ALT.THEATRE (Editor-in-chief Aaron Franks)
Under editorial leadership of Michelle MacArthur three volumes of our publication alt.theatre: cultural diversity and the stage were published. Alt.theatre has become a major literary tool to discuss issues on politics, plurality, activism, and the stage. Most recent volume 14.1 features articles by Lina de Guevara and Preeti Dhaliwal; the launch of a new series called "A Return to Place-Embodied Story Practice," curated by Mariel Belanger and featuring articles emerging from the 2017 UBC – Okanagan Indigenous Art Intensive; a dispatch by Priya Nair about Teesri’s production of The Refugee Hotel; a theatre review by Joyce Boro and Fiona Ritchie; and a book review by Matt Jones. With this issue we are also launching a new web feature of material that enhances the print issue of the magazine. For volume 14.1, we will be hosting an audio recording of Preeti Dhaliwal’s research poem to accompany her article.
Books and other publications: (2016-2018)
Rahul Varma’s Bhopal translated in French by Paul Lefebvre is published by Dramaturges Éditeurs Inc (2016). Varma’s 2009 play Truth and Treason is published by Mawenzi House Publishers, and launched in Toronto at an event organized by the publisher. In addition Rahul gave a keynote at this event. Mr. Varma was a panelist at a panel organized at the Canadian Writers Summit, Toronto International Festival of Authors, and Quebec Writers Federation. Teesri Duniya Theatre has made a huge contribution to the Quebec theatre literature through culturally diverse and political plays with a fresh approach.
20th Anniversary of alt.theatre (November 18, 2019, Montral, arts interculturels).
Canada’s only magazine solely dedicated to cultural diversity and the stage, celebrated 20th anniversary on the closing night of Birthmark. Actor Sabastian Hein’s photographs of actors of color telling their experiences of working at the Stratford Festival were exhibited. Rahul Varma, the founding editor of alt.theatre read from the first editorial written in 1999. Other speakers were Michele MacArthur, outgoing editor-in-chief, Aaron Frank, incoming Editor in-chief, and Mercedeh Baroque, our community manager. Special guest Mr. Barry Cole of Cole Foundation talked about values of multicultural diversity. A Special lecture was delivered by Prof Denis Salter who read excerpt from ex-editor Ted Little’s editorial Are We There Yet. It was a jubilant evening of literary diversity in theatre.
Cause or Consequence, Concordia University, October 15th, 2018.
Teesri Duniya Theatre organized a public meeting in collaboration with the Theatre Department of the Concordia University addressing cultural appropriation and cultural hegemony in the aftermath of SLAV controversy. Deborah Forde moderated the panel, which included Xavier Huard, Floyd P. Favel, James Oscar, and Rahul Varma while they engaged in an intriguing and insightful discussion on Cultural Hegemony and Cultural Appropriation followed by questions from the engaged audience. The panel was an opportunity to continue the conversation and to revive the debate on Robert Lepage’s Slav and Kanata controversy.
We organized intercultural conversations after nearly every show with invited speakers from different backgrounds to bring diverse perspectives and open a more engaging and contentious dialogue that pushed participants to question preconceived notions. The presence of an Arabic, French and indigenous language translator expanded scope of discussion enhancing our ability to build cross cultural ties and truly engage our culturally diverse audience in a multi-lingual conversation on socially and politically charged themes. Native elders led many of these discussions, which exposed the pressing need for recognition of a painful history. The play provided a platform that facilitated critical dialogue in order to establish a relationship between the indigenous community and other diverse communities. The simple recognition and accurate representation of the history of Residential Schools was helpful for survivors to heal trauma and lessen tension. The discussion also served as a pathway to honor the resilience of survivors and recognize their pain. Similarly, Birthmark offered a platform for the Jewish and Arab Diaspora to have a peaceful dialogue. Panels were formed with the intent of encouraging a good relation between the two communities. Ideas, opinions, and comments were exchanged between the panelists and the enthusiastic audience.
Audiences and Box-Office
Cumulatively, our 3 productions grossed 10% higher box office over the previous season (2015, State of Denial). Our audiences ranged 73% for Là où le Sang se Mêle; 80 % for The Refugee Hotel, and 82 % for Birthmark. Indigenous, Arab, Muslim, and visible minority audiences were notably present. Audiences demographic was cross-cultural and across all age-groups.
Marketing and Media
Janis Kirshner conducted a very efficient and thorough media campaign, issuing press releases, using promotions to optimize ticket sales and revenue, and ensuring that The Refugee Hotel and Birthmark attained maximum radio, TV, print, and web coverage. Various demographics were targeted including Latin-American/Spanish-language media, Indian media, Arab and Jewish media, seniors’ media, and various Montreal neighborhoods and schools etc. The Refugee Hotel featured in 70 and Birthmark 85 listings in the media. Publicity and marketing for Là où le Sang se Mêle was effectively carried out by Theatre Denis Pelletier. The production was strategically publicized through Teesri’s Facebook page through postings of short video clips, photo albums, English-language versions of key passages in French-language reviews, marketing images clarifying prices, casting notes and so on. Some of these posts reached over 1000 people (without paid advertising). We also managed to increase Teesri’s Facebook followers by 38% within a mere three months in the lead up to the production.
Cumulative impact of media work was actual face-to-face communication between people of diverse cultures, opinions and political standings.