Stage Door News

Toronto: ARC presents the North American premiere of “Human Animals” February 22-March 16

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Award-winning theatre company ARC is pleased to present the North American premiere of HUMAN ANIMALS, a timely and provocative play about humankind’s precarious place within the natural world, by one of the UK’s most exciting young female dramatists Stef Smith. Suspense-filled, enigmatic, and darkly comic, HUMAN ANIMALS will be performed in the newly launched East End Arts Space housed in the historic St. Matthew’s Clubhouse, fittingly located on the eastern edge of Riverdale Park. Onstage February 22 - March 16, 2019 (Media night: February 26).

With HUMAN ANIMALS, ARC revisits the fertile territory of dystopian near-futures that have become a company signature (last successfully explored in their acclaimed production of POMONA). Instead of considering the ongoing extinction of species, Smith’s bracing play imagines an overcrowded city in which nature is getting out of control. The mice are scratching between walls, the pigeons are diseased, and the foxes are beginning to rule the streets. The problem is growing. It's contagious. And though no one seems to know what started this crisis, the city makes it clear that it must be stopped at all costs.

Directed by ARC Artistic Producer Christopher Stanton, the cast includes ARC resident artists Aviva Armour-Ostroff, Deborah Drakeford, Carlos González-Vío, Ryan Hollyman, Andre Sills, and Arlen Aguayo Stewart. Acclaimed designers Nick Blais and Jackie Chau will help bring this strange world to life.

The play is a kind of bizarro take on the environmental crisis,” said Stanton. “When I first read it, I was chilled by Stef’s innovative approach to the climate issue – she frames it as a horror story. And it truly is. Climate change is the most fundamental crisis we will face in our lifetime, and yet a decreasing sense of urgency seems to be the global trend. But this play puts the coming climate disaster somewhere we can no longer ignore it – in our own backyards.”

The fourth play from Scottish playwright Stef Smith, HUMAN ANIMALS was first performed in London at the Royal Court Theatre in 2016. The production was a critical success, with The Guardian calling it “a powerfully alarmist piece,” and The Independent praising Smith’s “impressive Royal Court debut.

Currently an Associate Artist at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, Smith studied Drama and Theatre Arts at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. In 2012 she won an Olivier Award for her play RoadKill and in 2013 she was invited for a residency at the Banff Centre in Alberta. She appeared on The Lists Top 100 Cultural Contributors for 2015, and was noted by The Independent as part of a 'new generation of British playwrights who will dominate [the coming year].’
HUMAN ANIMALS will be on stage in Toronto at St. Matthew’s Clubhouse (450 Broadview Ave) from February 22 to March 16, 2019. Single tickets are Pay-What-You-Can-Afford, range from $5 to $50 and are available to purchase here:  
Facebook: @ArcstageTwitter: @arcstage
Hashtag: #HumanAnimalsTO

Illustration: Cover of Human Animals. © 2016 Nick Hern Books.