Celebrating 15 years

Studio 180 IN DEVELOPMENT

Ellie Ellwand, Bria McLaughlin and Sherman Tsang in a Studio 180 IN DEVELOPMENT workshop for Amy Rutherford's MORTIFIED, April 2018.PLAY READING SERIES

Studio 180 IN DEVELOPMENT gives Canadian theatre creators a helping hand as they develop new works exploring provocative social and political issues. We provide creators the time, space and support required to bring burgeoning ideas to the stage.

In 2018/19, we will be presenting school readings of IN DEVELOPMENT projects in the fall, and both public and school readings in the spring. Admission to public readings is by donation.

Bessie ChengCynthia Jimenez-HicksAlison LawrenceJonathan Wilson Natasha Greenblatt and Yolanda Bonnell


Public Readings

Our Spring Public Readings of The Election, The Right and A Public Display of Affection will be taking place in the Workspace at Tarragon Theatre from May 6-17. Exact dates to be announced in the final week of March.


Learn More: Our 2018/19 Season • Student Bookings • Past Years of IN DEVELOPMENT

 


Studio 180 IN DEVELOPMENT Partner

K.M. Hunter Foundation

2018/19 projects


DirtBessie Cheng

by Bessie Cheng

Bessie Cheng is an award-winning playwright and performer, who graduated from the Playwriting and Devised Theatre program at York University. Her play, Dirt, was originally workshopped and developed through Factory Theatre’s Foundry Program, and was recently a recipient of the Ellen Ross Stuart Awards from the Ontario Arts Foundation. Bessie’s recent and forthcoming credits include: Yellow Rabbit (Soulpepper), Silk Bath (Next Stage Festival), and Lion Womxn (Summerworks/The Amy Project). Cahoots Theatre named Bessie as one of their 30 theatre-makers that will shape the next 30 years in Canadian Theatre.

We are grateful to the K.M. Hunter Foundation for their support of this project. Dirt received a reading in Fall 2018. 

About the project:

“My play Dirt is a queer coming of age story that follows two boys of opposing ethnic groups growing up as best friends. Half the play takes place in Urumqi, China, and the other half in Toronto. Dirt explores the intersection between queerness and race, as well as the idea of power being a violent force. It has been workshopped with the Foundry program at Factory, as well as House and Body, but I still see the play needing a lot of work.”

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AppleCynthia Jimenez-Hicks

by Cynthia Jimenez-Hicks

Originally from Edmonton, Cynthia trained as an actor at the National Theatre School and is a Toronto based actor, writer and producer. Cynthia’s theatre credits include: Girls Like That (Tarragon Theatre); Boys, Girls and Other Mythological Creatures, Spelling 2-5-5 (Carousel Players); Pinocchio, Robin Hood (Torrent Productions); The Hothouse Prince (Teatro La Quindicina); Hello Again (The Artillery Collective); Scorched (NTS); Cleave (New Words Festival). Upcoming: Cynthia will be performing in The Candidate and The Party by Kat Sandler premiering at the Citadel Theatre this spring. Cynthia has proudly participated in the development of many new Canadian plays; she was in fu-GEN’s 2017 Kitchen Creation Unit and is currently in the second season of developing her play, Apple, as the Studio 180 RBC Emerging Playwright.

Apple was also part of IN DEVELOPMENT in 2017/18 and received a reading in Fall 2018.

About the project:

Based on the playwright’s real life experience growing up attending and leading annual youth abstinence retreats, Apple explores critical themes of consent, choice, sexuality, and faith. Framed theatrically by a “Right to Wear White” retreat, Apple explores these issues through the young characters of Faith and Cain as they grapple with questions of faith, identity, and parental pressure, and struggle to make their own choices.

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The RightAlison Lawrence

by Alison Lawrence

Alison is a writer, actor and independent theatre producer. She co-wrote the play bittergirl, the book Bittergirl: Getting Over Getting Dumped (published by Penguin Canada, Plume U.S. and in Brazil) and Bittergirl – the musical all with her creative collaborators Annabel Fitzsimmons and Mary Francis Moore. Bittergirl – the Musical premiered at the Charlottetown Festival in 2015 and has since been produced across Canada at the Citadel Theatre, RMTC, the Arts Club in Vancouver and on tour, the Globe Theatre, and by popular demand again this summer in Charlottetown.

Alison’s other recent work includes Piece by Piece, which was produced as part of the Next Stage Festival in Toronto and in the New American Voices series in London, England.  Her play The Thing Between Us was shortlisted for PGC’s Carol Bolt Award, and she is currently workshopping a new romantic comedy for the Lighthouse Festival. Other plays include The Catering Queen, which she also starred in, and And All For Love, which was developed by and premiered at the NAC’s English Theatre in Ottawa. As an actor she has worked at theatres across the country, including in the Studio 180 productions of The Laramie Project.

The Right was also part of IN DEVELOPMENT in 2017/18 and received a reading in Fall 2018. It will also be a part of our Spring 2019 series.

About the project:

The Right is about the legally and morally murky world of Medical Assistance in Dying. Late last year I was told by a doctor that the defining term in the Medical Assistance in Dying legislation, Bill C-14, is that a person qualifies when death is “reasonably foreseeable,” which is “a statement of law that has no equivalent in medicine.” I began to realize that the general public for the most part misunderstands how Bill C-14 is applied and who qualifies. At the same time, the passing of the bill hasn’t ended the controversy over Medical Assistance in Dying. If anything, it has intensified it. So what does that mean for someone who wants to die? […]

“I would like to engage in these big ideas about physician-assisted end of life by placing the professionals who deal with the law in a complicated emotional situation where their own reactions might surprise them, and our audience.”

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A Public Display of AffectionJonathan Wilson

by Jonathan Wilson
Directed by Chris Earle

An award winning playwright and actor, Jonathan’s plays include My Own Private Oshawa (Dora, Chalmer’s and Governors General’s Award Nominee), Kilt (Dora and Drama Desk nominee) and Well. My Own Private Oshawa was also filmed as a CTV Comedy Special (Gemini Nominee). Jonathan was also playwright in residence at the Tarragon Theatre and worked as actor/writer/ improviser/ with The Second City Toronto for seven productions. Other stage appearances include The Normal Heart (Studio 180), My Night With Reg (Studio 180), The Lion King (Mirvish/Disney-Dora Award Winner), Comedy Of Errors (Neptune) and The Clockmaker (1000 Islands Playhouse). Jonathan is also part of the long form improvisation group Not To Be Repeated that has performed theatrical runs at the Tarragon Theatre and was the basis for a comedy series on The Comedy Network.

A Public Display of Affection received a reading in December 2018 and will also be a part of our Spring 2019 series.

About the project:

“On a drunken late night return to Toronto’s queer Village, a middle age man searches for the lost friends and landmarks of his youth and finds they are all slowly disappearing and wonders if just maybe, at long last, so is he?

How has he survived when so many he knew and loved
have turned to dust?

‘It seems I’m always tripping over dead bodies. Some in my mind. Some right there on the ground.’

As the night turns to morning he crosses paths with old friends and lovers and goes on a time-traveling search for those who have vanished; an embrace of those who remain and an ongoing struggle to tell the difference. And there is talk of queer blood on the streets. This time a serial killer. Again? Still?

‘Queer people are possessed with the most extraordinary talents, but do you know the most amazing one of all? Our ability to disappear. It’s true. I can completely vanish right in front of your eyes. Just watch me.’

The play is to be performed as a comic/tragic solo monologue with various characters from past and present and bears personal witness to 40yrs of Toronto’s queer history.

Starting in 1979 with the egg pelted Halloween drag balls on Yonge Street, to the mass arrests and demonstrations of the infamous bath-house raids and the short lived sense of empowerment and change that came in their aftermath and then being confronted with the reality of a devastating plague. Queer blood in the streets. Again? Still?

This piece was originally conceived as a personal memory play but has become much more a play connected to current headlines and tensions with daily news informing it’s creation. It turns out battles thought long won are still being fought and a tentative relationship with authority is tested again as a killer was seemingly allowed to roam among us undeterred.

The piece will also ask the question of whether a distinct queer culture still exits at all or has been consumed, whitewashed and rebranded for the larger dominant culture? The play examines queer lives being erased. Erased by our families, erased by disease, erased by murder and even erased by ourselves.

The play is part history lesson, part stand-up comedy and ultimately, as is all theatre, a public display of affection.

This play also presents an opportunity for sharing history in terms of personal stories from queer elders and also for post show talk-backs and engagement with the younger queer community looking for those connections to the past.

The first draft of the play is currently being completed and I am working towards a workshop including some public readings and further engagement with the Toronto Gay Archives for historical accuracy.”

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The ElectionNatasha Greenblatt

by Natasha Greenblatt and Yolanda Bonnell

Natasha Greenblatt is a Jewish Canadian theatre maker, performer, and the Co-Artistic director of Two Birds Theatre. She won a Dora award for her performance in Get Yourself Home Skyler James by Jordan Tannahill (Roseneath Theatre). Her play The Peace Maker premiered at the Next Stage Festival and was recently published by Playwrights Canada Press as part of the anthology Double Exposure: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diaspora. Natasha’s collaboration with Rimah Jabr, Two Birds One Stone, will tour Canada in 2019/20. Natasha is currently developing a new piece with her mother, Kate Lushington, which will be presented at the 40th Rhubarb Festival. She is an Associate Artist with Common Boots Theatre and is excited and grateful to be able to continue her collaboration with Yolanda Bonnell and the entire company on The Election. 

Yolanda BonnellYolanda Bonnell is a Bisexual/Pansexual/Queer emerging performer and playwright of Anishinaabe/Ojibwe and South Asian descent, hailing from the Fort William First Nation Indian Reserve in Thunder Bay, ON.

She is a graduate of Humber College’s Theatre Performance program where she was the recipient of the Board of Governor’s Achievement Award.  Her one woman physical theatre show bug*, directed by Cole Alvis, premiered at Native Earth’s Weesageechak Begins to Dance in 2015 and at the 37th annual Rhubarb Festival in 2016 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.  It also appeared as a one off in Summerworks 2016 as part of a workshop residency and is set for a Toronto premier at the Luminato Festival in 2018 followed by a tour.Yolanda was also a part of The Foundry, a creator’s unit at Factory Theatre as part of Factory Wired, where her first full length play, Scanner** was workshopped. Yolanda was also a part of the Animikiig Creator’s Unit at Native Earth Performing Arts where her new play, White Girls in Moccasins*** was being developed with dramaturgy by Clare Preuss.

The Election will be a part of our Spring 2019 series.

About the project:

During the federal election of 2015, Jennifer Brewin enlisted Natasha Greenblatt, Yolanda Bonnell, Qasim Khan, Anand Rajaram and Courtenay Stevens to volunteer on five different election campaigns across the province, and commissioned them to document their experiences. They campaigned for Liberal, NDP and Conservative candidates in rural, suburban and urban ridings.
The company members come from Ojibwe, Jewish, Polish, Tamil and Pakistani backgrounds, identifying as straight, queer and bi-sexual. Their identities informed their experiences in ways that were challenging and surprising. Some of the creators were politically engaged before the election, others had never campaigned before; everyone became emotionally invested in the process.
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Photo at top: Ellie Ellwand, Bria McLaughlin and Sherman Tsang in the April 2018 reading of Mortified by Amy Rutherford (credit: Dahlia Katz).