Yesterday we had consultant Donna Walker Khune in working with us. In 2005 before everyone was talking about this, Khune wrote Invitation to the Party: Building Bridges to the Arts, Culture and Community. We were talking a lot about building community, authentic connection with patrons and non patrons of Theatre Passe Muraille and building stronger communities. It’s a bit of a theme here as we’re on the cusp of launching our partially Metcalf Foundation funded Theatre Beyond Walls year. The Metcalf Foundation has continually challenged us to think about Toronto building as we do our theatrical work. They in turn have been inspiring in their approaches to culture, the environment and sustainability.
Simultaneously, at the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres Conference the theme this year was “Being Alone, Becoming Many”. In a time when the Vancouver Playhouse has just closed, and the city has put out it’s REOI on the three city owned theatres, it incumbent on us more then ever to bridge gaps, build stronger theatres, cultural communities and communities in general.
This is hard work. Let’s own it, it takes a lot of time to stop and listen to people and understand where they’re at, without thinking “I could be finishing that damned grant report instead”. I’m the kind of person who likes to finish things, cross them off my list and move on to the next task. But, as I continually must remind myself, the grant report doesn’t build the institution, it just maintains our accountability and transparency. Important too, but not our reasons for being as a theatre company.
So, back to Donna Walker Khune and talking about including people in our vision and building communities. I’m listening to her and thinking about all of the people who have done this for Theatre Passe Muraille in the past year, who have invited us in, given us a platform and a place, offered us their strengths and their artistic vision of the world. For instance, Donna to begin with, is sitting here because Factory Theatre decided to include us in a grant about diversifying artists. They believed (as do we) that there are things that we can build together. As did Tarragon when they joined Factory and TPM in the Off Bathurst Theatre District, as led by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts.
In the backspace right now, we have the iconic National Theatre of the World doing Script Tease. They’ve been our guests on a monthly basis for the past two seasons and next year will do a full week of shows as a part of Theatre Beyond Walls. They also are generous collaborators, helping out when called upon in big and small ways. The wonderful connector, Sue Edworthy talked a bit here about the experience of seeing Script Tease last night when they improvised a new Michael Healey script.
Michael Healey and Sue Edworthy. Two people who generously offered us Proud as a one night reading when we lost the ability to do Mary Walsh’s show Dancing With Rage when Mary became ill in the spring. Many people made, big generous offers to us during that time of need, Puppetmongers, Linda Griffiths, Paul Thompson, Mitchell Cushman, individual donors and patrons and just friends and colleagues who expressed their support.
So, I’m paying it forward today. Here’s Alan Dilworth talking about the Edward Bond Festival and making a cause for supporting him and the generous and talented Maev Beaty in this noble effort to bring Bond’s work to our stages in a meaningful, thoughtful way. I’ve made a small donation, you should to. Then, go on your blog and pay it forward. Who’s helped you this year, what did it mean to you? At Passe Muraille we’ve never been more aware than this season of the degree to which we are supported emotionally and financially by our colleagues, patrons, funders and city. So go, support someone else.