Canadian Stage to Present TRIBES, 2/2-3/2

Canadian Stage to Present TRIBES, 2/2-3/2

Canadian Stage presents the Canadian premiere of Tribes, the sharp, daring and jarringly emotional play by Nina Raine recognized by the 2012 Drama Desk and New York Theatre Critics Circle Awards. Tribes is directed by Daryl Cloran and features Stephen Drabicki, PaTricia Fagan, Holly Lewis, Nancy Palk, Dylan Trowbridge and Joseph Ziegler in stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street) from Feb. 2 to Mar. 2, 2014.

"Tribes explores a world we don't often see on stage, a world that some of us can't even begin to understand," said Matthew Jocelyn, artistic and general director, Canadian Stage. "This production takes this world and makes it accessible to everyone, tackling the very challenging issues of self identity and acceptance. We're very proud to partner with Theatrefront and Theatre Aquarius to share this extraordinary play with our audiences."

Billy (played by Drabicki, a hard-of-hearing actor) was deaf from birth, but his proudly unconventional family (Fagan, Palk, Trowbridge, Ziegler) raised him as part of their hearing world - a world filled with familial jealousy and fierce intelligent debates. It's not until he meets Sylvia (Lewis), a young woman who is becoming deaf herself, that he begins to question his identity and rebel against his family. Clever and witty, Tribes is a penetrating look at belonging and the limitations of communication.

"It's really an examination of language, and the many different ways we connect with each other," said Cloran. "The way we communicate, makes up part of our identity and how we define ourselves. So what happens when our communication is limited? Is language integral to expressing emotion? Tribes explores these concepts on many different levels in a way we can all relate to."

Tribes includes two different languages: English and American Sign Language. Both languages weave together throughout the rehearsal process, production, and performance. During rehearsals, cast and crew work with ASL translator Penny Shincariol and ASL coach ElizaBeth Morris to learn how their characters sign and to learn and explore a new way of communicating with each other.

Designer Lorenzo Savoini has created a world on stage that gives the audience a look into the private world of Billy's family. Projection plays an important part in creating the language for the play, paired with a set that transforms into multiple locales; Savoini's design creates islands and moments where Billy is isolated from the rest of his world. Richard Feren's sound design accentuates these moments, using music and noise to describe emotions that can't be put into words.

On Wednesdays in February (Feb. 12, 19, 26), Canadian Stage has partnered with the Deaf Culture Centre to provide workshops centred on the experience of Deaf people in Canada. Attendees will visit the world's first Deaf Culture Centre, located at the historic Distillery District, before seeing Tribes with a group. The visit will include a guided tour of the centre's current exhibit featuring the art of Deaf artists as well as De'VIA (Deaf View Image Art) created by Deaf artists. For more information visit An interactive childcare program, facilitated by Improv Care, will be offered at the theatre during the Feb. 9 matinee (pre-registration required), with free pre-show talks as well as post-show talkbacks held before and after select performances. Performances on Feb. 7 and 9 will be interpreted in American Sign Language.

Tribes will be on stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley Street). Performances run Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. The performance is approximately two hours and 15 minutes with an intermission. Tickets from $22 to $49 are available online, by phone at 416.368.3110 or in person at the box office. For details visit

Related Articles

Toronto THEATER Stories | Shows  BWW Toronto  BWW Toronto

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...