What’s Been Buzzing?

21.22 Buzz look-back

Large text Buzz appears on a red backgound. In the foreground are rinchen, norbu, choewang and Marjorie in a roundtable

From left to right | Tenzin Choewang, Norbu Tsering, Marjorie Chan, Rinchen Dolma

Visual Description: The video shows quick images and videos of works that were developed/workshopped in our 21.22 season Buzz program. In Erased by Coleen Shirin Macpherson, dancers and movement performers mimic a making motion on white desks. In Okay You can stop now by Shakeil Rollock, dancers dance on top of a pile of newspapers covering the entire theatre floor. Seven Pieces by Jenn Forgie is a movement workshop with performers and movers of all backgrounds and ages. July 1st by Rinchen Dolma shows actors reading as community members watch and discuss the workshop. Gender Euphoria by Gabe Maharjan and Merlin Simard is a VR experimentation using 3D glasses. Rubble by Suvendrini Lena had readings done on zoom, and dramaturgy sessions with our AD marjorie. No One’s Special at the Hot Dog Cart shows Charlie Petch performing with various instruments and objects in a dimly lit stage. What Brings You In by Leslie Ting has images of the artist experimenting with different sound and spatial audio. Woking phoenix had a reading on zoom, with performers. The Year of the Cello by Marjorie Chan and Njo Kong Kie there is a reading and discussion around a table. 22.23 Buzz Announcements coming soon!

It takes many iterations and experimentations for a theatre production to start from the idea, to premiering on the stage!

A workshop is what we call a process or timeline where the experimentation happens. If a show is in its rudimentary stages, a workshop may look like a dramaturgical session with readings. If a show has had a few workshops and is almost ready for production, a workshop may look like a presentation with a small group of audience members. Sometimes, a workshop is dedicated to specific elements of the show such as accessibility initiatives.

Artists in our Buzz program are generally given access to one of our venues, dramaturgical support and in-kind services or funds to develop their work. TPM offers further commitment to artists-in-residence with more comprehensive monetary and administrative support and with longer timelines towards a production.

So we asked a few of the artists from our 21.22 Buzz program to talk about what they worked on during their workshop!

Movement based workshop for 'Seven Pieces'

a small toy elephant stands on a script of 7 pieces as movers rehearse in the back

“In my workshop, I worked with Marjorie Chan, Aria Evans and an incredible group of 8 diverse artists.

It was a powerful creative process to engage in and witness. The performers’ explorations and discoveries affirmed my vision to have much of this story told through visceral, physical movement and gestural language between the characters— that I know is the key to telling the truths of our bodies, especially in this story, where the characters are finding their way back to themselves as they heal through trauma and loss of belonging and connection. 

As an Artist In Residence with TPM, the inclusivity I continue to experience with this company as a woman, as a person who is Métis and Settler identity, as a mature artist, and as a member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, empowers me to have agency over my voice, my creativity and ideas that supports me in offering the spirit of this story in Seven Pieces that I am here to create as an artist and playwright.” 

— Jenn Forgie

Audience presentation for 'no one's special at the hot dog cart'

“As a theatre artist that developed most of their work in another city, I always felt very outside of Toronto Theatre.

Theatre Passe Muraille made me feel very supported. Each day of The Buzz was so special, I was able to workshop with DM St Bernard and Adam Lazarus, as well I had the support of TPM’s amazing production crew,  and I got to see everything I had in my head, happen. It also felt important to be in a neighbourhood that reflected the reality of a show that asks you to value the strength of street communities. 

April from TPM was also instrumental in making sure the audience feedback was there and accessible. My show is better for it, and I felt so supported  as a theatre artist. I would recommend The Buzz to anyone, especially those who feel their art might not fit into traditional theatre practice”

— Charlie Petch 

*Make sure to check out Charlie’s new blog, De-escalation Technique from a Former Hot Dog Vendor!

Various props on a table including a toy sculpture of a hotdog stand

Turning the stage into an installation for ‘What Brings You In’

What Brings You In was born out of my curiosity about talk therapy, and the performance is an exploration of where and when we are our truest selves through a series of sound pieces. 

In December 2021 at BUZZ, when it was still focussed on being an in-person/venue audience experience, I explored turning the stage into an installation that audiences could walk through and touch. The Mainspace being a tall space, I also wanted to explore the surround sound aspect further in terms of perceiving height and being “below” the sound at times…. 

Empty Mainspace theatre with social distanced set up of seats, chairs, easels and computers

Drawing from accessibility practices for people with low vision and blindness, our BUZZ showing began with a touch tour I guided that also provided the questions for each sound piece. As someone working in a theatre context with a concert music background, one of the biggest tensions I feel is finding the balance between a Story and not alienating listeners with sounds they may not understand.

I continue to try to find this balance but with a focus on the digital audience experience in the form of an interactive binaural performance with live broadcasted audio guiding.”

— Leslie Ting 

*You can experience this stage of development at the Summerworks Lab where there will be in an in-venue option! *Also check out this blog by Leslie Ting

A Gentle Read of a Gentle Draft of ‘July 1st’

audiences sit in a roundtable in the backspace theatre listening to the reading of July 1st. Most of the audiences are Tibetan community members and elders

“I approached this workshop very gently as it’s a newly written work. I knew that to create additional drafts I needed to hear it read aloud. We hired Tibetan actors for this workshop who were past participants of my Made in Exile theatre program and got my mentor, Ange Loft, to direct the reading. Ange made it a really safe space for me to share the story with my actors cause I felt like I didn’t have to explain much of the story, especially the dynamics within a community that is experiencing colonization in real time.


At the end of the workshop I was able to invite my community members (across different generations) and IBPOC folks to a private reading at the Backspace. We had some folks zoom in from abroad (Kathmandu, Seattle, Richmond Hill) or just tune in from their workplace, for those who couldn’t be there in person. We wrapped up the night with a shared meal provided by a local Tibetan business (Om Restaurant) after the reading and feedback session in front of TPM. It felt like a full circle moment, having had my first Made in Exile program perform at TPM and then to have my community back to hear a story I’ve written for us. Just like the first time we were at TPM, people spilled out onto the sidewalk in front and kept talking and sharing stories. #TIBSatTPM 

 I feel so grateful for this opportunity and for the mentorship and affirmations I’ve received from Nina Lee-Aquino’s throughout the Foundry program where I gave birth to this story, Marjorie Chan for her continued support and care and Ange Loft for her playfulness and brilliant imagination. Workshops can often feel production-centric, but by prioritizing my community members to come to the reading instead of opening an industry-invite at this stage — was a way for me to empower myself to lead the workshop on my own terms. These moments are rare….feeling like you are exactly where you’re supposed to be, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing…I’m still BUZZing! Haha! ”

— རིན་ཆེན་སྒྲོལ་མ་ | Rinchen Dolma

Storytelling experimentation with 'Transfers'

“Running workshops at TPM gave us the chance to explore a hybridized process of working with community members as well as professional performers in tandem.


We discovered an effective way to support the TTC operators telling and retelling their experiences in a way that felt present and dynamic each time. We also had the space to explore different mediums for presenting their stories–finally landing on an audio experiment using the ECHOES app along the 75 Sherbourne bus route.”

— Lucy Coren

Variety of bus transfers that have been photoshopped with random text, instead of the station name. Such as, Whose wig? Happy Birthday, Bendy Bus, John

Workshopping and expanding 'Erased'

“With BUZZ we were able to play, explore, experiment and develop the world of our new play, ERASED, without the pressure of production. 

This rare workshop opportunity within the Mainspace was tripled with the support of Marjorie and Indrit; their insights were truly invaluable — we left with a more expansive vision than when we entered.  We listened to our audience feedback intently after our workshop showing, received valuable insight as to what resonated and what did not — this helped the development of the script, and as a theatre working on New Writing, this is integral to the development of the story. But also, we explored the sonic world, the physical world and used TPM as a site-specific space … we could dream big because BUZZ allowed us the freedom to do so! “

— Coleen Shirin MacPherson, Open Heart Surgery Theatre

And that is a wrap-up of our 21.22 Buzz in-development program! We’ll be announcing the artists developing their works in 22.23 season shortly. Some workshops are open to public, so make sure to follow us on social media or sign up for our newsletters to stay updated on what’s happening behind our red doors, and opportunities such as call for submissions.

Check out the works going on stage

Okay, you can stop now by Shakeil Rollock. Shakeil’s movement is collaged one after the other as he dances, making the poster appear like there are four shakeils. He is wearing a neutral grey shirt with jeans and sneakers, dancing in front of a large concrete building.

In our 22.23 season we have two shows: Rubble and Okay, you can stop now which were part of our Buzz in-development program in the last few years. These productions will have their world premiere in 2022-2023. Tickets go on sale September 1!

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