Buzz 22.23

In-development at Theatre Passe Muraille

Buzz artist headshots are collaged together dynamically. Everyone's image has a blue hue, and the bright red in the background shines making the image feel eerie and pop-like.

From top l to bottom r: Luke Reece, Nancy Kenny, Jenn Forgie, BigT collective, Coleen Shirin Macpherson, Nautanki Bazaar, Charlie Petch, Tsholo Khalema, Silk Bath Collective

The Buzz In-Development Series focuses on creating an artistic process that places the art and artist at the centre. We do this in various ways including: workshops, dramaturgy, public presentations as well as in ways which cannot yet be anticipated or defined. At TPM, we aspire to empower the artist throughout their development in methodologies that work for them.  

The 22.23 season also sees the expansion of Passe Muraille’s Buzz in-development program with the introduction of a new creation unit facilitated by Tsholo Khalema. Focused on Black new career artists, VUKA (which means rise or wake in Zulu) will support three theatremakers in a devised process.

All works in the Buzz In-Development Series are being considered for future development and potential production at TPM. Buzz Artists are given access to one of our venues, dramaturgical support and in-kind services or funds as part of their development. TPM offers further commitment to artists-in-residence with more comprehensive monetary and administrative support and with longer timelines towards a production!

Erased by Coleen Shirin MacPherson

Produced by OPEN HEART SURGERY THEATRE in association with Theatre Passe Muraille

Coleen Shirin MacPherson (she/her) is an international theatre artist, playwright and director based in Toronto. She trained at Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris and founded Open Heart Surgery Theatre in 2014, an all-female physical theatre company that devises new work that is multidisciplinary, cross-cultural and experimental. Her work has toured to France, UK, Poland, Egypt and USA. This Is Why We Live, had its US premiere in NYC at La MaMa, part of the 58th season and recently created a film-play, Erased, as part of La MaMa’s Experiments Play-reading series. Coleen was part of Factory Theatre’s Director’s Program and Assistant Directed Trout Stanley by Claudia Dey (Dir. by Mumbi Tindeyebwa Otu) and recently Assistant Directed Richard III at the Stratford Festival (Dir. Antoni Cimolino). She is Creator-in-Residence at Cahoots Theatre developing a new work based on her mixed-race heritage and is developing a new play inspired by Glenn Gould and the city of Toronto with Factory Theatre. UPCOMING: This Is Why We Live as part of VOILA! Europe Festival in London, UK; Langham Directors’ Project at the Stratford Festival in November 2022. Coleen also launched a podcast series called Wild Women with Martha Ross (CBC/Canada Council) and is developing five more episodes. She is honoured to be part of the BUZZ development series. Coleen wishes she could fly. www.openheartsurgerytheatre.com

Set within a claustrophobic room of a greeting card factory, four workers create ready-made sentiments for the masses. As each worker navigates their relationship to power, in a world run by an anonymous system, we begin to learn what exists past the four walls: people are being ‘disappeared’ and a resistance of women have been lost … Inspired by Francis Bacon’s screaming popes, Coleen MacPherson questions the themes of loneliness and complicity in the violence inflicted on others within our rapidly changing world. A dystopian parable that is poetic, violent, darkly humorous and imagistic: an awakening for us all to look deeply into ourselves and the state of our planet.

Erased, BUZZ development, is funded by the Canada Council for the Arts

Funded by Toronto Arts Council and the Ontario Arts Council (Theatre Gargantua)

Jenn has a fair complexion and short hair that comes below her ears, that has blonde highlights. She wears a comfortable robe and sits barefoot on the floor smiling brightly

Seven Pieces by Jenn Forgie

TPM Artist-in-Residence

Jenn is of Métis, French and Scottish ancestry, a professional actor, writer and self-image coach for women and actors.  Her personal journey with fractured identity and the power of embodied connection to Self has fueled her passion to create her first play, Seven Pieces; a story of hope, healing and belonging. Jenn currently sits on the Toronto Arts Council Theatre Projects grant assessment panel and would like to acknowledge the ongoing support of TPM for inviting Jenn in as a BUZZ development artist and 2022-2023 Artist In Residence as well as the incredible mentorship of both Marjorie Chan and Jani Lauzon. 

Seven Pieces is an interdisciplinary theatrical story exploring the fragmented relationship between Kate, who is a Métis woman, and her Body, as a result of childhood abuse. Through movement, vocals, breath, text and an elephant body, Kate’s Body drives this story’s themes of displacement from ones body as their “first land”, and the layers of loss of connection and belonging to identity. Who are we when we are  stolen from our own selves? And how do we find our way Home without a map to get us there? This is a story of hope as Kate and Body discover what ‘home’ is for them, through conflict, healing and eventual connection to our deepest roots in the blood and bones of our earthly and ancestral bodies.

Instagram @jennforgie | Facebook @jennforgie |  Twitter @JennForgie

Seven Pieces was developed with the support of the CSARN Mentoring Program. CSARN engages elder professional artists of all disciplines as they continue their life’s work as creators. Artists don’t retire because Creativity Lives Forever. www.csarn.ca

Gloria, Aaron and Bessie pose together with their arms crossed, smiling at the camera. Gloria has large round glasses, wearing a hat front-side-back. Aaron has short hair and is wearing a wrinkled up shirt with rolled up sleeves. Beth is wearing a cap properly, wearing a neat black t-shirt

Woking Phoenix by Silk Bath Collective

TPM Collective-in-Residence

A Toronto-based theatre collective founded in 2015 by Bessie Cheng, Aaron Jan and Gloria Mok that focuses on telling stories rooted in the Chinese Canadian experience.

WOKING PHOENIX chronicles a public confrontation between three estranged siblings as they determine the fate of their deceased mother’s restaurant. Diving through a playlist of family memories, WOKING PHOENIX examines the evolution of small-town Chinese restaurants and the cost of intergenerational assimilation. The play will be a site specific, immersive experience, where audiences will act as a jury to determine the next chapter of the restaurant’s life.

himanshu and neha smile at the camera together. Neha is south asian and has long black hair that is tied into a half ponytail. Himanshu has short peppered black hair and is wearing a strip-pattern shirt

Kanishka by Nautanki Bazaar

Neha Poduval is a trained actor, with several feathers in her creative hat, having performed in various theatre plays, corporate films and TV shows across India. A post-graduate in Acting from the reputed Film and Television Institute of India, she continued her association with the performing arts since moving to Canada. Neha is also a certified Yoga Teacher and has been teaching Yoga across various studios, community and senior centres in Toronto. In 2021, she started her own YouTube channel called ‘Mustard Tempered Dreams’ where she shares her love for food through easy to make, delicious, Indian and global vegetarian (mostly) recipes she loves to eat and cook!

Himanshu Sitlani is a thespian, originally hailing from Mumbai. Foraying his way into theatre as an actor, he progressed on to other creative aspects and worked as a Stage Manager and Producer over the years with QTP, Thespo and Akvarious. He co-founded Le Chayim Theatre Productions in Mumbai in 2006 where he eventually made his directorial debut in 2013. Since immigrating to Toronto Canada, Himanshu’s been immersed in supporting the creative arts, while penning down his ideas towards his goal of creating a bridge between creative artists in Canada and India eventually co-founding Nautanki Bazaar in 2019 with Neha Poduval.

In 2021, he wrote and performed in the virtual show Stories of a Dish that was presented at the Mississauga Multilingual Fringe Festival, The Edinburgh Fringe, The Little Lion Theatre Festival in London UK, The Tata Literature Live Festival in Mumbai India and the Next Stage Theatre Festival in Toronto. In April 2022, he co-wrote and performed in An IMM-Permanent Resident as part of Why Not Theatre’s RISER Toronto at the Theatre Centre.

In June 2022, he was appointed the new Managing Director of Native Earth Performing Arts.

On June 23, 1985, a bomb exploded on Air India Flight 182 on route from Toronto to London, England killing all 329 people aboard, most of them South Asian Canadians. Thirty-seven years later, the Air India tragedy is still the worst terrorist attack in Canadian history, the most expensive case in Canadian history, costing nearly 130 million, and the biggest in aviation in history till 9/11. In 2006 a Canadian commission was appointed to conduct an inquiry into the bombing of Air India Flight 182. In its five-volume report, which was released in 2010, the panel concluded that the disaster resulted from a “cascading series of errors.” In particular, it found that Canadian intelligence and security agencies had failed to share information with each other and had instead engaged in “turf wars.”

Despite all this, the tragedy is relatively unknown in Canada. Kanishka aims to change that.

Charlie has a fair complexion and short two-block cut hair. He wears an emboidered black jacket and holding a saw, with cool metal rings on his fingers

De-escalation technique from a former hot dog vendor by Charlie Petch

While “No one’s special at the hot dog cart” was a successful prelude, (Everything I needed to know about working as a first responder, I learned as a teenage hot dog vendor in downtown Toronto) this round of The Buzz will build upon the de-escalation techniques introduced by the show. I will be creating a follow up workshop called “De-escalation technique from a former hot dog vendor” which will be offered to audiences and communities.

Everything I needed to know about working as a first responder, I learned as a teenage hot dog vendor in downtown Toronto. Whether it was being a 911 operator, a hospital bed allocator or an emergency room clerk, I would rely on the de-escalation techniques gained by my time as a street worker. Using music, projection, and poetry, audiences will be guided through these often harrowing work stories. Part show, part de-escalation workshop, come ready to have a deeper appreciation for street communities, and your own potential to manage reaction.

www.charliecpetch.com | Instagram/Twitter|@sawpoet

Building Relationships with the World by Luke Reece

In a failed attempt to escape Presto Luke left his hometown of Mississauga under the guise of becoming a Toronto-based artist. He strives to share authentic and engaging stories with audiences through his work as an award-winning producer, playwright, poet and educator. Luke is the Associate Artistic Director at Soulpepper Theatre, one of Canada’s leading non-profit theatre companies. Through Luke’s work as an artistic leader within the national arts community, he advocates for engaging and nuanced storytelling that challenges Canadian audiences. In 2021 Luke was included in York University’s inaugural Top 30 Changemakers Under 30 list. 

Luke is one of Toronto’s most decorated slam poets, becoming the Toronto Poetry Slam (TPS) Grand Champion in 2017, winning the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word as the captain of the TPS team and then again in 2018 as the team coach. In 2018 he placed 2nd in Canada individually which earned him a spot representing the country at the 2019 World Cup of Poetry Slam in Paris France where he placed 4th. He continues to give back to the Toronto Spoken Word scene as a board member for the Toronto Poetry Project. In the spring of 2020 Luke was  featured performing for former Toronto Raptor and NBA Champion Serge Ibaka on his Instagram Talent Show. His body of work also includes a radio play, animated short, and a praised short film featured on CBC titled ‘Notice’.

Building Relationships with the World by Luke Reece is a poetic presentation that plays with audiences and shares honest stories about growing up bi-racial in Mississauga with a mentally ill and absent father.

Gabe and Merlin look at the camera on each side of the photo, no smile. Merlin is fair and has short buzzed hair, and Gabe has long locks that comes just below the shoulders.

Gender Euphoria Project by Merlin Simard & Gabe Maharjan

bigT Collective

Merlin Simard (she/they/iel/elle) is a performer, playwright, dramaturge, and filmmaker originally from Tiohtiá:ke (Montréal) now based in Tkarón:to (Toronto). Her practice focuses on themes of access, gender euphoria, technology, and multilingual performance. As a performer, Merlin has worked with Stratford, Factory Theatre Crow’s, Outside The March, Buddies In Bad Times, and many other theatre companies across Canada. She has also acted on Grand Army (Netflix) and This Life (CBC).  They co-founded and co-run, bigT, a theatre collective seeking to uplift intersectional trans* voices. She is developing several projects spanning across theatre and VR with the support of Theatre Passe Muraille (FEAR OF MEN), Théâtre Français de Toronto (ZADDY ISSUES), and Nightwood Theatre (a free britney), amongst others. @hussy4hussy

Gabe Maharjan (they/them) is a performance creator based between Tio’tià:ke/Montréal and Tkarón:to/Toronto. They have worked across the country as a performer, playwright, director, dramaturge and producer. Their adaptation of Kai Cheng Thom’s popular children’s book “From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea” debuted with Geordie Theatre this past spring. They co-starred in Centaur Theatre’s grand reopening comedy “All I Want for Christmas” last holiday season and they performed Wajdi Mouawad’s solo show “Alphonse” at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe. Read more about Gabe’s work at gabemaharjan.com.

Gender Euphoria Project (Working Title) is an immersive performance piece that uses VR and 360 technology to create & facilitate tailored moments of gender euphoria. Would you forego exploration of your gender expression to maintain a sense of safety? Or would you bravely lean into the gender-nonconforming possibilities of expression in the virtual realm?

Edwige is a Black woman with short straight hair that comes below her ears. She smiles at the camera

La déception m'a ouvert les yeux by Edwige Jean-Pierre

With dramaturgical support from Merlin Simard

Edwige Jean-Pierre (elle/she/her) is a bilingual playwright and actor. She recently took part in DD-TD Black Playwrights Mentoring Program. She’s a past member of Obsidian Theatre and Tarragon Theatre’s Playwriting Units. Her plays include Even Darkness is Made of Light, Saint Bitch/Our Lady of Spills, SOS/MS/ASAP, GOIN4BROKE, The Big Mess and Espoir/Espwa (co-written with Les Héritières de Toto. B.) all focusing on political and/or social issues.

A blind woman recounts her ups and downs after undergoing surgery to restore her sight. As an audio experience, La déception m’a ouvert les yeux, is an invitation to reflect on ableism and its influence on our society.

Nancy has a fair complexion with freckles, and wears her curly hair down below her neck. She is wearing a flower dress and staring straight into the camera

I Don’t Feel Pretty / Chu pas cute by Nancy Kenny

With dramaturgical support from Merlin Simard

Nancy Kenny (she/her/elle) is a human who does many things. Sometimes artsy things, but often YouTube watching things. Une acadienne, who splits her time between Kjipuktuk/Halifax and Tkarón:to/Toronto, she is a playwright and actor best known for her critically acclaimed one-woman shows Roller Derby Saved My Soul and Everybody Dies in December, and that one Heritage Minute about the Acadian deportation. Her work has toured across the US and Canada, inspiring her to produce the feature-length documentary On The Fringe, which recently premiered at NorthWest Fest, the longest running documentary film festival in Canada. She loves sauteed kale, good coffee, and pants that are wider at the ankle than the hip.

I Don’t Feel Pretty / Chu pas cute is a bilingual, absurdist dark comedy on failed womanhood. Guided by a diverse chorus of women’s voices, the play explores vanity, addiction, and intergenerational trauma, to find the laughter deep down in the armpit of the universe. The characters explore the questions “what are we saying to ourselves?” and “who told me to feel this way?” as they overcome the barriers erected to keep them apart from one another and themselves.

VUKA, led by Tsholo Khalema

The 22.23 season also sees the expansion of Passe Muraille’s Buzz in-development program with the introduction of a new creation unit facilitated by Tsholo Khalema. Focused on Black new career artists, VUKA (which means rise or wake in Zulu) will support three theatremakers in a devised process.

Tsholo Khalema is a South African Actor and Director of Theatre and Film. As a lifelong student of the arts; Tsholo is also a new playwright and is currently writing his first play! Tsholo is a Man of trans experience, and Arts Eductor centering his teachings on diversifying storylines in media. Storylines which are reflective, of the world we live in today! An exciting journey is unfolding for Tsholo Khalema, you can follow along by heading over to his website www.tsholovisions.com

Details coming soon!
Since 1968, Theatre Passe Muraille has created over 700 new Canadian plays. Supporting works in development is at the heart of our operations.

Make sure to follow us on social media and sign up for our newsletters to stay updated on our work! Sometimes we share snippets of the Buzz progress and open workshops for the public to witness the process. In all our newsletters we also include community updates with job opportunities, call for artists and much more.

Photo credits: Nancy Kenny | Daniel Chichagov Photography

Brand and Concept Design by: Louis Duarte