Friday, July 24, 2015

Evalyn Parry – New Artistic Director of

Buddies In Bad Times Theatre


Evalyn Parry         

from What’s Queer, by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

"That's one of the things that "queer" can refer to: the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning ...political adventures attaching to the very many of us who may at times be moved to describe ourselves as (among many other possibilities) pushy femmes, radical faeries, fantasists, drags, clones, leatherfolk, ladies in tuxedoes, feminist women or feminist men, masturbators, bulldaggers, divas, Snap! queens, butch bottoms, storytellers, transsexuals, aunties, wannabes, lesbian-identified men or lesbians who sleep with men, or . . . people able to relish, learn from, or identify with such...for anyone to disavow those meanings, or to displace them from the term's definitional center, would be to dematerialize any possibility of queerness itself."

                      from SPIN, written and performed by Evalyn Parry

As the incoming Artistic Director of Buddies In Bad Times Theatre Evalyn Parry will continue to broaden areas she has already helped to develop over the years as a theatre artist and as the director of Buddie’s queer youth program.  As someone who came out in Montreal in the nineties, when the term queer was beginning to add a more inclusive air to Lesbian and Gay liberationist fronts, she sees diversity as the most significant aspect when it comes to programming new work for upcoming seasons. 

“It [queer]  felt like a word that spoke to me for its inclusiveness and its sense of otherness, and being kind of hard to define.” She sees queer as “a wider umbrella that includes more self definition and grey areas.”  

“I’m perpetually curious about new, different experiences within the queer experience. The white queer experience has been fairly well documented in theatre, especially the white gay male experience, perhaps moreso than other areas…But there  isn’t as much of a canon or history of the work of others.” 

Parry wants to see more work being done by non white queer lesbians and trans identified artists. She is committed to “diversifying the voices represented on the page in Toronto at Buddies because it feels likes this is what our society is trying to figure out.”

“We have been trying, often with uneven results, to confront our own historical colonialism and racism as North American people who have this history to contend with. And in this city we have immigration issues and layers of inter-generations of culturally mixed people. It’s an interesting time globally and in Toronto. What does it mean to be queer? It is imperative to be looking at this because it is so foundational to the roots of drama - which is about dramatic storytelling, about power and privilege and how can it get negotiated in this world.”

One issue regarding diversity (or lack thereof) that resides in front of the theatre at 12 Alexander Street seems a timely challenge for the new Artistic Director. A plaque honoring George Luscombe and Toronto Workshop Productions, without any mention of the past decades of queer theatre history, was  recently erected in front of the building and has become a source of bewildered queer disillusion for some. When asked about this Parry responded by saying she felt that it is wonderful to acknowledge what TWP contributed to the national theatre scene, but  that the plaque does seem “weird” and that it is “symbolically important to register discomfort as this speaks of something else in the city.” 


In the meantime diversity within the walls of Buddies In Bad Times theatre will be handled from a new perspective that Evalyn Parry feels has already been shaped by years of work by a variety of artists working together in various capacities. One new program that Parry will initiate will be a play reading series for women’s voices.

“One thing I want to start as soon as possible is a female playwrights reading series – getting to hear more work, a  place to hear the work onstage. It’s an easy economic model and also a wonderful way to experience dramatic literature, to think about the ideas. It just feels like there aren’t enough places outside of Nightwood Theatre to hear queer and trans female writers.”

What's Queer for Evalyn Parry will unfold over the next chapter in Buddie's history, promising to continue the varied focus on complex issues around diversity - issues that all Toronto communities, theatrical or otherwise, need to address in new and challenging ways.

“I will be having a real eye for balance  - and creating a diverse season in many aspects of the word. This is already a strength of Buddies. Artists of colour and female identified artists will be a total top priority. One season can’t do everything for everybody. It will probably take a few years, as it did with each Artistic Director, to start to get a sense of the scope of what one is able to program and develop. New work takes a long investment. You seed  an idea and then it requires two to three years before a production. It’s about nurturing those artists – artists of of colour and trans artists. This is already happening.”

No comments:

Post a Comment