Celebrating 15 years

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Learn About Our 2018 RGTC Recipients’ Projects!

Yolanda Bonnell and Elizabeth Staples in 'White Girls in Mocassins' at the Rhubarb Festival, February 2018 (Dahlia Katz)Studio 180 Theatre was proud to act as a recommender for the Ontario Arts Council Recommender Grants for Theatre Creators program (formerly Theatre Creators’ Reserve) for the ninth year! For many of the creators whose projects earned our recommendation, the first half of 2018 has been a busy period of development. We are delighted to introduce these eight projects to you—some of them, perhaps for the first time—and share where they’re at as we head into the summer months.

2018 RGTC RECIPIENTS

Bilal Baig, blue eyes killed him without blinking
Yolanda Bonnell, White Girls in Moccasins
Broadleaf Theatre, The Chemical Valley Project
Sunny Drake, CHILD-ISH
Izad Etemadi, We Are Not The Others
Natasha Greenblatt & Rimah Jabr, Two Birds One Stone
Sam Khalilieh, Palestineman
Andrea Scott, Controlled Damage


bilal baig

bilal baig

BILAL BAIG – blue eyes killed him without blinking

The title of my play is blue eyes killed him without blinking (subject to change) and it’s about all the ways in which South Asian folks don’t show up for Black folks and how we perpetuate and benefit from anti-black racism – all set in a Baskin Robbins!

The play is currently under-going a major makeover! There was once upon a time a first full draft and now that’s being torn apart and character relationships are shifting and I’m aiming for a brand new second draft by September 2018, with the support of Matt McGeachy through the Natural Resources program at Factory.

Getting support from Studio 180 through the RGTC program means that I get to dedicate more focused time on hanging out with my characters – which means A LOT because it allows me to deepen my understanding of the work while also stressing less about money for a little bit! I would love to get to a second full draft by the fall of this year, and hopefully soon after hear the play aloud and work on it in a workshop setting with actors and dramaturges! And, getting feedback specifically from Black and South Asian communities on the work and how it makes them feel.

Yolanda Bonnell

Yolanda Bonnell

YOLANDA BONNELL – White Girls in Moccasins 

The piece follows a young Indigenous girl searching for her cultural identity in a whitewashed world. With the help of her inner white girl and the ancestral voice of a river, the story is told through movement, song, poetry and wheel of fortune.

I was fortunate enough to have had a 30-minute excerpt performance of the piece at the Rhubarb Festival at Buddies in Bad Times (pictured above).  During that time, I decided to add a third character to what was a two hander. I was really happy with the response at Rhubarb and the additional storyteller so my next step was to go back to the full script and add that character in.  Luckily, I was accepted into the Banff Playwright’s Lab with this project in April where I was able to workshop and have writing time for two weeks.

I’m currently in the process of writing a TAC grant to fund a two-week workshop where I can have actors come in and read and play.  When we did Rhubarb, I performed in it. In Banff, I had access to actors, but minimally so I’m looking forward to bringing in three actors and bring back Clare Preuss as director and just have some more development time with artists.  I really want to focus on the presence of the Ancestral River character (Ziibi) and how that presence affects the other two.

Kevin Matthew Wong in The Chemical Valley Project (Photo by Dahlia Katz)
Kevin Matthew Wong in The Chemical Valley Project (Photo by Dahlia Katz)

Broadleaf Theatre – The Chemical Valley Project

The Chemical Valley Project is a multimedia solo show about Canadian environmental racism, colonization and environmentalism. It is co-created by myself, Kevin Matthew Wong (pictured) and Julia Howman, with the dramaturgy and advisement of Vanessa Gray and Lindsay Beze Gray, two incredibly inspiring water protectors and siblings from Aamjiwnaang First Nation.

This work is in constant development and is re-adapted for every performance to reflect the political and environmental realities of the day. The show started a year and a half ago as a 10 minute documentary-theatre vignette that highlighted Vanessa Gray’s 2015 shut down of the Line 9 pipeline, we then did SummerWorks 2017 with a 30 minute version, and we’ve gradually expanded to a 65 minute touring production that has been presented in Kitchener-Waterloo, Vancouver, Victoria, and is currently in Braunschweig Germany for Festival Theatreformen. We are working towards a run in Theatre Passe Muraille‘s season in April 2019, and continued touring in Canada and beyond. 

We want to continue to localize conversations on environmentalism and to develop a greater sense of stakes and hope in the work, and to as continue to refine our visual storytelling. www.broadleaftheatre.com

Sunny Drake (Photo by Tania Anderson)
Sunny Drake (Photo by Tania Anderson)

Sunny Drake – CHILD-ISH

CHILD-ISH: a verbatim play for adult actors drawn from interviews with children about love & dating. Actors will perform as adults (not pretend to be kids) and kids’ exact words are re-contextualized into adult situations. The project aims to uncover & even transform the way we see love, in both kids & adults.  

I’ve done over 30 interviews and recently finished a first full draft of the script. We did a dramaturgy skills development workshop with our young dramaturgs (aged 8,10 and 13) and then a 1.5 day workshop with actors and young dramaturgs. The work is in residence with Nightswimming, and Theatre Passe Muraille are a development partner.

Having Studio 180 believe strongly in this unusual work was important to me personally – it’s wonderful to have a theatre company that I respect, champion the work.

Izad Etemadi

Izad Etemadi

Izad Etemadi – We Are Not The Others

We Are Not The Others is a verbatim play dealing with the experiences of immigrant women navigating through life in Canada as a newcomer. The piece is based off of research done by Dr. Mirna Carranza at McMaster University.

The play has gone through two major rewrites. It has played at the Hamilton Fringe Festival as well as a special 3 day run at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Currently, the material is delivered as a series of monologues woven together by more poetic group scenes. Each monologue is based off of a real woman’s interview transcript. The piece is currently touring to select universities and social work conferences.

Audiences have really responded well to the power of the group scenes. The next stage of development is experimental. I am turning each monologue into a group scene to see how that impacts each characters story and how the overall narrative is received by the audience. I hope that this show can continue to perform at conferences / universities and eventually into the public school system.

rimah jabr and natasha greenblatt - two birds one stone
rimah jabr and natasha greenblatt - two birds one stone

Natasha Greenblatt & Rimah Jabr – Two Birds One Stone

Rimah Jabr was born a Muslim Palestinian, Natasha Greenblatt was born a Jewish Canadian. Two Birds One Stone investigates their connection to what might be the same house in Israel/Palestine.

Featuring two dynamic performances from two very different performers playing dozens of characters on both sides of the wall, Two Birds One Stone asks complicated questions about identity, privilege, and home. 

The RGTC helped us spend a week in the studio digging into the script with dramaturge Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman in December 2017.

We are presenting a run at the Tarragon Workspace June 21st-30th!

Sam Kalilieh
Sam Kalilieh

Sam Kalilieh – PALESTINEMAN

PALESTINEMAN is obscene and semi-biographical. The play is in a relatively late stage of development as it’s been 10 years since I first started writing it. I also did a workshop reading of it at last year’s Toronto Fringe Festival under the CDAP program.

The support of the RGTC program has been integral in giving me the time and space (both physical and intellectual) to work on the piece AND feel like my financial and personal commitments aren’t suffering.

My goals are to access the directorial and dramaturgical brilliance of local artistic superstar Sarah Kitz to help me finish the play, then premiere it in Toronto in 2019/2020. After that, the world.

andrea scott

andrea scott

Andrea Scott, Controlled Damage

Controlled Damage is about Viola Desmond who, later this year, will be featured on the Canadian $10 banknote as the first solo woman on our money. Viola Desmond was forcibly removed from a movie theatre in 1946 when she refused to move from the whites-only section. She was imprisoned and convicted of defrauding the province of Nova Scotia of one penny. When she fought to overturn the conviction she lost. My play examines the impact her decision to fight the status quo had on Halifax and ultimately the resulting civil rights ramifications.

Currently the draft is at a really great place and ready for a full one or two week workshop. An excerpt of the play was read in Halifax at Eastern Front Theatre but I am ready, and need, to see a full reading of the almost 2 hour play. I have been engaged to be the resident artist at bcurrent to work on this play and I am talking with Megan Watson at the Grand Theatre to continue developing the story. This play is filled with dancing, music, fiddling, and text that interweaves history with the lives of real people to create a tapestry that reflects our entire country.

The support of the RGTC meant that I could completely commit to creating and nurturing a big Canadian story about an important, but marginalized, black woman who influenced the rights we take for granted.


Photo credits: Yolanda Bonnell and Elizabeth Staples in ‘White Girls in Mocassins’ at the Rhubarb Festival, February 2018 by Dahlia Katz; Kevin Matthew Wong by Dahlia Katz, Sunny Drake by Tania Anderson.