Stage Door News

Toronto: Buddies in Bad Times Theatre announces its 45th anniversary season

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

The world’s longest-running queer theatre marks a milestone 45th anniversary with a dynamic slate of productions and programming. The 2023/24 season features an epic from the queer canon, stages two new works developed at Buddies, and welcomes two productions from the Prairies. The mainstage season is accompanied by festivals, guest company productions, and a special 45th anniversary presentation series, alongside opportunities for artistic development, celebration, and creative community exchange. As the neighbourhood surrounding the theatre continues to change, Buddies also remains a critical space for events hosted by local queer communities, and is making building improvements to better fulfill that role.

Managing Director Daniel Carter, who has programmed the season, remarks, “Welcome to our 45th season. Our 2023/24 programming offers moments of reflection, celebration, and in some instances destruction as we look back to honour our queer histories and look ahead to forge new paths for our queer future. Familiar and new partnerships animate our season, showcasing not only the wealth of queer talent in Toronto but also highlighting enthralling stories and performance from across Canada.”


Kicking off the season is a groundwork redux and Buddies co-production in association with Obsidian Theatre: daniel jelani ellis’ speaking of sneaking, originally created in the Buddies Emerging Creators Unit and further developed through Why Not Theatre’s RISER project. A mash-up of dance, poetry, and pantomime that tracks the journey of young Ginnal to a place called “Foreign,” from Jamaica, the play is directed by d’bi young anitafrika, and was nominated for multiple Dora awards for its previous incarnation. Later in the fall, Buddies presents Albertan artist Tiffany Thomas’ The Rocky Mountain Special, a guitar-driven, one woman highway opera taking the audience on a journey of self-discovery. The show will be paired with a different local band for each night of the run. In December, That Theatre Company stages Tony Kushner’s epic two-parter, Angels in America. Directed by Craig Pike, this timeless piece of theatre tackles the AIDS crisis head on as New Yorkers grapple with life and death, love and sex, heaven and hell.

In the new year, Buddies welcomes back irreverent Winnipeg-based duo Dasha Plett and Gislina Patterson with an anthology of works from their collective We Quit Theatre: i am your spaniel, or A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare by Gislina Patterson; 805-4821 (presented as a Google doc performance in 2021’s Queer, Far, Wherever You Are series); and Passion Play. The Rhubarb Festival returns for a 45th edition in February, fostering both artistic experimentation and international exchange. A production coming out of the residency program has its world premiere in March—Raf Antonio’s WHITE MUSCLE DADDY. A co-production with Pencil Kit Productions, supported by Charles Street Video, this fantasy-horror thriller uses projection art alongside performance to tell a chilling story of a vampiric predator, exploring the destructive impact of the white supremacist construct on queer desire.

While the building’s doors are always thrown open for the Queer Pride Festival in June, this year the festival atmosphere starts early with an eclectic 45th Anniversary Series, headlined by Vag Halen. Stay tuned for an assortment of one-off performances, readings, concerts, and parties in May, celebrating our histories and imagining the possible futures of this theatre and the communities who make it what it is.

Buddies also hosts, for the first time, The Toronto Fringe’s Next Stage Theatre Festival, with six shows ranging from sketch comedy to musical theatre landing in October. In the new year, the theatre welcomes back longtime guest company Theatre Rusticle, following 2020’s acclaimed adaptation of Midsummer NIght’s Dream. Allyson McMackon directs an adaptation of The Tempest in a physical piece that collides head-on with Shakespearean myth, magic, harsh history and all the ways we make theatre.


Alongside its mainstage programming, Buddies continues its commitment to developing queer voices with programs like the Emerging Creators Unit; an emerging artist platform in QueerCab, curated by Julie Phan 潘家雯 ; and the return of The Disability Collective as Buddies’ Emerging Company-in-Residence. Residency artists Bilal Baig (Kainchee Lagaa, Jhooti), Celia Green (SOWWY), Julie Phan 潘家雯 (Never Walk Alone), and Heath V. Salazar (MARIPOSA) continue to develop their works with space and support from Buddies, and the legendary Bruce Dow joins the Seeding Work micro-residency to develop a new solo piece, A Funny Proposition, in collaboration with director Rob Kempson.


As part of Buddies’ commitment to intergenerational programming, this year sees the launch of The Rainbow Seniors Project. This year-long program will be co-designed with leZlie lee kam and is dedicated to the artistic engagement of queer seniors, culminating in a Cabaret showcase to be presented as part of the annual Queer Pride Festival.

“The programming has had a huge impact on me because, as a rainbow senior, I feel that I am seen: my existence is acknowledged very specifically,” says previous Youth/Elders programming participant and co-facilitator lee kam. “It’s crucial that we continue doing this kind of work. We keep hearing that Rainbow Seniors have paved the way for queer and trans youth. We have, but we need to continue working together from an intergenerational and intersectional perspective.”

Over the summer, with renovations to the neighbouring Alexander Street Parkette blocking public access to the building, physical improvements are being made to the frontage and interior pathways of the building. These changes will increase access to Buddies’ physical space, and complement the complete renovation of the ante-chamber space and other accessibility improvements implemented over the last three years, including providing ramp access to both stages, acquiring hearing assist devices, installing more push-button-operated doors, and providing basic ASL training for front-facing staff.

Throughout the 2023-24 season, Buddies will continue to welcome parties, fundraisers, musicals, and more in Tallulah’s Cabaret.

Tickets & info:


a groundwork redux and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre production in association with Obsidian Theatre

speaking of sneaking

by daniel jelani ellis

directed by d’bi young anitafrika

September 19 - October 1, 2023

Ginnal is sure like never before: he must make it to Foreign. When he meets a Spider who sets him on the journey, Ginnal faces the cost of freedom.

Inspired by experiences of growing up queer in Jamaica and finding home in Canada, speaking of sneaking is a multidisciplinary mash-up of dance, poetry, and pantomime, where the archetypal Jamaican Ginnal and the mythical African Anansi meet.

First created in Buddies’ Emerging Creators Unit, and further developed with the Anitafrika Method for Why Not Theatre’s RISER (where it garnered five Dora nominations, including for outstanding production and outstanding new play), speaking of sneaking returns to the Buddies stage for a full production this fall.

daniel jelani ellis // creator, performer + producer

d'bi.young anitafrika // dramaturg + director

Fairy J // choreographer

Lexi Sproule // stage manager

Rachel Forbes // set + costume designer

Andre du Toit // lighting designer

Stephon Smith // sound designer

The Next Stage Theatre Festival

Presented by Toronto Fringe

October 18-29, 2023

Experience the best in performing arts with the 16th Annual Next Stage Theatre Festival from October 18 to 29, 2023. The Toronto Fringe is delighted to be partnering with Buddies in this new chapter of Next Stage with six unique pieces by a dynamic set of artists covering dance, sketch comedy, music, and drama - all ready for their next stage.

Dance: Black in Canada (Shameka Blake and Artists in Motion)

Theatre: Bremen Town (Gregory Prest)

Sketch: Dead Parents Society – a dark sketch comedy revue (Shohana Sharmin)

Theatre: ECHO (Kole Durnford)

Musical Theatre: Guildwood (Braeden Soltys)

Theatre: Something in the Water (S.E. Grummett)

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents

The Rocky Mountain Special

by Tiffany Thomas

November 14-19, 2023

An elderly trans woman is haunted by her cringe-worthy younger self aboard the Rocky Mountain Special, a luxury coach from Calgary to Vancouver that she's been riding for the last forty years.

A guitar-driven, one woman musical tour-de-force about the quintessential Canadian urge to run from your past, The Rocky Mountain Special is a prayer for healing, a love letter to the lost kids of fragmented diasporas, and a playlist for the road-trip home.

Tiffany Thomas // Writer/Composer/Performer

Anna Dalgleish // Production Designer

a That Theatre Company production in association with Buddies in Bad Times


Angels in America: a Gay Fantasia on National Themes

by Tony Kushner

directed by Craig Pike

November 23 - December 17, 2023

In a Reagan-era New York City beset by the AIDS crisis, a recently-diagnosed Prior struggles to make sense of his mystical visions and visitations, along the way colliding with friends, lovers, and a Mormon couple whose marriage is on the brink of falling apart.

At once sprawling and intimate, Angels in America weaves together religion, revolution, and queer (be)longing into an epic, two-part modern masterpiece that speaks to the indomitable human need for change.

That Theatre Company’s Craig Pike helms a new production of Tony Kushner’s seminal plays, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, revisiting a pivotal moment in our queer histories through a contemporary lens.

Jim Mezon // Roy Cohn

Soo Garay // The Angel

Christine Horne // Harper

Brenda Bazinet // Hannah

Allie Macdonald // Prior

Ben Sanders // Louis

Kaleb Alexander // Belize

Wade Bogert O’Brien // Joe

Craig Pike // director

Michael Hart // stage manager

Bonnie Beecher // lighting designer

Sean Mulcahy // set designer

Michelle Bohn // costume designer

John Gzowski // sound designer

Sam Hale // assistant stage manager

Emma Jo Conin // apprentice stage management

Jeff Pybus // associate lighting designer

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents

A We Quit Theatre Anthology

i am your spaniel, or A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare by Gislina Patterson / 805-4821 / Passion Play

by Dasha Plett and Gislina Patterson

January 16-21, 2024

A week of performances by We Quit Theatre and friends. Rituals for the discontented, diversions for the disenchanted, and a carnival for quitters! A conversation between trans best friends and lovers, and a sharing of the things they created, together and apart, in their basement apartments.

Last seen in a google doc performing an iteration of 805-4821 as part of Buddies’ Queer, Far, Wherever You Are series, Winnipeg-based duo We Quit Theatre takes over the Cabaret space with a collection of three works, including a trans coming out story made out of other stories; an errant lecture on Shakespearean text analysis; and a series of improvised erotic revisions of bible stories, immortalized to cassette tape live on stage.

This farewell performance of 805-4821 will be accompanied by a sharing of Sadie Berlin's Enchantment Island: This Alien Nation, a loose political exposé and response to We Quit Theatre's piece.

A Theatre Rusticle production

The Tempest

by William Shakespeare adapted by the Company

directed by Allyson McMackon

January 18-28, 2024

Shakespeare meets Theatre Rusticle’s physical poetry once again in The Tempest. Their inimitable style cracks open the bard’s final play unearthing a story about freedom, love and paths to truth. Told by five performers traversing 15 plus characters, Theatre Rusticle collides head-on with Shakespearean myth, magic, harsh history and all the ways we make theatre.

The Company // Lindsay Anne Black, Brefny Caribou, Jill Goranson, Kelsi James, Brandon Kleiman, Beck Lloyd, Trinity Lloyd, Jessica Lutness, Allyson McMackon, Sarah O’Brien, Michelle Ramsay, Annie Tuma

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents

The Rhubarb Festival

February 2024

Back for its 45th year, Rhubarb transforms Buddies into a hotbed of experimentation, with artists challenging our notions of what art-making and art-watching can be. As Canada’s longest-running new works festival, Rhubarb is the place to encounter the most adventurous ideas in performance and to catch familiar and unfamiliar artists venturing into uncharted territory.

Buddies continues to strengthen international ties with Rhubarb’s curatorial performance network, fostering exchanges of artists and works between performance festivals around the globe.

A Pencil Kit Productions and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre production, with the support of Charles Street Video


by Raf Antonio

co-directed by Raf Antonio and Tricia Hagoriles

March 20-31, 2024

Soon after Jeremy Río clocks in for his first graveyard shift at an exclusive LA gym, he meets Eugene, a fitness influencer who seems to have the life of Jeremy’s dreams—one that’s double stuffed with money, muscles, and parties galore. What begins as an envious crush quickly morphs into an insatiable hunger that threatens to tear Jeremy’s life apart.

A cinematic theatre piece, WHITE MUSCLE DADDY uses projection art, live camera feed and shadow play to spin a chilling yarn about the politics of queer desire.

Raf Antonio // playwright

Raf Antonio + Tricia Hagoriles // co-directors

Khanh Tudo // director of cinematography

Claren Grosz // producer

Nicole Eun-Ju Bell // projection design

Keshia Palm // dramaturgy

Tickets & info: