The Intermission editorial team, as well as a couple of our frequent collaborators, think back on some of our most memorable theatre experiences from 2019. With so much fantastic theatre happening in Toronto, it would be impossible for us to see everything. Cheers to the shows we’ve seen, and to the shows we sadly missed! And click here for a(n incomplete) list of what we’re looking forward to in 2020.
Philip Riccio: Publisher, Founder
I know this may be cheating slightly as it was a remount but it was my first chance to see this unforgettable Lepage masterpiece. You know with any Lepage production you’ll get the breathtaking design and some images will leave their indelible mark. This one didn’t disappoint in that department. The set was one of the best I’ve ever seen and the images he created out of memories of growing up in a small apartment in Québec City were truly unforgettable. But what struck me the most about this production was how personal it was. This was reflected in Lepage’s performance, which was raw and honest and I think the greatest of his illustrious career.
Janice Peters Gibson: Digital Manager, Founder
I became enamoured with Annie Baker’s simple complexity and quiet ways of inviting the audience in when The Company Theatre produced John. Therefore, I needed to see The Flick – curious to witness Baker’s work as an audience member who was not a piece of the production. I went in with high expectations that were brilliantly surpassed as I was enveloped in not only the incredible world Outside the March and Crow’s created but by the sublime cast who took those quiet moments to breathe real life into that world. I also ran into Nora McLellan, who starred in John, at the show that day, which added to the splendour of it all.
Hayley Malouin: Senior Editor
Lilies, or, The Revival of a Romantic Drama, May 4-26 (lemonTree creations, Buddies in Bad Times, Why Not Theatre)
I’ve divided my theatregoing into two categories: pre-Lilies and post-Lilies. This all-BIPOC take on Michel Marc Bouchard’s ’87 play about queerness, desire, class, religion, and incarceration in early-20th century Québec was gut-busting, heart-wrenching, and fury-inducing, in equal and dizzying order. lemonTree continue to do astounding artistic and political work around gender and difference, weaving a tapestry of richly queer Black and Indigenous masculinities (and femininities) outside of white settler paradigms—and doing it with such an infectious celebration of difference. I wanna get on Lilies’ level and stay there forever.
Mariam Ahmed: Associate Editor
School Girls: Or, The African Mean Girls Play, March 5 – 24 (Obsidian, Nightwood Theatre, Buddies in Bad Times)
I come from a book publishing background and am fairly new to the Toronto theatre scene but working for Intermission these past few months has opened up a whole new world for me. I really wish I had seen School Girls: Or The African Mean Girls Play because I thought that Akosua Amo-Adem’s piece titled See Me, about shade-ism and authentic representation was so thought-provoking and real. Her struggles at a time where she felt so vulnerable were so heart-wrenching and yet so relatable. I’ve never felt so seen. The concept of darker-skinned girls having a harder time resonated with me because I’ve experienced it and also because I’ve seen girls bullied for it as well. Like Akosua discusses, not everyone’s experiences are the same, but I think to have people working in the community to try and change those things is a step in the right direction. And to have someone write a play about these issues that are so prevalent in our cultures is something I hope to see more of. In the theatre world and in the book world. Representation matters so much and I’m so proud to know that there are people who are working really hard to give girls the representation they deserve. I really wish I had seen the play, but if there’s ever another production I will definitely be there!
Robyn Grant-Moran: Contributor, Nathan Cohen Critic-in-Residence
Two Odysseys combined my favourite things: Indigenous origin stories and fables, and opera. It was a celebration of cultures without a stitch of painful history to be found! It was time for a change of pace. Teiya Kasahara told tales out of opera school with their solo show The Queen in Me, and confronted the complexities of loving an art form that can be a minefield at the best of times — more so when you are queer, gender non conforming, mixed race, and so on. These are my top two of a surprisingly extensive list of productions in 2019 that pushed boundaries and left me feeling represented in a way that I hadn’t previously experienced.
Jordy Kieto: Contributor
My favourite program for 2019 has got to be Nightwood’s Write from the Hip program. It’s a year long developmental program designed for upcoming playwrights. The program specifically targets emerging female-identifying talent, and the 2019-2020 season is comprised of an eclectic group of artists from diverse artistic, and personal backgrounds. Acting as Program Director is Donna-Michelle St. Bernard; cultural agitator and Canadian theatre vet. Write from the Hip provides a much needed platform for female voices to hone their talents, and build their professional network as they write the stories only they can tell.
Justine Abigail Yu: Contributor
#FilipinxFringe was a 2019 highlight for me! Seeing so much representation from the Filipinx diaspora on stage was not only unique but an immensely powerful demonstration of the kind of nuanced storytelling that is possible when more diverse voices are put front and centre stage. Tita Jokes, Through the Bamboo, and Monica vs. The Internet were unique in that they revealed cultural specificity in their Filipinx roots, but the overarching themes were universal and pulled at the heartstrings (and tickled the funny bones!) of their audience. As a Filipinx-Canadian who never saw herself on mainstream stages growing up, #FilipinxFringe was a monumental moment for me personally.