This was the guiding question of Postmarginal: Cultural Diversity as Theatrical Practice, a theatre laboratory and symposium organized in Toronto by the Modern Times Stage Company in April 2017. The project was inspired by the company’s productions, which are commended for their diverse creative teams. Postmarginal’s initial objective was to examine the company’s unique approach and propose new models of intercultural and transcultural creative practices. Modern Times aims to advance the conversation beyond theories of representation, identity politics, and tolerance by asking not whether, but how diversity could be best practiced in studios and rehearsal halls.
The Postmarginal project that has emerged from the 2017 symposium aims to nurture an artistic movement in Canadian theatre and performance that recognizes cultural backgrounds, speech accents, physical/mental abilities, and gender identities as intrinsic components of creation. We live in an era of unprecedented diversity in Canada and all over the world. Postmarginal values where we come from and the communities that make us strong. We need to embrace the creative inspiration coming from our differences, which are a part of our multifaceted identity as human beings and as artists. Our main goal is to actively, productively, and creatively explore new, theatrical forms and vocabularies along with the work ethics and rehearsal strategies that enable them.
We call upon all Canadian artists to embrace the potential of inclusiveness in their practice.
Creating with Differences
We run a series of professional theatre workshops that explore the rehearsal processes of intercultural and transcultural theatre performance.
We organize an experiential learning event to examine how to talk about differences within and without the rehearsal hall with respect and equanimity.
We organize and participate in seminars, discussions, articles, roundtables and other events that discuss and debate the context in which Postmarginal takes place.
“ 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 the acting and directing workshops, one or two facilitators lead groups of 8 to 12 actors and directors in an exploration of how cultural and personal differences can inspire the creative process. Using a variety of texts, improvisation, and other performance experiments, participants are guided through a collective and individual examination of their contribution to rehearsal process. This workshop looks at diverse cultural traditions; languages and language accents; professional training methods, as well as at gender, physical, and emotional frameworks to examine the intersection of creation and differences.
To create in an inclusive manner, we need mental, online, and real-life spaces where the dialogue about identity and artistic freedom can take place in safe, equitable, and respectful ways. The Laborarium was launched in 2018 as a new physical space for rethinking inclusiveness in Canadian theatre.
Part laboratory and part symposium, the Laborarium’s main objective is to discover, test, and propose new work ethics and creative strategies for exploring differences in the rehearsal hall. The two-day long 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. The Laborarium 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”
Postmarginal also organizes or takes part in academic conferences, presentations, and other forums designed to discuss and understand the multilayered context of our work:
- How can we become aware of our hidden biases and/or prejudices?
- How can we challenge tokenism and stereotyping in Canadian theatre?
- How can we facilitate a more comfortable and more effective interweaving of different training systems, theatre traditions, abilities and cultures in our creative process?