April 15, 2017

Theatre @ York 2017–18: Worlds of Exile

Theatre @ York 2017–18

Next year’s theme for our 2017/18 season is


“Exile, refugee, asylum-seeker, nomad, migrant, immigrant…terms that share a sense of displacement and a feeling of Otherness. While some of these terms can be defined in legal and political terms, others speak to a rift that generates a social and psychological condition. Our season this year ……reflects aspects of the varied experience of persons who, either by choice or as a result of imposition, are living outside their home of origin, are Othered by virtue of colonial exile practises, or who have returned home only to find it unrecognizable, or who, as the children or grandchildren of exiles are living in two worlds. These are plays of longing and belonging, isolation and empowerment.”

— Judith Rudakoff


The Play to open our season will be a first for us.  The working title is:

Post National

in the Joseph G. Green Theatre.
7:30 p.m. on November 19-20 (Previews),
7:30 p.m. on November 20-24, 2017
1:00 p.m. on November 22 & 24; 2 p.m. on November 25.

“There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada.  There are shared values — openness, respect, compassion, willingness to work hard, to be there for each other, to search for equality and justice. Those qualities are what make us the first post-national state.

—Justin Trudeau

“Postnationalism is the process or trend by which countries lose their importance relative to global entities.”  Post National “is an instruction-based performance score about a post-national future.  Devised by a group of Canadian students.  To be performed live by a different group of twelve students in Canada or another country.” — Ross Manson, director.

The fourth year actors will devise a two parter—the first part will be an autobiographical piece, devised by the fourth year students and dramaturged/written by Debbie Pierson, and performed by the fourth year actors. That piece will be about the students’ relationship to Post-Nationalism.  The second part will be the instruction-based piece, a message-in-a-bottle from the 4th year students to another group of students, who could be anywhere in the world. That piece will also feature 12 unsuspecting performers who have had very little rehearsal. It will be the transferable piece we look to tour later on.

Post National will be directed by Ross Manson: actor, director, and translator, and the founding Artistic Director of Volcano (“The explosive company from Canada” – The Independent, UK). Volcano specializes in projects that explore compelling social and artistic territories in innovative ways, often inventing multi-disciplinary styles of performance or development tailor-made to the idea at hand.

Since writer/dramaturg Debbie Pearson did Table Talk here at York, she has become quite a star in the UK.   Debbie founded and co-directs the multi award-winning venue Forest Fringe in Edinburgh. In 2010 and 2016, she was named in the Stage 100 list of the most influential figures in UK theatre. She is an award-winning live artist and playwright in immersive and intimate theatre, and has performed and presented her work throughout the UK, Europe, Canada, and most recently in Japan.  Deborah recently finished a practice-based PhD at Royal Holloway in London where she is a Reid scholar, researching narrative in contemporary performance.

Kate Alton will create some set choreography that will also be transferable.  Kate is a Toronto-based dancer and choreographer. She was a featured member of Toronto Dance Theatre from 1989-1995, leaving in that year to pursue an independent career. Since then she has worked with numerous renowned choreographers from across Canada and beyond. Kate is choreographer and co-creator / director with Ross Manson of the critically acclaimed dance and sound poetry production The Four Horsement Project, which garnered four Dora Awards, including Outstanding Direction by Kate and Ross Manson, and toured nationally and internationally over three seasons.

Post National will take place in the Joe Green theater, opening in mid-November, featuring the fourth your actors. There will be an open call for the 12 unsuspecting performers for Post National in September.


Deportation Cast

by Bjorn Bicker translated by Birgit Schreyer Duarte

in the Foster Studio, ACE 207
7:30 p.m. January 25–27, 2018

2:00 p.m. January 26 & 27, 2018.

This will be a English language premiere of this German play.  We were able to secure the first English translation especially for  Theatre@York through a grant from the Goethe Institute.  This is a studio production in the Foster Studio ACE 207, directed by Keira Loughran.

Hailing from Toronto, Keira has been pushing the boundaries of Canadian theatre for over 20 years as a director, producer, actor, dramaturg and playwright with companies across the country. She currently serves as Associate Producer for the Forum and Laboratory at the Stratford Festival, spearheading organizational change through these initiatives, working with Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. Last year, she directed the critically acclaimed production of The Aeneid at the Stratford Festival and this season she will be directing The Koma /gata Maru Incident there. Other productions she has directed include Titus Andronicus for Canadian Stage, Pu-Erh for which she received a Dora nomination for Outstanding Direction, and Little Dragon – a play she also wrote, and performed in. Prior to Stratford, she was Artistic Producer of the SummerWorks Festival from 2005-2007. Her company K’Now Theatre, dedicated to contemporary, culturally diverse, and socially relevant theatre, has produced two shows, garnering seven Dora nominations and winning three.  She is really pleased for the opportunity to be back at York for this production.


This play captured my imagination immediately. Bjorn Bicker has given us everything I love in my favorite scripts—content that is immediately resonant and emotionally engaging, a structure that demands theatrical interpretation, and characters and relationships that are rich, complex, human. I am so excited to work on the world premiere of this wonderful translation by Birgit Schreyer Duarte; to bring this piece, with all its questions of identity, responsibility, and forced migration, to a Canadian audience through a Canadian theatrical sensibility; and with this fine graduating class of York University’s distinguished Theatre Performance program.

Keira Loughran.

Deportation Cast looks at “exile” from a slightly more unexpected angle: the story of a Kurdish family who lived in Germany for ten years and whose application for permanent asylum is rejected; it follows the family back to their Kurdish home village where they feel unwelcome and foreign now.

Deportation Cast by Björn Bicker, which premiered at Hannover Staatstheater in 2011, is a story of refugees. However, it focuses on several aspects that are less frequently discussed: what happens to the families that are denied refugee status and are sent back to the countries they fled? And: how do the individuals who manage the deportations of asylum seekers deal with their often daunting tasks? What are the strategies they have developed to cope with the weight of being part of the machinery—a machinery that is meant to regulate one country’s well being but causes distress and fear for those it rejects?

Christopher Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage

directed by Peter Hinton.

in the Faire Fecan Theatre, located in the Accolade East Building.
7:30 p.m. on March 17–18 (Previews),
7:30 p.m. on March 19–23, 2018.

1:00 p.m. on March 21 & 23; 2:00 p.m. on March 24, 2018.

The director has an exciting take on this play and the topics of displacement and migration. DIDO is in the public domain so the director will adapt/edit it to suit the 12 fourth year actors.

Peter Hinton is one of Canada’s most respected directors and teachers. He has been directing classical and contemporary plays for the past 30 years.  From 2005-2012, Peter was Artistic Director of English Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre in Ottawa.  Peter was also associate artist at The Stratford Festival of Canada for 7 seasons. Peter has taught at the National Theatre School of Canada, Ryerson University and, since 2012, he has been the professional mentor for the York University/Canadian Stage MFA program in directing. In 2009, Peter was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.


One of the wonderful things about the Reading group that selected our season is that we got familiar with lots of great plays.  Two of the plays we loved but we were not able to do as mounted shows for a number of reasons will be the unmounted studio shows. The fall show will be Carried Away on the Crest of a Wave by David Yee and the winter show will be  If We Were Birds by Erin Shields.

Finally, the Theate @ York season will also include: the Playwrighting and Dramaturgy project, Telling Tales out of  School; playGround; The Devised Theatre Festival, all the MFA Performance Creations (still to come), and  Scenes by Design.