The only program in the country solely devoted to the creation of original queer performance works.

The Buddies Residency program supports queer artists and collectives in the delicious and arduous task of bringing new work to life. A playground for brazen creatives, it has nurtured ideas into award-winning performances for the Buddies mainstage and beyond. Artistic Associate Erum Khan leads this experimental incubator into its 15th year, where new and returning participants will continue to excavate their stories to share with the world.

Residency Facilitator //  Erum Khan

photography and treatment by Fran Chudnoff

2023-24 Artists in Residence

Headshot image of Bilal Baig. Bilal is wearing a read deep v top and has curly dark hair just passed their shoulders.

Bilal Baig

Image of Celia Green. Celia has short brown hair and is wearing an orange t-shirt, crossing their arms, standing in front of a tall flower bush.

Celia Green

Image of Heath lying on their front, embracing a skeleton. They are wearing drag makeup and an emerald green jacket and tall red heeled boots.

Heath V. Salazar


Bilal Baig

KAINCHEE LAGAA explores the intense connection between two siblings separated at other ends of the world. One is grappling with substance use, an omnipresent grandma and trying to escape Etobicoke Ontario but feeling held back due to some majorly unchecked PTSD post 9/11. The other is constantly getting dicked down and eating tandoori chicken on the bustling streets of Heera Mandhi Lahore. As the duo move towards finding each other, hard truths about their realities and fantasies are confronted and this forever-sibling-bond is irrevocably altered.

Through song and dance, JHOOTI traces the life story of a young trans woman named Sakheena as she flees from back home with nothing but the torn clothing she’s wearing and a plastic bag full of cherished belongings, memories and secrets. As Sakheena steps out from the shadows of fear and loneliness into revealing the deepest truths about herself so that you can really see her, she only asks for one thing from you in return — keep her safe, no matter what.

Bilal Baig is a queer, trans-feminine, Muslim writer, performer and workshop facilitator. Baig’s first play, Acha Bacha, was produced in 2018, published in 2020 and nominated for the Dayne Ogilvie prize by the Writer’s Trust of Canada in 2022. Baig works with youth and trans women of colour in creative writing programs at artistic organizations such as Story Planet, Paprika Festival and Nightwood Theatre. Baig is the lead and co-creator of the Peabody Award winning CBC/HBO Max/Sphere Media series, Sort Of. 


Celia Green

Celia Green’s practice spans choreography, writing, creation, and performance. Their focus is on creating highly theatrical and intimate performance works that blend text and movement. Celia has been in residence at Toronto Dance Theatre, at P.A.R.T.S in Brussels, Belgium, and with Quote Unquote Collective. Their work has been presented in Berlin, Montreal, and in Toronto at the Rhubarb Festival and the SummerWorks Festival where they received the 2019 Theatre Centre Emerging artist award. Earlier this year Celia curated GOODIE BAG! with Dancemakers, a week-long event that offered free massage, tattoos, portraits and acupuncture for trans and gender non-conforming performers. They are currently developing a new ensemble work, SOWWY, and a solo work, Jason

SOWWY is a new, boundary-breaking ensemble performance work that uses movement, text and music to investigate cycles of apology. The world being conjured is one that is distorted, beautiful and sharp. SOWWY’s performers embody various beings as they speak, dance, and moan their way through the messiness of making mistakes with humor, nuance, and chaos.

Photo by Eden Graham


Heath V. Salazar

Heath V. Salazar (they/them) is in the midst of developing their pasty-clad rock musical, MARIPOSA. The piece dives into the world of a troupe of drag and burlesque artists that live and perform in a candle and sequin-lit castle on a queer-made island. From politicians, to starlets, to wielders of diplomatic immunity, silent signatures ensure the house as the best mutually-kept secret to the crème de la crème. Between walls that lay thicker than thieves and on soil where crystal and red lipstick reign supreme, only whispers get you in but not every breath gets out. A cutthroat musical teasing morality with one hand and committing murder with the other, MARIPOSA toys with the part of your conscience you didn’t know was ticklish.

MARIPOSA is a love letter to Toronto’s drag and burlesque scene, a community that is a core part of Heath’s life both professionally and personally.

Photo by Sly Pereira

Since launching in 2010, the Buddies Residency Program has yielded the following Mainstage productions

  • Obaaberima by Tawiah Ben M’carthy (Buddies 2012-13 // National Arts Centre + The Cultch 2014-15 // Buddies 2018-19)
  • Of A Monstrous Child: a gaga musical by Ecce Homo Theatre (Buddies 2012-13)
  • The Gay Heritage Project by Damien Atkins, Paul Dunn, and Andrew Kushnir (Buddies 2013-14 // Buddies, The Citadel, The Cultch + The Belfry 2015-16 )
  • Freda and Jem’s Best of the Week by Lois Fine (Buddies 2014-15)
  • Gertrude and Alice by The Independent Aunties – Anna Chatterton, Evalyn Parry, and Karin Randoja (Buddies 2015-16)
  • Body Politic by Nick Green (Buddies 2015-16)
  • Black Boys by Saga Collectif – Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Tawiah M’Carthy, Thomas Olajide with Virgilia Griffth and Jonathan Seinen (Buddies 2016-17// Buddies, The Cultch, High Performance Rodeo + Black Theatre Workshop 2017-18)
  • LULU v.7 // aspects of a femme fatale by ted witzel, Susanna Fournier, and Helen Yung (Buddies 2017-18)
  • Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools by Evalyn Parry, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, Erin Brubacher + Elysha Poirier, with Cris Derksen (Buddies 2017-18 // Qaggiavut, PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, Espace Libre, Luminato 2018-19 // Edinburgh International Festival, NAC Indigenous Theatre 2019-20)
  • Shove It Down My Throat by Johnnie Walker (Buddies 2018-19)
  • White Girls in Moccasins by Yolanda Bonnell (Buddies 2021-22)
  • Distant Early Warning by Justin Miller (Buddies 2021-22)

illustration by mitch duncan
graphic design by Awake Studio