“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 asked 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 was 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 participated in the Transformations Project over the course of the 2020/2021 season:
- adelheid | Watch: blue collar/2050 (Tia Ashley Kushniruk)
- Arts Club | Watch: 1100km (Pedro Chamale)
- Canadian Latinx Theatre Artist Coalition: | Watch: Michener Park (Natércia Napoleão)
- 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 | Watch: Regrowth (Chris Dodd); Are You Inspired? (Kristi Hansen); Breaking Baptist (Rebecca Sadowski)
- The Chop | Watch: dreams of whiteness (K. Ho); What We Make (Katie Voravong); Disturbed Places: A Dialogue (Kathleen Duborg & Piril Sesli)
- Concrete Theatre | Watch: Like This (Helen Belay); Side Shave (Richard Lee)
- Electric Company Theatre | Watch: Uqara Aallanngurialik – Tongue Transformation (Tiffany Ayalik)
- 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 | Watch: Relearning Filial Piety (Johnny Wu)
- Joe Jack et John | Watch: Coup de Gueule and Le Serpent (Papy Maurice Mbwiti); Masque (Hodan Youssouf)
- MT Space | Watch: Mothers in Pandemic (Seemab Zahra & Janice Jo Lee); Pandemic Mom (Kate Kamo McHugh)
- Mulgrave Road Theatre | Watch: To Those Who Have Forgotten Humility (Shalan Joudry)
- Nightwood Theatre | Watch: dear ghost children (錢嘉琪 Karthy Chin); Poder Existir (Mala Theatre Collective); Coral Vision 2021 (Jess Watkin); One Time For The Femmes (Les Femmes Fatales Burlesque Troupe); ABOLISH (Raging Asian Womxn Taiko Drummers); Mothers Grounding (Mother Artist Society); In Bloom | On Fire (Neta J. Rose); This Morning (Brefny Caribou); Carry The Joy Around The World (Tamyka Bullen); To Cast A Shadow (Drawing With Knives Shadows); Get Some Sleep - It Speaks In Dreams (Meghan Swaby); What We Found (Keshia Palm); What Would It Take? (Sedina Fati)
- The Old Trout Puppet Workshop | Watch: A Wise Cookie... (Pam Tzeng 曾小桐 )
- 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)
- Puente Theatre | Watch: We're All Still Learning (Andrea Lemus); A Good Day for Thoughts (Jana Morrison); The Inner Kingdom (Shayna Jones); LISTEN. (Pedro M. Siqueira)
- rice & beans theatre | Watch: Ran Away Without a Trace (Taran Kootenhayoo); Girl In Water (Mariam Barry)
- Segal Centre | Watch: fragments of a shy rage (Jennifer Roberts); A 'Cure' for Poverty (Justin Johnson); Hoofbeats Harmony (Sarah Sinacore)
- Soulpepper | Watch: you deserve everything you have - a meditation for billionaires (Morgan Gardner & Rosamund Small); warming/BURNING (Thomas McKechnie)
- Stratford Festival | Watch: It Was Bleak, I Made it Nice (Andrea Scott); Comic Book Endings (B'atz' Recinos); young people can't remember (Jody Chan); A Magical Place (Marcia Johnson); The Zoonotic Story (Norman Yeung)
- Theatre Conspiracy | Watch: Escape of Daydreamer (Anjela Magpantay); Skin Care (Mehdi Darvish)
- Theatre Direct | Watch: Rooted Imagination (2Skins Entertainment); The Animals Who Wanted to Live Together (Djennie Laguerre); Outside the Actress' Studio (Jaime Lujan); Where My Thoughts Take Me (Saba Akhtar); Future Ancestors (Sheniz Janmohamed)
- Theatre Gargantua | Watch: Cov-inspiration - Fuelling a New Life (Donald Quan); A Reflection (Teiya Kasahara 笠原 貞野 and Mel Carroll)
- TO Live | Watch: Non Essential (Ian Kamau); Just a Trick (Susanna Fournier & ted witzel); My Veins are Made of Tree Branches (Yolanda M. Bonnell)
- 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); This Happens to Me Every Day (Dawn Jani Birley and Kate Alton); What Would it Take? (Charlotte Qamaniq); Recipe For Tomorrow (Bahia Watson)
- Western Canada Theatre | Watch: Legacy & Truth (Laura Michel)
- Young People's Theatre | Watch: Utopia (Philip Akin); The Drive (Christine Quintana); One Small Act (Eponine Lee)
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.