Arts & Entertainment
2 min

What Evalyn Parry’s first season of programming at Buddies looks like

Our top three can’t-miss projects from the 2016/2017 season

Credit: Tanja Tiziana

Since it was announced almost nine months ago that Evalyn Parry would be taking the reins at Buddies in Bad Times, one of the big questions on everyone’s minds was what her first season of programming would look like. The answer came this week, as the company released details of its 2016/2017 season — Parry’s second in command, but the first that she’s conceived (the current season having been set by outgoing artistic director Brendan Healy before he departed in September 2015).

In total, the program features eight shows (including multiple co-productions and presentations) along with the annual new works festival Rhubarb. Here, we’ve highlighted three can’t-miss projects this season.

Blind Date
Tuesday, Sept 20–Sunday, Oct 9, 2016

Creator/performer Rebecca Northan’s unlikely smash hit has been enthralling audiences across the country and internationally since it premiered at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre in 2009. The piece begins with Northan’s clown alter-ego Mimi finding herself stood up by some uncouth gentleman. Rather than give up on romance, she scours the audience to find one unsuspecting fella who’ll serve as her romantic substitute for the evening. Staged as a 100 percent improvised event with a new guest each night, the show’s success has until recently rested on the abilities of Northan; an improviser par excellence. For the season opener, Parry puts a queer spin on this formula, employing veteran clowns Julie Orton and David Benjamin Tomlinson to perform alternate nights, each chosing a (probably) same-sex partner for the evening. There’s no telling what madness will unfold. But regardless, it’s sure to be both a hilarious and thought provoking queer twist on the unexpected Canadian classic.

Black Boys
Saturday, Nov 19–Sunday, Dec 11, 2016

In development for more than three years, Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Tawiah Ben M’carthy, and Thomas Olajide’s exploration of queer blackness will finally hit the Buddies stage. Combinbing movement and text with design elements, the trio (under the watch of director Jonathan Seinen) set out to find deeper understanding of how their bodies encounter the world and each other. Simultaneously exploring their individual identities and subverting the ways gender, sexuality and race are performered, they aim to both challenge assumptions and unleash possibilties for what occupying multiple identies means.

The Youth/Elders Project
Wednesday, May 31
Sunday, June 4, 2017

When Parry first spoke with us about her plans for her tenure, one of the interests she mentioned was providing a space for older members of our communities. While there are nearly unlimited opportunities for queer youth to express themselves these days, places for seniors to share their stories are sorely lacking. Closing off the season, Parry takes her first stab at reconciling this with a project in a collaboration with The 519 and the Senior Pride Network. Bringing together folks from opposite ends of the age spectrum, the piece integrates text, movement and music as starting point for creating an oral history of queer lives.