Laughing Our Way to Vulnerability and Change: An Interview with Eroca Nicols

Eroca Nicols is a woman soaked in charisma and energy. She is deliberate and playful – the perfect combination for an artist that disarms and changes her audience.

Eroca loves boldly, she honours her impulses, and is audacious with her words, thoughts, and feelings. She has a gift for making the strange become familiar, through humour and cutting insights. This way of being is the driving force behind her festival Badass Dance Fun, which was showcased at Habourfront centre last week

I saw Natural choreographed by Meg Foley and Karaoke Dance Project choreographed by Eroca Nicols. Consequently, our interview was shaped by the playful, provocative, and community inspired vibe that permeated both these pieces.

In this interview you will discover Eroca’s gifts in laughter, conversation, and building communities. Look out for this artist that sticks to her choices – is inspired by failure – and is armed for success.

I know you will have fun reading this interview.


Why do you think dance suits what was being said in this festival?

I do not think the work is a narrative thing. Everybody has a body, everybody moves it. We all know how to dance because we all know how to move – people get really uncomfortable with it because dance has been presented as this elitist form of art, and that has to do with the way it is presented, and it has to do with the kind of training the people get.  So, with Karaoke I felt I could hear and feel an art where it is culturally acceptable for people to fail and to be cheered on by a bunch of drunk people, you know what I mean? I find that pretty interesting – it is about the layers of performance we allow people to do or not do. It is less about a narrative and more about highlighting bodies that are both trained and not trained to move. It is about celebrating bodies that are at different places.

There’s a lot of layering of perspective in the piece, what was your intention with this?

I feel like a lot of interactive work forces people to participate in a very controlled way, it is not about people finding an experience together, it is that I decided what your experience is going to be and I am going to make you have it. As opposed to we can find a way to interact with the space as audience and performer by watching each other and engaging with each other on your own terms, you can choose your level of participation.

There seems to be a yearning in the performance community to change the audience’s experience –  I noticed this sense of play with the audience in your piece,so, then, what questions did you hope the audience would leave with after seeing your pieces?

I feel like our show has a series of surprises, where people go, oh shit they are doing that now? But I also think that in my work I try to do some fart jokes, you know sometimes it is a ridiculous fart joke fest. I also believe when there is a certain level of comfort, they start to be themselves when it is not a big anonymous group of people, and then when you get to be yourself and define the role a bit more, and through humour and complete absurdity, and asking the question: wow is that happening? people then  become vulnerable in a way that is fun. By having that initial disarming experience the whole experience becomes acceptable and not scary.

What human experience were you testing/examining in this work?

I feel like working with people that are not performers is a huge challenge – I mean they don’t have the codes we are trained to know as artists.

There are a couple of things that came up when the dancers said they were not nervous because they were having so much fun. It puts me in a very different space as a performer when people say they are having fun as a person and as a performer. So I think I tried to create that kind of environment for artists and the audience. I feel like I am trying to treat the audience and the performers as having a shared experience.The performance of observation is something I am finding interesting.

When did the craft begin with this work?

Early – beginning with discussions and people. Some times it began with images. I began with the thought that I want people to be having a good time and then the performance evolved from there.

What kind of spaces inspire you to create?

I am interested in social dances, I am interested in places where people come together to have a good time and are also performing for each other.

Discuss why Karaoke fascinates you.

It’s an exercise in failure. There’s this line of making work that isn’t supposed to be perfect. The intention is not to be perfect. It is to ask questions. I am fascinated by karaoke because it is a melting pot of what it is happening. People are watching, and drinking, and are nervous about going up, and other people are shining when they perform, while others are sad, and it’s just a cultural activity. It’s huge here, and it’s huge in other places. It’s taken so seriously in some places too. Being a good karaoke singer doesn’t mean you are a good singer, it is about people rooting for each other. It’s about people saying dude I have weird skills and listen to them.

What new questions were you inspired to ask yourself while creating this piece?

I just finished working on a solo piece this summer, which was pretty intense. I think after being kicked out of schools and experiencing life, and going to a slightly darker work which was hard I had to ask different questions. I think then it was nice to get back to working with fun – even my solo piece there has fun parts, but it is also majorly emotional shit.

One of the big concerns that I had was to make the people that were not performers feel good, I wanted them to feel like this was a fun thing they wanted to do. I really wanted them to trust me. I wanted them to know I believed they had an artistic voice, and that they felt supported. I also was thinking of the idea of the herd, and what that does to people.

Discuss how you wanted to treat the audience’s conception of engagement.

The whole point of the festival is that we want to change the terms of engagement for people who are watching, for people who are dancing, for people who are being watched. Dance, of the art forms in Toronto is pretty traditional. That’s why the festival happened because we are trying to figure out how to change it. We wanted to ask the questions: What would one do if they didn’t know all the rules of the art form? What it would be like for them?

Discuss the element of surprise in this work.

Yeah we worked with it with warning the audience about the splash zone in the first two rows, and then it turns out to be just a little splash. And that’s about showcasing how we get stressed about things happening that we do not usually experience during a performance. I am just not interested in the relationship where the performers are there for a passive audience. I am interested in an active watching, I think the element of surprise promotes active observation. I wanted people to feel like the piece was really for them. I wanted them to feel included as a member of the performers and as a member of the audience.

What do you say to people who are afraid of being addressed so personally as an audience member?

What I say to them is I want them to come on the journey with us to the point where they become comfortable.

When people feel frustrated and when people feel like this isn’t the right thing, you have to ask: why? They are going to be asking the same questions that I am asking, they are just going to be finding the answers in a different way which is totally fine.

What artists are inspiring you right now?

I think people that are working with democratic pedagogy in teaching, in how do you get information across to people without being dogmatic about it. This in the same way of making inclusive art while making bad ass dancing, how do we make something seriously cool without being elite about it.

How do you want Karaoke Dance Project to develop?

I think as a tour it would be awesome because it would give us the opportunity to see the different kinds of karaoke singers around the world. Karaoke is such a different subculture in so many different places and means so many things to these different places. In different parts of the world it would become a completely different show. The project is a queer project – so that would also be a big political question involved in a tour of this show. It is an outsider project, but that is a lot of my work.

Story by: Hannah Rittner

Website in a Day Workshop!!!!

Website in a Day (aka WordPress for Beginners)

Saturday April 28,2012

10am – 4pm
Neville Studio, Toronto Fringe Offices
720 Bathurst Street, Toronto
$129.00 per person

delicious catered lunch included

New: all attendees will receive a special promotion from our friends at Pink Elephant Communications!

Learn how to build a website using WordPress – the popular blog and website publishing platform.  Whether you’re trying to set up a simple website for your small business, indie arts company, a personal blog, or perhaps you use WordPress at work and would like to learn more, this workshop is for you. You’ll learn how to install, customize, and maintain WordPress on your own website.

We will cover:

  • the difference between and hosting WordPress on your site
  • how to install WordPress
  • selecting and installing a WordPress theme
  • building webpages and your site’s menu bar
  • adding a blog to your website
  • plugins and widgets – how to customize WordPress
  • a few lines of code that are handy to know

Bring your laptop, your enthusiasm, and appetite (delicious catered lunch is included!), and by the end of the day, you’ll have built your own website from start to finish.

The workshop is limited to a small group, so there will be lots of time for questions and one-on-one support.

Click Here to Register

The not-so-fine print:

  • Workshop registration is non-refundable, however, your ticket is transferable to a friend or colleague if you can’t make the event at the last minute.
  • You must bring your own laptop and power cord – computers are not provided.


S.L.I.P 2012 Application:



Now in its fourth year, the SummerWorks Leadership Intensive Program (S.L.I.P) is a
unique professional training intensive for emerging artists, placing a specific focus on
the business of arts professionalism. This two week program, coinciding with the
SummerWorks Theatre Festival, will take place August 9-19th, 2012.
This unique intensive offers emerging artists and arts workers insights into the thinking
behind producing and how to approach an artistic career from a practical business
perspective. (S.L.I.P does not place focus on performance or on auditioning. We do
not discuss how to get an agent or where to have headshots taken.)
Past points of focus have included: Professional Etiquette, Marketing, Publicity, Grant
Writing, Fundraising, Touring, Financial Planning, Artistic Directing and How To Do
Everything All At Once. Some past professionals who have led S.L.I.P sessions are:
Philip Akin, Gideon Arthurs, Franco Boni, Pat Bradley, Derrick Chua, Ted Dykstra, Jon
Kaplan, Nina Lee Aquino, Jackie Maxwell, Ross Manson, Allyson McMackon, Any McKim,
Yvette Nolan, Kelly Thornton and many more.
Participants also have the chance to be mentored by an artist producing at
SummerWorks. S.L.I.P members and attend an extensive amount of work presented at
the Festival.

Ideal Candidates Are:
– Emerging artists who have a strong interest in producing and artistic leadership.
– Graduating from post-secondary theatre programs or artists who have been in the
industry for up to three years since graduating.
– Available for the entire duration of S.L.I.P (August 8-19, 2012). P.O. Box 12, Station C, Toronto, ON. M6J 3M7. 2

There is a $25.00 non-refundable submission fee. Applications will not be accepted
unless this fee is included. Cheques can be made payable to the SummerWorks
Theatre Festival and dated for April 6, 2012.

All applications must include ONE copy of the following.
1. Letter of Intent: Maximum 2 pages, explaining why you would like to be part of
S.L.I.P 2012 and how you think the program will aid in your development as an
2. A Resume
3. Support Materials: Maximum 2 pages. This can include letters of support from
professional artists, examples of your work etc.
4. $25.00 non-refundable submission fee
5. Application check-list found on the next page

The deadline for submissions is Friday, April 6, 2012 by 5:00 p.m. All submissions
must be received or postmarked by this date.
Applications can be mailed to:
SummerWorks Theatre Festival
P.O. Box 12, Station C
Toronto, ON
M6J 3M7
If you have any further questions with regards to your application or the program in
general, please contact Jordi Mand, Program Director, at
We look forward to reading your application.

Michael Rubenfeld Jordi Mand
Artistic Producer S.L.I.P Program Director


The SummerWorks Theatre Festival is seeking a Venue Operations Manager for the 2012 Festival.

The Venue Operations Manager reports to the General Manager and Artistic Producer, and is responsible for coordinating Front of House for all the venues that the festival uses.

In addition to the duties listed below, the Venue Operations Manager is expected to attend all scheduled production meetings, staff meet and greet (date TBD), rehearsals and performances as required by the Festival schedule, and any such which directly affects their duties and responsibilities between June 1st to August 31st, 2012.

Specific Duties include:

  • Overall responsibility for Front Of House management of the Festival, including delivery of FOH records at the end of the Festival
  • Hiring and training for all front of house managers
  • Update FOH Information Book for companies
  • Contact and communicate with all theatre companies to discuss any special needs
  • Coordinate a working policy with FOH Managers from the rental theatres
  • Coordinating and running of Volunteer training, in conjunction with the Assistant Venue Manager & Volunteer Coordinator
  • Helping to organize and run ancillary events (parties, etc)
  • Updating the Front of House Manual
  • Liaise with Box Office representative and PR Manager for any ticketing requirements
  • Liaise with Production Manager for scheduling


  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Superior customer service skills with strong time management and stress management
  • Leadership experience with staff and volunteers
  • Exceptional organizational abilities
  • Ontario Driver’s License

Please email resumes and cover letters to Lucy Eveleigh, General Manager,

Salary – $3000 (You will be required to do some preparation in May with part time hours in June and July and Full time hours in August. You MUST be available for all the dates of the Festival. (9th-19th August)

Flares of Life in The Big Smoke : An Interview with Amy Nostbakken

It was instantaneous – the moment I saw Amy Nostbakken enter the stage of Factory’s studio space I knew I was meeting a force. There is something unassuming about a person that gently makes their presence known – however in this delicateness exists a courageous and originally ensnaring power. It is Amy’s unique embodiment of life that makes Natalie’s fight in The Big Smoke so compelling.

It is evident that Amy is able to disclose the beautiful and vulnerable aspects of herself – making her performance boldly elegant and gritty – no matter what adjectives I use to describe her performance, they all point to one result: you cannot look away.

It was no surprise to me then, that Amy was a dynamic, generous, and thoughtful person to interview. Her answers are direct, stemming from her pure and self effacing heart. I hope you enjoy her sincere and clear answers about the fight for life that inspired her to create The Big Smoke.

Tell me about Toronto Theatre scene and what it was like for you to move here.

I was initially afraid to move back here after being in London – I imagined that it would be grey and overly corporate, and then I got here, and I was surrounded by all these artists. And I thought: what is this? what is this city? And then, five minutes from where I live there is this massive lake which might as well be an ocean, and then there all these young people around. I discovered there were so many people concerned with creating spaces that were very unique, spaces that are always becoming and feel so alive. There is this feeling of constant movement. So when I got into the theatre world here, I thought well, this is fantastic. Especially in comparison to London where you feel you are entrenched in this historical tradition of the theatre. In a way you are limited by the long held constructs of these institutions, whereas here there is so much room for change, there is a lot of need and desire for change. So when I got here I had this feeling as a theatre-maker that I had the ability to make change.

It’s funny too because in England people always refer to us as the New World. It is exotic in a way – and what I get from it is that it is new, it is fresh, it is so alive.

How did the story of The Big Smoke first appear in your mind?

It began first because I wanted to do a show that was sung, and I wanted it to be a woman that did it.

I also began developing this story soon after a close friend of mine had experienced a tragic loss – it was the kind of loss that made me ask myself what it meant to be a woman, and what womanhood is. It struck me, especially after experiencing with my friend this movement through loss and tragedy that I wanted to create something with this kind of fight for life. This also went well with what my director wanted, which was to tell a story about a strong female character. A female character that struggled with the question of how she fit into society.

So then when I began thinking more of these kinds of stories I immediately thought of the poets Plath, Sexton, and Woolf. I was especially inspired by them because as poets they are able to speak to women’s experiences of masturbation, miscarriages, and blood.

So you believe that women’s particular experiences of darkness and death still need to be explored further in the theatrical space.

I approach the story from a woman’s perspective because I am a woman. I am interested in the darkness that comes from having infinite choice – it can be insulating and suffocating – obviously, it is great to have freedom and to deal with these choices, but I have also become curious about the darkness that underpins these options. I like investigating this notion of infinite opportunity to show how the result is more complex than how it appears.

Why did this story have to be sung?

Music has this amazing ability to capture us immediately. One single note of the trumpet can unlock all sorts of things. There is a huge difference between telling some one a story when you are speaking and when you are singing – for example if I told you a story while singing in a major key, or a minor key, I’d achieve immediate control over your emotions. Especially in relation to the show producing different melodies represents different memories at different moments.

What was the moment for you that made you realize that this show was clicking?

It was when we did our scratch performance – and the reaction we got from it was beyond what we could have imagined. It wasn’t just, well that’s great, it was people weeping in the aisles, it was especially rewarding because as a performer you want to communicate, and it was during that performance in particular where I got that connection.

Explain The Big Smoke’s creation process.

Nir and I co-devised the whole play. Essentially I was the person that improvised the material, while Nir, the director continuously narrowed and crafted and focused the rehearsals, and the story. We were playing with the idea of me using a guitar and a looping peddle which would create the effect of a one woman symphony, but we realized soon into the process the more we added the more was lost. After improvising and narrowing the pieces we liked in rehearsal we would then write it down. This was challenging because I had never once had to write down what I had done – I had never worked with a pen- I had always been working on my feet. At the end of our rehearsals Nir and I would part ways, I would write the music and Nir would write the story, then we would come back with the materials and work.

What central questions do you think The Big Smoke is asking?

How does one define oneself? You know for example, in the play, when Natalie looks around and she says, everyone around me says I am an artist, I am defining myself as an artist, I clearly am an artist, I paint, and I am really good at it, but inside I get no joy from it. So, what am I? And, Natalie is very fortunate, she has a loving family that supports her. She is surrounded by the glitz and the glamour of it all. But even with that, everyone thinks she has everything to live for, but then she realizes it isn’t for her – I think I am just telling a real story, over and above asking questions. It is letting people know that in many parts of the story you can relate, and your are not alone. Especially because loneliness is not something people easily admit to.

What is your explanation of the title The Big Smoke?

Well on the surface both Toronto and London are referred to as The Big Smoke. That title originally came when I was just describing Natalie. She is in this glossy-eyed state, and at the end she is talking about how she can’t see properly, and how her eyes are full of smoke. I focus on this image – and how one can feel so lost.

Did you feel weighed down by the heaviness of telling a story that discussed suicide?

Well – it is not about suicide. It is about the struggle for life. I never feel weighted down. I don’t feel the death. She does have a lot of life in her. She is fighting – she is a fighter. I remembered during the third time we did the Fringe that Natalie is not nice, she is a fighter, she is fierce. The moment you stop fighting the play does not happen. So in a way, the idea of the suicide cannot affect you. You are owning the life and you are going through the life, so then, it does not matter what happened.

How do you think Natalie would describe herself?

She says in the play: I am a little bit lost at the moment.

What kinds of projects has this play inspired you to do?

It made me realize that I do not want to create theatre that does not pose the fiery question: why I am making theatre? Because if you cannot answer that question – then you certainly are not going to satisfy the audience.

I also realized I am really excited about playing further with the performance style used in The Big Smoke, except with a bigger cast. I would love to explore the possibilities of that. I am certainly inspired by purely telling the story with music.

Discuss the role of Love, Passion, and Celebration in The Big Smoke.

There is a lot of love passion and celebration in the play. I hope that it gets the audience to ask that question – where is the love, the passion, and the celebration? Those are three carefully chosen words. Natalie does at one point get asked by her doctor: when was the last time you felt happy? And this is a standard question doctors ask their clients. Which is absurd- but then, Natalie doesn’t know, she doesn’t know what happiness means. Which is ok too. The love, the passion, and the celebration is witnessed by the audience, even if Natalie herself does not know completely that she has it.

Story By: Hannah Rittner



is a bi-annual project which aims to introduce and to promote new anglophone and francophone Canadian plays on the German-speaking theatre scene. A jury consisting of German theatre experts reads, evaluates and selects the best plays.

Dear friends and colleagues,

NEW CANADIAN PLAYS seeks to identify, introduce and promote new anglophone and francophone Canadian plays with the best market potential for the German-speaking theatre scene. The project was established in 2006 by the Embassy of Canada in collaboration with Heritage Canada and partners across Canada and enters its sixth edition in 2012. Since 2007, it has been organized in collaboration with the Québec Government Office in Berlin and the International Theatre Institute Germany in Berlin. Since 2009, the Canada Council has generously supported the project. Since 2010, it takes place every two years.

The process relies on collaboration and shared expertise between Canada and Germany. Numerous partners throughout Canada such as Playwrights Guild Toronto and Centre des auteurs dramatiques in Montréal as well as many experts, dramaturges, directors, playwrights and agents have been submitting new plays.

A jury of 5 German theatre experts (on a rotational basis) pre-selects, reads and evaluates the submissions. Thanks to the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, we have been able to commission professional translations of the plays selected. They are promoted in a newsletter, in three languages (German, English and French), to more than 600 professional contacts across the German-speaking theatre scene: dramaturges, artistic directors, directors, translators and agents.

For German theatre professionals, it is hard to access information on the latest plays, developments and trends across Canada because of the country’s decentralized structure and geography. Moreover, the complexity of the German theatre system both demands and affords various ways of reaching decision makers. Our project continually succeeds in raising their awareness of new Canadian plays and in creating substantial networks for future collaboration between Canada and Germany. We even experience a growing interest from other countries such as Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Poland.

Dear partners throughout Canada, NEW CANADIAN PLAYS would not work without your ongoing support, openness, interest and collaboration. Your thorough knowledge of Canadian and Québécois theatre and play development, in well-made and new forms of writing in various styles and formats, as well as your awareness of established and upcoming playwrights is very valuable to us.

We kindly invite you to participate in this project by submitting new plays and texts which you believe to be of potential for an international market, thanks to their quality, style, form and content. Your support would greatly assist the jury’s work and is deeply appreciated.

We are happy to announce the members of the Jury 2012: John v. Düffel (author, dramaturge Deutsches Theater Berlin); Frank Heibert (freelance translator and jury president, Berlin); Simone Kaempf (theatre journalist, Berlin); Stephan Schmidtke (artistic director and head of dramaturgy, Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf); Frank Weigand (freelance translator, Berlin, editor Scène – Annual Anthology of Francophone Plays in German Translation).

Please find below all information and requirements to participate.

Submitted material must include the following information:

•      The completed application form in English or French (see forms attached)

•      The complete play in digital form only – including date of origin

•      A short synopsis of the play

•      A short CV of the playwright(s)

•      Foreign rights information (who is the agent or the holder of the rights?)

Only complete applications can be considered by the jury.


Please be aware of the following criteria:

•      Plays submitted should not be older than three years, meaning that they should neither have been written before 2009, nor have been presented to the public (reading, workshop, production or publication) before that date.

•      Plays don’t necessarily have to have been produced in Canada/Québec.

•      Plays should not yet be represented by a German agent or publisher.

•      Plays can deal with the challenges of contemporary life, private and political, and with relevant social issues, i.e. cultural diversity, migration, open society, future of the city, unemployment, environmental issues, demography.

•      Plays that have an obvious regional or local Canadian interest are more difficult to export to Germany.

•      Please do not send adaptations based on novels or films. Plays on the life of celebrities or historical characters are equally hard to place on the German market.

•      Plays for young audiences are welcome.

•      The jury is not only interested in well-made plays, but also in innovative forms of writing. In German-speaking theatres, we experience an increasing interest in creative and experimental writing which results in performance productions. The jury is open to supporting this innovative trend and is interested in also receiving performance texts and other, freer forms of theatre writing.

We kindly ask you to send all material (preferably in PDF-format) to the

Embassy of Canada in Germany, Berlin, attn. Gabriele Naumann-Maerten

and to the Québec Government Office in Berlin, attn. Marie-Elisabeth Räkel

Deadline: March 31, 2012

Your participation would greatly assist the jury’s work. Should you wish to share this call with other experts or individuals who might be interested to join this project, please feel free to distribute this call for plays including the application form.

Your support is much appreciated.

Best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Gabriele Naumann-Maerten

(Cultural Attaché – Performing Arts and Music, Embassy of Canada in Germany, Berlin)

Marie-Elisabeth Räkel

(Cultural Attaché – Québec Government Office in Berlin)

Frank Heibert

(Jury President 2012, Berlin)




Ce projet biennal vise à promouvoir la dramaturgie canadienne actuelle de langue anglaise et française en Allemagne et dans les pays germanophones. Un jury constitué de professionnels du théâtre allemand évalue les pièces et sélectionne les lauréats en fonction de leur potentiel pour le marché germanophone. 

Appel de textes 2012

Chers amis, chers collègues,

Le projet New Canadian Plays / Nouvelles pièces canadiennes  vise à identifier, à diffuser et à promouvoir les pièces canadiennes récentes de langue anglaise et  française pouvant susciter un intérêt pour la production dans les pays germanophones.

Mis sur pied en 2006 par l’Ambassade du Canada en collaboration avec Héritage Canada et d’autres partenaires canadiens, le projet a été réalisé en partenariat avec le Bureau du Québec à Berlin et l’International Theatre Institute Germany de Berlin dès l’édition 2007. Le Conseil des arts du Canada a pour sa part appuyé généreusement le projet depuis 2009. D’abord organisé tous les ans, le projet, devenu biennal en 2010, connaîtra donc sa sixième édition en 2012.

Le processus met à contribution l’expertise des professionnels du théâtre en Allemagne et au Canada. En effet, des partenaires tels le Playwrights Guild deToronto et le Centre des auteurs dramatiques de Montréal, mais aussi des auteurs, des agents, des directeurs artistiques et des metteurs en scène ont soumis ces dernières années de nombreuses pièces, alimentant le projet de manière essentielle.

Le jury est composé de cinq professionnels du théâtre allemand (une partie du jury est renouvelée lors de chaque édition). Les jurés présélectionnent, lisent et évaluent les pièces soumises. Grâce au soutien du Conseil des arts du Canada et du Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, les pièces sélectionnées lors des éditions précédentes ont été traduites en allemand. Les lauréats sont annoncés par un bulletin électronique diffusé en trois langues (allemand, anglais, français) à plus de 600 contacts professionnels du milieu du théâtre germanophone, dont des Dramaturg, des directeurs artistiques, des metteurs en scène, des agents et des traducteurs spécialisés.

Les professionnels du théâtre allemand ne sont pas forcément au fait des tendances et développements de la dramaturgie au Canada, puisqu’il est difficile d’avoir une vue d’ensemble sur la création, en partie en raison de l’immensité et de la diversité du pays et de ses structures décentralisées.

Par ailleurs, en Allemagne, les structures et modes de fonctionnement dans le secteur du théâtre sont complexes. Pour rejoindre les personnes clés, il est donc nécessaire d’emprunter des stratégies diverses. Au fil des éditions du projet, l’intérêt et la curiosité envers la dramaturgie canadienne s’intensifient. Ce succès contribue à établir des réseaux essentiels aux futures collaborations entre le Canada et l’Allemagne. Des partenaires d’Autriche, de Suisse, des Pays-Bas et de la Pologne expriment également leur intérêt.

Chers partenaires au Canada, le projet New Canadian Plays / Nouvelles pièces canadiennes est tributaire de votre ouverture, de votre collaboration et de votre soutien fidèles. En 2012, nous aimerions à nouveau solliciter votre connaissance approfondie de la dramaturgie canadienne et québécoise, afin d’attirer l’attention du jury sur de nouveaux textes de formes et de styles divers, qu’il s’agisse de pièces bien faites, de nouvelles écritures, de textes d’auteurs établis ou de la relève.

Nous vous invitons à participer à ce projet et à appuyer le travail du jury en nous soumettant des pièces récentes dont la qualité, le style, la forme et le contenu offrent selon vous un potentiel pour le marché international.

Nous sommes heureux de vous présenter les membres du jury 2012: M. John v. Düffel (auteur, Dramaturg au Deutsches Theater Berlin), M. Frank Heibert (traducteur indépendant et président du jury), Mme Simone Kaempf (critique de théâtre, Berlin), M. Stephan Schmidtke (directeur artistique et chef de la dramaturgie au Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf), M. Frank Weigand (traducteur indépendant et directeur de la série Scène – anthologie annuelle de nouvelles pièces francophones en traduction allemande).

Veuillez trouver plus bas les conditions de participation.

Les dossiers soumis doivent inclure les informations suivantes:

•    Formulaire complété en anglais ou en français (voir document attaché)

•    Le texte intégral de la  pièce en format numérique et la date d’origine

•    Un bref résumé de la pièce

•    Une courte biographie du ou des auteurs

•    Information sur les droits (agent ou personne qui détient les droits sur la pièce)

Les dossiers incomplets ne pourront pas être pris en compte par le jury.

Veuillez également prendre note des critères suivants:

•      Les pièces proposées ne doivent pas remonter à plus de trois ans, c’est-à-dire ne pas avoir été écrites avant 2009 ni avoir fait l’objet d’une diffusion auprès du public avant cette date (que ce soit dans le cadre d’une lecture publique, d’un atelier, d’une production ou d’une publication).

•      Il n’est pas nécessaire que la pièce soumise aie déjà été montée au Canada ou au Québec.

•      La pièce soumise ne devrait pas être représentée par un agent ou un éditeur allemand.

•      Le jury s’intéresse notamment aux pièces qui soulèvent des enjeux de la vie contemporaine, intimes ou collectifs, ainsi qu’aux écritures en prise avec le social et le politique (diversité culturelle, migration, société pluraliste, développement des villes, démographie, monde du travail, écologie…).

•      Il est difficile d’exporter des pièces dont le sujet principal est exclusivement d’intérêt régional ou local.

•      Nous vous prions de ne pas soumettre des adaptations de romans ou de films. Les pièces qui traitent de la vie de personnes célèbres ou de personnalités historiques suscitent également peu d’intérêt en Allemagne.

•      Les pièces pour jeune public sont bienvenues.

•      Le jury s’intéresse aux dramaturgies traditionnelles, mais aussi aux nouvelles écritures théâtrales. De plus, dans le milieu du théâtre germanophone, les processus d’écriture expérimentaux et l’écriture scénique sont de plus en plus répandus. Le jury s’ouvre à ces nouvelles tendances et recevra également des textes à la base de performances, ainsi que des formes plus libres d’écritures théâtrales.

Nous vous prions de bien vouloir faire parvenir les dossiers (si possible en format PDF) aux personnes suivantes :

Mme Gabriele Naumann-Maerten, Ambassade du Canada à Berlin

Mme Marie-Elisabeth Räkel, Bureau du Québec à Berlin

Date limite: le 31 mars 2012

Nous espérons pouvoir compter sur votre participation. N’hésitez pas à faire suivre ce courriel à d’autres institutions et personnes intéressées, sans oublier d’inclure le formulaire de participation en annexe. Nous vous remercions pour votre précieuse collaboration et vous transmettons nos salutations les plus cordiales.

Gabriele Naumann-Maerten

(Attachée culturelle – Arts de la scène, Ambassade du Canada en Allemagne, Berlin)

Marie-Elisabeth Räkel

(Attachée culturelle – Bureau du Québec à Berlin)

Frank Heibert

(Président du jury 2012, Berlin)

Note: la forme masculine utilisée dans le texte désigne autant les femmes que les hommes.

Passion Kaleidoscopes Fragrance and No Themes: An Interview with Tina Rasmussen

Tina Rasmussen is at once a severe and playful force. She is a delightful person with an explosive and fluid imagination. Tina has the gifts of an intense listener and an excitable speaker. It is no surprise that she is the resplendent mind behind World Stage. The dynamic 2012 season can be looked at here:

There are many shows to see and I will be sure to write about a few of them!

Last week I had the opportunity to speak with Tina, a chance that I will cherish for a long time. During this conversation she candidly articulated her views on World Stage, Toronto’s theatre community, and the transforming power of performance. 
I hope your senses are delighted and your thoughts are provoked by this interview where Tina generously describes the metaphors and realities that govern her artistic choices.

Without further ado, I present to you Tina Rasmussen.

Photograph by: Gordon Hawkins

Briefly describe the process that brought you here.

I was born and raised in Calgary. I studied theatre where I mostly did acting and directing. I then went to Edmonton, I actually did all of these auditions for a Masters in Acting in the States and I got into about seven schools, but, I didn’t go because I wanted to actually work with Robin Phillips. He was a master director working in his last year in Edmonton. I also met Albert Schultz, he was still working in television at the time. I was concerned about leaving the company at the Citadel because at the time I was a General Manager intern, so, out of pure fear I packed my car and drove across the country to work for Albert, and then we started working on founding Soulpepper in 1997 to 1998 with Diane Quinn, with Albert in his back yard twenty hours a day. I quickly realized that producing work was really up my alley, because as an actor you are not really in charge. I was too bossy really.  It is actually a very short story to be honest. I often pinch myself about that and how I am here. I left Soulpepper because it was Albert’s show to direct, and I didn’t want to be stuck there in a status position with him, which would have been fine because he is like a brother to me, but in terms of my creative life it wouldn’t have been as fulfilling. So then, this associate artistic director job opened with Don Shipley, so I did that, which was kind of an audition for me. So when Don stepped down I threw my hat in the ring and was appointed acting manager—it all comes down to auditioning, being in the right place at the right time, and also being an artist myself it’s always the lens through which I see everything, I feel this is the ultimate creative job, I feel extremely satisfied creatively.

What inspires you to continue your work as an artistic director?

I have a totally insatiable appetite and curiosity. I don’t separate my job from my life. I am constantly on stumble upon, I send so much information out to my staff. I steal I beg I borrow from all different kinds of things. I look out the window of my car as a proscenium; I see the theatre that surrounds us all the time. I find I could never run out of things to do. It’s through the idea of creating something and getting people – I look at the audience development as a one to one conversation.

I feel very evangelical about it. I don’t separate my life from work. Everything is inspired. I get inspired all the time. I have a lot of rage and a lot of love. I think they are the same thing.

I think my job is also very political, it is about trying to propose questions that people can have a conversation about, so much of it is about being an instigator.

Why do you think your job is political/socially relevant?

I think that artist development is audience development, so actually it is how I engage the artists so that they can say what they want to say. I have something to say too, but it is not about my aesthetic, it’s not masturbatory in that way. In every single case there is a reason, there may be different reasons, in every single case it is about how theatre is the arena where we can have a conversation about how we can live together, and recognize our biases and differences while trying to have a critical discussion. It is for the person who is just awake—not someone who is simply looking to say I like or I don’t like that. It is about the art framing the question of what is my role? And how do I become active and passive in the dark?

What are you looking for in the pieces you choose to program?

I look at putting a season together like building a fragrance, so that each individual show has its own scent. I think of theme as textures. I hate themes—themes to me are like primary colours, there is a joke at Harbourfront about how you should never say themes around me. It is way more prismatic and kaleidoscopic to build your season with textures  scents and ideas.

I also look at international trends, I program for artists in the community—if they come to me it can lead to the development of an art practice in the community. I also program for what the audience might be completely moved by so that some controversy and polarity is produced. I think polarity and controversy are good things. I also program a lot for love, if there is a lot of love in something I can become very inspired to program it.

What distinct qualities or ideas are you excited about that are being displayed in this season?

I am excited about the juxtaposition between lo-fi and hi-f work. I am compelled by the questions of the past and future, an old school esthetic versus a cyber beauty. I am interested in scale, in terms of small and large—epic in terms of Sophocles but done through 20 seats. The same with the dance; that urban dance be elevated to a street style to a higher art form transforming it into a conversation about art and the environment. Those are the some of the ideas in the season. I feel like this season asks the question: how do we demystify the theatre by making it accessible all the time?

 Why do you feel the audience will connect with this season?

I have an obsession with how the audience meets the work. It is a challenge when you have contemporary performance work where you have someone spinning around for two hours—and there are some that are more accessible than others.  It is something that I am constantly trying to find threads to when I am selling the work and when we are doing why videos and the interviews, that’s a big question: contemporary art sometimes isn’t accessible to everyone, so how do we give people the clues so that people can? I don’t want to underestimate the audience either, I mean my mother who is now going to be seventy-nine came in to see Ame Henderson in Relay, and I thought oh goodness she is going to hate this, and she loved it because she let herself go, she said she had permission to not really see any story but to see images, and I thought well that’s genius, she found that language for herself. I just have to know that if I felt something and saw something in it than it will work. Sometimes it is about pushing them—and hoping they come along with you, and sometimes you fail miserably, I think it is important that failure exists and we talk about it and why it didn’t work. Sometimes it’s about going through something.

How is World Stage distinct from other Toronto-based companies?

I always try to do what people aren’t doing. We have the contemporary art centre with the global perspective. It is about the involvement of the culture core, the idea that the national and the local are a part of the world, and the inclusion of Canadian artists that are in a position to move and to be a part of the trajectory of an international life, and, then, our support of those artists, selling their work helping them tour, that is a built in agency model that no one else in the city has. It is a competitive process. Not everyone is ready to have that, which is very exciting.

Talk about the World Stage Embassy.

It began with the idea of people converging into a space—it was about getting the audience to not be intimidated by the work, to understand the work, and feel included in this pocket. So that was the major focus of the embassy—having the ambassadors as a part of the work, giving the artists the opportunity to talk about their own practice and talk to the audience, which is also why audiences go to see art so they can talk to the artists. It’s a fluid program, no one has to pay—we want the artists to connect then if they are connected they will discuss their ideas and have an exchange with the audience, it’s a petri dish.

What recent risks have you taken that ended up being very rewarding?

Putting a commission as the opening show of the season Everything Under the Moon. I believed in the artists and everything they were doing, and anchoring it in the family day long week end, and displaying a work for young people that is not only relegated to young people.

Also sending out my party invitations with a sheep from Iceland on it. It is challenging being in a large institution that has a branding capacity, and wanting to have a direct relationship with the audience, and saying to people I want you to be at my party, it was my chance to bring in my community. I was so happy that people were so positive about how I designed my invitation. I think it paid off.

What other arts organizations or theatre companies inspire you?

All of them. If people are doing anything in terms of live performance then the more the better. If people are concerned with building an audience and thinking about their public I am inspired. I find cultural creation and cultural output pretty inspiring. Do I wish people were less stylized and wearing blinders? Yes, I wish there was more openness. I like people that are performance makers—I mean I would love to see Stratford fund people to do contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare plays.

What artists or companies make you jazzed about the future?

Well, I am pretty jazzed about Shakespeare, to be honest. I am reading Lear at the moment. I like the idea of artists trying to figure that out—I like the return to acting. Enough with the straight delivery and professional amateurs, I like strong acting. I like the exercise of that muscle. In terms of trends, I think Toronto is leaving the theatre and trying the promenade, I have seen all that so now I am interested in the return to the theatre. I have been interested in the joy division of a story about punk and necessity of punk as a mode of expression, and the necessity to the people to make the work as an economic, political and social statement. I’m really interested in master directors, when you walk down the street in Berlin you can say a handful of names and people will flock to the theatre. I’d like to see the development of master directors here, and then, of course, big conceptual pieces, so that we can bring those masters to our stages.

How has festival theatre influenced your company?

It’s a total inspiration. I could be out at the theatre seven nights a week. I think festival theatre in particular  helps with bringing awareness to work in development and gives the audience the opportunity to appreciate developing work.

If you could give yourself a title what would it be?

I would say hunch follower.

Pencils or Pens?

Oh Pens. I am very particular about my pens. I love them when they are fat and juicy.

For a break silence or music?


Black box or proscenium?


*     *     *     *     * 

Story by: Hannah Rittner

Overflow from the Brim: Ravi Jain Talks about A Brimful of Asha

A Brimful of Asha was a lovely piece to experience. Generosity and inclusion are the engines of the collective creation, between Ravi Jain and his mother Asha Jain. From the moment you enter the space Ravi and Asha sincerely offer food and conversation. After sitting, eating, and talking with Ravi and Asha the show fluidly dissolves into a spontaneous and lively performance. This is the magic of the show: the debate about arranged marriage in many cultures is so often seen as exclusive, Ravi Jain creates a love-driven opening to this debate by including the audience in these deep questions about life and love.

Ravi and Asha are equally evanescent on stage, demonstrating a sensitive love for one another. However, with this sensitivity comes the possibility for vulnerability, pain, and self doubt.  Ravi Jain, a Toronto based actor sincerely and playfully experiments with the many emotionally charged conversations he had with his mother about arranged marriage in this piece. It was absolutely delightful to talk to him about his experiences, thoughts, and feelings about the whole endeavour. I am very grateful that he took the time to talk to me about this show. I strongly suggest you live this experience for yourself.  A Brimful of Asha runs until February 26th at Tarragon Theatre. 

Ravi Jain, Asha Jain. Photography by Erin Brubacher. 

Describe why the process of creating this piece was different from all the others you have done.

I spent this process with my Mum which in itself is very different. Also for my normal process I am used to rehearsing a lot, but with my Mum I wasn’t able to do this. It wasn’t necessary for the improvised nature of the show. In order to preserve the spontaneous nature of the show I had to keep rehearsals to a minimum. So part of the strategy of the process was trying not to rehearse, which was different than what I normally like to do, which is to rehearse a lot.

What unexpected responses did you get from the audience?

People talk and are very vocal about their reactions, there was one night in particular, where a woman screamed at my mother a lot. I was about to reign it back, that was interesting, she really had an agenda, so it was interesting, since the vibe is meant to make you feel comfortable with contributing. At the same time we don’t have much time.

I found this interesting because what I really wanted to do with the show is to demonstrate how amazing my Mom’s intentions are. We both want the same thing, we just have different ways of getting there. That is something I really understand more is that her drive is pure, and I think that it has taken me a long time to really understand that. This is why I believe it is so great that people get to see that, there is stigma around arranged marriage, but, there is also a lot of positivity.

You were trying to make art of your own experience, and of course you wanted to make art of the audience’s experience. What kind of experiences did you want to give the audience that they don’t normally receive  with other shows?

I went to a school where everything we did was in relation to the audience, the whole premise of the audience was there was no fourth wall. So a lot of what I do involves directly speaking to people. That is very important for the work that I do. This absence of the fourth wall was really important to make the audience feel as if they were coming over to my house. For example, if you came over to my house you’d have food, you’d want to tell your story, and you’d want to hear the stories of others.

By having your Mum as your only co-actor in the show with no theatre training did you find your perspective on acting and performance change? If not, then, why?

One of the things that actors try to do is to be in the moment, when I work with her I have to be. I have to be so focused I can never go on auto pilot. I always have to be in the moment with my Mum, not only for me, but, for her. I need to be there in case anything goes wrong. Fortunately she is so generous. Her ability to be open and available and spontaneous is so inspiring. You want to be around that energy, you love provoking that every night and playing with that. We aren’t coming out of the show to repeat something we are coming out to live it. That is what any actor wants to do, and it is an amazing opportunity to actually do that.

What part of the story do you find the most difficult and the most rewarding to perform?

The fights that I had with my Mum. It is not very nice to do that kind of thing in public. You feel vulnerable, you don’t want to tell the truth that you were an asshole to your Mom. We all are at some point, but I struggled with it. The reality is the whole thing, it is a whole piece. There are times that I doubted these moments, I wondered is this too much? Is this too real to put my Mom here? Those were risks that were scary but rewarding.

Describe the purpose of the videos you have going around.

I actually wanted to put them in the show, however, every time we tried to it broke the flow of the story. I really liked them. They were made to show people that this is a kind of conversation that everyone has at some point, or you could have at some point.

Food—explain the food you have included, and how including it enhances the story and suits the themes you are exploring.

It really surprised people, it makes the piece remind you it is about family. That is where I spent most of my time. It is amazing that through this experience we all had to eat, sit, and talk to my Mom. In my family we told stories about our days. Our guests would be involved in this exchange. So, food for me is about including that audience into our family. If you are a guest in my house I want you to feel very special. I thought it would be a great way to do that.

Describe this show  in five words

Inviting, fun, honest, relaxed, and moving.

Ravi Jain, Asha Jain. Photography by Erin Brubacher. 

The Penelopiad: Acknowledging What has Always Spoken

Megan Follows and cast in The Penelopiad. Photo Credit: Robert Popkin

Breaking the silence of Penelope is not the only purpose of Margaret Atwood’s play The Penelopiad. Although the play follows Penelope’s account of her own life with and without Odysseus, Margaret Atwood reaches for something deeper, illuminating that what has always been interpreted as silence has always spoken. However, to communicate requires a listener, a listener that honours the language of the one who speaks to communicate. Silence is an auditory experience, it can be experienced as the choice to render the speaker superfluous. The one who is silent is ostracised from the sphere of language exchange.  It is this interpretation of silence that has formed a malignant corset around the representation of women in Greek mythology, and, of course, beyond.

It is made clear with this re-imagining of Penelope’s life that Penelope, Odysseus’ silently portrayed wife in the ‘canonical’ text The Odyssey, has left a trail of painful wails, discussions, and loving exchanges between Penelope and her contemporaries. Many of these women were left nameless as anonymous rape victims or trivialized competitive observers. This play cleverly throws the light on the women interwoven with Penelope’s life. Her voice flowers into being as we, the audience, have the opportunity to allow these voices to communicate for themselves. This is why it is very exciting that Nightwood Theatre has taken on this challenging piece.

Nightwood’s production is an honest, delicate, and imaginative portrayal of Penelope’s story. I quite enjoyed the art direction and vision for a whimsically mutable set which  suited the ‘interrupting of linear time’ character of the play itself. It aptly demonstrated in what way we were outside time, existing in between Penelope’s frozen poses where she could not speak, or inside the haunting voices of her female peers. All of the elements of the production were excellent from the set design to the evanescent movement of the cast.

The women of the play worked very nicely together as an ensemble. I was delighted to experience such diversity in quality and age. It was striking to me that it was ‘rare’ to see such diversity of women on a stage. This production definitely caused me to ask why this is the case. A question in my opinion that can never be over-used.

I strongly recommend this show. If not for the story but for the original way it conjures provocative emotions and thoughts. The Penelopiad runs until the 29th of January at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. I urge you to see it– be a part of completing the communication that was (and is still for many) violently ignored. 

(Left to right) Tara Rosling, Cara Gee, Monica Dottor, Pamela Sinha, Sophia Walker, Christine Brubaker, Raven Dauda, Kelli Fox, Bahia Watson and Megan Follows in The Penelopiad. Photo Credit: Robert Popkin.


Story by:

Hannah Rittner



Musical Works in Concert is now accepting submissions for it’s third year. Musical Works in Concert is an initiative founded in 2010 to provide a forum for Canadian writers and composers to help develop and present original music theatre. We strive to give voice to both emerging and emerged artists that work with both traditional and non-traditional forms of music theatre, creating interesting and exciting ways of telling their, and our, stories.

Part of the Music Series, Musical Works in Concert will be going into its 3rd season in 2012. To date, Musical Works has presented six original Canadian musical works: Romeo Candido and Carmen DeJesus’ Prison Dancer, Logan Medland’s Joni Loves Mitchell, Bram Gielen’s Biggish Kids, Tom Bellman and Barbara Nichol’s The Sparrow Songs, Sam Sholdice’s Program, and Paul Sportelli and Jay Turvey’s Oracle.

The focus of these evenings is to showcase new pieces by artists working with musical theatre models. The series offers artists a space to have their work presented in a stripped-down concert format for one night only in front of an audience. This year, the performances will take place on Sunday, August 12th and Monday, August 13th.

Applications are available at, and must be postmarked no later than March 1st, 2012.

For more information about the program and to apply, please visit