Talk Is Free Theatre
By Arkady Spivak, Artistic Producer
Talk Is Free Theatre is the only company in our Central Ontario region with a full professional winter season. Our mission, both in our home seasons and with our touring endeavours, is to produce cutting edge theatre works, such as are typically only presented in major urban centres, and connect them with as wide an audience as possible.
We produce a wide range of work from the periphery of mainstream, concentrating on new writing, forgotten classics and drastic re-examinations of the established repertoire. We gravitate toward material that challenges the norm and the tolerance of a regular theatre patron and that offers a well-contextualized adventure in a diverse and eclectic subscription season.
Our central programming priority, and by extension the main contribution to the Canadian theatre ecology, is the development and production of new and experimental works of musical theatre and of immersive work. Our previous productions of musicals such as Assassins, Scenes from the Bathhouse and Floyd Collins are good representations of the sharp subject matter, unique artistic language and stylistic complexities of non-mainstream musical theatre. In terms of the immersive programming, we pioneer the development of “audience-specific” work, collaborating with Daniele Bartolini and his practice at DopoLavoro Teatrale. We recently completed the first-of-its-kind immersive theatrical odyssey entitled The Curious Voyage. This experience started in Barrie and moved the audience to London, UK, taking place over three days. We also offered one-day versions in both Barrie and London to make the experience more accessible to a broader audience. In the course of the journey, each patron became the protagonist in the story they were watching.
Operating since 2003, our atypical programming has been fully embraced and supported by local audiences, philanthropists and the broader Barrie and Simcoe County community as we are serving a larger need – helping our area to evolve as an important and unique cultural centre. As the cost of real estate in major urban centres continues to skyrocket, and for a number of other reasons, there is a growing new population of people who might have typically chosen to live in the ‘big city,’ choosing to make smaller cities, their home. We would like to help attract an influx of individuals to Barrie seeking here what they would expect in a larger centre – both patrons seeking exciting and innovative theatre to attend, and professional artists looking to make an impact in Canadian theatre in a community where they can also afford to buy a home.