This was one of the guiding questions of Postmarginal: Cultural Diversity as Theatrical Practice, a theatre laboratory and symposium organized in Toronto by Modern Times Stage Company in April 2017. Postmarginal’s initial objective was to examine the company’s unique theatrical approach and propose new models of inclusive creative practice. The Postmarginal project has since grown into three streams of activities that support its aims. Acknowledging that discussions around representation, identity politics, and tolerance need to continue, Postmarginal aims to simultaneously explore how inclusiveness can inspire new artistic possibilities in the rehearsal hall.
Postmarginal values where we come from and the communities that make us strong. We embrace the creative inspiration that emerges from our differences, which are part of our multifaceted identity as human beings and artists. We aim to nurture theatre and performance that recognizes cultural backgrounds, speech accents, physical/mental differences, and gender identities as intrinsic components of creation. Our main goal is to actively, productively, and creatively explore new theatrical forms and vocabularies along with the work ethics and rehearsal strategies that facilitate them.
We call upon all artists to embrace the creative potential of inclusivity in their practice.
Creating with Differences in the Rehearsal Hall
Professional theatre workshops that explore inclusive rehearsal techniques.
We organize experiential learning events to broaden our understanding of differences in an environment of respect and openness.
Examining the Context
We organize seminars, discussions, roundtables, and other events that discuss and debate the context in which Postmarginal evolves.
“ The workshop… brought people together for who they were not only their ethnic background but their entire identities. We are diverse not only by our nationalities.”
“ I was pleased to discover that our “differences” were not really the core of the work but that our specificities could be used efficiently in the scenes we did…”
“ For the first time in over 15 years as a theatre practitioner, I discovered a way of working in the rehearsal hall that involved almost every aspect of my identity, from my training, cultural background, the languages…”
“ I was pleased that I didn’t have to try to change myself, but that my qualities were an integral part of my personality.”
“ It has made me realize the big potential of having diverse actors in rehearsal halls bringing new offers to a performance from their own unique experiences.”
Workshops: Subject and Creation
In these professional theatre workshops, actors and directors explore how cultural and personal differences can inspire the creative process. Using a variety of texts, improvisation, and other performance experiments, participants undertake a collective and individual examination of their contribution in rehearsal. These workshops look at diverse cultural traditions; languages and speech accents; professional training methods; as well as at gender, physical, and emotional frameworks to probe the intersection of creation and differences.
The Retreat was launched in 2018 as a new creative physical space for rethinking inclusiveness in Canadian theatre. Its main objective is to discover, test, and propose new work ethics and creative strategies for exploring differences in the rehearsal hall. The multi-day event involves 40 to 60 people, and its program responds to the specific context of the host city through collective intelligence, design thinking, Indigenous forms of communication, and practical workshops. This is an opportunity for audiences, theatre artists, and scholars to reshape contemporary theatre into a more inclusive space.
“ fluid and harmonious listening and talking”
“ a very rich human experience”
“ inspiring collective intelligence techniques”
“ without knowing precisely why, it felt like being in a family”
“ an opening to others and to differences”
“ an opening of the heart and spirit”
“ I think that from now on I have a better understanding of the issues and that will help to direct my artistic work”
“ the role of gatherings in the spirit of belonging, despite (or because of) our differences”
“ (re)connect with a community that resists, that transforms, and that transforms others”
“ A place for exchanges that provoke necessary and inspiring reflections from intellectual, artistic and human perspectives.”
“ A meeting that permits the creation of links, to lower barriers between individuals and to forge a common vision that is rich in sense about the essential and complex question of diversity in theatre”
Examining the Context
Postmarginal also organizes or takes part in academic conferences, presentations, and other forums designed to discuss and understand the multi-layered context of our work.
- How can we become aware of our hidden biases?
- How can we challenge tokenism and stereotyping?
- How can we facilitate interweaving of different training systems, theatre traditions, abilities and cultures in our creative process?
“Spiritual and intellectual integrity is achieved on Turtle Island by the interplay of human and more-than-human consciousness. The experience of imagination is minding all things. Minding all things performs the spiritual conservation of all things. All things comprise the Indigenous mind and Indigenous minds are composed of all things.”
– Joe Sheridan and Roronhaikewen “He Clears the Sky” Dan Longboat, “The Haudenosaunee Imagination and the Ecology of the Sacred”