Wednesday, November 6, 2013

News: (Toronto) Theatre Centre's New Home/Season (press release)

The Theatre Centre celebrates new home with new work, new artists
Historic space transforms into live arts hub and incubator with programming featuring work by L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres, Alanna Mitchell, Cynthia Hopkins, Mammalian Diving Reflex, Tine Van Aerschot and more
Toronto, ON – The Theatre Centre today announced a series of exciting partnerships and collaborations programmed to celebrate the organization’s move to their newly renovated home in the historic Carnegie Library on Queen St. West in early 2014. General & Artistic Director Franco Boni will animate the live arts hub and incubator with 10 new performance pieces presented from January through June, along with hosted rentals and a series of artistic residencies.

Formed in 1979, The Theatre Centre is committed to providing space, funding, public profile and mentorship to new work and new generations of artistic leaders by providing the infrastructure and resources needed to make art, from idea to production. In the past 35 years, the organization has had more than 10 homes, affordable only because of structural impediments, bad locations, or both. To find a permanent home, The Theatre Centre launched a capital campaign to raise $6.2 million to revitalize the space at 1115 Queen St. West, seizing the opportunity to move into a heritage building with a rich history as a cultural and community hub. The Theatre Centre will preserve the tradition of the building as a space dedicated to public use with a renovation of 11,797 sq. ft. that will include a main performance hall, a lobby café, a rehearsal hall, gallery space, green room, green-roofed terrace and office space. The fundraising campaign is almost complete, with a final push launched via an Indiegogo campaign on November 5.

Since its inception, The Theatre Centre’s artistic and community leaders have been dreaming about space, imagining a fully-equipped theatre full to bursting with new ideas, fierce debate and great art,” said Boni. “In 2014, when we open the doors to our new home, we celebrate a renewed commitment to artists from all disciplines, devoted to the investigation of ideas, and serious about discovering surprising solutions to seemingly unsolvable questions. Of equal importance is our pledge to our community to make our new home accessible, responsive and welcoming. We feel a great responsibility to uphold the legacy of this 100-year-old building that has served as an anchor in our neighbourhood; it’s been a gathering place, a place for joy, learning and sharing stories, and a place for justice and provocation and we will celebrate this commitment with our 2014 programming.”

The year starts with Carbon 14: Climate is Culture Performance Series (January 26 to February 9), produced in partnership with Cape Farewell Foundation, and presented as part of Carbon 14: Climate is Culture Exhibition + Festival - a four-month long cultural engagement, addressing various aspects of climate change. Featured pieces include musical performances from internationally renowned Inuit artist Tanya Tagaq and experimental glam-pop duo Post-Normal; a solo performance piece by award-winning author/journalist Alanna Mitchell; a blend of live poetry and discussion led by UK performance poet Sabrina Mahfouz and Canadian spoken word artist Ian Kamau; a new performance art piece by Yellowknife, NWT based-artist Reneltta Arluk; and a live, cross-disciplinary performance with a 15-piece chorus and band led by a New York performance artist, composer and musician Cynthia Hopkins.

From March 26 to 29, Quebec’s L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres will present Cabaret Brise-Jour (Shattered Cabaret), with eight musicians borrowing from the repertoire of Kurt Weill to sing about the best and worst of the human condition in a work at the crossroads of theatre, cabaret, visual arts and performance, creating “music that can be seen”.

In May, The Theatre Centre presents acclaimed Belgian theatre director Tine Van Aerschot’s intensely intimate one-woman/two-ghost show, We Are Not Afraid of the Dark (May 14 to 17). Inspired by the late actor Tracy Wright and her battle with cancer and performed by Valerie Buhagiar with two pre-recorded voices, Claire Marshall and Don McKellar, the piece is based on conversations between Tine and Tracy at the time of Tracy’s illness and offers a somewhat unusual guide to dealing with fear in an attempt to understand our transient lives.

Collaborating with culture production workshop Mammalian Diving Reflex and their youth-troupe The Torontonians, The Theatre Centre will co-produce an epic, interactive performance called Promises to a Divided City (May 30 to 31). Audience members (the citizens of the Divided City) will be counted, classified and asked to step up and save the city, with one hand firmly placed on a sacred book, chosen from the vast collection in the custom-curated ‘Library of Babel’ created in the space via a year-long book drive.

The Tracy Wright Global Archive (June 4 to 8) is a new project honouring the work and career of long-time Theatre Centre collaborator Wright that challenges five artists to explore a burning question and create a new work by engaging deeply with communities in locations around the world, seeking answers to their questions. Daniel BrooksJani LauzonDenise FujiwaraMarcus Youssef and Nadia Ross will travel to the American South, the Mojave Desert, Japan, Egypt and India respectively, sharing their experiences through various forms of presentation – a lecture, a dance work, a shared meal, an installation, a soundscape, or a straight-up one-on-one chat.

Self-Conscious Theatre, in partnership with Abilities Centre and The Theatre Centre share The Book of Judith (June 12 to 14), created by acclaimed theatre artists Michael Rubenfeld and Sarah Garton Stanley in consultation with Judith Snow, an artist and former advocate with quadriplegia. The musical play about a self-anointed preacher who is passionately driven to change the lives of others before changing his own, will be presented in performance at Abilities Centre in Whitby, ON.

The Theatre Centre’s Residency Program, designed to support artists in developing new work and to facilitate collaborative creation, will welcome five new artists/groups with two-year partnerships. Tailored to the specific needs of each participating artist or collective and the idea or artistic impulse they wish to explore, incoming Residency artists includeJess DobkinIan KamauHannah MoscovitchMaev Beaty and Tova SmithHeidi Strauss / adelheid; and Dan Watson and Christina Serra. Playwright, director and actor Ravi Jain will serve as artistic director in residence, working with Boni to program work for the new space.

LTR (Long-Term Relationships), a unique long-term partnership opportunity that allows non-venued theatre companies to make The Theatre Centre their home base for several seasons, will also be launched with inaugural LTR partner Studio 180 Theatre. In addition to providing space to create and produce productions, this new program will offer partner companies the stability to make long-term strategic planning and programming decisions. The first of many companies to ‘move in’, Studio 180 Theatre, is an acclaimed Toronto-based company that produces hard-hitting, political, socially significant, contemporary theatre that provokes public discourse and promotes community engagement. In April, Studio 180 Theatre will present the Canadian premiere of Mike Bartlett’s punchy comedic drama COCK (April 4 to 27).

Rental productions hosted at The Theatre Centre over the course of the year will be carefully curated, in keeping with the organization’s mandate. Inaugural rentals, along with a Producing Series to be launched in the new home will be announced in the coming months.

For more details, visit Full details on each production and partnership are outlined below. Tickets are now on sale for Carbon 14: Climate is Culture Performance Series and BOUNCE – An Informal Ball for The Theatre Centre, a fundraising event to support the new space, held on January 11.

Box Office: | 416-538-0988
Facebook: The Theatre Centre
Twitter: @TheatreCentre
Twitter Hashtag: #NewHome

For more information or interview requests, please contact: 
Ashley Ballantyne, rock-it promotions,
or 416.656.0707 ext. 111  
Rebecca Shoalts, rock-it promotions,
or 416.656.0707 ext. 104

About The Theatre Centre:
The Theatre Centre is a nationally recognized live arts incubator that serves as a research and development hub for the cultural sector. The Theatre Centre promotes artistic innovation by encouraging artists to collaborate across genres including theatre, music, dance, visual art and new media, investing in ideas and challenging artists to develop new ways of working. Formed in 1979 when a group of like-minded artistic collectives came together to created a shared space where proactive ideas could be seen and heard. Since its inception, The Theatre Centre has incubated, commissioned, produced, and hosted thousands of artists from Toronto, across the country and around the world.

We want to see art in the street. We want audiences to get involved. We want to provoke. 

The Theatre Centre’s Capital Campaign is supported by: 
The Department of Canadian Heritage, the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, Ontario Trillium Foundation, George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation, Urbancorp., Streetcar, TD Bank, In Memory of Harry Helfand, In Memory of Tracy Wright, Frances and Time Price, Interior Systems Contractors Association of Ontario, Marel Contractors/Pemberton Group, Rose DeMasi-Mantella & Daniel Mantella.

The Theatre Centre gratefully acknowledges programming support received fromCanada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund and the Hal Jackman Foundation.

2014 at The Theatre Centre (full show descriptions and details)

Carbon 14: Climate is Culture Performance Series
January 26 to February 9, 2014

Produced by The Theatre Centre in partnership with Cape Farewell Foundation
  • Tanya Tagaq + Post-Normal (January 26)
Created and performed by Tanya Tagaq, Michael Red and Post-Normal
Internationally renowned contemporary Inuit artist Tanya Tagaq and her frequent collaborator Michael Red will join creative forces for an an evening of innovative, inspired musical performance in an exploration of music's capacity to express climate change. The evening will kick-off with a performance by Kitchener-based experimental-glam pop duo Post-Normal (K La Luna and Android M).
  • Sea Sick by Alanna Mitchell (January 29 to February 3)
Created and performed by Alanna Mitchell. Directed by Franco Boni with Ravi Jain
Sea Sick – performed by Alanna Mitchell and adapted from her award-winning book – is a powerful and deeply personal solo performance. Mitchell discovers the secrets of the ocean, faces the demons of the deeps and finds hope.

… the ocean contains the switch of life. Not land, not the atmosphere. The ocean. And that switch can be turned off.
  • Poetry Jam by Sabrina Mahfouz / Ian Kamau (February 2)
An unrestrained blend of live poetry and discussion, led by UK performance poet Sabrina Mahfouz and Canadian spoken word artist Ian Kamau, taking on the urgency and feasibility of action on climate change.
  • Anticipation by Reneltta Arluk (February 3)
Created and performed by Reneltta Arluk with directorial support by Terrance Houle
A new performance art piece by Dene-Inuvialuit artist Reneltta Arluk examines the impacts of climate change on Northern peoples and explores the artist’s personal cultural identity – in the context of witnessing a whale hunt off the Arctic coast.
  • This Clement World by Cynthia Hopkins (February 5 to 9)
Written and composed by Cynthia Hopkins, directed by DJ Mendel, designed by Jeff Sugg
This Clement ­World is a fiercely creative and charismatic tribute to our rapidly  hanging environment, as seen through the prism of Cynthia Hopkins’ deeply personal­ lens and wild cross-disciplinary style.

Performed live with a 15-piece chorus and band, This Clement World blends outlandish fiction and original avant-folk songs with Hopkins’ own documentary footage from an Arctic expedition with Cape Farewell, infusing our global climate crisis with humour, poetics and urgency.

Cabaret Brise-Jour (Shattered Cabaret)
March 26 to 29, 2014

Produced by L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres, presented by The Theatre Centre    

Music by Kurt Weill. Produced, written, arranged and directed by L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres

Set in a high-society salon of the early 20th century, eight musicians borrow from the repertoire of Kurt Weill to sing about the best and worst of the human condition. From Berlin cabaret and Parisian nostalgia to New York’s Broadway, Quebec City’s L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres retrace the path of the musician in exile, using rare instruments and “music objects” that conjure up Weill’s dramatic and musical world. Superimposed over the music are fanciful and surrealist images concocted by the group to create surprising tableaux vivants, both strange and fascinating.

COCK – LTR partnership, produced and presented by Studio 180 Theatre
April 4 to 27, 2014

By Mike Bartlett; directed by Joel Greenberg
Featuring Ian D. Clark, Jessica Greenberg, Andrew Kushnir, Jeff Miller

A good relationship is worth a good fight. Mike Bartlett’s punchy comedic drama puts you ringside as John wages war with his lovers, himself and a society that demands an answer to the question, “Who am I?”

Studio 180 is proud to present the Canadian premiere of COCK, introducing Toronto audiences to acclaimed playwright Mike Bartlett and their new home with The Theatre Centre. In 2009, COCK premiered at the Royal Court, winning a 2010 Olivier Award. In 2012, it received its acclaimed North American premiere at the Duke in New York. Mike Bartlett is a highly prolific and successful playwright in the UK, and COCK will be the first of his works to be produced in Canada.

We Are Not Afraid of the Dark
May 14 to 17, 2014

By Tine Van Aerschot, produced by The Theatre Centre

We are Not Afraid of the Dark is an intensely intimate one-woman/two-ghost show by an acclaimed Belgian theatre director Tine Van Aerschot, inspired by the late actor Tracy Wright and her battle with cancer. Based on conversations between Tine and Tracy at the time of Tracy’s illness, along with literary and documentary accounts of survival in harsh conditions, We are Not Afraid of the Dark is a somewhat unusual guide to dealing with fear and an attempt to understand our transient lives.

Conceived and directed by Tine Van Aerschot. Performed by Valerie Buhagiar and two pre-recorded voices: Claire Marshall and Don McKellar.

Promises to a Divided City
May 30 to 31, 2014

Created by Mammalian Diving Reflex / The Torontonians; co-produced by The Theatre Centre and Mammalian Diving Reflex

A Divided City has been up all night surfing the internet. The kaleidoscopic visions of war, death, sex, hatred, and kittens have left this young city in a state of exhaustion. The City now sleeps on a bed on a raft floating on a river drifting toward an abyss. The Divided City is oblivious to its plight. In Promises to a Divided City, the citizens will be counted, classified and asked to step up and save the city, with one hand firmly placed on a sacred book, chosen from the vast collection in our Library of Babel.

Mammalian Diving Reflex creates complex work all over the place utilizing, as raw material, the souls of people. Promises to a Divided City stars teenagers, books, stories, you and your mother.

Tracy Wright Global Archive
June 4 to 8, 2014

Produced by The Theatre Centre

A new project that inspires artists to explore a burning question and create a new work by engaging deeply with communities and locations across the globe, seeking answers to their questions and inspiring new directions in their practice.

Five established artists that represent a diversity of practice and culture that reflect the Canadian experience – Daniel Brooks, Jani Lauzon, Denise Fujiwara, Marcus Youssef and Nadia Ross – travel to different international locations: the American South, the Mojave Desert, the Island of Shikoku, Egypt and India. Their research is followed by presentations inspired by the artists’ personal journeys – a series of sharing moments that may take various forms: a performance lecture, a dance work, a shared meal, an installation, a soundscape, or a straight up one-on-one chat.

The Book of Judith
June 12 to 14, 2014 at Abilities Centre in Whitby, ON

Produced by Self-Conscious Theatre in partnership with Abilities Centre and The Theatre Centre.

Co-created by Michael Rubenfeld and Sarah Garton Stanley, directed by Sarah Garton Stanley, music by Andrew Penner.

The Book of Judith is a musical play about a self-anointed preacher who is passionately driven to change the lives of others before changing his own. After a chance meeting with a quadriplegic woman named Judith Snow, theatre artist Michael Rubenfeld believes he has “seen the light.” With the help of his director and her best friend who is blind, Michael corals a fully integrated choir of performers with mixed abilities to help him preach the Book of Judith and convert the audience with his inspirational, maniacal and deeply suspect tale of Judith Snow.

After premiering in 2009 in co-production with The Theatre Centre and a subsequent successful Ontario tour, this provocative, transformational performance comes to the state-of-the-art Abilities Centre, promoting inclusive and innovative programs for people of all ages and abilities. 

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