Digital Transformation Project

“Once upon a time, theatre did not use electric lights or projections.  Digital components will continue to be a part of our future theatrical vocabulary, and we want to ensure that our artists and our building are ready for this evolution.”
-Marjorie Chan, Artistic Director | TPM

With the generous support of Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Trillium Foundation,  TPM is excited to delve into digital explorations with the new Digital Creators Lab and a bold Backspace Renovation as part of the 21.22 season. We are thrilled to invite you to join our 21.22 digital transformation project— and it all begins with a series of FREE virtual public workshops this fall!

Public Workshops

These upcoming virtual workshops will introduce you to the digital advisors and Lab dramaturges. The workshops are FREE and open to the public. They will be held virtually on zoom and registration is required.

October 1, 1-3pm: Sharon Clark, RAUCOUS — Introduction to Immersive storytelling

Raucous is an ever-evolving collective of theatre makers, technologists and designers who investigate how theatre can be made more immediate, urgent and immersive for an audience. Creative Director of Raucous, Sharon Clark, introduces the collective and their work in immersive storytelling. 

October 16, 3-5pm:  Sammy Chien, Chimerik — Multi-dimensional and Multi-Sensorial Storytelling: Weaving New Media Art, Dance-technology and Interdisciplinary Performance into an Expanded Spiritual Journey

While we’re shedding away the old system that may not work for us anymore, we’re embracing, learning, and growing rapidly as we entering into new worlds that our deeper purpose has been calling us for, Sammy has been deeply investigating the roles and responsibility of artists/creators in relationship with humanity in bigger pictures. In this presentation, Sammy will share some of the highlight of his past decade of art work, especially focus on new media art, dance-technology and interdisciplinary performance in transcultural contexts. Moreover, he will demonstrate some of the process of adapting live performance to virtual format, inspiring the viewers to activate their imaginations beyond the conventional limitations.  

October 21, 2-4pm:  Jess Watkin, Marjorie Chan, Indrit Kasapi — Accessibility in Digital Projects 

Jess, Marjorie and Indrit will share all their learnings from their experiences with accessibility initiatives within a digital context. Initiatives that will be covered are Relaxed Performances, ASL Interpretation, Captioning, and Audio Description and how these initiatives change (or not) within the digital realm.

Digital Creators Lab

Luke Reece, Katie Ready-Walters, Theatre du Poulet (Carmen Lee and Roland Au) and Nautanki Bazaar (Himanshu Sitlani & Neha Poduval) are collaged on top of the neon green graphic, in front of red vertical lines.

TPM has partnered with RAUCOUS (Bristol, UK) and Chimerik 似不像 Collective (Vancouver, BC) as Digital Advisors to our Lab participants: Luke Reece, Katie Ready-Walters, Theatre du Poulet (Carmen Lee and Roland Au) and Nautanki Bazaar (Himanshu Sitlani & Neha Poduval) as they learn, explore and imagine new visions for their works from conception to a 2022 workshop in our newly equipped and accessible Backspace. 

About the digital advisors

Raucous is an ever-evolving collective of theatre makers, technologists and designers who investigate how theatre can be made more immediate, urgent and immersive for an audience.Together we harness different creative cultures and practices to build and tell stories that are vibrant, vital and visceral, creating theatre stories that have digital technology sewn into their very narrative fabric, underscored by original music, film and performance.

We explore how each beat of the story can be delivered in the most immediate way – whether that be by smell, live action, directional sound, wearable technology, music or augmented reality. However, the story is always the thing – it drives every decision we make and every direction we take

Chimerik 似不像 is an interdisciplinary collective consisted by artists from underrepresented groups (POC, immigrant, queer and women in tech/media arts) with various age groups, backgrounds and levels, from film/video, new media, VJ, VR, projection & lighting design, experimental sound, visual arts and contemporary dance/theatre performance. Chimerik is co-founded by Vancouver based film, visual, new media and sound artists Sammy Chien and Shang-Han Chien. After learning real-time performance software from Troika Ranch (NYC/Berlin), both artists continue their deep interest in interdisciplinary works and forge deep connections between image, sound, and movement. They have collaborated visually, aurally and conceptually in numerous multi-disciplinary and research projects which have exhibited across Canada, Western Europe, and Asia in dance, film, music and digital arts festivals.

About the artists

Katie Nora Ready-Walters is a theatre artist and writer creating with the goal of celebrating diverse abilities and varied ways of thinking. Katie writes about themes of communication as informed by her experiences with her learning disability, and the journey she took to navigate the mental illness that she faced in her youth. Favourite theatre experiences have included ‘Small Alison’ in Fun Home (QMT) and Oh, What a Lovely War (Hart House). You may have also seen Katie at Soulpepper – when she scanned your ticket and ushered you to a seat. And, if you saw Dear Evan Hansen at Mirvish, you may be carrying around a tote bag Katie designed. Katie has also worked with Toronto Fringe, Thousand Islands Playhouse, and Spider WebShow (FoldA). She has written for Intermission Magazine and She Does The City. Samples of Katie’s work and writing are available online at KatieReadyWalters.com and on Instagram @Katie.Nora

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, and sits on the Board of Directors for the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres as chair of the Labour Relations portfolio. Through Luke’s work as an artistic leader within the national arts community, he advocates for engaging and nuanced storytelling that challenges Canadian audiences. He is one of Toronto’s most decorated slam poets, and has represented the country internationally. In 2020 Luke was featured performing for former Toronto Raptor and NBA Champion Serge Ibaka on his Instagram Talent Show. In 2021 Luke will be included in York University’s inaugural Top 30 Changemakers Under 30 list.

Nautanki Bazaar is a collective started by Neha Poduval and Himanshu Sitlani with a mandate that focusses on South Asian artists and art. Their debut play “An IMM-PERMANENT Resident” was developed at the Factory Theatre and is slated to be a part of Why Not Theatre’s RISER Project but is on hold due to COVID-19.

During they lockdown they co-wrote and performed two Live Virtual shows, “The PCO Test” and “Diwali Sucks!” for Akvarious Productions in Mumbai, India via Instagram.

In August 2021, they premiered a pre-recorded on-demand show “Stories of a Dish” for the Mississauga Multilingual Fringe Festival as well the Edinburgh Fringe.

Neha Poduval is a trained actor, 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 has worked with DLT Theatre (The Stranger / Summerworks 2015, Off Limits Zone / Luminato 2016) and Alumnae Theatre (Granite Girls / New Ideas Festival 2017). She co-founded Nautanki Bazaar in 2019 with her husband. Together they wrote their first play ‘An IMM-Permanent Resident’ which was developed at the Factory Theatre which was to premier as part of The RISER Project, but is on hold due to COVID-19. In January 2021, she launched her YouTube Cooking Channel “Mustard Tempered Dreams” where she shares her love for food with easy to make Indian and global vegetarian recipes. Neha directed her first virtual play “Stories of a Dish” which premiered at the Mississauga Multilingual Fringe Festival in 2021. The show was also presented at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Neha is also a certified Yoga Teacher and has been teaching Yoga across various studios, community and senior centres in Toronto.

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 eight years with QTP 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, working as Patron Services Manager at Factory Theatre, 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 his wife, Neha Poduval. Together they wrote their first play ‘An IMM-Permanent Resident’ which was developed at the Factory Theatre which was to premier as part of The RISER Project, but is on hold due to COVID-19. Himanshu wrote and performed in Nautanki Bazaar’s “Stories of a Dish” which was presented as a virtual show at the Mississauga Multilingual Fringe Festival as well as the Edinburgh Fringe.

Theatre du Poulet is a theatre company and non-profit organization based in Halifax, with a specialization in puppetry, mask performance and physical theatre. The company is fronted by artistic director Chun Shing Au (Roland) and executive director Carmen Lee, an immigrant couple hailing from Hong Kong. Before Theatre du Poulet was born in 2016, the two first met in The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts where Roland majored in Acting and Carmen majored in Stage, Events, and Arts Management. With a combined experience of nearly two decades, the couple has travelled and performed in Ireland, Hong Kong and Canada. The duo’s passion for theatre is led by fusing political, environmental, and social issues with art: it is their belief that using puppetry and physical theatre is a powerful and language-free tool that reaches the widest of crowds. As Nova Scotia’s first Asian-owned theatre, the company is ready to share stories that uncover unheard voices to Canada’s diverse community.

About the lab dramaturges

Jess Watkin is a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies with research focusing on Disabled artists in Canada and their creation processes, dramaturgies, and support systems. She is a Blind and Disabled scholar, interdisciplinary artist, dramaturg, consultant, educator, and reader. She has been published in the Canadian Theatre Review, The Drama Review, and Theatre Research in Canada. Jess is working to co-create definitions of what Accessibility Design and Disability Dramaturgy mean in a Canadian context.

Born in Toronto to settlers from Hong Kong, Marjorie Chan is the Artistic Director of Theatre Passe Muraille. As an award-winning interdisciplinary artist, she primarily identifies as a writer with specific interest in contemporary opera and collective forms, while also maintaining an active practice as a dramaturge and director. 

Born in  Albania, Indrit has made Tkarón:to his home since 2000. He is the Founding and current Artistic Producer for lemonTree creations and Associate Artistic Director for Theatre Passe Muraille. Indrit has been a company member of the award winning dance theatre company CORPUS since 2008. Through Corpus he has helped develop and premiere two new works (Machina Nuptialis, House Guests) and continued touring other repertoire to North America, Europe and Asia. He’s a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, a 2018 Harold Award Winner and a 2020 Dora Nominated performer (Box 4901, Ensemble). Indrit believes his art must provide necessary discourse to fight against white supremacy, capitalist ideals, heteronormativity and misogyny. 

About the producer

རིན་ཆེན་སྒྲོལ་མ་|Rinchen Dolma (ཁོ་/མོ་/she/her) was born in Kathmandu, Nepal and is currently based in Tkarón:to. She is a community arts practitioner, performer, an emerging playwright, dramaturge and director. She is also the founder and Artistic Director of MADE IN EXILE, an arts-based initiative that engages young Tibetan creatives in exploring their complex identities through contemporary mediums of storytelling in exile. Rinchen developed སྒྲོལ་མ་ [DOLMA] at Aki Studios at part of the 2019 Paprika Festival’s Directors Lab. Most recently, Rinchen joined Factory Theatre’s Foundry 2021 program, a new work creation group facilitated by Nina Lee Aquino, where she has been developing a full-length play piece called “July 1st.” She is the recipient of the 2020 Metcalf Foundation Performing Arts Program in Artistic Direction under Marjorie Chan.

For questions and inquiries about the Digital Creators Lab please reach out to རིན་ཆེན་སྒྲོལ་མ་|Rinchen Dolma, DCL Producer at rinchend@passemuraille.on.ca 

Backspace Renovation

“This project is an important step in TPM’s vision to become a more accessible theatre on all fronts and meet the needs of the many communities we want to serve.”
– Régine Cadet, Managing Director | TPM

We are building a digital creation hub that will better serve our community and support remote artists alike. 

To assist in making the transformation possible, we are pleased to have Charissa Wilcox, a production manager well known to the theatre and circus community, co-ordinating the Backspace Renovation at TPM. In addition to supporting the Digital Creators Lab, the Backspace Renovation will better support digital project creation by building a more accessible, and welcoming environment for theatre and dance. The stage is being removed and a sprung floor will be installed throughout. Flexible and comfortable seating will replace our infamous benches, and will be completely retractable in order to provide an open working space.

This past year we explored innovative virtual performances and saw its potential and importance, so we are inspired to also equip the Backspace with the latest in immersive techniques. Even as live theatre begins to return, we wish to help artists augment their work with digital resources and equipment — while continuing to reach audiences who may not be able to attend in person. A space that historically only housed up to 50 people, will now have the opportunity to stream worldwide beyond the boundaries of our walls.

As we prepare to announce our 21.22 productions (in-person and digital) this coming winter, stay tuned for updates on the renovation and the grand re-opening of the Backspace in 2022!

Thank you!

The Digital Transformation Project is made possible by the generous support by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

We are very grateful to the following artists and individuals who offered their consultation and advice as we began the Digital Transformation Project (in alphabetical order):

Augusto Bitter
Cameron Davis
Shay Erlich
Aaron Jan

Camellia Koo
Jacob Niedzwiecki
Keshia Palm
Charlie Petch

Paul David Power
Peter Riddihough
Jen Roy
Trevor Schwellnus

Kate Ann Vandermeer
Laura Warren
Tristan Whiston
Kevin Matthew Wong
Echo Zhou