Stage Door News

Toronto: Against the Grain Theatre presents “Identity: A Song Cycle” online beginning October 23

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) proudly presents Identity: A Song Cycle, a powerfully intimate filmed vocal work streaming across Canada and around the world on October 23, 2022, centred on the universal themes of individuality, alienation and belonging, starring acclaimed baritone Elliot Madore with original music and poetry by Dinuk Wijeratne and Shauntay Grant, directed by AtG founder and artistic director Joel Ivany.

In early June 2020, Madore, the Toronto-born opera singer, opened up on social media about his struggles with “unabashedly expressing [his] identity” as a biracial person.

“Being mixed-race has always left me justifying who I am,” Madore wrote. “I often get asked ‘What’s your background?’, replying ‘I’m black’, typically gets met with wide eyed disbelief. I soon realized that changing that answer to biracial seemed just as implausible as black to those who didn’t know me. Eventually, I tried to dodge that question altogether, rationalizing that it was easier to avoid the conversation than having to convince someone of my own authenticity.”

The bold and honest statement from Madore captured the attention of AtG’s Ivany, who connected with the singer to find out how the two could authentically present Madore’s identity conundrum to the Canadian arts community as a performance work, utilizing the universal themes behind his moving Instagram post.

Soon, they were working in collaboration with Ottawa-based, genre-bending composer Dinuk Wijeratne, who the NYTimes has called “Exuberantly creative,” and the acclaimed poet and Governor General’s Literary Award finalist Shauntay Grant, former Poet Laureate of Halifax.

This October, AtG presents this cinematic work-in-progress as a song cycle based on Madore’s personal journey exploring and embracing his multiple and shifting identities. Identity: A Song Cycle transforms Madore’s intimate struggles into a contemporary performance, interspersed with poignant monologues and infused with original Canadian poetry. The piece aligns with AtG’s mission to create boundary-breaking, genre-defying vocal works and films staged in surprising locations emphasizing innovative storytelling and memorable artistic experiences.

AtG has been developing Identity: A Song Cycle carefully over two years, working closely with collaborators Madore, Wijeratne and Grant to bring this special story to life, and the project continues to evolve.

Recently, AtG received the inspiring news that The National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund would invest $100,000 into Identity’s development, supporting the creation of a stage performance based on the film for baritone voice and jazz trio, and an excerpted orchestral performance: both versions are projected to premiere in the 2023/2024 season.

This investment by the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund marks the largest individual investment or gift AtG has received in the experimental opera company’s twelve-year history. It is a milestone for the Identity project and for AtG.

Thank you for continuing to support our outside-the-box opera company! To register for your free ticket to experience Identity: A Song Cycle, please visit:

Where, When, and How to Watch:

AtG’s Identity is available to stream on-demand October 23rd 2022 until April 23rd, 2023

Ticket registration for this performance is available free of charge, or pay-what-you-can.

Registration is now available at

For more information on Identity, visit

Photo: Elliot Madore.