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Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Reveals Their 45th Anniversary Season

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The exterior of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. The bubblegum-pink double doors are open, allowing a crowd of visitors to enter. Above the door is the company's logo, also in pink. To the left of the door, a large green banner hangs against a concrete wall. Pale pink text on the banner reads
/By / Aug 1, 2023
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The world’s longest-running queer theatre festival is turning 45!

Since 1979, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre has developed, promoted, and empowered the voices of queer artists from across the country. Now, for their 2023/24 season, the theatre company nestled in the heart of Toronto’s queer village is celebrating with a season that showcases both epic queer stories from history and innovative new works from a diverse roster of artists.

“Our [45th season] programming offers moments of reflection, celebration, and in some instances destruction as we look back to honour our queer histories and look ahead to forge new paths for our queer future,” said managing director Daniel Carter in a press release. “Familiar and new partnership animate our season, showcasing not only the wealth of queer talent in Toronto but also highlighting enthralling stories and performance from across Canada.”

Buddies’ mainstage will see a total of nine events throughout the season, introducing new faces and bringing old friends back to Toronto audiences. Part of that programming will include the company’s 45th iteration of the Rhubarb Festival in February. Additionally, Buddies will present an eclectic 45th Anniversary Series headlined by Vag Halen as a lead-up to the city’s annual Queer Pride Festival in June. And in October this year, for the first time, Buddies will host Toronto Fringe’s Next Stage Theatre Festival.

Read below to discover what mainstage productions Buddies has programmed to celebrate their 45th anniversary season.

Original illustration by Mitch Duncan.

a groundwork redux and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre production in association with Obsidian Theatre

speaking of sneaking

by daniel jelani ellis
directed by d’bi.young anitafrika

September 19 – October 1, 2023

Ginnal is sure like never before: he must make it to Foreign. When he meets a Spider who sets him on the journey, Ginnal faces the cost of freedom.

Inspired by experiences of growing up queer in Jamaica and finding home in Canada, speaking of sneaking is a multidisciplinary mash-up of dance, poetry, and pantomime, where the archetypal Jamaican Ginnal and the mythical African Anansi meet.

First created in Buddies’ Emerging Creators Unit, and further developed with the Anitafrika Method for Why Not Theatre’s RISER (where it garnered five Dora nominations, including for outstanding production and outstanding new play), speaking of sneaking returns to the Buddies stage for a full production this fall.

daniel jelani ellis // creator, performer + producer
d’bi.young anitafrika // dramaturg + director
Fairy J // choreographer
Lexi Sproule // stage manager
Rachel Forbes // set + costume designer
Andre du Toit // lighting designer
Stephon Smith // sound designer


The Next Stage Theatre Festival

presented by Toronto Fringe

October 18–29, 2023

Experience the best in performing arts with the 16th Annual Next Stage Theatre Festival from October 18 to 29, 2023. The Toronto Fringe is delighted to be partnering with Buddies in this new chapter of Next Stage with six unique pieces by a dynamic set of artists covering dance, sketch comedy, music, and drama – all ready for their next stage.

Dance: Black in Canada (Shameka Blake and Artists in Motion)
Theatre: Bremen Town (Gregory Prest)
Sketch: Dead Parents Society – a dark sketch comedy revue (Shohana Sharmin)
Theatre: ECHO (Kole Durnford)
Musical Theatre: Guildwood (Braeden Soltys)Theatre: Something in the Water (S.E. Grummett)


Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents

The Rocky Mountain Special

by Tiffany Thomas

November 14–19, 2023

An elderly trans woman is haunted by her cringe-worthy younger self aboard the Rocky Mountain Special, a luxury coach from Calgary to Vancouver that she’s been riding for the last forty years.

A guitar-driven, one woman musical tour-de-force about the quintessential Canadian urge to run from your past, The Rocky Mountain Special is a prayer for healing, a love letter to the lost kids of fragmented diasporas, and a playlist for the road-trip home.

Tiffany Thomas // Writer/Composer/Performer
Anna Dalgleish // Production Designer


a That Theatre company production in association with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Angels in America: a Gay fantasia on National Themes

by Tony Kushner
directed by Craig Pike

November 23 – December 17, 2023

In a Reagan-era New York City beset by the AIDS crisis, a recently-diagnosed Prior struggles to make sense of his mystical visions and visitations, along the way colliding with friends, lovers, and a Mormon couple whose marriage is on the brink of falling apart.

At once sprawling and intimate, Angels in America weaves together religion, revolution, and queer (be)longing into an epic, two-part modern masterpiece that speaks to the indomitable human need for change.

That Theatre Company’s Craig Pike helms a new production of Tony Kushner’s seminal plays, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, revisiting a pivotal moment in our queer histories through a contemporary lens.

Jim Mezon // Roy Cohn
Soo Garay // The Angel
Christine Horne // Harper
Brenda Bazinet // Hannah
Allie Macdonald // Prior
Ben Sanders // Louis
Kaleb Alexander // Belize
Wade Bogert O’Brien // Joe

Craig Pike // director
Michael Hart // stage manager
Bonnie Beecher // lighting designer
Sean Mulcahy // set designer
Michelle Bohn // costume designer
John Gzowski // sound designer
Sam Hale // assistant stage manager
Emma Jo Conin // apprentice stage manager


Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents

A We Quit Theatre Anthology

I am your spaniel, or A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare by Gislina Patterson / 805-4821 / A Passion Play

by Dasha Plett and Gislina Patterson

January 16–21, 2024

A week of performances by We Quit Theatre and friends. Rituals for the discontented, diversions for the disenchanted, and a carnival for quitters! A conversation between trans best friends and lovers, and a sharing of the things they created, together and apart, in their basement apartments.

Last seen in a google doc performing an iteration of 805-4821 as part of Buddies’ Queer, Far, Wherever You Are series, Winnipeg-based duo We Quit Theatre takes over the Cabaret space with a collection of three works, including a trans coming out story made out of other stories; an errant lecture on Shakespearean text analysis; and a series of improvised erotic revisions of bible stories, immortalized to cassette tape live on stage.

This farewell performance of 805-4821 will be accompanied by a sharing of Sadie Berlin’s Enchantment Island: This Alien Nation, a loose political exposé and response to We Quit Theatre’s piece.


a Theatre Rustical production

The Tempest

by William Shakespeare adapted by the Company
directed by Allyson McMackon

January 18–28, 2024

Shakespeare meets Theatre Rusticle’s physical poetry once again in The Tempest. Their inimitable style cracks open the bard’s final play unearthing a story about freedom, love and paths to truth. Told by five performers traversing 15 plus characters, Theatre Rusticle collides head-on with Shakespearean myth, magic, harsh history and all the ways we make theatre.

The Company // Lindsay Anne Black, Brefny Caribou, Jill Goranson, Kelsi James, Brandon Kleiman, Beck Lloyd, Trinity Lloyd, Jessica Lutness, Allyson McMackon, Sarah O’Brien, Michelle Ramsay, and Annie Tuma


Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents

The Rhubarb Festival

February 2024

Back for its 45th year, 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 new works festival, Rhubarb is the place to encounter the most adventurous ideas in performance and to catch familiar and unfamiliar artists venturing into uncharted Territory.

Buddies continues to strengthen international ties with Rhubarb’s curatorial performance network, fostering exchanges of artists and works between performance festivals around the Globe.


a Pencil Kit Productions and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre production, with the support of Charles Street Video

WHITE MUSCLE DADDY

by Raf Antonio
co-directed by Raf Antonio and Tricia Hagoriles

March 20–31, 2024

Soon after Jeremy Río clocks in for his first graveyard shift at an exclusive LA gym, he meets Eugene, a fitness influencer who seems to have the life of Jeremy’s dreams—one that’s double stuffed with money, muscles, and parties galore. What begins as an envious crush quickly morphs into an insatiable hunger that threatens to tear Jeremy’s life apart.

A cinematic theatre piece, WHITE MUSCLE DADDY uses projection art, live camera feed and shadow play to spin a chilling yarn about the politics of queer desire.

Raf Antonio // playwright
Raf Antonio + Tricia Hagoriles // co-directors
Khanh Tudo // director of cinematography
Claren Grosz // producer
Nicole Eun-Ju Bell // projection design
Keshia Palm // dramaturgy


a black, swirling sun rests on a pale pink background. Behind the sun are splashes of green, yellow, and blue. Illustration by Mitch Duncan.
Original illustration by Mitch Duncan.

To find out more about Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s 2023/24 season, or to purchase tickets, visit their website here.

Jessica Watson
WRITTEN BY

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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