Stage Door News

Toronto: “Cockroach” by Ho Ka Kei opens September 22 at the Tarragon Theatre

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Mike Payette Artistic Director of Tarragon Theatre and Managing Director Andrea Vagianos are excited to announce the World Premiere of Cockroach, which opens Tarragon’s 2022-23 season! The play, a Tarragon Theatre commission, written by Ho Ka Kei (Jeff Ho), runs in the Mainspace from September 13 - October 9, 2022. Cockroach marks the opening of Artistic Director Mike Payette’s first full season of programming at Tarragon Theatre.

Cockroach pulls inspiration from a real life incident the playwright experienced, grappling with how one survives in the face of the dehumanizing and othering nature of racism. In this new work, Cockroach, The Boy and The Bard also explore how language can shape our ability to transform and thrive, and yet, at once, perpetuate feelings of alienation within one's own cultural experience. With a talking cockroach, a visit from The Bard and a boy searching for himself, these three sides of the same person drive a storyline rich with colour, movement and drama.

From Toronto Theatre Critics award-winning playwright Ho Ka Kei (Jeff Ho), Cockroach is a coming-of-age play about the stories we tell ourselves to comfort, to survive, to resist, to overcome and to be.

In this interdisciplinary production directed by Mike Payette, with choreography from Hanna Kiel (Human Body Expression), Cockroach brings a heightened world through movement and text to Tarragon.

“When I started at Tarragon, one of the first scripts I was introduced to was the work of Jeff’s Cockroach and I was immediately pulled into the sheer vulnerability and immense theatricality this coming-of-age story evoked,” notes Artistic Director Mike Payette. “Jeff offers a rich textual tapestry, often poetic, that is equally raw and beautifully sensorial, that takes us through a life-changing moment of one Boy’s journey. The moment in which life will be forever changed, but through the unmistakable quest for survival, peace and self-discovery, we are reminded of the careful and complex nature of finding light through immeasurable odds.”

Cockroach is a Tarragon Theatre commission written by Ho Ka Kei (Jeff Ho) (Bulmash-Siegel Award Winner, as performer - Tarragon’s Theory, as playwright - Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land), Antigone: 方) and features 郝邦宇 Steven Hao (Tarragon Debut, Outside the March & Factory Theatre’s Trojan Girls and Outhouse of Atreus, Mixtape Projects’ Killing Time), Karl Ang (Tarragon Debut, Stratford Festival’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, Shaw Festival’s Saint Joan, Middletown) and Anton Ling (Tarragon Debut, Theatre@York’s The Late Wedding, Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again). Featuring set and costume design from Christine Ting-Huan Urquhart, lighting design from Arun Srinivasan and sound design from Deanna H. Choi. With direction from Tarragon’s new Artistic Director Mike Payette and choreography from Hanna Kiel.

Cockroach runs in the Mainspace Sept 13 - Oct 9, 2022, with media opening on September 22. Cockroach will also be available digitally as part of Tarragon Theatre’s “Chez Vous” subscription, offering fully realized recordings of the performances in the 2022/23 season from October 4 - October 30, 2022.

Tarragon will continue to require masking in the Theatre for the protection of our artists and patrons. You can find the full list of safety measures here.


Written by Ho Ka Kei (Jeff Ho)

Directed by Mike Payette

Choreographed by Hanna Kiel

September 13 - October 9, 2022 (opening Sept 22)


A cockroach smoking catnip. A bard lamenting over immortality. A boy stuck in a sticky situation. Three splinters caught in a collision of language, longing, and lobsters (who sometimes burst, and who sometimes burp).

Showtimes are Tuesday - Saturday at 8pm with matinees on Wednesdays, select Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30pm.

Single Tickets range from $15 - $55 and can be purchased online at, or by phone at 416-531-1827. Discounts are available for students, groups, arts workers, Front Line Workers, and the Underemployed. Contact the box office for more information. Single tickets for Cockroach will be available beginning August 29th.

Tarragon offers the most flexible subscription packages in the city with significant discounts on subscription pricing. Plus, allowing patrons to choose their productions, change their dates free of charge. Visit the website or call Patron Services today for more information.

Rush tickets are sold for $20, online via at 12pm on the day of the performance. Rush tickets are subject to availability.

For more information on Tarragon’s events and activities, visit