Evalyn Parry Stepping Down as Artistic Director

After five seasons as Artistic Director of Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, Evalyn Parry will be stepping down from her role on September 15, 2020. While Evalyn has decided to leave at this time to deal with family health issues, this decision also reflects her ongoing commitment to making space at Buddies — on her recommendation Buddies will use this time of transition to restructure, and consider new leadership models for the organization’s future.

Parry says, I am immensely proud of my five years leading Buddies, the art we have made, the evolution of this company, and what the Buddies team has accomplished together. These past years have laid foundations for the work ahead. As COVID-19 continues to challenge the structural foundations of our society, it’s now time to look to new, collaborative, and QTBIPOC-led leadership models. Buddies — like so many other arts institutions — has been reckoning with the inequities of our past and the racism embedded in our colonial organizational structures and practices. It’s essential that this company is taking time to re-vision and create a bold new direction, to see Buddies continue to be the industry-leading, radical queer theatre it has been for 41 years. I want to thank the board, as well as our talented and fearless team at Buddies, for their support through this time of transition as well as at this challenging time in my family life.

The Buddies Board of Directors respects Evalyn’s decision at this time, and thanks her for her many contributions to the company, where she first started as director of the Young Creators Unit, before being appointed Artistic Director in 2015.

“Evalyn’s outstanding leadership for the past five years has heralded a significant culture shift at Buddies,” says board Chair Andrea Ridgley. “Her programming has centred important voices within our diverse queer communities with mainstage productions like Saga Collectif’s Black BoysThe Youth/Elders Project, and lemonTree creations’  re-imagined version of Lilies; or, the Revival of a Romantic Drama. Even in stepping down, Evalyn’s vision continues to point the company toward a brave and necessary future, helping us to reimagine the structure of the organization to better support Buddies staff, artists, and community members. The board is grateful for Evalyn’s artistry and leadership at Buddies, and wishes her all the best in her future endeavours.”

Evalyn’s tenure with the company, which included Buddies’ 40th anniversary season, has been marked by new connections and a focus on fostering queer spaces — both within our building and beyond it.

New relationships and notable partnerships included the 2-Spirit Cabaret with Native Earth Performing Artsb current performing arts’ collaboration on the Emerging Creators Unit, and connecting queers across the generation gap with new intergenerational community programming. In addition, Evalyn continued to grow Buddies’ presence beyond its home in the Village with national and international tours, and with The Youth/Elders Podcast, recorded at the Oakwood Village library and shared online. Evalyn also led a four-year building revitalization campaign that raised $1.3 million in grants and municipal support to upgrade Buddies’ building for the first time since we moved to our present location in 1994, including a new roof and cabaret windows, new seating in the chamber, and the new, industry-leading all-gender bathroom.

Evalyn’s own artistic work at Buddies has made a significant contribution to Canadian theatre, with the Governor General’s Award and Dora-nominated Gertrude and Alice (co-created with Anna Chatterton and Karin Randoja) and widely acclaimed, multi-award winning Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools (Williamson Bathory, Parry, Brubacher, Poirier and Derksen). In addition to a national tour, the latter introduced Buddies to international audiences at the Edinburgh International Festival and Cervantino Festival in Mexico. As a director, Evalyn led the groundbreaking mainstage production The Youth/Elders Project (co-directed with Vanessa Dunn and Leelee Davis), a remount of the Dora-Award winning Obaaberima by Tawiah M’Carthy, and Jenna Harris’ Mine, a premiere production which was days away from opening before COVID-19 shut down the theatre in March 2020.

Buddies enters its 42nd season with a commitment to reflection, development, and transformation for the organization. During this time, Buddies board and staff – alongside outside consultants and in conversation with Buddies artists and the community-at-large – will envision the organization’s future. We will be announcing further details of our Fall programming in mid-September.

Past Artistic Directors

Sky Gilbert // 1979-1997
Sarah Garton Stanley // 1997-1999
David Oiye // 1999-2009
Brendan Healy // 2009-2015
Evalyn Parry // 2015-2020

Photo of Evalyn by Suzanne Robertson. Photo of Evalyn in SPIN by Jeremy Mimnagh.

August 28, 2020