September 9, 2012

Alum Kate Fenton discusses her show “Mister Baxter”

Playwright Kate Fenton (MFA 2005 Acting) discusses her show Mister Baxter, which plays at TPM this month. The show features many York alumni!

Mister Baxter Mister Baxter

After our successful run at the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival (Audience Choice Award-InspiraTO 2010, Outstanding Ensemble, Fringe Festival 2011 – NOW Magazine), the play returns for nine shows and features an art instillation created by Toronto-based artist Mariuxi Zambrano, and a photo exhibit exploring the theme of ‘Displacement’, inspired by our underground subway experience. 

Set in Toronto’s subway system, Mister Baxter is a new work I’ve written, directed by Adam Seybold  (MFA 2005 Acting), starring Christopher Stanton (Dora Award Outstanding performance New Electric Ballroom MacKenzieRo), Ginette Mohr (MFA 2005 Acting and three-time Dora nominee), Mark Gibson (BFA 2005 and Star of Exit Humanity), Alex Dault (Single Thread Theatre), Kaleb Alexander (BFA 2010 and Summerworks 2012 Dumbo Squid) and Ewa Wolnizcek (Summerworks 2012 The Frenzy of Queen Maeve). Featuring Live Performance and Original Music by Melanie Brulee.

One of the themes that emerged for me while writing the play was that of displacement. In the play, I look at displacement from a psychological perspective, as a sub-conscious defense mechanism. Often a character feels something or experiences something that they are unable to deal with and as a result they transfer that emotion on to another person in potentially harmful ways. In my experience, social crisis, conflict and trauma are endlessly displaced into sexuality, often resulting in a chain-reaction, with people unwittingly becoming both victims and perpetrators of displacement. In Mister Baxter, a teacher crosses an inappropriate boundary with one of his students and as a result many people are traumatized and left to deal with the aftermath of his actions.

As I continued to explore this theme, I thought it would be useful to hear what other people thought or experienced when struggling with displacement. So we came up with a fundraising campaign where we could create with our audience.

Photography is a beautiful art that captures a moment in time.  In a photograph, the experience is frozen. Similarly, a traumatic experience can hold a person captive in a particular time or experience. The events that lead to that moment cannot be changed but what will happen after is what defines us and is what fascinates me most about being alive. There is no other art form that can distill a real and immediate experience in quite the same way as photography.

So here is what we did….

Photographers, artists and creative people were encouraged to submit up to three photos to The Quickening Theatre Photo Contest reflecting their experience of displacement. Their photos are posted on our website. A jury of professionals selected five winning photographs.  The five winning photos are being used by Artist Mariuxi Zambrano to create an art installation that will transform the mainspace to reflect ‘displacement’ in an interactive and compelling way. 

Mister Baxter opens September 20 and closes September 29 at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Mainspace as part of their Bring the Buzz Festival. The run also includes an Opening Night Art Gala on September 20, beginning at 5:30pm and features an art exhibit and photo auction

Three stories collide in this hopeful and harrowing new play. On a subway platform, a chance encounter between a troubled man and a young boy takes a strange turn. A teenage couple stuck on a subway train deal with more than one delay.  A husband and wife confront a marriage running on opposite tracks. Mister Baxter explores the very depths of our urban experience with compassion and depth. 

The Quickening Theatre presents


A Bring the Buzz Project, produced by The Quickening Theatre with the support of

Theatre Passe Muraille and the George Cedric Metcalf Foundation

Written by Kate Fenton

Directed by Adam Seybold


Christopher Stanton
Ginette Mohr
Mark Gibson
Alex Dault
Kaleb Alexander
Ewa Wolniczek

Live Performance and Original Music by Melanie Brulee

Stage Manager: Kate Sandeson
Lighting Design: David DeGrow
Projection Design: Cameron Davis
Sound Design: Kirill Belousov

Show times are as follows:

September 20, 21 at 7:30 pm
September 22 at 2:00 and 7:30 pm
September 26, 27, 28 7:30 pm
September 29 at 2:30 and 7:30 pm

Opening Night Art Gala: September 20 at 5:30pm

For tickets, call the Theatre Passe Muraille Box Office at 416.504.7529
or visit

Quickening Theatre Photo Contest Sponsors:  Pikto, Midtown/WadeTech.