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. We are a public space, open and accessible to the people of our community, where citizens can imagine, debate, celebrate, protest, unite and be responsible for inventing the future.
The Theatre Centre’s mission is to nurture artists, invest in ideas and champion new work and new ways of working. The company fosters a culture of innovation by embracing risk and questioning traditional notions of failure and success.
The Theatre Centre sits on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and Huron-Wendat peoples.
The B.A.A.N.N. Theatre Centre was formed in 1979 by a co-operative of five independent theatre companies – Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, Autumn Leaf Theatre, AKA Performance Interface, Necessary Angel, and Nightwood Theatre. They wanted a space to create, rehearse and present new work, a space where provocative ideas could be seen and heard. This group of artists went on to define a generation and inspire a new way of thinking about performance in Toronto.
By the mid-1980s, the founding companies left, and The Theatre Centre remained to assist other artists and groups. In 1984, the R+D (Research and Development) program was established and became the leading proponent for theatrical exploration in the city. In 2004, R+D was replaced by a two-year Residency Program. Over the years, The Theatre Centre has supported an unprecedented number of companies, productions, artists and ideas and continues to cultivate an environment that assists artistic risk takers: Jennifer Tarver, Chris Leavins, Sarah Garton Stanley, bluemouth inc., Ame Henderson, ATSA, Cathy Gordon, Independent Aunties, Juliet Palmer, Michael Rubenfeld, One Reed Theatre, Jon McCurley & Ame Lam, Susanna Hood, and Ravi Jain are just a few among them.
In 2002, The Theatre Centre presented its first Free Fall, a biennial festival dedicated to celebrating innovative boundary-testing work from across Canada and beyond.
Franco Boni has been the Artistic Director of The Theatre Centre since 2003.
In March 2014, the company moved into a new live arts hub & incubator at the historic Carnegie Library building at 1115 Queen Street West following a $6.2 million redevelopment of the heritage property.
The Theatre Centre pursues a mandate of supporting artists who wish to develop works of an experimental or alternative nature, that challenge the definitions of theatrical performance by embracing music, dance, visual art and new media. The company provides space, mentorship, exposure and a sense of community through a series of carefully-conceived programs, which are adapted regularly in order to remain responsive to each successive generation of creation-based artists.
The Theatre Centre’s Residency Program is at the core of the company’s activity. A structured two-year program provides groups/artists with the necessary space, funding and mentorship to craft ideas still in their infancy into finished products that are both provocative and innovative. Residency facilitates a highly collaborative artistic process that brings together a variety of participants, both artists and non-artists.
The Theatre Centre Café/Bar is a place for all communities to gather, work, drink, develop ideas, and share a meal. It is open daily and features a selection of hot and cold drinks including coffee, espresso drinks + a variety of teas, locally brewed beer, wine and liquor. Our baked goods are made fresh on-site by our Baker in Residence Nicole Bilyea, and our salads and sandwiches are by Parts & Labour.
The Theatre Centre Café/Bar showcases our commitment to incubating new ideas and new ways of working through the exhibition of sculptural, video, and performance installations in this warm and inviting meeting place.
Residency is a two-year program designed to support artists in developing new work. The program is tailored to the specific needs of each participating artist or collective, and the artistic impulse or idea they wish to explore.
The program facilitates a highly collaborative artistic process that embraces experimentation and learning with a wide variety of collaborators. This stage of development is critical to the creative process because it has the power to generate highly original ideas. It encourages artists to create new work from scratch, or to re-imagine an old idea – an idea that will form the basis of a potentially important work of art.
Residency has its roots in R&D (Research & Development) program, established by The Theatre Centre in 1983. For two decades the program seeded new theatrical works by artists such as Tomson Highway, Daniel Brooks, Daniel MacIvor, Alisa Palmer, Darren O’Donnell, Alejandro Ronciera and Kelly Thornton, to name just a few.
Tracy Wright Global Archive
Launched in 2014 to honour the life of artist Tracy Wright, the Tracy Wright Global Archive is the project that challenges artists to explore a burning question and create a new work by engaging deeply with communities and locations across the globe.
In its first year, 4 Canadian theatre artists were given the opportunity to travel to 4 locations around the world to investigate their own burning question:
Jani Lauzon traveled to The Giant Rock in the Mojave Desert near Landers, California. Once home to sacred ceremonies, UFO conventions, an airport and Howard Hughes favourite restaurant, the Giant Rock now stands covered in graffiti and surrounded by broken bottles and the silence synonymous with the sand swept Mojave Desert. Near by stands the Integratron, an acoustically perfect dome built by Giant Rock homesteader and Ufologist, George Van Tassel with instructions from his Venusian contactees. The Integratron now serves as a meditation retreat, Van Tassel’s original dream of a time machine never realized.
Prophecy Fog, a new project emerging from Lauzon's investigation of this space, weaves together the performance skills of veteran raconteur Lauzon, with the expertise of projection designer Alex Williams and the compositions of award winning composer Marsha Coffey, to elicit a conscious remembering of ancient prophecies that speak to rock teachings, star beings and earth changes.
Marcus Youssef arrived in Cairo on January 12, 2014, the evening of Egypt’s third constitutional referendum since 2011. He left two weeks later, the day after the revolution’s third anniversary. In between he was detained briefly by undercover police, witnessed his first car bomb, interviewed a dozen journalists, activists, academics and artists, and spoke to not one single person who said they support the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood. He also spend time with his Egyptian family for the second time in his life. His question: what is a revolution? His current answer: a better question might be whose.
Whose Revolution? is part memoir of a family and exile, part snapshot of a country in the midst of massive change, and part investigation into what we can ever claim to actually know about another culture or place.
Walk When You Walk
A contemplative walk, a creative experience and ways to view the self and the world.
Denise Fujiwara investigated the notion of walking as a medium for transformation on the path of the 88 Temples Pilgrimage on the island of Shikoku, Japan. In Japanese theatre practices, Noh, Kabuki and contemporary Butoh, walking is a medium through which character and plot, time and space are transformed.
Fujiwara invited small groups to walk in a contemplative way through The Theatre Centre’s storied neighbourhood. Fujiwara shared perspectives and koans that aimed to allow participants to experience time, space and themselves in ways that belie the seeming simplicity of the act of walking.
What Happened to the Seeker?
Nadia Ross went to India and asks the question What Happened to the Seeker? The project is a story told in three mediums: exhibit, video and performance. The Seeker is a term that was popularized in the 1960s, as hundreds of thousands of westerners began to flock to India in search of enlightenment. Now, forty years later, Nadia Ross traveled to India to find out what happened to that original impulse and asks: how could that collective desire for truth end in such disappointment? Yes, true awareness is bad for the economy, so did those Seekers of the past simply succumb to their own commodification? As she walks the path of the original Seekers, she does comes face to face with the “thing that was never lost and that can never be found”, and shares her discovery in a story told in triptych form.
Progress is an international festival of performance and ideas presented by the SummerWorks Performance Festival in partnership with The Theatre Centre. The festival is collectively produced by a series of Toronto-based curating companies, operating within a contemporary performance context.