The editorial team for Intermission, as well as some of our frequent collaborators, discuss some of their most anticipated productions and projects for 2020. There’s so much to look forward to in 2020; this list couldn’t be exhaustive even if it tried to be. See you in the new year!
Philip Riccio: Publisher, Founder
The Seagull has been one of my favourite plays since I discovered theatre in high school. I was lucky enough to get to be part of the Crow’s production a few years back. It remains one of my career highlights. The Soulpepper production this spring will be the first I get to see since doing the production and I’m excited to get to watch the play again after having had the chance to live inside it for a few months. I’m curious to find out what the few years in between has done to my perspective on it and I’m even more excited to see how British playwright Simon Stephens has translated it and how the tremendous group of artists at Soulpepper embody it. The team they’ve assembled is incredible, led by Daniel Brooks with an ensemble including Michelle Montieth, Daren A. Hebert, Stuart Hughes, Hailey Gillis, and many others. And a special shout out to favourite lighting designer Kevin Lamotte, who is also working on this production.
May Antaki: Founder
I know Shakespeare’s work is filled with beautiful poetry, with passion and intrigue and humour, but, as someone who finds the language difficult to grasp when it’s spoken, I have never left a production feeling moved. It might seem strange, then, that Theatre Rusticle’s Midsummer Night’s Dream tops my list of upcoming shows to see. But I was so enthralled by director Allyson McMackon’s playful, haunting, and lyrical Our Town back in 2017, so moved by her ability to infuse new life into a classic text, to capture the essence of the story in the quiet design choices, the graceful physicality of the performers, and the inventive staging, that I can’t miss this. I have a feeling McMackon’s Midsummer will bring Shakespeare alive in a way I crave to experience it. Plus, the nimble and skilled Matthew Finlan, one of the most delightful artists to watch, is part of the ensemble.
Janice Peters Gibson: Digital Manager, Founder
When I left The Theatre Centre after seeing this production I posted about it on social media, writing “I have no words, for I have yet to resurface from the depths of my soul.” This show moved me like no other had before. I saw parts of myself represented on stage like I had never seen before. If that is how it feels to see yourself truly represented on stage, we need to do more to tell the untold stories so that everyone may experience that feeling.
Hayley Malouin: Senior Editor
While circus-lovers (myself included) have continually turned to the rich culture in Québec and internationally for a fix, Toronto’s circus scene has quietly been doing exciting, genre-defying, vertigo-inducing shit for years. Hercinia (who take their name from a Germanic, phoenix-like firebird) are just one of several cool femme-led circus groups in the city. I missed their Slumber (Art) Party this December, but I’m sure as hell not missing Cabaret au Lait, their upcoming contemporary circus variety show. Vive le cirque Toronto.
Mariam Ahmed: Associate Editor
Soulpepper is gearing up for their new season with an incredibly mighty name “Breaking Ground” which I’m so excited for. I’ve always been so intrigued by Kings and Queens and how the power dynamics change – especially when explored on stage – like Macbeth – and I think Mother’s Daughter has a similar energy. It’s crazy to think that siblings would turn on each other for power – okay I guess it kind of makes sense, the Tudor-era was super crazy. I love that the play is an exploration of women in power and that powerful women, their stories, their struggles, and their lives are at the forefront and centre stage. What a powerful way to begin the season and I’M HERE FOR IT.
Robyn Grant-Moran: Contributor, Nathan Cohen Critic-in-Residence
The new decade is off to a good start if we ignore the news and look to theatre in Toronto as an indicator. The upcoming productions that have me most intrigued are Vivek Shraya’s theatrical debut How to Fail as a Popstar at Canadian Stage and The Flying Dutchman (Richard Wagner) at the Canadian Opera Company. Shraya is a formidable artist and activist, and I can’t wait to see what she brings to the stage. As for the COC, Wagner was complex and his operas come laden with baggage, so I’m looking forward to seeing how director Christopher Alden will approach it.
Jordy Kieto: Contributor
It appears the Stratford Festival finally got the memo. 2020 promises to be an interesting year for the festival due to a particularly inspired casting choice. Making her Stratford debut as the titular Hamlet, Amaka Umeh will be the first person of colour to play the role. Diligent followers of Toronto theatre will already be familiar with her work, after racking up a Dora and Toronto Theatre Critics Award in 2018. Umeh’s turn as Hamlet will be one to keep on the radar, as conversations surrounding non-traditional casting are bolstered similar stories in Hollywood, a la Lashana Lynch as James Bond. Black girl magic for the win.
Justine Abigail Yu: Contributor
I’m really looking forward to the Next Stage Festival coming up in January. I have never seen such a diverse and inclusive line-up of shows! From examining intergenerational trauma in Vietnam to unravelling a Bangladeshi trans woman’s migration story; from exploring chronic illness to challenging capitalism, the stories taking stage at the festival are really exciting. They speak to the issues that matter today and are pushing the conversation in ways mainstream media all too often shies away from. And would you look at the cast of those shows? This is the kind of diversity theatre should be striving for and I am so ready to support. I’ve already got my pass!