Buddies is Planting Seeds of Collaboration through an Exciting Queer Theatre Conference

Original design by Francesca Chudnoff

What does it mean to actively question what binds us as a queer theatre community? How do we support multiple and often overlapping queer communities? How do we create environments that support division without being divisive?

These are the questions Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, in association with Vancouver’s the frank theatre company, are exploring in Q2Q-2: Refusing the Queer Monolith. The second iteration of the conference shines a light on the conversations happening in and around the works we see on stage and asks attendees to consider the makeup of queer theatre communities across Turtle Island.

Online from December 6-10, 2021, Q2Q-2 unites more than fifty 2-spirit, trans, and queer artists across a series of panels, workshops, and performances,  fostering thoughtful exchange and planting seeds of collaboration. Participating artists include Ravyn Wngz, Daniel MacIvor, DM St Bernard, Heath V. Salazar, and many more. To close the symposium, Buddies invites registrants to a special evening with award-winning artist Vivek Shraya.

Q2Q-2 is free to attend, but attendees must pre-register for the event. To view the full schedule and register for the event, visit the conference website.

Makram Ayache is pictured from the waist up, standing outdoors. A bus is visible behind him; he leans gently on a black post, with the sidewalk and street out of focus in the backround. Makram gazes intently into the camera, his hands raised in front of his ribs, fingers gently touching as though he is holding something small. He wears a heathered grey/purple t-shirt ad a chain necklace with a small pendant. He has short dark hair and a  closely trimmed beard and moustache.
Image by courtesy of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

Meet Makram Ayache, Conference Curator

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre sat down with conference producer and curator Makram Ayache to share some thoughts on next month’s conference.

Why do you think it’s important to have these conversations about queer performance at a “national” level?

Queer theatre and queer performance is uniquely localized. Queerness seems to be an intimate and interpersonal experience and the art generated from these explorations inevitably reflects the plurality of how “queer” manifests in different spaces. Even the language I use in this writing is indeed not reflective of the language most Queer or Trans or Non-Binary people use. 

In this second iteration of the conference, we’re leaning into this plurality. We are asking, “how do we recognise our differences without cultivating division”? The hope is that a national conversation will present us an opportunity to share in celebration, strategy, aesthetic, resilience, form, activism and artistic rigour as it is taking place across Turtle Island in so-called Canada. 

How do you see Q2Q-2 building and/or diverging from the 2016 conference in Vancouver?

The significance of the first Q2Q was that it brought together the artists, thinkers, and shakers in these multiple and overlapping communities together. There were tensions and difficult conversations that were unearthed. These instructed the organizational infrastructure of this second gathering. Integral to our process has been an Advisory Committee made up of Queer, Trans, and Non-Binary artists working across different locuses in so-called Canada. This instrumental difference redirected the energy of the gathering toward a more artistic gathering as opposed to the artist-and-academic focus of the first one. While there was a desire to include academia in this conference, when everything shook out with COVID and planning became more streamlined, we directed the resources to support primarily artists in this iteration. 

Another way this significantly diverges and builds on the success of the previous gathering is that the conversations we are finding ourselves within today are markedly different from those before a pre-pandemic, pre-George Floyd world. The Advisory Council has structured rigorous, reflective, and topical panel discussions which lean into the difficulties of so many of our conversations and also offer ways forward, ways upward, ways inward, and ways through.

What possibilities, challenges, and/or questions are you finding with creating a symposium in an online format?

As with so much of this pandemic, the biggest struggle is engagement fatigue. The siloed work on a computer feels like it is waning, especially as people begin to have opportunities to gather in person more and more. When there is so much content online, the question becomes, “why this symposium”? But it’s a worthy challenge, one where we can lean into the interconnectivity of our dynamic queer communities, increase the accessibility of such a gathering to many people from the comfort of their own homes, and share in the conversations across Turtle Island and beyond.

You can find out more about Q2Q-2: Refusing the Queer Monolith and register for the conference here.

Meet the Advisory Committee

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Written By

Jessica is an 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.