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2000 – 2005: Shifting Form

As the new millennium dawned, Theatre Direct put the focus on examining what theatre for young audiences could and should be. With new initiatives for young writers and performers, increasing participation of writers and performers with diverse backgrounds, and the introduction of ground-breaking festivals, the company found exciting and innovative ways to engage their audiences.

2000: Not Quite the Same

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-2-03-27-pm2000: Not Quite the Same

Written by Anne Chislett

Directed by Michael Shamata

Mom: Julie Dumais
Fairy/Maylynn: Maryke Hendrikse
Kyra: Sunday Muse
Glenn Gould/Dr. Klopweisser: Philip Riccio
Dad/Derek: Lyon Smith

Sets and costumes designed by John Ferguson

Award-winning playwright Anne Chislett looks at what it’s like when you don’t fit in with Not Quite the Same. On the day of Kyra’s birth, her fairy godmother blessed her with an abundance of musical talent. But as Kyra grows into an adolescent, she struggles to reconcile her musical ability with her desire for a “normal” life. A visit from the spirit of Glenn Gould helps her to understand her gift.

Nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award, 2001.

2000: Buncha’ Young Artists havin' their say

Buncha’ Young Artists havin’ their say…Festival


In 2000, Theatre Direct launched the first BYA Festival, a highly successful event featuring short plays by emerging playwrights. The driving idea behind the festival was to give edgy and courageous young writers a way to connect with students in senior high school. Response was so positive that a second BYA Festival was held in 2002, and scripts from the festivals were collected into an anthology called Shakin’ the Stage, published by Scirocco Drama. The 2000 Buncha’ Young Artists having their say… Festival was held in the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace and featured four plays:

Written by Ivana Shein
Directed by Michael Waller

Muray Furrow
Joris Jarsky

The play examines the relationship between a bicycle courier and a bank manager, and the production added environmental elements, beginning in the lobby.

Pop Song
Written by Sean Reycraft
Directed by Michael Waller

Matthew MacFadzean
Kimwun Perehenic

Inspired by the real story of a teen who gave birth to a baby during her prom, Pop Song looks at a teenage couple’s affair backward, through a series of vignettes that take place at school dances.

Winner: Chalmers Canadian Play Award, 2001.

Written and performed by Paul Dunn
Directed by Rosemary Rowe

This solo show delves into the lives of three men: a busker, a fast food junkie, and a commitment-shy gay student who are connected by their lack of direction and bewilderment at 20-something life.

Vicious Little Boyz in the Rain
Written by Gil Garratt
Directed by Andrey Tarasiuk

Paul Dunn
Murray Furrow
Joris Jarsky
Matthew MacFadzean
Kimwun Perhenic

Described by Eye magazine as “Peter Pan meets Clockwork Orange,” Gil Garratt’s play centred on a band of homicidal youths in a dystopian future.

The Design team for the 2000 Festival was:
Glen Landry (Set Design)
Joanne Dente (Costume Design)
Steve Gordon Marsh (Sound Design)
Michael Kruse (Lighting Design)
Black Cat (DJ)

2001: A Trickster Tale

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-2-15-15-pm2001: A Trickster Tale

Written by Tomson Highway
Directed by Leah Cherniak
Set and costume design by Joanne Dente
Music composed by John Millard
Choreographed by Claudia Moore
Video designed by Simon Clemo
Props by Fina Macdonnell
Stage Manager: Jenny Sinclair

Iktomi: Tanja Jacobs
Rabbits, Coyotes, and Bees: Jonathan Fisher
Santee Smith
Kurt Smeaton

Theatre Direct was proud to premiere the first play for young people written by acclaimed playwright and musician Tomson Highway. Aimed at students from Grades 1 – 6, the play focused on the antics of Iktomi, the Trickster. Using the trickster myth which is at the heart of so many First Nations, Highway stretches the bounds of the children’s imaginations. Iktomi is a kind of half-human, half spider who lives in a world where everything – the thunder, the sky, the trees, the animals – have souls and can communicate with us.

In Iktomi’s world, healing comes through laughter – and the trickster’s madcap adventures guarantee plenty of that!

2002: Alphonse

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-2-16-26-pm2002: Alphonse

Written by Wajdi Mouawad, translated by Shelley Tepperman
Directed by Lynda Hill and Alon Nashman
Original music by Cathy Nosaty
Set and costume design by Vikki Anderson
Lighting design by Michael Kruse
Stage Manager: Tamerrah Volkovskis

Performed by Alon Nashman

This enchanting solo work by acclaimed Quebec theatre artist Wajdi Mouawad is about a boy with a huge imagination. Alphonse has not come home from school, and everyone is searching for him. Meanwhile, Alphonse is walking along a country road, inhabiting the make-believe world of an adventurer named Pierre-Paul Rene. The show combined theatrical magic and the author’s unique cultural perspective to transcend generational boundaries.

2002: Buncha’ Young Artists havin' their say

Buncha’ Young Artists havin’ their say…Festival


The 2002 BYA Festival, building on the success of the 2000 event, was held at the Theatre Passe Murielle Backspace. It featured four plays:

Martian Summer
Written by Nathalie Boisvert, translated by Bobby Theodore
Directed by Jennifer Tarver

Michelle Polak
Erin Shields
Soraya Peerbaye

As two marginalized young women prepare for a rendezvous with an alien spacecraft, they must come to terms with their own fears and desires and the dawning of adulthood.

Written by Adam Pettle
Directed by Richard Greenblatt

Joris Jarsky
Miklos Perlus
Jacob Barker

A chilling play inspired by a real-life murder, Misha is a powerful investigation of male identity, faith, and violence.

The Phoenix Rides a Skateboard
Written by Kate Rigg
Directed by Lynda Hill

Performed by Marjorie Chan

As a member of a skate gang, Kim kick-flips Asian stereotypes as she rides the rails of teenage life. She’s also searching online for her birth parents, looking for clues to her past and direction for her future.

Written by Sean Reycraft
Directed by Michael Waller

Joris Jarsky
Marjorie Chan
Michelle Polak

Roundabout explores the issues of suicide, peer pressure, and conformity with dark humour and music.

The design team for the 2002 Festival was:
Glen Charles Landry (Set Design)
Joanne Dente (Costume Design)
Michael Kruse (Lighting Design)
Lyon Smith (Sound Design)

2002: Andrew’s Tree

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-2-17-27-pm2002: Andrew’s Tree

Written by Martha Brooks
Directed by Lynda Hill
Original Design by Kelly Wolf
Original music by Justin Haynes
Stage Manager: Kristen Grundy

Education Consultant: Pat McCarthy

Gillian: Clare Preuss
Patrick: Colin Doyle
Neil: Jefferson Guzman
Sarah: Marie Beath Badian

In the early years of the milennium, Theatre Direct restaged some of its most enduring shows. So, more than a decade after Theatre Direct first toured this play about a bereaved boy and his friends, the show began touring again. The cast featured diversity, and for many performances, the production was made accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community through the use of simultaneous ASL interpretation. The show toured again during 2004/5.

2003: Petra

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-2-18-33-pm2003: Petra

Written by David Greig
Directed by Sue Miner
Set and costume design by David Rayfield
Choreography by Viv Moore
Original music by Sandy Moore
Stage Manager: Kristen Kitcher

Petra: Bola Aiyeola
Ivan: Richard Alan Campbell
Ilka: Brenda Kamino
Jakob: Hart Massey

Set in the middle of a cold, barren heath in the hours before dawn, in the middle of a civil war, Petra must explain to the spirit of her boy how he came to be killed. With music and song, audience participation, and humour, Petra tells the story of a once-peaceful country that comes to be consumed with hatred and strife. Theatre Direct’s presentation provided full days at schools where students in Grades 4 – 8 saw the play and then participated in workshops examining the roots of war.

A second tour of the play in the autumn of 2002 starred Asha Vijayasingham, Kurt Smeaton, Pasha McKenley, and Michael Cronin.

2003: I Met a Bully on the Hill

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-2-39-39-pm2003: I Met a Bully on the Hill

Written by Martha Brooks and Maureen Hunter
Directed by Lynda Hill
Movement by Viv Moore
Set, props, and costume design by Kelly Wolf
Original music by Justin Haynes
Stage Manager: Annie McWhinnie

Education Consultant: Pat McCarthy

Nicky Phillips
Jefferson Guzman
James Duncan
Miranda Edwards

Another of the classic Theatre Direct shows that returned for a second incarnation was this always topical look at how to deal with bullying. The show toured schools and also had a run at the National Arts Centre as part of its Family Series.

2004: And By the Way, Miss…

2004: And By the Way, Miss…

Created by The Urge Collective with the Company:
Urge :Fides Krucker, Linda C. Smith, Marie-Josee Chartier, Katherine Duncanson
Set and costume design by Shawn Kerwin
Lighting design by Bonnie Beecher
Stage Manager: Annie McWhinnie

Education Consultant: Pat McCarthy

Lauren Brotman
Andrea Donaldson
Amber Godfrey
Christina Sicoli
Diana Tso

Combining drama, dance, and music, And By the Way, Miss… explores the stories of five girls as they navigate the terrain of early adolescence. The girls face the challenges of their relationships with one another, their peers, their families, and themselves. Issues and themes in the play include: body image, intimacy, friendship, and sexual and emotional health. The play was aimed at Grades 7 – 9 and as well as travelling to schools, ran in conjunction with workshops and discussions at the Harbourfront Studio theatre.

2005: Beneath the Banyan Tree

2005: Beneath the Banyan Tree

banyan-treeWritten by Emil Sher with Choreography by Lata Pada
Directed by Lynda Hill
Design by Cheryl Lalonde
Original Music & Sound by Edgardo Moreno
Lighting design by Michael Kruse

Originally commissioned by Sampradaya Dance Creation and produced in association with Theatre Direct.

The cast featured:
Tanya Pillay
Laila Moos
Art James
Ash Knight
Stage Manager: Kathryn Westoll

Subsequent remounts took place with the same cast in 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 seasons.

In 2009/2010, the production received three productions: one in Toronto at the Wychwood Theatre which toured to Calgary’s Vertigo Theatre, one in Darlington, England, in association with Theatre Hullabaloo, and one produced by Manitoba Theatre for Young People.

The casts were as follows:
Serena Parmar
Zain Kassam
Tom Keenan
Laila Moos
Stage Manager: Sarah Cutfield

Darlington, England:
Archita Ballal
John Afzai
Grethe Jensen
Paul Conway

Sharmila Dey
Grethe Jensen
Zain Kassem
Tom Keenan

In 2014/2015, Beneath the Banyan Tree was revived once again for performances in Toronto and Montreal, where it was presented by Geordie Productions; this production received three Dora Mavor Moore Awards.

A vibrant fusion of theatre, traditional Indian and contemporary dance, movement, puppetry, and music, Beneath the Banyan Tree tells the story of a young South Asian girl who discovers the courage to be herself in a new country.

Beneath the Banyan Tree featured a unique fusion of styles and a perspective that reached across generations and cultures. The play is one of Theatre Direct’s most beloved and acclaimed productions, and has delighted thousands of children over the past decade.

Winner: Dora Mavor Moore award for Outstanding Production, Theatre for Young Audiences, 2015.
Winner: Dora Mavor Moore award for Outstanding Performance – Ensemble, Theatre for Young Audiences, 2015.
Winner: Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Direction, Theatre for Young Audiences (Lynda Hill), 2015.

“A gorgeous presentation of Indian dance and fable that’s just so sumptuous in the presentation…It’s really quite lovely, for adults, for kids, for anyone…” -Garvia Bailey, CBC Radio

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