Stage Door News

Toronto: Hart House Theatre presents “Retreat” by Kat Sandler March 1-9

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Opening on March 1 for a limited run, Hart House Theatre presents an early work by one of Canada's most dynamic and burgeoning playwriting talents, Kat Sandler. Originally staged in an intimate indie theatre, this new production of Retreat is directed by Toronto Theatre mover-and-shaker Claire Burns and takes full advantage of what Hart House Theatre has to offer: featured showcase performances by trained, emergent talent, who are supported by a professional production team and a dedicated, larger audience.

About the show: In a world where entering the work force means fighting for an unpaid internship, Retreat looks at the darker, and oftentimes comical, side of employment competition. Written by indie-theatre powerhouse, Kat Sandler, Retreat brilliantly explores the journey of four candidates who go on a hilarious, unexpected adventure to see who will "live up to" the job.

We welcome Director Claire Burns to Hart House Theatre for her debut directing project with us, although she is certainly no stranger to our theatre or to the theatre scene around Toronto.

Claire is a self-identified queer actor, director, theatre creator, producer and feminist. She holds an Hon.B.A. in Political Science and History from U. of T. as well as a degree in Classical Performance from George Brown Theatre School. Claire is the Artistic Managing Director of the Storefront Theatre in Toronto. Claire was named one of NOW magazine's Top Ten Artists to Watch in 2017

When asked "why this play, why now and why at Hart House Theatre?", Claire had this to say:

"I loved Retreat when I first saw it at the Storefront Theatre in 2014. It's a really funny play and super relevant for millennials as it deals with entering the uber competitive job market. The comedy and pacing of the show is fast, furious and hilarious and Kat's plays compete with Netflix in terms of length and attention span- it's 90 minutes long! Perfect!

I initially approached Hart House Theatre because I ultimately want to take my directing from small indie stages to larger houses. I was also eager to work with a company that had access to resources - funding, employees, physical set, costume assets and a producing wing! I'm very excited that the bulk of the producing doesn't fall on me - which is the case on most indie shows I work on. I have the advantage of having worked on Hart House's stage as an actor, so I have a concept of what the space feels and sounds like. When staging and visioning I'm aware of creating levels, providing fun things for the actors to play with, all on a vibrant set. I want people leaving this show with their toes tapping and their sides in stitches from laughing so hard.

I immediately thought of Pearle Harbour for the role of Scout Master Candace Matchwick. The role is funny, brassy and a little bit loopy; I'm a queer person and I wanted to inject some of that into Retreat. What with the popularity of RuPaul's Drag Race and Pearle Harbour's recent storming of Canadian stages I thought this would be a great pairing of character and performer. I get to insert a queer perspective into the narrative and (from what I'd seen of Justin Miller's Pearle Harbour) stay very true to the original essence of the character of Candace. Pearle and Candace are A LOT alike."

Joining Claire on the professional production team are designers Christine Urquhart (sets), Ming Wong (costumes), Steph Raposo (lights) and Bri Proke (sound). This team will be creating the campground turned cut-throat world of Retreat where a getaway devolves into a surreal survivor challenge. Check back with our site in the coming weeks to see design sketches and preliminary renderings.


By Kat Sandler
Directed by Claire Burns
Set Design by Christine Urquhart

Costume Design by Ming Wong

Lighting Design by Steph Raposo

Sound Design by Bri Proke

Pearle Harbour as Candace Matchwick Wartime wonder and drag tragicomedienne Pearle Harbour has been called "one of the most welcome additions to the Toronto performance scene... glamorous, poised, and devastatingly funny" (Xtra). Her original works have been presented at the SummerWorks Performance Festival, Why Not Theatre's The RISER Project, Theatre Passe Muraille, the Rhubarb Festival, OUTstages, The Cultch, The High Performance Rodeo, The Second City, the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, the University of Toronto, and countless other theatres, clubs, and cabarets across Canada. She is an artist-in-residence at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre and has been recognized with the Audience Choice Award (SW17), Outstanding Solo Performance (My Entertainment World) and - somewhat ironically - a Dora Award-nomination for Outstanding Male Performance.

On Stage March 1-9, 2019

Week 1: Fri. & Sat., 8 pm

Week 2: Wed. to Sat., 8 pm and Sat., 2 pm
Postshow Talkbacks: Sat., March 2 and Thurs., March 7

Preshow Artist Chat: Sat., March 9 at 1 pm
Warning: The show contains coarse language and mature themes

Box Office


Photo: Pearle Harbour.