Stage Door News

Toronto: Why Not Theatre presents four world premieres at the RISER Project 2019 May 6-June 1

Monday, March 18, 2019

Why Not Theatre presents RISER Project 2019, a collaborative producing model for independent theatre artists. This sixth edition proudly premieres work from Amanda Cordner and David di Giovanni, Bilal Baig and Sadie Epstein-Fine, Samson Bonkeabantu Brown and d’bi.young anitafrika, and Cole Lewis.

The heart of RISER Project, whose participants are generous, flexible, curious, and willing to share and work in new ways, is about building relationships to create an interdependent theatre ecology where the success of one is the success of many.

  • WRING THE ROSES – May 6–14, 2019, Opening Night: Tuesday, May 7

WRING THE ROSES explores one dizzying night on the dance floor, examining racial and sexual identity politics. Rosanna, Rosalicia, and Rosemary are taking their engaged friend Stephanie on one last night-to-end-all-nights before she gets married. The second in a series from madonnanera, WRING THE ROSES is a fatal collision between a bachelorette party and a boys night out.

Creators David di Giovanni and Amanda Cordner, high school best friends, previously collaborated on BODY SO FLUORESCENT, the winner of NOW Magazine’s Best of the Fest for Outstanding Production, Direction, Performance, and Play at SummerWorks 2018.

  • Eraser – May 7–14, 2019, Opening Night: Wednesday, May 8

A student arrives in Canada from Pakistan at the start of their Grade 6 year. Eraser, an immersive physical theatre experience, delves into the memories and fantasies of a classroom of students as they figure out who it is they want to be. Six performers guide the audience through six different journeys; from the cafeteria to the change rooms to the playground; to the places where they feel safest and most brave, vulnerable and most afraid. Eraser is created for all ages.

Spotlighting outsider voices is central to the work that Eraser co-creators and directors Bilal Baig and Sadie Epstein-Fine create. Bilal Baig’s recent play Acha Bacha, about a queer Muslim man, was co-produced by Theatre Passe Muraille and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in February 2018. In May 2018, Sadie Epstein-Fine co-edited Spawning Generations: Rants and Reflections on Growing Up with LGBTQ+ Parents, published by Demeter Press, the only anthology published to date created entirely by queerspawn.

  • 1991 – May 22 – June 1, 2019, Opening Night: Thursday, May 23

After a serial killer strikes again in her hometown, welfare kid Nicole heads south of the border to stay with her father, a boozy, fist-swinging Vietnam veteran. Jumping from crap car to seedy bar to crap car, 12-year-old Nicole hunts for a way out, unscathed. With a distinctive blend of digital and analogue technology, 1991 digs deep into the culture of misogyny and the resilience of youth.

Critically acclaimed theatre creator, Vancouver’s Guilty by Association, present a live film/theatre experiment, written and directed by Artistic Director Cole Lewis. Originally from St. Catharines, Cole Lewis recently directed Redshift Music Society’s Still Life Continuum at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre, three different productions at SummerWorks since 2014, and The Visit at Yale School of Drama. Upcoming she is adapting Kyo Maclear’s Virginia Wolf for a 2020 TYA production, and writing/directing Untitled Nurse Project with a seed commission from Stratford Festival.

  • 11:11 – May 26 – June 1, Opening Night: Wednesday, May 27

Where the spirit world and the real world meet, lies a bio-mythical monodrama unapologetically crafted and performed by critically-acclaimed trans-identified artist, Samson Bonkeabantu Brown, with multi-award-winning artist, d’bi.young anitafrika as dramaturge and director. 11:11 explores the other side of fear through the eyes of a young, black transman struggling to obey the ancestral messages saturating his dreams.

Samson Bonkeabantu Brown is a self-described “Jamal Of All Hustles” with a primary focus on trans advocacy and the arts. He uses the arts to create visibility for men of trans experience and to educate the general public on trans issues. Samson will be appearing in RARE Theatre’s Welcome to my Underworld at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in May 2019. d’bi.young anitafrika is a queer black feminist dub poet, theatre maker, educator and activist. During the past 20 years, she has written, performed and published numerous collections of poetry, plays and dub albums that decry the entangled inequity of racism, classism, misogyny, homophobia, colonialism and capitalism.

Developed to help address the challenges of producing indie theatre in Toronto, RISERProject is designed to bring together senior leadership from the theatre community with emerging artists in order to maximize existing infrastructures, share resources and risk, and support a commitment to create and innovate.

Founded in 2014, RISER Project has since engaged 260 artists, presented 23 new Canadian productions which have gone on to receive 46 awards and nominations, and has seen a total attendance of 7459 patrons. Two thirds of all RISER Project shows (including Quote Unquote Collective’s Mouthpiece, Motion’s Oraltorio: A Theatrical Mixtape, and Pearle Harbour’s Chautauqua) have gone on to have a future life after their RISER Project debuts.


RISER Project 2019
May 6 – June 1, 2019
The Theatre Centre, 1115 Queen Street West
BMO Incubator for Live Arts

Written by Amanda Cordner and David di Giovanni
Directed by David di Giovanni
May 6–14, 2019 @ 9pm Saturday, May 11 @ 3pm
Opening Night: Tuesday, May 7 @ 9pm
A madonnanera production

Created by the Company
Directed by Bilal Baig & Sadie Epstein-Fine
May 7–14, 2019 at various times including 1pm matinees
Opening Night: Wednesday, May 8 @ 7pm
An Eraser Theatre production

Written and Directed by Cole Lewis
May 22 – June 1, 2019 at various times
Opening Night: Thursday, May 23 @ 7pm
A Guilty by Association production

Written and Performed by Samson Bonkeabantu Brown
Directed by d’bi.young anitafrika
May 26 – June 1, at various times
Opening Night: Wednesday, May 27 @ 7pm
An AVO Collective production in association with Triangle Pi Productions

All Tickets Pay What You Can Afford $12, $20, $35, $60*
To purchase tickets, visit, call or call 416.538.0988

*A note on ticket prices for RISER Project:
In order to ensure accessibility, Why Not Theatre invites you to Pay-What- You-Can-Afford.
You can choose any one of four prices—$12, $20, $35, $60—whichever suits your budget.
All tickets are general admission, and there are no limits on any price level.
Pick the price you can afford to pay for your ticket and book your seat.

For more information visit
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using @theatrewhynot
#RISER19  #notafestival  #collaborativeproducingmodel.

Photo: Samson Bonkeabantu Brown.