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AutoShow

 

Photography by Keith Barker. Click here for photo credits.

Original poster for the Toronto Fringe Festival production of AutoShow.
Designed by Amy Tepperman.

About AutoShow

AutoShow is comprised of seven 10-minute original plays by seven different playwrights, each written to be performed in actual cars.  Each short play explores with voyeuristic intensity the many ways in which we experience cars, from the inspiring ideal that is advertised to the buyer, to the blunt reality of metal and gasoline.  Dare to leave your seatbelt unbuckled!

Production History

AutoShow was Convergence Theatre’s inaugural production, premiering at the Toronto Fringe Festival July 6-16, 2006.  It took place all over the parking lot of Royal St. George’s College, in the Annex neighbourhood of Toronto.

The show was named #4 in NOW Magazine’s “Top Ten Productions of the Year”, and won the “Outstanding New Play, Production, and Ensemble” Fringe Awards.

AutoShow was re-imagined for Kingston's Kick & Push Festival in the summer of 2015, with four new plays by playwrights with strong ties to Kingston.  

A mash-up of plays from both productions were used in our annual Passionate Players fundraiser event ReCast in July 2017.

Audience Experience

When the audience arrived at the parking lot, they were greeted as if they were attending an actual auto show. Each person was handed a coloured key – cobalt, copper, champagne, chrome & magenta – each colour representing its own group of about twenty people. 

Before separating into these groups, the entire audience gathered to meet the five AutoHosts in a flashy opening dance number, followed by the first play, Hawk Ltd., which everyone watched together.

Then, each AutoHost toured their group around the parking lot where the audience discovered five plays in five different cars, one after another. This meant the actors repeated the plays five times in a row, each one needing to start and finish at the exact same time in order for the cycle to work. 

The full audience then gathered back together again for the final play, Waiting To Happen, about a car crash, after which the full company of eighteen actors performed a finale dance number on top of the smashed cars. 

Each audience member saw all of the material in a different order depending on what key they were given at the start. The element of discovery was huge, with a new surprise around every corner.

Reviews

NNNNN — There’s a surprise around every turn in this unique theatrical experience, splendidly staged, filled with laughs and a few thoughtful, upsetting moments. The exhilarating production and sharp performances delivered a smooth ride.  One of the most adventurous shows in this year’s Fringe.
Jon Kaplan, NOW Magazine
I loved it. It was a huge cast... A lot of local writers get featured in this - it’s a great Toronto story… A fascinating experience.
Marichka Melnyk, CBC Radio, “Here & Now”
A well-planned evening with all the other things that make for good theatre and bad car commercials. Plus, there’s some Fame-style dancing on a car, and who doesn’t want to see that?
Alison Broverman, National Post

Previews

"Car Hop" by Jon Kaplan Published on July 5, 2006

"Car Hop"
by Jon Kaplan
Published on July 5, 2006

"Dare to leave your seat belt unbuckled" by Jessica Freiman  Published on July 6, 2006

"Dare to leave your seat belt unbuckled"
by Jessica Freiman
Published on July 6, 2006

Audience Testimonials

You’ll never know what to expect next in a series of non-related stories, set inside different cars and characters. Stories range from touching to hilarious, but never predictable. The logistics on this one must have been a nightmare to set up. Unique in presentation style!
Rod (Eye Magazine Reader Review)
The site-specific format is a fun and unique theatre experience that is purely Fringe. Where else can you sit in the back seat of a car and witness a play being performed in the front? I’ve been telling my office-mates about the experience all day.
Nephandus (Eye Magazine Reader Review)
I saw the show last night with someone who isn’t a theatre person and they loved it. To see a play in short spurts like we did, with walking from scene to scene, being outdoors, is a great concept. Strong writing, and a strong ensemble. There are enough scenes in this play that everyone will find a favorite. It is a spectacle worth seeing.
Jack (Eye Magazine Reader Review)

Inside AutoShow

TORONTO FRINGE FESTIVAL
(July 2006)

Mind Over Matter by Marie Beath Badian
In a minivan outside a casino, twins Jake and Jenny wait for their mother to return.   Jenny has to pee. “Try not to think about it, Jenny.  Mom will be back soon.  If you whine and complain, you know what will happen…”  

Prodigy  (A Soundscape) by Alan Dilworth
A virtuoso violinist sits in her parents’ garage with their Honda Civic running.  Her heartless agent and her overbearing teacher are locked in the trunk.  As she madly screeches through her final performance of Paganini's Caprices, they fight for possession of her soul.

Hawk Ltd. by Brendan Gall
Alan Hawk lives and works out of his car.  He is a winner.  He can do anything he sets his mind to.  He is self-sufficient.  He is self-reliant.  He is unstoppable.  Every day is an adventure.  Let Alan Hawk take you there – and make you a winner, too.

The Drop by Jason Mitchell
Two young men have a delivery to make.  It’s rush hour.  Will they make it on time?  A meditation on speed, gridlock, and other people’s bad driving.

Out of Hades by Erin Shields
We’ve all experienced the thrill of a road trip... new vistas, new encounters, new friends….  And nobody does road trips better than the Greeks.  Haven’t you read the Odyssey?  It’s a classic – just like this story.  Who doesn’t love a classic?

Rosy by Julie Tepperman
When Rosy accepts a ride home from school from her teacher, what does she expect will happen?  Risks are taken.  Lines are crossed.  How far is Rosy prepared to go...? 

Waiting to Happen by Rick Roberts
The blaring horn, the squealing tires, the shriek of metal folding in on itself – misplace your attention for just one second, and your life can change forever.  Catastrophe or epiphany?  Keep your mind open.

new plays for THE KICK & PUSH FESTIVAL
(Kingston, Ontario, July 2015)

The Test by Alex Dault
It’s the big day. Donnie’s driving test.  But a hardboiled instructor who’s seen it all - and has the scars to prove it - isn’t about to let this rookie on the road until he can prove he’s got what it takes.

Totally Nana’s Ride by John Lazarus
When Brittany rediscovers the muscle car her grandmother used to drive, she’s instantly reconnected with her past – but needs to negotiate a trade with the new owner.  Maybe she can use her feckless boyfriend as collateral?

The Kind of Person Who Can Drive by Deborah Pearson
A member of the audience is put behind the wheel to read us a story about the first and only time a young woman ever drove that car, evoking our memories of how the first time in the driver’s seat changes us.

Legend by Kat Sandler
Prom Night. A limousine pulls into a clearing in the woods. Four friends plan to write their names in the history books by executing the most legendary graduation prank Meadowvale High has ever seen. 

Rights

The rights for AutoShow are currently available. Please direct all inquiries below. 

The Gladstone Variations

 

Photography by Keith Barker. Click here for photo credits.

Original Flyer for The Gladstone Variations, July 2007.
Designed by Amy Tepperman.

About The Gladstone Variations

The Gladstone Variations is composed of four interconnected, simultaneously performed half-hour plays that take audiences on a journey of discovery through Toronto’s historic Gladstone Hotel, where past and present collide.

The Artistic Challenge

Four playwrights – Brendan Gall, Mike McPhaden, Rick Roberts, Julie Tepperman – were each invited to write a half-hour play; not only would they be performed at The Gladstone Hotel, but they were to be inspired by its rich history and current transformation from a low-income housing complex and regular hang-out for Parkdale locals, to a boutique hotel and arts hub / events space. 

The gentrification of the building mirrored that of the neighbourhood at large; a moment in time that is beautifully captured in the documentary Last Call At The Gladstone Hotel.

The playwrights were further invited to share each other’s characters, as portrayed by the same actor.  This meant that often one actor had as little as 30 seconds to exit one play and enter another being performed elsewhere in the building.  The audience was immersed in the colliding narratives happening with clockwork precision at every turn.

Original Poster for The Gladstone Variations 2008 remount.
Designed by Amy Tepperman.

Production History

The Gladstone Variations premiered at the Toronto Fringe Festival July 4-15, 2007.  It took place all over and around Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel in the Queen West neighbourhood of Toronto. The show was named #4 in NOW Magazine’s “Top Ten Productions of the Year”, and won the “Outstanding New Play, Production, and Ensemble” Fringe Awards.

The Gladstone Variations was independently remounted the following summer (with several new surprise additions), running July 14 – August 3, 2008.  This production was named #2 in NOW Magazine’s “Top Ten Productions of the DECADE” and was nominated for four Dora Awards: Outstanding Production, Outstanding New Play, Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Performance by a Female for Janet Amos.

Audience Experience

When the audience arrived in the lobby of the hotel, they were given a hotel key card that indicated their Variation, before being directed to their starting location, where they were greeted by a concierge.

Gladstone Hotel key card

A person could see two of the four plays in an evening:  The Tearful Bride and Requiem For A Hotel made up Variation One, and The Card Trick and I Grow Old made up Variation Two. All four plays ran simultaneously and repeated twice in an evening, with the audiences often crossing paths and catching glimpses of the other plays and characters.

The show was designed so that a single evening would be fulfilling on its own, but many people returned to see the other two plays which enriched their overall experience. The random keycard people were given when they arrived determined the order in which they experienced the plays. This impacted the connections they made – connections between each story, the characters and relationships – as did the vantage points people chose for witnessing them.  In this sense, the audience was their own camera lens, choosing where to stand, choosing different perspectives, angles, which characters to zoom in on, who to keep their distance from, all the while experiencing the play communally with a group of about twenty other patrons.

The Gladstone Hotel remained a fully functioning business throughout our run, with overnight guests and patrons there to dine at the two restaurants or attend a special event. This meant both audience and actors alike were in for an exciting adventure each night, where any kind of impromptu interaction was possible.  

Read an angry letter one patron wrote to The Gladstone Hotel after witnessing a “bellhop” beat up a “homeless man” on the front steps of the hotel…

 
Footage from the 2007 Toronto Fringe Festival production of The Gladstone Variations. Produced in 2007 and 2008 by Convergence Theatre at Toronto's historic Gladstone Hotel. Video edited by Brett Christopher.
 

Reviews

NNNNN — A first-rate cast ushers you into connected worlds of dreams, memories, and lost loves… Wonderfully staged and performed…the penthouse suite of current Toronto productions – not to be missed.
Jon Kaplan, NOW Magazine
NNNNN — This is site-specific theatre at its best, and the suggestions of other dramas happening simultaneously in the hotel add to the authenticity of the experience. A must-see.
Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine
The amount of effort and ingenuity required to get all this synchronized is awe-inspiring. This is a hotel worth checking out.
Robert Cushman, National Post
★ ★ ★ 1/2 out of 4 — An ambitious undertaking requiring exacting precision, aimed at putting a new spin on the audience experience. The small audiences mean tickets are few. So if you’re lucky enough to snag one, put on a pair of comfy shoes and take the journey.
Bruce DeMara, Toronto Star
"Other Stuff"  by Lynn Slotkin Published in January 2009

"Other Stuff"
by Lynn Slotkin
Published in January 2009

"Check into the Gladstone Variations"  by Johnnie Walker Published on July 11, 2007

"Check into the Gladstone Variations"
by Johnnie Walker
Published on July 11, 2007

Previews

Convergence co-Artistic Directors  Aaron Willis & Julie Tepperman  on the cover of NOW Magazine.  Published on July 5, 2007

Convergence co-Artistic Directors Aaron Willis & Julie Tepperman on the cover of NOW Magazine.
Published on July 5, 2007

"Gladstone Hotel headlines for site-specific plays" by Erin Hatfield Published on July 16, 2008

"Gladstone Hotel headlines for site-specific plays" by Erin Hatfield
Published on July 16, 2008

"Group of Plays Performed in Toronto's Oldest Hotel" by Joseph Serge Published on July 2, 2008

"Group of Plays Performed in Toronto's Oldest Hotel" by Joseph Serge
Published on July 2, 2008

"Spotlight on Janet Amos"  by Jon Kaplan Published on July 17, 2008

"Spotlight on Janet Amos"
by Jon Kaplan
Published on July 17, 2008

Audience Testimonials

The Gladstone Variations is a great work of theatre. It’s charming and haunting, and the thematic connections between the four pieces are beautifully understated. It’s just so enjoyable to walk around The Gladstone Hotel while being told stories.
Hannah Moscovitch, playwright
The Gladstone Variations were terrific theatre. Toronto desperately needs an expansion of style in its theatrical endeavors – The Gladstone Variations offer exactly this. The method was a treat, the stories were wonderful. This was experimental theatre that worked magnificently. These two young producers are worth their weight in gold. Hang onto them!
Ross Manson, Artistic Director, Volcano Theatre
The Gladstone Variations was a mysterious, unsettling and dislocating experience like following Alice down the rabbit hole, only this time we plunged down the labyrinthine corridors and backrooms of the Gladstone looking for clues to the strange world we had landed in.
Andy McKim, Artistic Director, Theatre Passe Muraille
I experienced I Grow Old as a voyeur, an intimate friend and confessor. At times the performance was too private, like when the central character came to rest against the wall with his toes touching my folded knees. I saw him in a moment of confusion and sadness that no man should ever have to show. This is the kind of intimate, courageous, no-place-to-hide acting that borders on madness, and by watching we all went mad, to the point that the fleeting glimpse of a ghost might have been brilliant mise-en-scene or the product of a deep transformation which has taken place in ourselves.
Alon Nashman, actor & playwright
Forget that the site used made the event automatically unique and dynamic. Forget that the audience mixed throughout the shows with an innocent public. Forget that Richard Greenblatt agreed to lie face down in an alley while it rained on him and us. The only thing you need to know about The Gladstone Variations is that they were great, truly great, pieces of theatre. Often, a company that wants to use a weird place for its presentation will focus on the place at the expense of the presentation. This company has shown that they insist on quality plays, which is all I ever want, whether I’m sitting in the Tarragon or watching Greenblatt get muddy.
Michael Healey, playwright & actor

Inside The Gladstone Variations

The Tearful Bride by Rick Roberts
A Bellhop encounters a beautiful Bride as she waits tearfully for her impending Groom.  This is the story in its original form, reliably told by one of the city's best Concierges. 

Requiem for a Hotel  by Mike McPhaden
Classes collide when Rhonda, the hotel's unofficial Karaoke Queen, encounters a pair of Queen West Scenesters.  Recently barred from the Melody Bar and her weekly chance to take the stage, Rhonda finds her life – and possibly her mind – beginning to unravel.  When she becomes a diversion for two guys out on the prowl, all three of them are faced with the truth of Rhonda's place at the Gladstone.

The Card Trick by Brendan Gall
A down-and-out stranger is on the trail of a missing girl when a mysterious new lead brings him to the steps of the Gladstone. Getting inside is going to be tough; staying out of trouble is going to be impossible. Before the day is done he'll match wits with a veritable rogues gallery, including a bitter Bellhop, a Squeegie Kid with a heart of gold, a couple of smug Scenesters, an enigmatic Concierge, and a couple of other shady characters. But in order to deal with them, he's going to have to grapple with his own unraveling psyche. Can he hang on long enough to find her again?

I Grow Old by Julie Tepperman
On a Friday night in 1945, Harry Kraft and members of his Toronto baseball team “The Lizzies” went dancing at The Gladstone Hotel.  When an old and disheveled Harry returns 60 years later and requests to rent his old room, no one quite knows what to make of him.  When the old man refuses to leave, a Parkdale community social worker is called in to do a mental health assessment.  As he nears the end of his life, Harry struggles to hold on to the last strands of his memory and finally face the ghosts from his past.

 
Donors — 2008 Remount

Convergence Theatre CENTURY CLUB

Thank you to all of our generous donors who helped to make this production of The Gladstone Variations a reality...

A Stool at the Melody Bar ($1-$99)

Gideon Arthurs & Erin Shields Elizabeth Bohnen Gord Bolan & Jenny Young Naomi Campbell Gideon Forman Cookie & Sheldon Gigan Nora Gold & David Weiss Beth Horton Kyle Horton Kim Hume Anna Korteweg & Jim Davis Lili Little & Mitchell Smith Mitchell Marcus Soozie Schlanger Adam Seelig Nancy Singer Anna & Wilfred Teper Rachel Zilberg

Standard Single Room ($100-$199)

Anonymous Mark Brownell & Sue Miner David Craig Ed Elkin & Linda Lipsky Ali & Josh Engel-Yan Patricia Fagan & Adam Pettle Barbara Fingerote Sara Furnival Andy & Marjorie Gann Marcia Johnson Fides Krucker Israel Lyon & Nan Weiner Beth McAuley Allen McInnis Percy Morton Neil & Laraine Naft Harvey Savage & Ruth Leneman Miriam Schlanger Richard Seligman Trudy Shecter James Simon Dawn Singerman & Marc Andre Jacobs Cathy Smith Lorne & Maureen Switzman Diana Tabak Zeynep Uraz & Alan Vu Peter Wylde

Double Deluxe ($200-$299)

Joel Edelson Frances Enchin Jon Kaplan Lindy Miller & Jonathan Crane

Queen Size Suite ($300-$399)

Anita Shir-Jacob & Cyril Press Dr. Judith Miller

King Size Suite ($400-$499)

Karl Druckman & Lisa Gelboin

Luxury Suite ($500+)

Gloria Shulman

Penthouse Sponsor ($1000+)

The Gladstone Hotel Livingwater Restaurant / R&Y Specialty Foods Ltd. (Gary & Yenny O’Brien / Risa & Perry Tepperman) NOW Magazine Orthodontics For Adults (Peter Gold)

The following Artists’ salaries have been generously sponsored as part of our “Sponsor An Artist” Campaign:

REBECCA BENSON
by Beverly Harris for one week

BRENDAN GALL
by Tarragon Theatre for one week

ATHENA LAMARRE
by Dean Maureen Loweth, George Brown College for one week

DAVID YEE
by fu-GEN Theatre for two weeks

Rights

Interested in adapting The Gladstone Variations for a hotel in your own city?  Please direct all inquiries below.

YICHUD (Seclusion)

by Julie Tepperman

 

Photography by Keith Barker. Click here for photo credits.

From every human being there is a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together and a single, brighter light goes forth from their united being.
Baal Shem Tov

About YICHUD (Seclusion)

Original poster for the 2009 Next Stage Festival production. Photo by Sandy Plunkett.
Designed by The Toronto Fringe.

Rachel & Chaim are Orthodox Jews living in Toronto.  They have requested an arranged marriage and today is their wedding day.  

Yichud (pronounced “YEE-chood”) is a Hebrew word that means seclusion.  The “Yichud Room” is the place where the bride & groom go to be alone together immediately following the wedding ceremony.  In the case of Rachel & Chaim, who’ve only had a handful of chaperoned dates, this is the first time they have ever been alone together.  

In another part of the Synagogue, tensions rise between the groom’s older brothers Ephraim & Menachem, rival Torah scholars who haven’t seen each other in four years.  Meanwhile, the bride’s parents Mordechai & Malka are secretly planning to divorce after the wedding.  In a last attempt to woo her back, Mordechai takes some unorthodox measures.

YICHUD (Seclusion) directly confronts the tensions that exist in the Orthodox Jewish world between tradition and modernity, powerfully dramatizing issues of love, sex, marriage, faith, religion, respect, honour, and duty.  The setting is specifically Jewish; the story is universal and life-affirming.

 

Audience Experience:
from theatre to synagogue…

Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille (TPM), where YICHUD (Seclusion) was largely developed, underwent a remarkable makeover from theatre to synagogue, thanks to Beth Kates’ extraordinary design. With Jewish art on the walls, mezuzahs on every door frame, a yahrzeit (memorial) board, and even a notice board for community events such as births and bar/bat mitzvahs, the transformation of the theatre space was so detailed and thorough that several audience members remarked, “How wonderful you got permission to do a play in an old Synagogue!”

Julie Tepperman and Aaron Willis on the cover of the Ottawa Xpress on June 2, 2011.

Julie Tepperman and Aaron Willis on the cover of the Ottawa Xpress on June 2, 2011.

We invited the audience to feel like “Wedding Guests” from the moment they entered the building.  In fact, the experience began on the street, where our live klezmer band could be heard from within playing traditional Jewish wedding music (arranged by musical director Aviva Chernick). If they looked up, they would see a large wooden Star of David and Hebrew letters affixed over the usual TPM sign, which we translated as “Theatre Beyond Walls”. 

Once in the lobby, “Wedding Guests” were handed programs, not for the playbill, but for “Rachel & Chaim’s Wedding” and were invited to sign the guest book, leaving wishes of “Mazel Tov!”. Some people even left cheques for their “honeymoon fund”! 

Upon entering the theatre proper, men were offered kippot (head coverings), and individuals were encouraged to separate by gender: women were invited to participate in a pre-ceremony Kabbalas Panim (bridal reception) with the bride and female relatives downstairs, and men were invited to celebrate with the groom and male relatives upstairs for a similar reception, a Tish

 

Audience members dance the Hora as part of the pre-show wedding celebrations at the Magnetic North production, Ottawa 2011.

 

Some people followed these instructions like good students, where others chose to be more adventurous, breaking the rules and going where they otherwise would not be allowed to venture if this were an actual Orthodox wedding. With the help of a chorus of wedding guests (played by twelve recent theatre school grads), audiences were invited to dance, toast, and receive or offer a blessing to the bride and groom; some people even went so far as to create their own characters, delightfully improvising with the actors during this half-hour pre-show wedding celebration.

A play cannot happen without an audience; similarly, a wedding cannot take place without witnesses and celebrants. No audience member was forced to participate, but simply by showing up their presence was valued, and they were made to feel welcome from the moment they entered the space. Whether they chose to participate in the celebrations or witness it from their seat, the joy in the room was palpable; once the lights went down and the play proper began, we could feel their investment in this world and in these characters.

To read more about this immersive experience, check out an interview published in the Canadian Theatre Review: “The YICHUD Room: Performing Jewish Spaces” by Shira Schwartz, in conversation with Julie Tepperman and Aaron Willis.

 
World premiere at Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto, Canada, February 2010. Co-produced by TPM and Convergence Theatre. Video filmed and edited by Catherine Hernandez.
 

Reviews

…the final episode with Chaim and Rachel is funny, warm and filled with a generosity of spirit sure to touch viewers of any background.
Jon Kaplan, Plays International
This show deserves to be on Broadway.
Ontario Arts Review
...an off-Broadway run doesn’t seem like such a stretch.
Michael Kaminer, The Jewish Daily FORWARD, New York City
NNNN — It’s really grown and deepened since Next Stage. I love the structure of the piece – how we see just enough of the people around the couple to understand the challenges facing them as they embark on their journey together. Beautifully done!
Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine
Moment by moment it’s well written and excellently acted.
Robert Cushman, National Post
It’s to the great credit of playwright Julie Tepperman and her tremendous heart and intelligence, that she creates a world and characters with which we can all identify…her writing is smart, perceptive, and at times it does cut close to the bone. … A vibrant, lively, moving production, YICHUD (Seclusion) is a huge, impressive accomplishment. …When theatre is done well, the result is glorious; YICHUD (Seclusion) is done very, very well. I recommend it, very, very highly.
Lynn Slotkin, CBC Radio
…there’s something recognizable and relatable in every relationship in the play…by showing the real pains, tensions, and joys that come from observing seemingly rigid traditions in a modern world, YICHUD (Seclusion) offers a realistic look at love, marriage, and human relations that can be appreciated by Jews and non-Jews alike.
Miriam Cross, Shalom Life

Previews

"Wedding Crashers"  by Richard Ouzounian Published on February 4, 2010

"Wedding Crashers"
by Richard Ouzounian
Published on February 4, 2010

"Inside the Yichud Room with Julie Tepperman"  by Miriam Cross Published on February 9, 2010

"Inside the Yichud Room with Julie Tepperman"
by Miriam Cross
Published on February 9, 2010

“Fantastic Mosaic” by Cormac Rea Published on June 2, 2011

“Fantastic Mosaic”
by Cormac Rea
Published on June 2, 2011

"Interactive play brings Orthodox wedding to life"  by Joseph Serge Published on February 4, 2010

"Interactive play brings Orthodox wedding to life"
by Joseph Serge
Published on February 4, 2010

“An Unorthodox (Orthodox) Production” by Michael Kaminer Published on February 17, 2010

“An Unorthodox (Orthodox) Production”
by Michael Kaminer
Published on February 17, 2010

Audience Testimonials

YICHUD (Seclusion) is a sensitive and realistic portrayal of the world of “matchmaking” that anyone in a traditional community of any kind can relate to, but especially if you are Jewish. It is also a downright fun, funny, and joyful play.
Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, the city Shul
YICHUD (Seclusion) is a very good night at the theatre.  It does all that great a play should; entertain, make you laugh, maybe cry, and most importantly have you leaving looking at the world around you ever so slightly differently.
Jody Caplan, Patron
Being of the Christian faith and never having been to a Jewish wedding was exciting for both of us – we loved the tradition and ceremony.  And the music!  It was all we could do not to jump up every time the band played. We were in the presence of greatness last night and our hearts are full.
Carole & Jimmy Zaza, Patron
I loved the story.  Although my family’s Catholic-Scottish culture is different, I completely connected to the soul of the piece. The relationships are all beautifully drawn and the characters get at you really slowly and powerfully.  I can’t say enough about it.
Mary Francis Moore, actor/playwright
Your piece is courageous in its honesty and scope. I appreciate that you take on such intimate topics, challenging traditional, sometimes regressive and oppressive, ‘doctrines’ of sexuality within the context of a faith-based community. Your work is intelligent, heart-filled and deeply meaningful; it was touching to see how affirming it was to those in attendance.
Randi Helmers, actor
YICHUD (Seclusion) is a beautifully constructed, sexually charged joy from beginning to end. Although the play takes place in an Orthodox Jewish world, its focus on sex and marriage will strike a chord in the greater community.
Esther Arbeid , Director of Arts & Culture, MNJCC
As outsiders to the Jewish faith, we felt totally welcomed in and we both appreciated the amount of learning we had – on top of the pure enjoyment. The detailed transformation of the theatre into a synagogue, the live band, staging, dialogue, performances, direction – everything was wonderful. This show is something special – it’s insightful, critical, joyful, smart and so rich in its emotional life. We left with a wonderful feeling and wanted to tell everyone about it.
Byron Abalos, Actor
For anyone curious (or simply perplexed) about orthodoxy, YICHUD (Seclusion) is a real treat. The play immerses the spectator in an Orthodox wedding and puts a human face on religious practices that often seem quite alien. At times endearing and frequently very funny, YICHUD (Seclusion) reminds us that the Judaism we share transcends denominational differences.
Ira Levine , Patron
Donors — 2010 Premiere

Zukerman Family Foundation
BMO Financial Group
City of Toronto Culture
ShaRna Foundation
L&J Siegel Family Fund
David & Ellen Cowan
Gloria Shulman Risa & Perry Tepperman
Anonymous
Andrew Akman
Bonnie Anderson
Maev Beaty & Alan Dilworth
Chris Bell
Ben Chalsson & Beth Kates
Karl Druckman & Lisa Gelboin
Rachel Birenbaum
Elizabeth Bohnen
Sarah Brodbar-Nemzer in honour of Julie & Aaron
Leanna Brodie in memory of R. David Brodie
Beatrice Campbell in memory of Douglas Campbell
Ari Cohen & Lisa Ryder
Jack Colman & Deborah Fisher in honour of Julie & Aaron and Beverly Harris and their friendship with Sarah and Jared (and Mo)
Beverly Cooper
David Copelin
Andrew Craig
Carina A. D'Brass Cassidy
Lynda Del Grande
Rabbi Edward Elkin & Iinda Lipsky in honour of Julie & Aaron
Michael Er-el in honour of Julie & Aaron
Debbie Fein-Goldbach
David 'S.K.' Ferry
Barbara Fingerote
Michael Firestone
Leslie French
Fusion Artists Inc.
David Gale
Harold & Nancy Gall
Michael Healey
Sarah Henriques
Suzanne Hindmarch & Tyler Somers
Camilla Holland
Jill Hutson in honour of Kevin Hutson
Marcia Johnson
Shelagh Hewitt Kareda
Jon Kaplan
Christine Kristenbrun
Judith Lamb
Michele Landsberg
Julia Lederer
Arwen MacDonell
Bridget MacIntosh
Ross Manson
Harold & Ruth Margles
Mike McPhaden
Ruth & Eric Miller
Neil & Laraine Naft
Lucille Narun
Alon Nashman
Michael Nathanson
Ross Neilson
Nancy Paris in honour of Diane Flacks
Jared Peck & Sarah Colman
Brenlee Robinson
Karen Robinson
Anusree Roy
Dianne Saxe in memory of Beatrice Saxe
Leora Schaefr & David Moscovitch
Adam Seelig
Anita Shir-Jacob
Sharoni Sibony
Nancy Singer
The Peterborough Academy of Performing Arts
Nathalie Toriel & Brandon McGibbon
Sandra Tulloch
Zeynep Uraz & Alan Vu
Nan Weiner
Sherri Weisz in honour of Tamara Weisz
Bradley & Zetta Willis
Peter C. Wylde
Joshua & Alison Engel-Yan in honour of Julie & Aaron
Morden Yolles
Hersh Zeifman
7 Anonymous Donors

Donors — 2011 Remount & Tour

Toronto re-mount & Magnetic North Theatre Festival (Ottawa)

$5019 - $10,000 - “Big Macher” ShaRna Foundation
with much gratitude to Sharon Weintraub

$1019 - $5018 - “Mishpocha” (Family) Jo and Jules Harris *
David and Ellen Cowan

* With special thanks to Antoni Cimolino, Rachel Smith-Spencer, and the Stratford Festival of Canada.

$519 - $1018 - “Machetunim” (The In-Laws)
Alana and Martin Birt

$18 - $518 - “Chaverim” (Friends of the Bride & Groom) Karl Druckman & Lisa Gelboin
Brenda & Jerry Enchin
Michael Feldman & Nanette Rosen
Laraine and Neil Naft
Jared Peck and Sarah Colman
Patricia and David Rubin Family Trust
Carrie Sager
Barbara Track (in honour of Lucinda Williams)
Zeynep Uraz and Alan Vu

* One layer of wedding cake was generously sponsored by Pat Bradley, in memory of Jan McIntyre

Cover design by Beth Kates

Cover design by Beth Kates

Publishing

YICHUD (Seclusion) is published by Playwrights Canada Press. Buy it now as a paperback or ebook.

Rights

The rights for YICHUD (Seclusion) are currently available. Please direct all inquiries below. 

Passion Play

by Sarah Ruhl

 

Photography by Keith Barker. Click here for photo credits.

Ms. Ruhl’s unmistakable voice – poetic and quirky, underpinned with serious feeling and even more serious intelligence – trumpets forth in brash, impressive form in this ambitious and frisky and expansive triptych.
Charles Isherwood, New York Times

About Passion Play

Wildly ambitious in theme and scope, Passion Play by American playwright Sarah Ruhl, is a three-part saga that examines a company of amateur actors staging a traditional passion play at three different historical moments: Elizabethan England just before the Queen outlaws the ritual; Nazi Germany as Hitler is rising to power; and the Vietnam War through to Reagan-era America. This triptych explores the collision of religion, politics, and theatre, and how the stories we tell shape who we are as individuals and as a community.

Designed by Chloe Cushman.

Designed by Chloe Cushman.

Production History

Sarah Ruhl granted us the rights for the Canadian premiere of Passion Play, in producing partnership with Outside the March and Sheep No Wool. Our co-production was developed over roughly two years, and was brought to Toronto’s East End in partnership with Crow’s Theatre, running June 6 – 30, 2013.

What began as a small “passion project” between three “indie” companies grew into an epic offering, through the tireless commitment and collaboration of our 35-person creative team, including: 11 core performers, a chorus of 8 “Passion Players”, 3 directors, 3 assistant directors, 4 designers, 3 stage and production managers, and 3 associate producers.

For a full list of the creative team and our generous donors, check out our show program below.

Audience Experience

Our production of Passion Play was a unique immersive performance experience in three distinct parts, lasting almost four hours. 

Part One began in Withrow Park, after which the audience and performers walked together in a procession led by Queen Elizabeth across Danforth Avenue to Eastminster United Church, where Parts Two and Three took place in their community theatre style auditorium. Bagels and cream cheese were served in the basement during the two intermissions.

We were greatly inspired by Sarah Ruhl’s words in the play’s publication:

How to do three essentially different plays in one evening without losing one’s mind and one’s budget? ...I encourage smaller theatres with smaller budgets to band together and do the play in burnt-out factories, or synagogues, or churches, or out of doors, and not to be intimidated by the stage direction: “He gets on an enormous boat and sails off into the distance.”

 

Featuring Maev Beaty. Costume and Make-Up by Michelle Bailey. Video shot and edited by Joel Gordon. Text by Sarah Ruhl.

 

Awards

 

DORA AWARD

for
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble

TORONTO THEATRE CRITICS AWARD

for
Best Play

 
I am so honored and delighted by this award. Visiting Toronto and seeing this production of Passion Play was one of the highlights of my artistic life, and in fact, it reminded me why it is I write plays in the first place. The spirited generosity of the extraordinary group of people who mounted this play moved me more than you can know, and made me want to move to Canada! I thank you for welcoming me into your theater community, and I wish I could be there in person to see you all. Thank you so very much.
Sarah Ruhl's acceptance speech

Reviews

Passionate, profound, undeniably unique... an homage to community based theatre... this is a theatrical event you won’t want to miss.
The Globe and Mail
NNNN – A deeply moving piece of theatre, an ambitious co-pro that demonstrates the strength of Toronto’s indie community.
NOW Magazine
⭑⭑⭑ out of 4 – Undoubtedly the indie theatre event of the summer.
The Toronto Star
Poetic, political, and passionately human, this is the show to see this month. Catch it while you can!
Theatreomania
A piece that Toronto will talk about for years to come... the milestone show of this decade will be Passion Play.
Charlebois Post
Indie theatre ascending to new heights.
The Grid

Previews

Read “The Big Interview” with Sarah Ruhl in The Toronto Star.

Audience Testimonials

This event was a highlight of my summer. Flawlessly performed...every facet of it was amazing. Cudos to everyone, including your marvelous crew.  I see a lot of theatre and it will definitely stand out as an all-time favourite for me.
Rob, Patron
Despite threatening clouds, we were able to watch the Elizabethan portion in its outside location, with the sounds of children playing and dogs barking in the background, much like passion plays would have been performed from the Middle Ages. That was a singular treat. My friend and I both felt that we had a superb theatre experience. We marveled at the deftness of the actors’ characterization of the various players, the skillful way the company moved from broad humour to subtle, sad lyricism. I am everso glad to have seen it.
Kathleen, Patron
Thanks for a lovely evening. How did you get such a perfect moon to lead us all the way to the subway? It was so great to see a play with familiar actors but also, actors I had never seen before; even the audience was new to me for the most part. I hope the sun and the moon shine on your remaining performances.
Mallory Gilbert, Arts Manager
I had an amazing experience! The development in the styles of each of the three pieces was great, as was the way the characters changed but retained pieces of who they were in the previous piece. I knew nothing about it going in, and it was an extraordinary revelation, even understanding why it is called Passion Play. I am so pleased I did not know because it is such a rare experience to have that kind of revelation. How rare to see a new play that is so epic…what a pleasure to do so.
David Latham, Director
What an ambitious undertaking - positively epic - and you pulled it off in spades! We thoroughly enjoyed every minute. We really had no idea what to expect and were very impressed with the entire production. The play itself was in turns funny, thought-provoking, and ultimately very moving – the acting and staging was first rate.
Arthur, Patron
Thank you for your generous work this evening.  I am a changed person for having had that epic experience.  What a theatrical joy. Truly. Amazing work! I was honoured to have seen it and know it will forever remain as one of my most favourite theatre experiences.
Erica, Patron

Passover your gelt…?

The Unending

 

Photography by Neil Silcox. Click here for photo credits.

About The Unending

3 affairs.
3 unexpected locations.
1 unending nightmare.

Designed by Chloe Cushman.

Designed by Chloe Cushman.

The Unending is made up of three short plays: The Stronger, a monologue by August Strindberg, in a new version by Julie Tepperman; Play by Samuel Beckett; and What Doesn’t Kill You… a new monologue by Julie Tepperman.   

Julie Tepperman set her adaptation of August Strindberg’s The Stronger in a 1960’s café, where a Wife confronts her Husband’s ex-Mistress, whose utter silence causes the Wife to spiral into a state of mental anguish.

Next is Samuel Beckett’s Play, where we meet three trapped talking heads – a Wife, a Husband, and a Mistress – each in their own state of purgatory, doomed to replay over and over again in their minds the banal details of their love triangle and infidelities, while a moving spotlight dictates when they speak and when they are silent. 

Finally, Julie Tepperman’s What Doesn’t Kill You… explores the intricacies of female friendship, infidelity, and monogamy in a modern-day companion piece to The Stronger: when Sabrina shows up unannounced at Michaela’s birthday party, this time it’s the Wife who remains silent…

Production History

The Unending premiered as part of the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival, playing June 29-July 10… it sold out within days. The production was independently remounted that fall, playing October 13-16, to sold-out houses. 

Audience Experience

Audiences were instructed to meet at Aunties & Uncles Restaurant, a tiny 1960s style café in the College and Bathurst neighbourhood of Toronto, where a Waiter seated them and served shots of Root Beer before the The Stronger unfolded.

Patrons anticipated travelling a short distance to two other “secret locations”, led by a mysterious Guide holding a lantern. A five-minute walk up the Croft Street alley took them to a claustrophobic garage where Play was performed. Following that, they ventured further up the alley and into a residential backyard garden for the final piece, What Doesn’t Kill You… the night sky illuminated by strings of lights woven through the trees. There was birthday cake. 

The Unending was performed twice an evening for two different audiences of twenty-five people at a time.  The actors would run ahead of the audience, rushing to change costumes for the next play with just minutes to spare. The entire experience lasted 80 minutes, with half-an-hour in between each performance. 

Awards

“Best Ensemble” Award

NOW Magazine

“Must See Fringe Pick”

Toronto Star

“Top Ten Play of 2016”

The National Post & The Slotkin Letter

Reviews

NNNN — A haunting collection of site-specific short dramas. There are fascinating echoes among the works, particularly in the use of confession and silence. Each performer gets a chance to shine.
Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine
⭑⭑⭑ out of 4 – Site-specific theatre meets the ever-relevant theme of infidelity in this beautifully produced independent production from Convergence Theatre… [which] outdoes itself with the enchantment of the setting. The superb and detailed level of production reveals a company hungry for challenge.
Karen Fricker, The Toronto Star
The Unending is stunning, creative, unusual, immersive, brilliantly written, acted, directed...and sold out. If you caught it, you’re lucky.
Intermission Magazine
The Unending is one of those rare pieces of theatre that will still be in conversation years from now. …Stylistically, it is the most relevant play I have seen in recent years.
Ontario Arts Review
The Unending is full of theatrical surprises, design gems, and excellent performances. …The buzz is justified — Convergence Theatre continues its reign of well-staged, thoughtful shows in intriguing locations.
Mooney on Theatre
Aaron Willis’ and Julie Tepperman’s enterprising site-specific Convergence Theatre offered a terrific triple bill that included Beckett’s Play, in an inventive staging by Willis (that beat out the concurrent one at Canadian Stage), and a penetrating new play by Tepperman with a tremendous performance by Mayko Nguyen.
Robert Cushman, National Post
Convergence Theatre continues to raise the bar on quality and excellence for independent theatre in this city. Creators Julie Tepperman and Aaron Willis have created a company that pushes themselves and their audience to explore and embrace theatre that is bracing, challenging and tremendous fun. Their site-specific discoveries will have you willingly going down dark alleyways if we know that at the end of the journey will be theatre that is as good as this evening is. Tepperman’s twist of an ending will leave you breathless.
Lynn Slotkin, CBC Radio

Previews

Read the dialogue “Immersive Brunch” with Julie Tepperman and Aaron Willis in Intermission.

Audience Testimonials

I love how your company relishes words and language; the power of the word in the body and soul of an actor.
Judith Thompson, playwright
Another triumph from Convergence Theatre. What a spectacular show. The locations, the direction, the acting, the writing. Fantastic. Thank you both for always creating such exciting theatre. I can only imagine the blood, sweat and tears that went into this one. If only it could have a longer (and profitable!) life. It’s too good to end so quickly!
Mitchell Marcus, Producer
Convergence’s return to the Fringe is cause for excitement indeed!
Derrick Chua, producer
True visionary direction from Aaron Willis of three wildly different scripts. Wonderful acting from all four performers, and best of all, the exquisite writing of Julie Tepperman: A funny, caustic adaptation of Strindberg and a new beautiful piece of her own on the challenges of modern love. She is truly a gifted, gifted writer. Such a great night.
Steven Gallagher, actor/playwright/director
Astoundingly fine. Especially notable, as well as the brilliant directing and acting, is the differentiation among the three venues. Fringe (and indeed theatre) doesn’t get better than this.
Janet Beck, patron
One of the freshest, most moving, wrenching pieces of immersive theatre I’ve seen. The Unending will crawl inside you like a worm inside an apple, and not let go.
Mitchell Cushman, director
What a magical way to spend a beautiful October evening.
Alison Lawrence, actor/playwright
A terrific evening in the theatre of life! How excellent, edgy, funny and gutsy you all are. And to think you did it all again in mere moments. Above and beyond the superb theatricality, the terrain covered and worlds spanned in a matter of a short summer’s eve stroll was revelatory.
Randi Helmers, actor
Three incredible plays, beautifully executed and performed. I highly recommend you get yourself out to see this. It’s special.
Paul Dunn, actor/playwright
I was especially touched by the last show. It was so honest, and such a fresh look at the complexities of friendship, sexuality and commitment. It was such a wonderful night at the theatre.
Darwin Lyons, director

Rights

The rights for The Stronger and What Doesn’t Kill You… are currently available. Please direct all inquiries below.  

Athabasca

by David S. Craig & Richard Greenblatt

 

Photography by Neil Silcox. Click here for photo credits.

About Athabasca

A play about Big Oil, climate change, and the nature of protest

In an office building in Fort McMurray, a senior public relations executive for a major Canadian oil company is confronted by a journalist turned environmental activist, who is violently determined to shut down the Athabasca oil sands. Next Stage’s first-ever site specific production is an uncompromising battle of wills that poses the question – how far are you willing to go to save our planet?

Production History

Athabasca was the first ever site-specific production at The Next Stage Theatre Festival. It ran January 9-20, 2019 at The Toronto Carpet Factory in Liberty Village, where we transformed a large boardroom into Tom Patinaud’s executive office suite at the fictional Sol Oil Corporation.

Check out the transformation from boardroom to executive office suite in this timelapse video!

 
 

Reviews

NNNN — The Next Stage Festival’s first site-specific show is a nail-biting, clock-ticking drama about one of the most urgent issues of our time. …The production sold out its entire run shortly after the play opened, but it’s worth trying to get on a waitlist to see this explosive show. What a treat to see two veteran actors rip into their parts.
Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine
⭑⭑⭑ ½ out of 4 – ...site-specific theatre executed with the detailed precision we’ve come to expect from Convergence Theatre. It deserves a longer run.
Karen Fricker, The Toronto Star
I love Richard Greenblatt. But more roles for David S. Craig, please. He doesn’t do much acting. And his slimy #Athabasca executive is going to give me nightmares.
Glenn Sumi, twitter
Outstanding work from Craig and Greenblatt in this intense, insightful, darkly funny and poignant two-hander - keeping us at the edge of our seats, guessing what these two characters will do next.
Life With More Cowbell 
Athabasca by David S. Craig and Richard Greenblatt is full of passion, intelligence, anger and conscience. Aaron Willis has directed with focused attention. Craig and Greenblatt are evenly matched and right up until the last moments one was not sure how it will end... the production as a whole leaves you with a lot to think about.
Lynn Slotkin, CBC Radio

Previews

David S. Craig and Richard Greenblatt are one of     NOW Magazine’s “Top 5 Artists to Watch”.

Audience Testimonials

Sizzling new play in an outstanding production that far exceeds what anyone would normally expect from Next Stage. The definition of thought provoking.
Mitchell Marcus, Producer
Convergence Theatre’s Athabasca at Next Stage: if there is any way you can get a ticket to any of the remaining performances, grab it! This is strong and nuanced theatre, given passionate life by fine actors. This is proof that theatre matters!
Janet & Roger Beck, patrons
I couldn’t believe how freaked out I was at the end; I mean, I knew it was “just” theatre, but I was really scared...  Surreal! Quite the ride.
Tamara Zielony, patron
I was literally glued to my seat throughout the performance.
Barbara Haber, patron
Wow, Athabasca was an amazing provocative experience.  So much to think about.  So much to feel.  The acting was superb, direction flawless – especially in building suspense and tension without ever getting so out of control that we the audience lost focus on the issues at hand. What was most impressive, I think, was the level of complexity in the dialogue.  The play never let us rest easy in received ideas; everything was open to question and discussion.
Andrea Most, patron
I highly recommend seeing Athabasca at the Next Stage Festival. Great writing, acting and direction. Very compelling and though provoking show.
Cheryl McnNamara, patron

Rights

The rights for Athabasca are not currently available. 

For more information, please contact the playwrights’ Literary Agent, Colin Rivers: