For a plenary session at PACTcon2018, several delegates imagined the future of Canadian theatre in five, ten, or twenty years. The excerpts below come from their bold and inspiring speeches.
Gina Puntil (Artistic Director, Alberta Workers’ Health Centre)
In five years, funding bodies that have so recently introduced diversity and inclusion as a criteria will have five years to evaluate how it can nurture and support ongoing meaningful relationships. This is in response to tokenism and false outreach that can happen with the current requirements.
Danny Everson (General Manager, Mermaid Theatre)
In five years, I hope to see theatre as an advocate for perpetual social change. To be a platform for all voices. To utilize the sun as a power source and less reliant on our limited resources. I see theatre that celebrates our differences. Theatre that is intrinsic in our way of life. I see theatre as collaboration, not isolation. I see a theatre full of children, their parents and caregivers.
Jovanni Sy (Artistic Director, Gateway Theatre)
In 2028, we have figured out that outreach means actually reaching out. It means going out to suburban community centres and schools and faith centres and encouraging new Canadians to tell their own stories. It means recognizing that these stories might be in a language other than English. But it’s 2028, and we’ve figured out how to allocate the time and resources necessary to support creation in multiple languages.
Outreach means that as we share our largely Eurocentric theatre practices, we give equal weight and respect to each culture’s tradition of performance and storytelling. It means we seek hybridity rather than cultural appropriation. Representation over tokenism.
Mel Hague (Leadership Resident, National Theatre School)
I believe the future must be above all, honest.
Honest with ourselves about our failings.
Honest with ourselves as artists about our own bias and aesthetic.
Honest that we as a community sometimes function as a critic of societal constructs but just as often we reiterate the dominant white supremacy and it is only through constant and difficult work that we as an art form can earn the right to truly call ourselves rebellious.
And where will this happen?
It will happen first on our stages, as we have learned now the impact of what stories we choose to tell has on our culture.
Then it will happen in our rehearsal halls, in our artistic conversations, in who we choose as necessary to welcome and include in those conversations.
Then it will happen in our box office, in our direct contact with our communities, and we will truly and deeply discover who that is and who we want it to be.
Then it will happen in our offices, in our board rooms, on our juries and councils.
Maybe it is happening now.
But maybe it isn’t, and maybe change is something that we have to work for and earn each and every day. We need to earn the right to call ourselves an art form that is Canadian, for all the beauty and terror and sexiness and ugliness that that encompasses.
Following these speeches, Lindsey Delaronde (Indigenous Resident Artist, City of Victoria) and Gil Garratt (Artistic Director, Blyth Festival) invited the audience down to the Great Canadian Theatre Company stage and held an unscripted conversation about their hopes for Canadian theatre in 20 years, based on their ongoing dialogue at the conference.