“What would it take to transform our society for the betterment of all?”*
This is a national project in which live performance companies from across Canada are asking some of their favourite artists to approach the above question in whatever way they see fit. Visit the works now!
The way it works
This project began as a grassroots-initiated project from Canada’s theatre community – including both large and small institutions. We approached the NAC to host the content, and they graciously accepted.
Participating companies have provided their chosen artists small commissions for ultra-short pieces created in video, audio or text. The idea is twofold: to help get some income to at least some of the many arts workers hard-hit by the pandemic; and to enrol the rich artistic imagination of this country as a way to assess where we are and where we could be going.
Project starting point
This project grew out of a desire among many arts workers for our country to move towards a Universal Basic Income – something that so many Canadian citizens have now experienced a taste of through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. In the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, CERB saved careers, homes and families in Canada.
So the question began circulating – what else is needed? What else should we be thinking about collectively?
Collective artistic action
This is a moment for artists to step up – as they have been doing in times of upheaval for thousands of years. Among nearly all human activities, art is especially well-equipped to process both complexity and catastrophe. Art can provide succour, solace, challenge and medicine – all because art doesn’t seek to reduce the impossible-to-comprehend, it seeks to distill it. As artists, we bring a training and tradition of practice that is accustomed to grappling with the greatest difficulties our species face. We turn them into song, dance, poetry, story.
Here then, are the Transformations as envisioned by Canadian artists from coast to coast to coast.
The Transformations committee
A small committee has been steering this project. We are:
- Catherine Bourgeois, Artistic Director of Joe, Jack et John, Montreal
- Rhodnie Désir, Artistic Director of RD Créations, Montreal
- Ross Manson, Artistic Director of Volcano, Toronto (Committee Chair)
- Lori Marchand, Managing Director of NAC Indigenous Theatre, Ottawa
- Pam Patel, Artistic Director of MT Space, Kitchener
- Anita Rochon, Artistic Co-Director of The Chop, Vancouver
The following live performance companies are participating in the Transformations Project over the course of the 2020/2021 season:
- Arts Club | Watch: 1100km (Pedro Chamale)
- Canadian Stage | Watch: The Key to Good Conversation (Travis Knights); sixty seven moo(n)s (Alyssa Martin); Transcendence (Raoul Wilke); I define my-self (Carmen Romero)
- Catalyst Theatre
- The Chop | Watch: dreams of whiteness, K. Ho; What We Make (Katie Voravong); Disturbed Places: A Dialogue (Kathleen Duborg & Piril Sesli)
- Eastern Front Theatre
- Electric Company Theatre | Watch: Uqara Aallanngurialik – Tongue Transformation (Tiffany Ayalik)
- Firehall Arts Centre
- fu-GEN Theatre Company | Watch: Compassion (Eponine Lee); tonight, just the two of us (Derek Chan); But Better (Aka Hiro); Big Picture (Anita Majumdar)
- Gateway Theatre
- Joe Jack et John | Watch: Coup de Gueule and Le Serpent (Papy Maurice Mbwiti)
- MT Space
- Mulgrave Road Theatre
- Nightwood Theatre
- Pi Theatre | Watch: What is Canadian Culture? (Munish Sharma); The Cost of Care (Libby Willoughby); On the Cultural Fence (Cameron Peal)
- Project: Humanity | Watch: What Are You (Dillan Meighan Chiblow)
- rice & beans theatre | Watch: Ran Away Without a Trace (Taran Kootenhayoo)
- Roseneath Theatre
- Segal Centre
- Stratford Festival
- Tapestry Opera
- Theatre Conspiracy
- Theatre Direct
- Theatre Gargantua
- TO Live
- Volcano | Watch: Dear Candada (Tatanniq Idlout); I Can Only Include (Luke Reece); Black Future (awkward thanksgivings) (Natasha Adiyana Morris); To Ask the Hard Question is Simple (David Yee)
- Young People's Theatre
SPECIAL THANKS: The National Arts Centre; Steve Plummer, One Pebble Consulting (Scotland); and to David Yee, artistic director of FuGen Theatre, for articulating the question* that underlies this project.