Honouring Walter Borden – A celebration of a Canadian theatre icon

A smiling, white-haired Black man wearing thick black framed glasses.
Walter Borden © Michael Meehan
A fierce looking white-haired Black man wearing a feather boa and large rings.
Walter Borden in The Last Epistle of Tightrope Time. Set, Lighting, Projection and Costume Design by Andy Moro. © HAUI (Howard J. Davis)
A white-haired Black man sits with eyes closed and hands upturned in front of a projection of his face in profile overlaid with a starry galaxy.
Walter Borden in The Last Epistle of Tightrope Time. Set, Lighting, Projection and Costume Design by Andy Moro © HAUI (Howard J. Davis)

We are eagerly counting down the days until we can unveil Walter Borden’s masterpiece, The Last Epistle of Tightrope Time, at the NAC this fall. You may recall that the original performance, slated for February 2022, had to be cancelled due to protests in downtown Ottawa. But Walter and the determined production team vowed to return to the NAC stage. Following a successful run at Halifax’s Neptune Theatre in May, and an upcoming series of performances at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre starting in September, the play is set to make a triumphant return to Ottawa from November 1 to 11, 2023. This homecoming serves not only as a celebration of a critically acclaimed production, but also as a tribute to Walter Borden, a venerable actor, playwright, poet, and teacher who has been graced with numerous accolades throughout his career, including the Order of Canada in 2006.

In honour of this Canadian theatre icon, NAC English Theatre is curating a special display outside the Azrieli Studio. This vibrant installation will feature over 100 brightly colored ribbons, each one representing a milestone in Walter’s extensive theatre journey, showcasing his rich timeline of credits, awards, and recognitions. Additionally, audiences will have the opportunity to delve deeper into Walter’s world through video links where they can witness him engage in a heartfelt conversation with playwright and actor Andrew Moodie, as part of the Legend Library project from Canada's Theatre Museum. We are thrilled to share this immersive and celebratory experience with you.

The Last Epistle of Tightrope Time – Even more to celebrate

We are planning more special moments for audiences during the run of the production.

Black Out Night

On November 3, the NAC’s first Black Out Night of the season will coincide with the evening performance of The Last Epistle of Tightrope Time. We invite you to join a pre-show panel and a post-show celebration honoring Walter, co-presented by Black Gay Men’s Network of Ontario. Given the overwhelming success of last season's Black Out Nights, tickets for this event are expected to sell out quickly.

Black Out Nights at the NAC offer Black audiences and their guests an opportunity to enjoy performances within their community, showcasing the vibrant spectrum of the Black experience. As always, everyone is welcome to join the Black Out Night during The Last Epistle of Tightrope Time performance, fostering a spirit of inclusivity and celebration.

Book release

In September, The Last Epistle of Tightrope Time will be released for sale by Nimbus Publishing. Audience members will have an opportunity to purchase copies of this acclaimed script at selected performances during the run in November.

As creator and performer of The Last Epistle of Tightrope Time, Walter delivers a deeply personal reflection on his journey of life, a play that Walter has been creating and living for well over 40 years.

We hope to see you when we celebrate Walter this November.

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