20-21 Spring Programming
After what feels like the longest winter, it looks like Ontario is getting a warm spring. Have we earned this? Yes! Soon we’ll be vaccinated and hugging again. But in the meantime, here’s an update on our activities for the next couple of months.
February was a chance for us to feel something familiar in a new way, with The Rhubarb Festival manifesting itself as performative publication. This pandemic pivot engaged Buddies staff in new and creative ways – mapping out courier routes, producing an audiobook from home. The result was an engagement and connection with our audience in both tangible and intangible ways that left us feeling energized.
Building on this momentum, along with more opportunities to be outdoors, QueerCab makes its season debut at Buddies next week. The trilogy of events will reimagine the cabaret form in ways that activate our spaces, both physically and virtually. We’ll also be presenting Push.Pull, a series of digital performances exploring the intersections of performance art and QTBIPOC cabaret. The next couple of months also see a continued focus on artist development, with artists across various programs— our two emerging artist programs, residency program, and 2-Spirit Cabaret — creating work, honing skills, and exchanging ideas. And community conversations continue through In Conversation and our Youth/Elders Podcast recording sessions.
“March 2021 marks a full year that our theatre has been closed to the public. It also marks a year of learning, adapting, and growth. Over the past year, we have been reinventing the ways we connect with each other, working through difficult conversations, and reimagining what kind of space Buddies will be when we reopen. As a company, we continue to engage in learning and interrogating internal processes to improve the ways we work together and create a more welcoming space for our communities.
“While the warmer weather and vaccine rollout are encouraging signs that gathering together will soon be a possibility, we are remaining as flexible as possible to be responsive to our ever-changing circumstances. Virtual and outdoor presentations will return this Spring offering more opportunities to engage with exciting new performance work, artists and community members. ”
– Daniel Carter, Interim Programming Director
As COVID-19 numbers and pandemic responses continue to evolve, we are keeping a cautious eye on the possibilities opening up, including having artists in the space creating, and having patrons back to our Tallulah’s patio bar. Looking ahead to June, we’re planning for another flexible and responsive Queer Pride Festival, that will blend digital projects with hyper-local activations and performances.
A SPOTLIGHT ON QUEER ARTISTS
QueerCab returns for the first time this season, curated by Heather Caplap and Adjani Poirier. Our first edition, Shadows of the Past, animates our cabaret windows from March 31-April 7 with shadow and video-works reflecting on queer histories, with works from artists including Ezra Li, Brescia Nember Reid, and Abdullah Qureshi. The following two iterations, Transient Present and Imagined Futures, take place in April and May.
Over the next months, another cabaret series will be rolling out online. Presented in partnership with Buddies, Aluna Theatre, and FADO Performance Art Centre, Push.Pull examines emergent and intersectional developments in performance art and QTBIPOC cabaret. The first session, Bare, features performances from Suki Tsunami, Gay Jesus, Ivory, and more. Book your (free) ticket, and tune in April 9.
As the restriction on gathering in person continues, we’re bringing back our Pride in Place format as part of this year’s Queer Pride Festival (June 15-30). With a call currently out for project submissions, we’ll once again be collaborating with queer artists across the GTA in bringing Queer Pride to their homes and neighbourhoods. Stay tuned for a full programming announcement in May.
BUILDING ARTIST CAPACITY
Work continues with our Emerging Creators Unit (Ajahnis Charley, Janis Mayers, and Weird Alice) and our Emerging Company in Residence (Courage Bacchus and Gaitrie Persaud-Dhunmoon). Next month, this year’s 2-Spirit Cabaret artists will begin to meet for mentorship and coaching sessions withinternational and local artists including Brownton Abbey’s Tarik Elmoutawakil. Look out for more information on the three programs, which will all have sharings as part of our Queer Pride Festival in June.
EXPANDING OUR RESIDENCY PROGRAM
With in-person rehearsals possible again, our residency artists will have more time in the space over the next months, with Pearle Harbour’s Distant Early Warning seeing a production development period in April, and Martin Julien’s The Man That Got Away in May.
During the month of May, we’ll also be sharing a sneak peek into the work being created by resident artists, with profiles and conversations on the blog, and collaborations with illustrators, photographers, and designers to share aspects of their processes.
Since moving online last April, our In Conversation series has grown both in numbers and in geographic reach. leZlie lee kam and Ty Sloane wrap up the series for the season, exploring the idea of thrivance in April, and ending with a communal check-in in May.
After that, we’ll be picking up the intergenerational conversation with the second season of The Youth/Elders Podcast. Over the past two months our hosts have curated, booked, and interviewed guests including Cole Alvis, Aria Evans, Catherine Hernandez, and Ravyn Wngz. With a wealth of material to work with, we’ll be editing the episodes in the spring, and launching the season during our Queer Pride Festival in June.
ORGANIZATIONAL REVIEW & TRANSFORMATION
Last month, we shared an update and a resource page regarding our work towards bringing the values of anti-racism and anti-oppression to all of our practices. Since then, we’ve put out a call for application for our Board of Directors, due March 29.
At the staff level, policies and procedures continue to be reviewed through an equity and anti-oppression lens. As well, a full-company training session with anti-racist theatre practitioner Nicole Brewer will take place in April.