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1994 – 1999: On the Edge


During this era, Theatre Direct offered a wide variety of programming, from hard-hitting issue drama for older teens to gentle and imaginative meditations on friendship for younger children. Plays by acclaimed playwrights and composers explored such themes as body image, racism, abuse, forgiveness, and the healing power of art.

Different genres also featured large over the course of these years. In U.F.O.R.E.X., a young boy hides his pain behind science fiction stories. In Girl Who Loved Her Horses, visual art comes to life. And Theatre Direct founder David Craig made a guest appearance as the irascible Napalm the clown.

1994: Hippopotamus Tea

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-1-47-57-pm1994: Hippopotamus Tea

Written by Louise Bombardier
Translated by Linda Gaboriau

Directed by Andrey Tarasiuk

Millie: Maggie Huculak
Anna: Tanja Jacobs
Annie (an imaginary hippo friend): Andrew Massingham

Set design by David Rayfield
Costumes by Julia Tribe
Lights by Jim Plaxton
Sound by Marsha Coffey
Stage Manager:

A sweetly eccentric play, Hippopotamus Tea tells the story of two elderly friends: Anna, a rough and tumble retired zookeeper, and Millie, a timid retired bookseller. At first glance, the two have nothing in common – but they soon discover a love for hippos, and for using their imaginations. The play toured to schools and was also featured at the Toronto Zoo Special Events Pavilion.

Nominated for a Chalmers Canadian Play Award, 1993.

1994: Little Sister

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-1-55-52-pm1994: Little Sister

Written by Joan MacLeod
Music composed and performed by Allen Cole

Directed by JoAnn McIntyre

Bella: Kim Kuhteubl
Tracey: Laurie Fraser
Jordan: Sanjay Talwar
Jay: Andrew Dolha
Katie: Tamara Gorski

Set and costume design by David Rayfield
Lighting design by Aisling Sampson
Stage Manager: LJ Savage

In this play by award-winning playwright Joan MacLeod, five teenagers are caught in a web of contradictory messages about how they should look, feel, and behave. Katie is a preppy girl who’s dealing with a new school, a new city, and her parents’ divorce. Tracey is the school’s chainsmoking “cool girl” who resents Katie’s appearance on the scene. Jay is a football hero with girls galore; Jay is a nice guy who can’t seem to get ahead. And Bella just wants to be thin and beautiful. Bombarded by messages from parents, school, peers, and the media, the five teens find it tough to find the right path. An examination of body image, control issues, and self-esteem, Little Sister brought a strong message to teens and adults alike, and had a run at the Berkeley Street Theatre as well as several school tours in the 1990s.

“A serious investigation into how our self-esteem is governed by our physical appearance and our relationship with others.” -Toronto Star

Winner: Chalmers Canadian Play Award, 1995.

1995: Girl Who Loved Her Horses

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-1-51-09-pm1995: Girl Who Loved Her Horses

Written by Drew Hayden Taylor
Original music by Marsha Coffey

Directed by Richard Greenblatt

The Horse: Levi Aguonie
Ralph: Warren Arcan
William: Herbie Barnes
Shelley: Carol Greyeyes
Danielle: Michelle Thrush

Set design by Julie Fox
Costume design by Stephanie Tjelios
Lighting design by Jim Plaxton
Choreography by Denise Fujiwara
Stage Manager: Dina Wendler

Danielle is a disadvantaged girl with an Ojibway background. Again and again, she draws pictures of a beautiful stallion. The horse comes alive for her (and for the audience) and creates a fantasy world where all of Danielle’s fears and problems disappear. This play about the healing power of art also examined the disconnect between life on the reserve and in an urban centre.

1996: Napalm the Magnificent in Dancing in the Dark

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-1-52-45-pm1996: Napalm the Magnificent in Dancing in the Dark

Written by David S. Craig
Original music by John Roby

Directed by Richard Greenblatt

Napalm the Magnificent: David S. Craig
Security Guard: Darren Hynes
Voice of the Producer: Andrey Tarasiuk

Set Design by Glenn Davidson
Costume Design by Julie Fox
Stage Manager: Diana Wendler

Theatre Direct returned to its roots with this David S. Craig show, co-produced with David’s company Roseneath Theatre. Napalm is just a metre tall, but he might explode at any minute. Using offensive humour, Napalm confronts his audience with raw truths about life, love, and the six o’clock news.

1996: U.F.O.R.E.X.


1996: U.F.O.R.E.X.

Written and directed by Edward Roy

Rex: Lyon Smith
Ross: Stewart Arnott
Helen: Caroline Gillis
Leslie: Joanna Schellenberg
Thomas: Derwin Jordan
Janet: Karen Robinson

Design Team: Stephan Droege, Teresa Pryzbylski, Evan Turner, Laurie-Shawn Borzovoy

Rex spins fantastic and comical science-fiction tales for his friend Thomas. When Thomas comes to realize that the imaginative stories may be Rex’s elaborate way of dealing with family violence and sexual abuse, the friends are faced with a difficult choice

1997: End of Season

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-1-46-15-pm1997: End of Season

Written by Noel Greig

Directed by John van Burek

Linda: Alison Carney
Frances: Mary Durkan
Hargit: Marvin Ishmael
Trevor: Nicholas Moss
Royce: Sanjay Talwar

Set and Costumes designed by Julie Fox
Stage Manager: Bill Jamieson

End of Season, by British playwright Noel Greig, centres on a British family and their visitors from Winnipeg who confront racism in a small English seaside town. The play celebrates small acts of heroism and speaking out against wrong where we find it.

1998: Bang Boy Bang!

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-1-45-10-pm1998: Bang Boy Bang!

Written and directed by Edward Roy
Original music composed and performed by Sam Shaw

Featuring Lyon Smith as Rod Clark

Set design by Edward Roy
Costume design by Minda Johnson
Lighting design by Simon Clemo
Sound design by Evan Turner
Stage Manager: Sarah Saville

Rod, a teenager, wakes up hungover and listens to his phone messages. Among them is one from a young woman accusing him of date rape. Confused and unable to recall the events of the night before, Rod must piece together exactly what happened, and face the consequences.

1999: Waiting for Lewis

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-1-54-45-pm1999: Waiting for Lewis

Written by Fabrizio Filippo
Original music by Paul Humphrey

Directed by Joanna McIntyre

Lewis: Shaun Benson
Ben: Gil Garratt
Carey: Maryke Hendrikse
Victor: Alex Fallis
Arlene: Caroline Gillis
Susan: Debra Kirshenbaum

Set and Costume design by Julie Fox
Stage Manager: Kathryn Westoll

When teens Ben and Carey move with their parents from the city to a tiny town, they think life will be simpler. As it turns out, being young is just as confusing in the country, especially after the siblings fall under the spell of the charming Lewis.

Nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award and a Chalmers Canadian Play Award.

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