Stage Door News

Toronto: Theatre Passe Muraille announces that renovations are underway

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

One of Toronto’s most storied live performance venues, Theatre Passe Muraille is excited to announce that the 23.24 season will kick off with the World Premiere of the 2-act opera CANOE, presented in partnership with Unsettled Scores, Native Earth Performing Arts, and The Toronto Consort. CANOE will be staged off-site at Trinity St Paul’s Centre, while a transformation is underway at 16 Ryerson Avenue.

As the company continues on a growth trajectory, and with the modern theatre goer and accessibility needs top-of-mind, Theatre Passe Muraille has begun a renovation of their lobby this summer, designed by Stevens Burgess Architects Ltd.. The enhanced lobby design includes an extension of the space itself, new gender-neutral washrooms, and portable box-office and bar service areas that can be located according to the needs of their varied productions.

As part of sustainability initiatives aimed at reducing the company’s ecological footprint –which to date have emphasized the promotion of digital ticketing and communications– the renovation will also install a water refill station in the lobby as part of Passe Muraille’s ongoing efforts to contribute to a greener future.

“We live in a world that has changed so quickly. The pandemic expedited technology and the availability of services at our fingertips. We don’t need to go to the grocery store anymore to get groceries on time for dinner. We don’t need to guess which roads have the least amount of traffic. We use our phones to guide our everyday lives. Recognizing this shift, we at TPM are excited to offer a theatre going experience that best reflects our new modern world. The renovation will feature an expanded, accessible and more flexible lobby space that not only embraces technology but also aligns with the core values of TPM. During this transition you can rest assured that we will continue to consider the needs of our audiences and artists, including those that might not have access to technology,” share Indrit Kasapi, Artistic Producer and Michelle Knight, Managing Director, Revenue and Strategy.

“It’s important to acknowledge that this has been in the works for a number of years thanks to the vision of former Managing Director, Régine Cadet and former Artistic Director, Andy McKim. Their passion and dedication to creating an enhanced environment for audiences have finally come to fruition. We look forward to welcoming you inside our renovated lobby in the soon to be announced 2023 - 2024 Season!”

Originally founded in 1968, after first being based at Rochdale College and then a church hall at 11 Trinity Square, in 1972 the company was able to acquire its present-day home: the former Nasmith’s Bakery and Stables at 16 Ryerson Avenue, built in 1902. The designated heritage building is owned by the City of Toronto and leased to Theatre Passe Muraille. The lobby renovation project, which got underway in late July, is funded by the City of Toronto with completion expected by mid-October 2023.

As the renovation proceeds, the 23.24 season will get underway with the extraordinary World Premiere collaboration CANOE, an opera that defies conventions and embraces invention, running at Trinity St Paul’s –itself a heritage location known to music audiences for its rich acoustics and atmosphere– from September 12 – 16. The intercultural production showcases the rich talents of four Indigenous singers and an ensemble of five historical instruments including the violin, cello, recorder, lute, and harpsichord.

Composed by Unsettled Scores co-founders Spy Dénommé-Welch and Catherine Magowan and set to a story/libretto by Spy Dénommé-Welch, CANOE is a captivating tale of two sisters from Northern Ontario, their ancestral tree, and an old, but familiar, visitor from the past. Through a minimalist aesthetic, this poignant work breaks free from Eurocentric operatic structures, creating an accessible and safe space for diverse audiences to experience the transformative power of Indigenous storytelling and opera.

“Ever since I saw Spy and Catherine’s first opera GIIWEDIN at Theatre Passe Muraille, I have been enthralled with the beauty and nuance of their collaborations,” comments Theatre Passe Muraille Artistic Director Marjorie Chan.“It is so thrilling to be able to partner with such fabulous organizations in order to give life to their latest opera, CANOE. The story of these two sisters caught in a flood, is both moving and a timely allegory for our times. With an Indigenous lens, Spy and Catherine explore the historical with a balance of new music, creating an amazing confluence and innovative operatic work. Staging an opera is no small feat and premiering a new contemporary opera is even more of a challenge, so I hope you will join us to witness it this September.”

CANOE begins previews on September 12, Opening Night is September 15, and the show runs through to September 16 at Trinity St Paul’s Centre at 427 Bloor St. W. Tickets can be purchased at

Announcements for the balance of the 23.24 season will be released in September.