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The Theatre Centre Unveils 22/23 Programme Featuring Work From Ian Kamau And Journalist Alanna Mitchell

West end incubator and community hub to offer a slate of new anticipated live arts  experiences amidst heritage venue restoration.

The Theatre Centre Unveils 22/23 Programme Featuring Work From Ian Kamau And Journalist Alanna Mitchell

The Theatre Centre welcomed audiences, artists and neighbours to the venue for a community meal celebrating its 22/23 programming year. In addition to announcing works on offer throughout the year - Rimah Jabr's Broken Shapes, Sea Sick by Alanna Mitchell, the third edition of Comedy is Art, and Ian Kamau's Loss - artist-podcaster Falen Johnson and artist Lorena Torres Loaiza were presented with the 2022 Patrick Conner Award and Ticket respectively.

Palestinian theatre artist Jabr's Broken Shapes will be co-produced out of The Theatre Centre's Residency program, which offers long-term support to artists developing provocative new work. The piece follows a grieving young woman living in an occupied territory, using live performance, installation and video to explore how the environment influences imagination. After four years in development, including a two-year postponement, Jabr is bringing her international team of collaborators to Canada to share Broken Shapes with a run at The Theatre Centre from Nov. 22 - Dec. 4.

Loss is an ambitious cross-generational live-art multimedia performance and installation exploring the trauma of loss in Afro-Caribbean communities co-written by Kamau and his father Roger McTair. "When I got to The Theatre Centre all I had was the seed of an idea," explains Kamau, who is pitching the work at Edinburgh Fringe 2022 as part of Spotlight Canada. "That idea has slowly grown, moved in many directions, sped up and slowed down, and weathered some storms. The Theatre Centre has stayed the course and sheltered my idea at times. I'm not sure where else an artist like me would have found the kind of long-term support to enable my idea to blossom." Loss is slated to premiere in Toronto in Spring 2023, with a development investment from the National Arts Centre's National Creation Fund - exciting details to come.

"What sets Residency apart is the opportunity to gather for intensive periods of creation - the work is developed from the collective imagination of a number of artists across an array of practices," explains general and artistic director Aislinn Rose. "We're excited to work together to see these long-standing commitments through with live audiences."

Artists Prince Amponsah (21 Black Futures, Station Eleven) and Viktor Lukawski, PJ Prudat and John Hirsch Prizewinner Jonathan Seinen, Nehal El-Hadi, daniel jelani ellis, Stewart Legere, and comedian Brandon Ash-Mohammed (Last One Laughing: Canada, This Hour has 22 Minutes) will continue in Residency, periodically inviting audiences into the creative process through seasonal Residency showings.

After years of touring the United Kingdom, Europe, India, Australia, and Canada, and its recent American premiere at The Kennedy Center, The Theatre Centre's Sea Sick by award-winning science journalist Mitchell (New York Times, CBC, Globe and Mail) is back for a limited homecoming engagement from October 5-8. For the first time since its wildly successful 2014 run, Toronto audiences can experience Mitchell's acclaimed show about climate change and the state of the global ocean directed by Franco Boni with Ravi Jain. "Nothing feels better than to bring it back to audiences at The Theatre Centre after eight years," says Mitchell. "Our weird little play has continued to evolve over that time and I'm excited to see what new conversations it will open up now that it's back home at last."

Comedy is Art returns for a third year showcasing some of the best comedians in the city and sending a clear message: comedy is an art form that should be taken seriously. 2022 marks the first year Comedy is Art has opened a call for submissions and the number of truly exciting proposals was beyond inspiring. This year's festival will feature John Mostyn's Stand Up For Sobriety - Mostyn's comedic offering to sober artists and audiences alike - and Denise Mcleod's D.B. Mcleod Presents: Real Estate Problems, an all-Indigenous stand-up comedy show showcasing Mcleod's signature, hilarious, take-no-prisoners style. Also featured is Ajahnis Charley's Black on Black on Black, a revue including all types of comedy: improv, stand-up, sketch - even comedic interpretive dance - whose aim is to showcase the diversity within Blackness across age, gender, skin tone, personality, religion, region and more.

"We are so excited to be able to showcase some of our city's finest comedic talent," says associate artistic director liza paul. "It's an honour and a privilege to continue to champion comedy as an art form and I hope audiences and artists will enjoy seeing and playing the shows as much as I've enjoyed programming them." Produced by The Theatre Centre with generous support from Kingfisher Foundation, audiences can catch acclaimed and emerging comedy artists at The Theatre Centre from October 25-29.

In April 2021, acclaimed contemporary dancer-choreographer Peggy Baker announced the winding down of her beloved dance company after 26 years of creation saying, "At this pivotal moment, I believe the most significant action I can take is to free up space and resources." Peggy Baker Dance Projects will stage its final performance, Michael Ross's Beautiful Renegades inspired by 15 Dance Lab - an artist-run centre that helped shape contemporary dance in 1970s Toronto - at The Theatre Centre from Sept. 20 - Oct. 2. The Theatre Centre has been a home for Peggy Baker Dance Projects since 2015 and is honoured to host the company's final production.

Rounding out this year's programming (so far!) is Same Difference by David Mesiha and the world premiere of Punctuate! Theatre's First Métis Man of Odesa directed by Lianna Makuch. Same Difference is a mixed-media installation using mirrors, surround sound and immersive projection to explore refugee and immigrant experiences. Based on a true story, First Métis Man of Odesa tells the remarkable love story of award-winning playwright Matthew Mackenzie and award-winning Ukrainian actor Mariya Khomutova set against the backdrop of the COVID pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Punctuate! Theatre's run is shared as part of the venue's Long-Term Relationship (LTR), a partnership inviting nomadic theatre companies to make The Theatre Centre their home for several years at a time.

That home will look a bit different as the 22/23 programming year unfolds with the heritage building undergoing long-needed restorations including a brand new roof and an upcoming café redesign... stay tuned! As the West Queen West staple prepares to serve as a bigger and better community hub, audiences can continue to enjoy innovative new work at The Theatre Centre. Tickets to most shows are available now on a $15-60 sliding scale. Visit theatrecentre.org for details.

The Theatre Centre is a nationally recognized live-arts incubator, café and community hub nestled in Toronto's West Queen West neighbourhood offering a home to imagine, debate, celebrate, protest, unite, and invent the future. It's a space for artists and community members alike to connect, create, rehearse and present provocative new work. The B.A.A.N.N. Theatre Centre was originally formed in 1979 by a co-operative of five independent theatre companies: Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Autumn Leaf Theatre, AKA Performance Interface, Necessary Angel and Nightwood Theatre.

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