Well, it finally happened. Your theatrical offering at the Toronto Fringe was the pick of the patrons, the talk of the tent, the queen of theatre prom. Glenn Sumi dropped a hot load of N’s all over you. Karen Fricker announced that the real Toronto Star had been you all along. And Mooney On Theatre whispered your name on the wind, looking down on you from heaven like Mufasa in my favourite movie, 2019’s The Lion King. The gates of Canadian theatre are now open to you, and all you have to do is knock the road salt off your boots on the way in.
But now that you’ve arrived, what’s to be done next? Fear not, because Blake and Clay of the Toronto Fringe hit Gay For Pay with Blake & Clay have the answers.
1. Remain Humble
Your days will begin with a Sheridan Theatre student bringing you half a grapefruit (pre-scooped for ease of use) and the secret paper copy of NOW that is reserved for Toronto’s true elite. While you read it, your feet propped up on a human footstool provided by Randolph Academy, your eyes may glaze over at the sight of the latest review for a jukebox musical. At this point, it is important to remember that your scorn is misplaced. Genius like yours occurs but once in a generation. You cannot expect the creators of I Will Remember You, The Sarah McLachlan Story, to have the same sense of artistic rigour that you achieved so naturally. As your Sheridan student scampers off, tap shoes clicking, you’ll toss your copy of NOW into your empty fireplace, as you are already warmed by the glow of your own humility.
2. Don’t Take the First Offer
When the edible arrangement arrives at your door courtesy of Canadian Stage, accept it with grace and dignity. When the entire Soulpepper Academy arrives to rake your lawn and trim your bushes, serve them lemonade, always keeping a reserved distance. And when Mirvish Productions names a theatre after you, accept the attached cash prize with silent poise. That’s what Blake and I had to do, after all. Such was the outpouring of interest and offers in our dynamic duo.
It was not a question of if the gatekeepers of Toronto theatre would open their gates to us, but just how many gates would be open. When the answer was all of them, Blake and I found ourselves the belles of the ball. But dancing all night is exhausting, and the grandest gesture is not always the one that is right for you. In a city that is full of artistic directors eager to read new scripts and attend your play, it can be difficult to sift through the resulting offers of development and production. So we urge you to take your time, and to not simply be won over by the first wave of offers. After all, Toronto theatre loves nothing more than nurturing mid-career artists without parents in the industry.
3. Don’t Stop the Creative Flow
When you close your Toronto Fringe hit, you won’t just be met with artistic and financial stability: you’ll also be met with a deluge of artistic concepts and imaginings. When people ask what’s next after Fringe, you’ll find yourself with too many answers to even begin.
A Solo Play About Your Grandparents Working the Potato Fields of Ireland
The twist? You play both of your grandparents, changing parts with the swish of a kerchief. The image of the kerchief being bundled up in your arms and transforming into a baby through the magic of theatre came to you in a dream and you’re pretty sure nobody has done that before.
A Play About a Play
This play is a play about a group of artists mounting a play. The climax of the performance will see your actors dropping their character names in favour of their real ones. At which point you, the playwright, will take the stage, implicating the audience and making them question what it really means to be a spectator in the age of TikTok and Fake News. If performing Gay For Pay with Blake & Clay, a play about actors, taught us anything, it’s that Toronto Theatre loves nothing more than theatre about our favourite thing: theatre.
Talkback: A New Play
Everyone knows that theatre is merely the preamble to what we all came for: the talkback. Folding chairs and constantly upended stainless steel water bottles litter the performance space. The audience is the cast. The cast? Is the audience. Talkback: A New Play asks one bold question: If everyone is talking back, is anyone really listening?
4. Stay Engaged in Your Theatre Community!
Who run the world? Girls! But who run the world of Toronto Theatre? Thanks to your sold out run at the Toronto Fringe, you do. And now that you have a platform, you have a responsibility to stay engaged with the community that has supported you every step of the way. This can look like so many things!
- Buy a season subscription to your favourite theatre company
- Follow, like, and re-post your friends’ theatre companies on social media.
- Open your window once nightly to your Whispering Minions.
You heard me right, folks! Each night, before blowing out the last candle, cast open your window and throw back the sash. From the shadows, beckon forth the many cloaked informants now gathered beneath you. Your Whispering Minions will each vie for your affection, trading the information they’ve gleaned from the many lobbies of the city for tokens of your approval. Sharing an opening night selfie, a rare comp to an Outside The March production, or maybe even a spot as an unpaid assistant director on your next play. Be quick to remind your Whispering Minions that only the best whispers will curry such favour. Who is in the running for the latest Artistic Director position? Which of Toronto’s three playwrights is opening the season at Tarragon, and is it Hannah Moscovitch? Is Kat Sandler really happier writing for television? Toss a handful of trail mix into the dirt before closing your window, and watch as Toronto’s many front-of-house staffers scurry off back into the night.
5. See Shows!
Try and see one play a week. There are plenty of arts-worker and pay what you can options available in the city! After all, your roommate from first year is opening a new play about his grandparents working the cornfields of 1960’s Ontario. And you won’t believe what that guy can do with a kerchief.
What’s next, you ask? Well what isn’t next? In the words of the titular Lion King (2019), “everything that the light touches is your kingdom.” From Mirvish in the west to Crow’s Theate in the east, the entire Toronto theatre scene is now clutched in your iron fist. So grab those folding chairs and cross your legs pensively. It’s time for your talkback.