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Crow's Theatre Announces An Unmissable 20/21 Season

Mar 10, 2020

Crow’s Theatre celebrates 5th season at Streetcar Crowsnest with a bold and ambitious 2020-2021 season of dazzlingly theatrical and musical work: plays celebrating the raw energy of youth, unlikely and inspiring disruptors, and explorations of identity and destiny.

Season includes 20th-anniversary presentation of Kristen Thomson’s I, CLAUDIA; Pulitzer Prize-shortlisted DANCE NATION directed by Meg Roe and choreographed by Crystal Pite; Stratford’s acclaimed BIRDS OF A KIND; Mike Lew’s satiric reimagining of Richard III, TEENAGE DICK; Fringe Hit MACBETH MUET; Cliff Cardinal’s solo-show CLIFF CARDINAL’S CBC SPECIAL; NATASHA, PIERRE, and THE GREAT COMET of 1812, directed by Chris Abraham, choreographed by Kimberley Rampersad; and Mitchell Cushman directs MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG.

A collection of work defined by visceral theatrical spectacle, innovation, youthful energy, and the immediacy of the live theatre experience, Crow’s 2020-2021 season introduces new partnerships with Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company, and Sudbury’s YES Theatre, and welcomes some of the most celebrated and innovative artists in the country to Streetcar Crowsnest, including Antoni Cimolino and Wajdi Mouawad, Cliff Cardinal, Ashlie Corcoran, Meg Roe and world-renowned choreographer Crystal Pite. The new season features work from core Crow’s collaborators Kristen Thomson and Mitchell Cushman, and two productions directed by the company’s Artistic Director, Chris Abraham.

Our 20.21 season brings together some of our country’s most acclaimed theatre artists in works that celebrate the untamed spirit of youth, the determination of the individual to be seen as they are, and those that are called to wake up to the promise, and responsibility, of a more conscious life,” says Crow’s Theatre Artistic Director Chris Abraham.Next year, our heroes, young and old, are “busting out” and “breaking bad” to see what other worlds of possibility might lie in wait for them on the other side. While there is definitely an anarchic spirit in the call to freedom felt by the protagonists in our season next year, I think it’s an incredibly optimistic and joyful slate of offerings. While so different in form, style, and perspective, our eight-show season examines the consequences of the big life-changing risks taken by those who can’t live with the status quo any longer. These eight invigorating journeys don’t always end well, but they capture the irrepressible human need to live a free life, a meaningful life – and one in which you belong.”

“It was essential in our planning for the 20.21 season to strengthen and grow our programming, operations and audience reach,” says Crow’s Theatre Executive Director Sherrie Johnson. "Chris and I were determined to curate a season with opportunities and ambition, while building a dynamic cultural hub in the east end with a loyal audience base.  Since the first season at Streetcar Crowsnest (2016-2017), Crow’s has more than doubled its annual operating budget, and the organization continues to expand the number of performances and tickets sold year over year.  In the 20.21 season, Crow’s will be employing over 157 artists through an array of projects and engagements.”

This season begins with a 20th-anniversary celebration of one of the most beloved shows in Crow’s – and Canadian theatre - history, I, CLAUDIA. Winner of 2001 Dora Awards for Best New Play and Outstanding Performance, written and performed by Kristen Thomson and directed by Chris Abraham, I, CLAUDIA became an instant classic when it debuted at the Tarragon Theatre in 2001 and sold out its run within the first week. Abraham and Thomson toured the show across the country and beyond, before making a film version in 2004, which went on to win Thomson ACTRA and Gemini Awards, as well as a Gemini for Abraham, before being selected as one of the TIFF Top Ten Canadian Films of the year. This extraordinary one-woman show maps the raw but beautiful interior life of a misfit adolescent, Claudia, who finds herself suffering from the triple afflictions of puberty, unpopularity, and her parent’s divorce. Using four beautifully expressive masks, Thomson portrays not just Claudia, but also her soon-to-be stepmother, her grandfather, and the janitor at her school, in a mesmerizing act of pure theatricality that distills the raw psyche of a pre-teen girl into a heartbreakingly relatable story.

Exploration of the life force that is female adolescence continues in playwright Clare Barron’s 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist DANCE NATION. A blinding look at a team of competitive pre-teen dancers, the Pulitzer committee called DANCE NATION: "A refreshingly unorthodox play that conveys the joy and abandon of dancing, while addressing the changes to body and mind of its preteen characters as they peer over the precipice toward adulthood." Director Meg Roe, whose production, MIDDLETOWN, was presented in Crow’s 2018-2019 season, is joined by Crystal Pite, world-renowned choreographer and co-creator of the international cultural juggernaut BETTROFENHEIT, who choreographs this thrilling production, on stage in the Guloien Theatre in November. DANCE NATION is the first of two plays that foreground adolescence produced in partnership with Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company.

The second play of this partnership arrives in the spring of 2021, with Chinese American playwright Mike Lew’s TEENAGE DICK.  Originally commissioned by Apothetea, a theatre company dedicated to productions “that explore and illuminate the disabled experience,” TEENAGE DICK reimagines and complicates Shakespeare’s Richard III as a disabled high school student who, after years of torment due to his cerebral palsy, plots the ultimate adolescent rise to power to displace the school jock and become student body president. The script dictates that both Richard and his best friend Buck be played by disabled actors, bringing new meaning and authenticity to the play’s examination of the impact of social exclusion and the search for self-acceptance.

January 2021 sees the breakout success of Stratford Festival’s 2019 open in the Guloein Theatre, with a remount of Wajdi Mouawad’s BIRDS OF A KIND directed by Stratford Festival Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. In BIRDS OF A KIND, the INCENDIES playwright tells the star-crossed story of an Arab-American woman and a Jewish geneticist as they travel to Israel, where family secrets come spilling forward. BIRDS OF A KIND is a poignant and nuanced study of identity and destiny.

In January, the previously announced Canadian Premiere co-production of NATASHA, PIERRE, AND THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 lights up the Winter Garden Theatre. The production will be directed by Crow’s Theatre Artistic Director Chris Abraham, choreographed by Kimberley Rampersad, and marks the second year of The Musical Stage Company’s residency at the Winter Garden Theatre. A radically contemporary adaptation of a selection of Tolstoy's acclaimed 1868 novel 'War and Peace', the 12-time Tony-nominated musical brings a passionate, romantic and high-stakes 1812 Moscow to life through a ground-breaking score that mixes indie rock, pop, Russian folk, electronic dance music and classic Broadway

Crow’s Theatre welcomes the 2019 SummerWorks Jon Kaplan Spotlight Award-winner CLIFF CARDINAL’S CBC SPECIAL to the Scotiabank Community Studio in February. In no way connected to the CBC, this new one-person show from the creator and performer of multi-Dora Award winner HUFF models itself after old-time radio variety shows. The internationally lauded Cardinal performs original songs, miraculous stories of familial resistance, and legends of Turtle Island survival – all the while re-writing the ongoing mythology of the Canadian experience. Uproarious and unguarded - CLIFF CARDINAL’S CBC SPECIAL is his much anticipated follow-up to HUFF, in collaboration with director/dramaturge Karin Randoja.

In the spring, Crow’s presents a breakout hit from the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival and winner of that year’s Best Director, Best Ensemble and Best Production awards. Since its premiere at the Fringe, MACBETH MUET has gone on to garner rave reviews across North America. Inspired by the visual language of silent films, MACBETH MUET is an adaptation of Shakespeare's MACBETH condensed into fifty breakneck and wordless minutes that flirt with boisterous theatrics and melodrama. An accelerated, visceral and bloody version of the doomed couple’s hardships, MACBETH MUET uses bodies and fake blood to deconstruct Shakespeare’s tragedy, the action unfolding in a world devoid of morality.

In 2021, Crow’s welcomes Northern Ontario’s premier musical theatre company YES Theatre, for a stripped-down and essential production of one of the all-time great musicals, MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG by Stephen Sondheim. Dora Award-winning immersive director and frequent Crow’s Theatre collaborator Mitchell Cushman returns to Streetcar Crowsnest, following acclaimed productions of JERUSALEM and THE FLICK, to direct this storied musical about youthful idealism, the toll life takes along the way and the value of friendship.

Crow’s Theatre 2020-2021 Season 

A Crow’s Theatre Production
20th Anniversary Celebration
I, CLAUDIA  September 29- October 25, 2020 (Guloien Theatre)
Written and Performed by Kristen Thomson
Directed by Chris Abraham

One of Canada’s most celebrated theatrical creations, this extraordinary, multi-award-winning one-woman show returns for its 20th anniversary, reuniting beloved performer Kristen Thomson with director Chris Abraham. Wrenchingly sad and thrillingly funny, I, CLAUDIA casts a spell of rare power. Since its premiere in 2001, Thomson’s Dora Award-winning masterwork has toured the world, been adapted into a Gemini-award winning film, and charmed audiences everywhere. In this virtuoso solo mask performance, Thomson, a “heart-stoppingly honest comedian” (Globe & Mail), brings to life the precocious 12 ¾-year-old Claudia as she faces the myriad mysteries of adulthood.

A Crow’s Theatre and Arts Club Theatre Company Production

November 10- December 6, 2020 (Guloien Theatre)

By Clare Barron
Directed by Meg Roe
Choreographed by Crystal Pite

An army of pre-teen competitive dancers plot to take over the world (and win Nationals) in Clare Barron’s “barbaric yawp of a play” (Vulture) about the unbridled wildness of being a girl at 13. Meg Roe, director of the 2018 hit MIDDLETOWN, takes the helm of DANCE NATION, joined by Vancouver-based choreographer Crystal Pite (Kidd Pivot), a “dance genius who stages the impossible” (Guardian). Hilarious, fast-paced and ferocious, DANCE NATION will hit you hard.

Crow’s Theatre presents the Stratford Festival Production
BIRDS OF A KIND  January 5- 30, 2021 (Guloien Theatre)

by Majdi Mouawad
English Translation by Linda Gaboriau
Directed by Antoni Cimolino

A family is torn between blood and belonging in BIRDS OF A KIND, Stratford Festival Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino’s “cinematic swirl of a production” (Globe & Mail). Weaving together multiple languages and divergent worlds of experience, this powerful contemporary drama probes to the very heart of who we are – or think we are. Wahida, an Arab-American woman, and Eitan, a Jewish geneticist, fall in love in New York City. They travel together to Israel to meet Eitan’s estranged grandmother – who holds the key to a long-buried family secret. But it takes a terrorist bombing for that shattering secret to emerge.

A Crow’s Theatre and Arts Club Theatre Company Production
TEENAGE DICK  March 23- April 18, 2021 (Guloien Theatre)

by Mike Lew
Directed by Ashlie Corcoran

Shakespeare meets ‘Mean Girls’ in Mike Lew’s uproarious riff on RICHARD III.  Richard Gloucester is junior class secretary, third in line to holding absolute power as senior class president. But he’ll never win a popular vote: whether due to his cerebral palsy, or his frequent soliloquizing, is up for debate. Revenge, puppy love, and politics, combine for a high school election of Shakespearean proportions. TEENAGE DICK has captivated audiences from New York to London. Crow’s Theatre will co-produce this new Canadian production, directed by Arts Club Theatre Company Artistic Director Ashlie Corcoran.

YES Theatre in Association with Crow’s Theatre
MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG   February 11-28, 2021 (Guloien Theatre)

by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Mitchell Cushman

Stephen Sondheim’s misunderstood masterpiece, reinterpreted by YES Theatre’s creative team. Manhattan, 2021. An elderly man revisits a familiar rooftop to contemplate decades of misspent friendship, fame and fortune—as well as the traffic below. Dora award-winning immersive director Mitchell Cushman returns to Crow’s after his acclaimed productions of JERUSALEM and THE FLICK, this time teaming up with the explosive wunderkinds of Northern Ontario's premiere musical theatre company, YES Theatre. Experience a stripped-down reclamation of one of the all-time great musicals—a searing take on the value of friendship, and the cost of throwing it away.

Crow’s Theatre presents
CLIFF CARDINAL’S CBC SPECIAL February 11-28, 2021 (Scotiabank Community Studio)

An Imaginary Force and VideoCabaret Production
Created and Performed by Cliff Cardinal
Directed and Dramaturged by Karin Randoja

Imagine if Cliff Cardinal was commissioned by the CBC to create his own variety special.

Join ”the utterly charming” (NOW Magazine) Cliff Cardinal as he shares his original dark and catchy folk songs; miraculous stories of familial resilience; legends of Turtle Island survival; and new contributions to the ongoing mythology of the Canadian experience. CBC SPECIAL is Cliff’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to his Dora Award-winning solo show, HUFF, and teams him once again with longtime collaborator, director and dramaturge Karin Randoja.

Crow’s Theatre presents La Fille du Laitier’s production of
MACBETH MUET  April 14 - May 2, 2021 (Scotiabank Community Studio)

Created by Jon Lachlan Stewart, Marie Hélène Bélanger
based on the play by William Shakespeare

Inspired by the visual language of silent film, this wordless adaptation of MACBETH flirts with boisterous theatrics and melodrama, drawing audiences into a frantic and hilarious race for power. An accelerated, visceral and bloody deconstruction of this famous tragedy, MACBETH MUET breaks down how one of Shakespeare’s most famous couples is slowly pulled apart by the murder they commit. Backed by an intense soundtrack jumping hilariously through a score of famous pop songs and classical tracks, the actor-puppeteers blast through a highly choreographed feat of physical theatre, where human lives are as disposable as styrofoam cups.

Crow’s Kids Series

Crow’s Theatre continues to embrace the importance of programming theatre for all ages and creating opportunities for families to share the experience of live theatre together. In the 2020-2021 season, the company will present three unique and wondrous pieces for the young and young at heart.

In November, Crow’s presents the Macromatter production FRAGILE, by interdisciplinary artist Robert Leveroos. Using detailed two and three-dimensional paper models and simple animation, FRAGILE reimagines our relationship to scale and invites us to discover the intricate mechanisms of the everyday inside pivotal moments. FRAGILE is an experience in which we can be mesmerized by what is not said, allow time to slow down and dream a little bit - together.

Returning to Streetcar Crowsnest following the breakout success of 2019’s RADIOACTIVE SPYDER, Crow’s presents a new musical show from the Spyder Theatre Company, SPYDER’S QUEST TO SAVE THE WORLD. Opening with a dramatized version of the September 2019 world-wide youth climate strikes, SPYDER’S QUEST TO SAVE THE WORLD tells stories based on contemporary youth activists. In this action packed musical, Spyder and her friends tackle climate change while embarking on a journey through redwood forests and an encounter with a magic lamp. A play performed by young people for young people that spotlights the potential youth hold to change the world. 

Returning to Streetcar Crowsnest and back by popular demand after its sold out run is the beloved production of OLD MAN AND THE RIVER, originally produced by Theatre Direct and now helmed by The Wee Festival. A beautifully designed puppetry work performed without words and to an enchanting score, OLD MAN AND THE RIVER tells a story of newfound friendship - the perfect introduction to theatre for the very young (their grownups are also welcome.)

Sponsorship acknowledgments 

Crow’s Theatre gratefully acknowledges support from

Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Deprtment of Canadian Heritage.

Crow’s thanks its major corporate, government, foundation and individual sponsors who have made the 2020-2021 season possible:

Major Sponsorship Support for Crow’s Theatre programming is generously provided by

BMO – Lead Season Sponsor
Sylvia Soyka – Lead Season Patron
Scotiabank – Creative Youth Program Sponsor
The Slaight Family Foundation- Creative Residency and Performance Series
Sandra and Jim Pitblado