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What to Expect at… Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

/By / Oct 6, 2022

Looking for information about your favourite theatres? We’ve got you covered! Intermission’s Insider Intel articles showcase one theatre at a time to give you all the information you need before your visit.

This week: Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

What kind of theatre do they produce?

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre is Toronto’s leading destination for artistically rigorous alternative theatre and a world leader in developing queer voices and stories for the stage. Buddies offers a year-round program that includes a full season of queer theatre, new works festivals, artist residencies, and intergenerational training and education initiatives.

In addition to bringing national and international artists to its stages through festivals like Rhubarb and Pride, Buddies has toured many of its productions to stages across Canada and beyond.


Buddies is located in downtown Toronto, just next to the city’s historic queer village. It’s also right between the College and Wellesley (equipped with elevators) stations on the Yonge line.

Prior to becoming Buddies’ home in 1994, the theatre venue had a rich history. The building was home to Toronto Workshop Productions from 1967-88, and before that, it housed a warehouse.


Buddies features two main performance spaces (although most bits of the building have housed some kind of performance at one time or another!).

The Chamber is a blackbox theatre that houses most of our mainstage productions throughout the season. Capacity varies depending on the setup, with about 120 for most of our mainstage shows, and upwards of 250 for larger Pride events in town hall setup.

The Cabaret space (also known as Tallulah’s) plays host to a range of different events throughout the year: think burlesque, drag, poetry readings, fundraisers, book launches, and more. On the weekends, our dancefloor opens up for some of the best parties in the village. The Cabaret is also available for rentals: to find out more, visit their website.

The exterior of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s historic building, located just next to the Village in Toronto. Image courtesy of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

COVID-19 Safety Information

Masks are still required at Buddies in all common areas, as well as at theatre events. Proof of vaccination is no longer required at all events, but may be depending on the nature of the event (e.g., lower capacity performances). Buddies’ recommend checking their individual show or event pages for more information on show-specific policies.

For more information on Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s commitment to the health and safety of their staff, patrons, and artists, check their website.


Both of Buddies’ performance venues are wheelchair accessible, and the gender-neutral washrooms in the basement are accessible by stairs or by an attendant-operated lift. Many of their mainstage shows feature ASL-interpretation and relaxed performances, and audiences are free to sign up for notifications about upcoming accessible performances.

To learn more about Buddies’ accessibility policies, visit the Accessibility page on their website. If you have any questions or requests ahead of your visit, you can contact the Box Office at (416) 975-8555.

Tickets Prices

For their 2022/23 season, tickets to Buddies’ mainstage shows are on a sliding scale, with options from $10-$70. They are all general admission, so no matter what you can afford, it won’t affect your view of the action!

Buddies also offers an opt-in loyalty program, Buddies Rewards, that lets visitors accrue savings throughout the season.

Artists You Might Recognise

  • Tawiah M’Carthy
  • Yolanda Bonnell
  • Cole Alvis
  • Heath V Salazar
  • Catherine Hernandez
  • Sunny Drake
  • Bilal Baig
  • Ryan G. Hinds
  • Evalyn Parry
  • Julie Phan 潘家雯
An inside look of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s venue. Image courtesy of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

Workshops and Classes

After a very successful first two years led by Tawiah M’Carthy and Philip Geller, the Emerging Artist & Producer Series (EAPS) will return for the 2022/23 season, under the guidance of Erum Khan. Growing out of the Emerging Creators Unit, EAPS is a space for emerging artists and emerging producers to meet each other, share skills and ideas, and learn from established professionals in their field.

Buddies also hosts a series of intergenerational conversations that have also manifested as a mainstage production and podcast. You can read more about their Youth/Elders Projects on their website.

Where to Eat and Drink

Looking for a drink, bite, or treat nearby? The staff and artists at Buddies have some recommendations. Depending on what’s going on in the day/evening of your show, Buddies’ lobby bar may be located in either Tallulah’s Cabaret, or in the theatre’s smaller Antechamber. But there are plenty of options nearby as well:

  • Glad Day Bookshop is Canada’s first queer-focused bookstore, and is the oldest queer bookstore in the world. It’s a one-stop shop for reading materials, great chats, and on Sundays, their popular drag brunch!
  • You’ve heard of Toronto’s famous Craig’s Cookies, but did you know that they have a location on Church Street? It’s only a 5-minute walk from Buddies’ theatre space, and it’s definitely worth a visit.
  • Can one visit the Village without stopping for a bite at Si Lom Thai Bistro? Probably, but the trip sure wouldn’t be as delicious without it. Authentic Thai street food open until 11 p.m.
  • Hair of the Dog has a rich history and one of the best patios in the city. It’s also been voted the best place in the city for a first date, so… Treat your crush to dinner before the show!
A still from Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools, showing artists Evalyn Parry and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory on stage.

Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools


A concert and a conversation, Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools is the meeting place of two people, and the North and South of our country. Inuk artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and queer theatre-maker Evalyn Parry met on an Arctic expedition from Iqaluit to Greenland. Now sharing a stage, these two powerful storytellers map new territory together in a work that gives voice and body to the histories, culture, and climate we've inherited, and asks how we reckon with these sharp tools.

In the Inuktitut language, when a knife is dull, it is said to ”have no face”. The word ”kiinalik” translates to mean the knife is sharp – or, ”it has a face”. Embodying the stories of their heritage, Evalyn and Laakkuluk put a face to the colonial histories, power structures and the changing climate that lie between them.

Kiinalik: these Sharp Tools has made tour stops across North America and Europe, including in Iqaluit, Vancouver, Mexico City, Edinburgh, and more.

Image by Jeremy Mimnagh, courtesy of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

A still from Obaaberima, showing writer/performer Tawiah Ben M'Carthy standing onstage, back to the viewer.



Imprisoned in Canada for committing a violent crime, a young man from Ghana tells his cellmates a story on the eve of his release. Although there is great risk in sharing his tale, he must tell it to be truly free. Through storytelling, dance, and live music, Obaaberima chronicles a young African-Canadian's journey across continents, genders, races, and sexualities.

Since its inaugural production in 2012, Obaaberima has toured across Canada.

Image by Jeremy Mimnagh, courtesy of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Tawiah Ben M'Carthy, Tjomas Olajide and Stephen Jackman-Torkoff on stage in Buddies' 2016 production of Black Boys.

Black Boys


A raw, intimate, and timely exploration of queer male Blackness. Black Boys is created from the lives of three people seeking a deeper understanding of themselves, of each other, and of how they encounter the world. As they explore their unique identities on stage, they subvert the ways in which gender, sexuality, and race are performed. Theatrical and intimate, Black Boys weaves together the ensemble's own personal stories in search of an integrated self and a radical imagination.

Image by Jeremy Mimnagh, courtesy of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Two artists on stage as part of Native Earth Performing Arts and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre's 2-Spirit Cabaret.

2-Spirit Cabaret


Started in 2016, the 2-Spirit Cabaret is a celebration of the unrelenting strength, beauty, and talent of queer and 2-Spirit Indigenous people. Buddies and Native Earth Performing Arts present an evening of performances, music, and spoken word.

Throughout the years, the event has been part of Weesageechak Begins to Dance – Native Earth's annual festival of Indigenous works, as well as Buddies Queer Pride Festival.

Image courtesy of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Ruby Caldwell-Kramer and Lara Kramer onstage performing as part of The Rhubarb Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

The Rhubarb Festival


Every February, Rhubarb transforms Buddies into a hotbed of experimentation, with artists challenging our notions of what art-making and art-watching can be. As Canada's longest-running festival of experimental performance, Rhubarb is the place to encounter the most adventurous ideas in performance and to catch familiar and unfamiliar artists venturing into uncharted territory.

Image courtesy of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Jessica Watson

Jessica Watson

Jessica is a former associate editor at Intermission, as well as a writer, classically-trained actor, and plant enthusiast. Since graduating from LAMDA in the UK with her MA in acting, you can often find her writing screenplays and short plays in the park, writing extensive lists of plant care tips, or working on stage and screen (though she uses a stage name). Jessica freelances with various companies across Canada, but her passion lies in working with theatre artists and enthusiasts.



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