Pandemic Theatre is a Toronto-based socio-political theatre company.
To create productions that tell stories from critical & underrepresented perspectives. To create an environment where political discourse is not only possible, but encouraged.
Pandemic Theatre was formed in 2009 as a collective of artists mandated to produce socio-political theatre.
The name Pandemic was adopted to speak to the aim of the company to create work that is simultaneously edgy and dangerous – from the contemporary widespread bio-hazard connotations of the name – but in essence is work that responds to issues that effect and affect the larger common public. “Pandemic” is derived from the Greek “pandemos” meaning all (“pan”) people (“demos”).
Pandemic Theatre is based out of Toronto and has worked throughout North America including New York City, Los Angeles, Nova Scotia, and Ottawa-Gatineau. We strive to build and foster relationships with like-minded organizations working in the field of social-justice and political engagement.
Pandemic Theatre’s first public work was a collectively created workshop performance lead by Jiv Parasram entitled Guantanamo Hotels & Resorts. Responding to U.S. president Barack Obama’s (first) pledge to close Guantanamo Bay, the production invaded Kensington Market and transformed the Bread & Circus Theatre into a re-branded Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre as a Caribbean getaway for wealthy vacationers.. The project pointed a critical lens at resort culture and western complacency with the human rights violations occurring at the detention centre as of 2009.
Pandemic followed up with three shows for the 2010/2011 season focusing on themes of displacement. The first, Imbalance by Michael Clarke with Tom Arthur Davis, premiered in July 2010. The production was based on a true story of a family’s struggle with mental illness and their navigation through the social stigmas surrounding it.
Pandemic was then awarded the first ever Alumni Artistic Residency with UC Drama to produce the second show in its season, a workshop production of a new play by Alex Rubin and Jiv Parasram. My Gaza, ‘tis of Thee, a dark satirical drama inspired by the case of Gilad Shalit. The play imagined a story of a young Israeli soldier held captive in the Gaza Strip, that upon release refused to leave. The project presented a critical portrayal of the international pressures incongruent to human rights and security surrounding the emerging conflict of the displaced youth. It premiered in September 2010.
For the last production in the 2010/2011 season, performer Tara Grammy teamed up with Imbalance director Tom Arthur Davis and Dora Award and Chalmers Fellowship-winner, Soheil Parsa. Mahmoud, a one-woman show chronicling the life of an Iranian taxi driver in Toronto, opened in March 2011 at the Tarragon Theatre Extra Space. It was subsequently produced at the 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival, the 2012 New York International Fringe Festival, and several productions in Los Angeles starting at the Santa Monica Playhouse. Mahmoud was awarded “Best of Fringe” and “Patrons Pick” in Toronto, “Best of Fringe” and “Best Solo Show” in New York, and will be published by Playwrights Canada Press in 2015.
Pandemic’s second season, the “2011/2012 Season of Violence,” began in October 2011, with Murder On Ossington, the collective’s first site specific performance, inspired by an Ossington Avenue Murder up the street from the site. The production utilized a vignette style to portray often unrecognized levels of violence in a deeply intimate format.
By mid-December 2011, Pandemic had closed their co-production with The DitchWitch Brigade, Miss Toronto Acts Back, a multi media production superimposing a history of western feminism with a hijacking of the history of the Miss Toronto Beauty Pageant. Miss Toronto Acts Back premiered at the new Unit 102, located in the heart of Parkdale from which the play was inspired.
In March 2012, Pandemic presented The Lost Sagas of Tjorvi the Flaccid by Jiv Parasram, directed by Alex Rubin. A new work, the play questioned the morality and logic of colonialism and patriarchy through camp, comedy, Vikings, and talking reindeer.
To bring it’s 2011/2012 season to a close, in May 2012, Pandemic premiered Autogeddon, a new adaptation of a poem by Heathcote Williams that focuses on an addicted society’s reliance and love for a destructive car culture. It was developed as an ensemble show under the direction of Steven Bush and Fiona Griffiths.
For 2012/2013 Pandemic shifted it’s focus, rather than focusing on output, the collective would redirect most of its energies to development with a smaller focus on production. This decision was paired with a residency and the founding of the Collective Studio and Event Space with sister-company The Theatre Lab. In 2013 under the direction of Jiv Parasram with Alex Rubin and as part of Pandemic Theatre’s Double Bill at the Factory Studio Theatre in Toronto, Pandemic presented a further developed remount of The Lost Sagas of Tjorvi the Flaccid along-side The Theatre Lab’s To The Last Cry, it marked the first presentations by the co-residents of the Collective Studio and Event Space.
- The Lost Sagas of Tjorvi the Flaccid
- Miss Toronto Acts Back (a co-production with The DitchWitch Brigade)
- Murder on Ossington
- This Wide Night (is support of Mermaid Parade)
- Vampire Lesbians of Sodom
- My Gaza, ‘Tis of Thee
- Guantanamo Hotels and Resorts