After one play-less season, the managing director of Ottawa’s gay and lesbian theatre company says TotoToo Theatre is planning to “go big or go home” with its 2013/14 season.
Ted Chartrand says the company’s board of directors has a new set of priorities that he thinks will resonate with the community. In a recently released report, the newly minted board explained that proper advance planning was not in place for the 2012/13 season.
“In this business, you’ve got to have your season outlined four to six months ahead of opening night,” Chartrand says. “You’ve got to do that so that you can get out there and you can get the right directors, so you can get the right actors for the roles.”
Chartrand says time was against TotoToo this past season, which is why it was unable to get its 2012/13 season up and running.
A previously planned amalgam of works with Jer’s Vision and author Jim Chevalier, titled Bullying: A Life-Altering Experience, was scheduled for February 2013 but was cancelled when the director encountered a conflict and there was no time to find another one. The company’s report said TotoToo staff would consider the show for a future production.
Chartrand says 2012/13 was a rebuilding year that involved “a lot of soul searching,” noting that plans for 2013/14 are in full swing. A four-show season — one more than in any previous season — will kick off with a first for the company: a show during Pride Week. David Blue’s Confessions of a Mad Drag Queen had been planned for April at Arts Court but has been moved to August to coincide with the city’s annual celebration of all things queer.
“The subject matter just seemed to be rather appropriate for Pride Week. It’s a play that’s got some comedy; it’s got some very tender moments in it, as well, and we wanted to do a Canadian playwright. We’re looking forward to a larger audience being in the city, because a lot of people do come from out of town,” Chartrand says.
“We didn’t want to miss the opportunity to do something during Pride. Pride should be about more than people dancing… It should be about the arts, it should be about community associations, it should be about support groups, it should be about the things that make us a community. So we’re showcasing theatre art as part of Capital Pride.”
As for the rest of the upcoming season, Chartrand remains close-lipped, noting that he wants every last detail in place prior to making any official announcements. However, he will say that the company plans to produce a musical for the first time ever, and another show will prominently feature strong lesbian characters, something he says is in keeping with one of the objectives of the new board: to diversify.
“What we’re really doing is we’re diversifying the programming, because one of the things that TotoToo is criticized for is being too — pardon the expression — fucking gay-male-centric. Everything is about gay men. And if it’s going to be community theatre, this community isn’t only gay men.”
Chartrand says TotoToo is also seeking to diversify the male-dominated board.
“We’ve had real difficulty getting female members of the community out to sit on the board,” he says.
A third priority? To offer extremely high-quality productions, which will in turn attract top-quality talent.