crammed with tiny stick figures and multitudes of notes. There's an element of courage in this work that I never truly appreciated before—and it has to do with being willing to engage in a loss of control. In each of these swings (and there are a myriad of combinations in which to do them), Shona encourages me to release to the point of a momentary loss of control—and allow the swing to flow through that moment—rather than trying to organize it too much. It gives me the same feeling I used to get as a child when a tall grown-up would lift me overhead on a swing and then let go: giving me a momentary feeling of weightlessness before gravity took hold of me and sent me arcing under the bar of the swing set. I used to find it both thrilling and terrifying. It sounds funny to say that this moment in a swing, brief as it is, requires courage, but it does. It's a little moment of faith that your arm will not actually fly off the end of your shoulder—and it's surprisingly hard to do! And so it's not just the drop in the body that is being practiced and repeated (which is very good for the structure of the body of course); you are actually rehearsing courage and faith—in a micro-sense—and that seems to me to be infinitely useful in the development of an actor. Because in the end all our rehearsal is for naught if in the moment of telling the story our courage and faith desert us. I spoke in my last post about 'discoveries vs. decisions' and each of these tiny (and yet somehow vast) moments of losing control is a place alive with discovery—what will happen now? Rather than the decision to bring one's arm down in an arc you have to wait and discover what the body will do, what the body will say, if we stop telling it what to do and say for even a moment.

Which brings me to the last element of learning I want to share, something that I think is at the heart of why this work can be so deeply transformational. Many of the exercises that Shona has the students working through lead her to talk to them about story and movement and how they connect. She says repeatedly, as they are working through a series of movement patterns as a game between them: "The movement gives you the story. You don't decide on a story and then choose a movement that tells that story. You follow a movement impulse and then discover what story it tells." This is a revelation. To the students. And to me. I see what happens to the work when they give over to this non-intellectual, non-controlled way of exploring. They are transformed. One young woman follows a movement impulse that brings her hand to point sharply at something in the distance dragging her eyes into a laser-like focus and her head after them. As soon as she tries to walk, following through on that impulse, she finds she is a very old woman and, instantly, is completely absorbed in the process of discovering how the desire to get to the thing she is pointing at interacts with the fact that her old body resists swift motion. It's remarkable because if someone had told her to show us that she was an old lady she would have done a lot of clichéd 'old lady' movement and acting, but this way she followed the movement and it led her into a full embodiment of that state. I would have believed her to be 90. And that whole story came out of a simple movement. I think this is one of the ways that this work can be so helpful to a rehearsal process: what if, when you hit a wall (as we all do!), instead of trying to fix it with your brain you had a solid process involving movement which would allow your body to help you discover what came next? These students are going to. And I envy them finding it so young.
Sara's notebook

At the end of the week I see this transformative power in action again, this time on a whole room full of bodies and beings, and it was a beautiful way to bring my observation time to a close. We are in one of the rehearsal studios, named for Henry Irving, and this group of students are rehearsing their Greek project: Iphigenia In Aulis. The play begins at the moment when Agamemnon and his fleet are becalmed at Aulis, and Shona and her fellow director want to find a way to create the sense of inertia that the army are experiencing. She asks them to step against the walls of the room and then gives a set of concise instructions: First drum beat—walk into the space and balance it. (Balancing the space is one of the exercises they do almost every day in class. It means that they are responsible for filling the space evenly while in constant motion and requires a very alive awareness of everyone in the space at all times.) Second drum beat—come to stillness. Spiral down to the floor and make a deep shape. (Deep is one of the shapes they explore in their movement classes—along with high, wide, narrow, forward, and back.) Allow your breath to become audible. Once the instructions are given she stands, ready with her drum, and they begin. The result is extraordinary. At first it's just people, present and alive, moving in the space. Then, suddenly, they stop and all the life seems to drain out of their bodies as they find stillness on the ground. And then they breathe…and the hair on my arms stands on end. Because what I've just seen, without them 'acting' it, is the Greek army preparing for battle: in motion, alert, alive. Then suddenly they stop, and you know that something has changed. Then they are dragged into an eternity of waiting. Waiting so long that they become rocks on the beach. Their breath becoming both their means of survival, and the eldritch sound of the lack of wind on the shore. I swear I could feel the sand between my toes! It is a profound transformation. And it is achieved without ever telling them what story they are expressing, but rather letting them move first, and the expressing comes from inside that experience. I wonder as I pack up for the last time, whether next time it will be as magical, whether they will have the discipline (and courage and faith!) to let the movement tell the story, or whether, once they understand how it fits into the production they will be unable to resist 'adding acting'. I hope it's the former; I hope that somewhere inside themselves they understand how powerful it is. And I hope that I will one day be able to lead a group of actors to that place using the tools I've amassed in my time here. 

Wolfe Morris (on right) during his student days at RADA
When I first started at Stratford, I had the chance to work with Diane D'Aquila, who was extremely generous with her time and advice. At the end of the season I gave her a long (and I'm sure very intense!) note about all the things I was grateful to her for, along with a bottle of wine. The next time she saw me she said something I've never forgotten. After expressing her appreciation for the wine and the card she said: "There's really no need the thank me. Just do it for somebody else." I think of that every single time I teach, and will do always. I've been the beneficiary of extraordinary teaching and generosity all of my life, and I feel so lucky that I'm now having the chance to do my best to pass it on. This mentorship opportunity has been a huge step forward in my capacity to 'do it for somebody else' and I am deeply grateful to Theatre Ontario for the grant which gave me the chance to immerse myself fully in the work I am passionate about, and to The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and all the staff and students there, for allowing me to come and making me feel so welcome across the entire institution. At the end of my last day at RADA, Shona took me upstairs where long lists of graduating prize winners from days gone by grace the walls. We stood together in front of a photograph of her father, Wolfe Morris, during his days as a RADA student. I spoke in my application about the chain I feel privileged to be a part of, by virtue of the artists I've learned from. I am so very grateful that Shona has agreed to share her link in the chain with me, a link which connects her to her father and to the extraordinary Trish Arnold among others. That connects me, and all the actors I will have the chance to teach, with them too. What a gift.

Related Reading:

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 1, 2018.


Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.