Stage Door News
Toronto: Canadian Stage announces 15 shows for its 2022/23 season
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
Canadian Stage is thrilled to lift the curtain today on an unabashedly ambitious 15-show season for 22.23, presenting exceptional performance from Canada and around the world, celebrating large-scale, theatrical spectacle alongside intimate and provocative social commentary.
The first full season for the company since 2019, 22.23 programming platforms diverse dramatic approaches, cultures, and points of view, united by the common thread of illuminating humanity at the crossroads of the current moment.
“This season excites me for so many reasons,” says Canadian Stage Artistic Director Brendan Healy. “Our 22.23 programming offers a picture of where we are at right now as a society – there is an immediacy to this collection of works that grapple in different ways with discussions about race, climate, and political divisiveness that are dominating global conversations right now. These are all big plays, be it in scale, in content, or in formal presentation.”
Healy continues, “It is an ambitious season that expresses real confidence in the state of the theatrical form –these artists unequivocally demonstrate that live performance is thriving, relevant and absolutely essential.”
“The 22.23 season marks a meaningful return to Canadian Stage’s mission at scale,” adds Canadian Stage Executive Director Monica Esteves. “We are presenting some of the most innovative and energizing work in recent years from around the world, while also foregrounding Canadian artists and situating them within a global context. We are particularly proud of our collaboration in the commissioning of the two-part adaptation of FALL ON YOUR KNEES – a Canadian story sweepingly told on a big stage. With this season we are undoubtedly stating our confidence in the return of live theatre.”
ON THE BLUMA STAGE
The Bluma Appel takes centre stage this season, hosting four wondrously theatrical large-scale productions. In November, Canadian Stage presents the highly anticipated Toronto premiere of Academy Award-winning screenwriter of MOONLIGHT, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s CHOIR BOY. A coming-of-age play woven through with rapturous gospel hymns, CHOIR BOY follows the story of prep school senior Pharus, the leader of the school’s celebrated gospel choir, as he wrestles with his masculinity and sexuality. An unmissable theatrical event this fall, CHOIR BOY is a love letter to the healing power of music.
“CHOIR BOY is an exquisitely crafted story interwoven with exhilarating gospel music, that presents a thoughtful examination of Black masculinity and the search for identity,” says Healy. “McCraney is one of the best playwrights in the US right now and this play is joyously entertaining, while it also challenges perspectives – it’s a fantastic beginning to the Bluma line-up.”
In January, the World Premiere of a historical epic alights to the Bluma stage. In partnership with the National Arts Centre, Vita Brevis Arts, Neptune Theatre, and the Grand Theatre, Canadian Stage presents a two-part adaptation of Ann-Marie McDonald’s historical saga, following three generations of a Cape Breton Island family from the first World War through to the Harlem jazz age. Published in 1996, FALL ON YOUR KNEES - McDonald’s iconic breakthrough novel - was an international best-seller and an Oprah Book Club selection. This mythic Canadian story is adapted into an unprecedented duo of plays by two extraordinary artists: Hannah Moscovitch and Alisa Palmer. An unmissable moment in Canadian theatre and the birth of a new classic.
“Seeing FALL ON YOUR KNEES brought to fruition as a piece of theatre is the fulfillment of a process that began long ago when I first started writing what would become the novel. FALL ON YOUR KNEES began, in my mind, as a play. This makes sense because I was, and am, a playwright,” says Ann-Marie MacDonald. "I ended up bringing the story to light as a novel, but I’ve always cherished the vision of it as a three-dimensional experience for a live audience. I am so grateful to all the incredibly talented artists, especially Hannah Moscovitch and Alisa Palmer, for boldly and beautifully bringing it to life.”
In February, the influential Belgian company Ontroerend Goed stages the Canadian Premiere of their juggernaut international hit Are we not drawn onward to new erA in an exclusive three-night, 4-show engagement. A stunning visual metaphor for a world on the verge of environmental collapse, this palindromic masterwork is by turns playful, surprising, hilarious, and heartbreaking.
AT THE BERKELEY
Kicking off the season this fall at the Berkeley Street Theatre, in September Brendan Healy directs the highly anticipated English-language premiere of Siminovitch Prize winner Olivier Choinière’s provocative PUBLIC ENEMY, in a Canadian Stage commissioned translation by Bobby Theodore. Inviting audiences to a family dinner as never seen before, PUBLIC ENEMY positions the global chasm of political polarization within a quotidian and domestic milieu.
“PUBLIC ENEMY is a play about polarization and the way that our interpersonal relationships are falling victim to the energy of the world right now,” says Healy. “It speaks immediately to the here and now and does so within a highly naturalistic approach and a very innovative and theatrically exciting contemporary structure. Choinière is one of the most energizing playwrights working in Quebec right now and we are excited to bring his work to English Canada.”
For the holiday season beloved Canadian Stage favourite Ronnie Burkett returns to the Berkeley with a new, adults-only tradition for the season, LITTLE DICKENS. With a new spin on the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, The Daisy Theatre’s faded Diva Esmé Massengill takes on the miserly Ésme Scrooge, in an improvised marionette mash-up to make the season bright.
In the new year, ongoing partners Red Sky Performance return with their fourth collaboration with Canadian Stage, MIIGIS: UNDERWATER PANTHER. Revealing the power of nature and Indigenous prophecy, MIIGIS fuses contemporary Indigenous dance and extraordinary athleticism. A striking work from one of Canada’s leading contemporary Indigenous performance companies, originally scheduled in the 2020-2021 season, Canadian Stage is thrilled to finally share this magical dance work.
Ongoing partners Obsidian Theatre Company also join the season as coproducers of what will undoubtedly be one of the distinct highlights of the year, the Canadian Premiere of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize-winner for Drama, Jackie Sibblies Drury’s FAIRVIEW. A radical examination of power, interrogating race, surveillance, and theatre itself, the New York Times called the play, “a glorious, scary reminder of the unmatched power of live theatre to rattle, roil, and shake us wide awake.”
Concluding the Berkeley season in April, Canadian Stage partners with Blue Bird Theatre Collective for MAANOMAA, MY BROTHER, created by Tawiah M’Carthy, Brad Cook, and Anne-Marie Donovan. A story of two friends reuniting in Ghana for the funeral of a loved one, MAANOMAA, MY BROTHER blends West African and Canadian theatrical approaches, entwining myth with reality and past with present.
CS PLATFORM and GUEST COMPANY PRESENTATIONS
Canadian Stage is very excited to bring back CS Platform for the 22.23 season. This series is designed to introduce audiences to some of the world’s most vanguard artists who are pushing at the boundaries of the artform. In the fall, internationally lauded trans visual artist Cassils brings their first contemporary dance work to Canadian Stage, HUMAN MEASURE. A Montréal born artist now residing in Los Angeles, Cassils has risen to global recognition using their own body as the material and protagonist of their performances. Working in live performance, sculpture, photography, sound design and film, Cassils contemplates the history(s) of LGBTQI+ violence, representation, struggle, and power. In HUMAN MEASURE Cassils builds upon their knowledge of kinesiology, martial arts, and sports science to reinterpret Yves Kline’s Anthropometries paintings, creating a dance that culminates in the development of a cyanotype photograph of bodies exposed in Klein blue.
In February, dance Immersion and Canadian Stage co-present CABARET NOIR, from Montréal’s Mélanie Demers. A rising star from Montreal dance, Demers work combines theatricality, literature, music, and the visual arts, to explore the connection between the poetic and the political. CABARET NOIR takes inspiration from the storied jazz-era Black cabaret club in Paris, Le Bal Nègre, and references pop cultural representations of Blackness, to explore an embodied reality of Blackness that includes centuries of mythology laden within the concept.
“CS Platform is a crucial way for Canadian Stage to contribute to the performance ecology of our city by showcasing some of the most important and adventurous artists of today,” says Healy. “Both Cassils and Mélanie Demers’s works are formally innovative, politically charged, and deeply personal. Together, they present a snapshot of some of the most exciting work happening at the cutting-edge of contemporary performance.”
Continuing the company’s long-standing commitment to elevating and supporting complementary partner organizations, three invited guest productions complete the 22.23 programming.
The Musical Stage Company returns with KELLY v. KELLY, a new Canadian musical from two of Canada’s leading young musical talents, Britta Johnson, and Sara Farb. Inspired by true events, KELLY v. KELLY takes audiences back in time to 1915 for a scandalous battle between a mother and daughter. Necessary Angel Theatre presents NEW, by Pamela Mala Sinha – the story of a Bengali bride arriving to join an Indian family in the Midwest and causing tradition and counterculture to collide. Lastly, Théâtre français de Toronto presents UN. DEUX. TROIS. by Mani Soleymanlou, a trilogy that begins with a single person’s quest for identity and evolves to bring over 40 performers from across Canada to the stage.
“Our Berkeley Street theatres have been a second home to many, many arts groups and organizations over the decades,” says Esteves. “Post-pandemic, we continue this tradition of collaboration with renewed vigor, formalizing multi-year existing and new partnerships with Red Sky Performance, Théâtre français de Toronto, Obsidian Theatre, Musical Stage Company, Blue Bird Collective, Necessary Angel Theatre, and others. Every corner of our facilities will be operating at full capacity next season, buzzing with the creativity and energy of our collective work and explorations. It is an honour to work with our esteemed and remarkable colleagues and communities.”
Tickets for the 22.23 season will go on sale to Canadian Stage renewing subscribers on May 3, 2022. New subscriptions will go on sale on July 11, 2022, and single tickets will go on sale on July 26, 2022. Visit www.canadianstage.com.
Canadian Stage 22.23 Season
PUBLIC ENEMY (English-language Premiere)
A Canadian Stage production
September 20 – October 2 at the Berkeley Street Theatre
By Olivier Choinière
Translated and Adapted by Bobby Theodore
Directed by Brendan Healy
CHOIR BOY (Toronto Premiere)
A Canadian Stage and Arts Club Theatre co-production
November 8 – 19 at the Bluma Appel Theatre
By Tarell Alvin McCraney
A Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes Production presented by Canadian Stage
November 23 - December 18 at the Berkeley Street Theatre
FALL ON YOUR KNEES Part 1: FAMILY TREE – Part 2: THE DIARY (World Premiere)
A National Arts Centre, Vita Brevis Arts, Canadian Stage, Neptune Theatre, Grand Theatre production
January 20 – February 5 at the Bluma Appel Theatre
Co-created and written by Hannah Moscovitch
Co-created and directed by Alisa Palmer
Production Dramaturgy by Mel Hague
Based on the Novel by Ann-Marie MacDonald
MIIGIS: UNDERWATER PANTHER
A Red Sky Performance Production presented by Canadian Stage
January 21 – 29 at the Berkeley Street Theatre
By Sandra Laronde
Are we not drawn onward to new erA (Canadian Premiere)
An Ontroerend Goed Production presented by Canadian Stage
February 9 – 11 at the Bluma Appel Theatre
FAIRVIEW (Canadian Premiere)
A Canadian Stage and Obsidian Theatre co-production
March 4 – 26 at the Berkeley Street Theatre
by Jackie Sibblies Drury
Pulitzer Prize Winner
MAANOMAA, MY BROTHER
A Blue Bird Theatre Collective and Canadian Stage co-production
April 11 – 30 in the Upstairs Theatre at Berkeley Street Theatre
October 27 – 29 at the Berkeley Street Theatre
Created by Mélanie Demers
A Mayday Danse Production, co-presented by dance Immersion and Canadian Stage
January 9 – 11 at the Berkeley Street Theatre
GUESTS COMPANY PRODUCTIONS
Théâtre français de Toronto
UN. DEUX. TROIS.
An Orange Noyée Production in Association with Théâtre français de Toronto and Canadian Stage
October 13 – 16 at the Berkeley Street Theatre
Presented in French with English supertitles
Necessary Angel Theatre Company
A Necessary Angel Theatre production in association with Canadian Stage
April 25 – May 14 at the Berkeley Street Theatre
by Pamela Mala Sinha
The Musical Stage Company
KELLY V KELLY
A Musical Stage Company production in association with Canadian Stage
Book by Sara Farb
Music & Lyrics by Britta Johnson
May 26 – June 18 at the Berkeley Street Theatre