Stage Door News

Toronto: Buddies in Bad Times presents Michel Marc Bouchard’s “Lilies” May 4-26

Monday, April 15, 2019

As Buddies 40th anniversary celebrations come to a close, the world’s largest and longest-running queer theatre company delves into the queer Canadian theatrical canon with an exciting and timely production of Lilies; Or, the Revival of a Romantic Drama. Prolific indie company lemonTree creations (Body Politic, Rope Running Out) leads this revival of Michel Marc Bouchard’s rarely-produced 1987 masterpiece – the second collaboration between the two companies after 2016’s hit production Body Politic – this time joined by Why Not Theatre.

In 1912, two schoolboys in Roberval, Quebec fall in love performing a play about Saint Sebastian. Their passion is interrupted when one is unjustly sent to prison. Decades later, a group of inmates agree to stage this story of young love in search of their own redemption.

In this reimagined production, director Cole Alvis (bug, The Kente Cloth) actively engages with the prison as the setting where this story unfolds, directing a cast of predominantly Indigenous and Black artists to make visible the high incarceration rates of these communities. Alvis and their directorial team – associate director Nikki Shaffeeullah (The AMY Project) and outside eye Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (Cake, Sound of the Beast) – revisit the past with a new lens, incorporating critical discussions around colonialism, the justice system, and their own lived experiences into their creative vision and process. Centring Indigeneity and diverse worldviews, the creative team bring this romantic drama into the 21st century, unearthing love, lies, and colonialism.

Leading the cast are film and stage veterans Alexander Chapman, who played Lydie-Anne in John Greyson’s film adaptation of Lilies, and Walter Borden (Harlem Duet, The Tragedie of Lear). The two are joined by an ensemble of prison inmates ‘playing’ the 1912 story including Mark Cassius (Ragtime, Jesus Christ Superstar), Waawaate Fobister (Gashkigwaaso, Agokwe), Tsholo Khalema (Box 4901, Cake), Troy Emery Twigg (They Shoot Buffalo, Don’t They?; Dancing the Universe in Flux), Joseph Zita (Picture This), and lemonTree artists Ryan G Hinds (#KanderAndEbb, MacArthur Park Suite) and Indrit Kasapi (Les Moutons, The Boys in the Band). With set and prop design by Jay Havens (bug, Th’owxiya: The Hungry Feast Dish), costume design by Joanna Yu (School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play, Body Politic), lighting design by Michelle Ramsay (Obaaberima, Gertrude and Alice), and sound design by Deanna Choi (CHICHO, The Wolves).

A lemonTree creations, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and Why Not Theatre


by Michel Marc Bouchard
translation by Linda Gaboriau
directed by Cole Alvis
starring Walter Borden, Alexander Chapman, Mark Cassius, Waawaate Fobister, Ryan G.Hinds, Indrit Kasapi, Tsholo Khalema, Troy Emery Twigg + Joseph Zita

set + props design by Jay Havens, costume design by Joanna Yu
lighting design by Michelle Ramsay, sound design by Deanna Choi
associate director Nikki Shaffeeullah, outside eye Donna-Michelle St. Bernard

Previews: May 4th, 5th, 7th & 8th, Opening Night: May 9th
Closing Performance: May 26th

Runs: Tues-Sat 8pm, Sun 2:30pmTickets: PWYC - $40

Box Office 416-975-8555 or
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander Street, Toronto ON


Preceding the May 16th performance of Lilies, the artist-activist group Confluence Arts Collective will present The Countess and Me, an original theatre piece inspired
by Lilies, created and performed by community members with a range of lived experience with incarceration, and directed by Nikki Shaffeeullah.

Additionally, each of the Lilies creative team is working alongside a young queer Black, Indigenous, and/or Person of Colour artist apprentice through a unique mentorship partnership with The AMY Project, supported by Inspirit Foundation.


A relaxed performance will be held on Sunday, May 19th at 2:30PM. Patrons can book $10 tickets in advance using the code “RP10” or purchase PWYC tickets at the door.

A Deaf-Interpreted performance in ASL will be held on Saturday, May 18th at at 8:00PM. Patrons can book $10 tickets in advance using the code “ASL10”.


In celebration of the company’s 40th anniversary Buddies has substantially expanded its program of Pay-What-You-Can tickets. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday a block of tickets will go on sale at noon for that day’s performance, and you pick the price. Whatever fits your budget, that’s what the ticket costs. Pay What You Can tickets are available until 7:00pm on weekdays and 2:30pm on Sundays, or until they sell out – whichever comes first.

Photo: Walter Borden. © 2019 Tanja-Tiziana.