TOWARDS YOUTH: A Play On Radical Hope
Jan 18, 2019
A Project: Humanity and Crow’s Theatre production
Written by Andrew Kushnir and directed by Chris Abraham and Andrew Kushnir
Featuring Aldrin Bundoc, Tim Dowler-Coltman, Jessica Greenberg, Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Liisa Repo-Martell, Zorana Sadiq, Amaka Umeh, Emilio Vieira, and Loretta Yu.
Onstage in the Guloien Theatre
February 25 – March 16, 2019
TORONTO – Project: Humanity and Crow’s Theatre are thrilled to present the world premiere of a new documentary play from award-winning theatremaker Andrew Kushnir, Toward’s Youth: A Play On Radical Hope, on stage in the Guloien Theatre February 25 – March 16 (Media night: February 28).
Towards Youth is directed by Crow’s Theatre Artistic Director Chris Abraham and Project: Humanity’s Andrew Kushnir and features an exceptional cast including: Aldrin Bundoc (Body Politic), Tim Dowler-Coltman (Punk Rock), Jessica Greenberg (King Charles III), Stephen Jackman-Torkoff (Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom), Liisa Repo-Martell (What a Young Wife Ought to Know), Zorana Sadiq (Beauty and the Beast), Amaka Umeh (The Wolves), Emilio Vieira (Tartuffe), and Loretta Yu (John).
Originally commissioned through a ground-breaking research project lead by internationally recognized professor and researcher Dr. Kathleen Gallagher of the University of Toronto, Towards Youth is the result of two years of worldwide travel that playwright Kushnir undertook with Dr. Gallagher, visiting high school drama classes in cities in England, Greece, India, Taiwan, and Toronto.
The question: As democracies are challenged all over the world, is there a radical hope to be found in the humble high school drama classroom? Dr. Gallagher has spent her life researching young people and how drama affords a rare window onto their experiences, anxieties and dreams. Towards Youth brings Kathleen’s timely work to the stage, and reveals startling truths about youth culture around the world. Exploring Brexit to Trump to growing up in times of austerity, this new play envisions drama kids across the globe as more than the canaries in the coalmine. While helping us to understand how they’re shouldering this world they have inherited, can young people teach us all a better way forward?
Dr. Gallagher, a recipient of the Distinguished Professor award at the University of Toronto (a title reserved for faculty achieving the highest level of accomplishment in their field) and who has twice held a Canada Research Chair focusing on the impact of drama education in urban schools, introduced herself to Kushnir several years ago after seeing one of his plays. When she was developing a new research project back in 2015 entitled Youth, Theatre, Radical Hope, and the Ethical Imaginary, she approached Kushnir to travel with her to bear witness to the circumstances youth around the world were facing. How were youth confronting the challenges before them, and what were they getting out of telling their stories in drama class?
“I saw so many opportunities in Kathleen’s invitation,” says Project: Humanity Artistic Director Andrew Kushnir. “In times of seismic change and political upheaval – like the ones we’re in – this seemed like an incredible chance to take the temperature of how young people were holding up globally and to get a sense of what the future looks like, through their eyes. Furthermore, with populist governments taking hold in North America and abroad – who certainly don’t prioritize arts education –, it felt like the perfect moment to shine a light on the impact of drama education on young people. Whether it’s the students in an East End Toronto high school or the lower class/caste girls at the Prerna School in India, I witnessed how drama gives young people that much-needed opportunity to discover themselves in school, to learn how to express themselves and challenge the systems they find themselves in. What is sadly overlooked about arts education is that it doesn’t have to be about training future artists (though it can be) – it’s mostly about equipping future citizens. It‘s been shown time and time again that kids who take drama class in high school go on to become the change-makers in our societies. The Parkland teen activists that have become the loudest anti-gun voices in the United States – most of them were drama club kids.”
Kushnir travelled with Gallagher through 2016 and 2017 speaking with students and teachers, and has turned those conversations into a powerful and moving dramatic picture of youth around the world refusing to feel hopeless. The play affirms how youth are truly the experts of their own lives and deserve the best possible hearing.
“As he did so notably in The Middle Place, with Towards Youth Andrew yet again weaves together the voices of young people facing often difficult circumstances into a clear and piercing narrative,” says Crow’s Theatre Artistic Director Chris Abraham. “It would be fair for young people today to feel the world and the adults governing it have brutally failed them, but here we find individuals with insight and passion, who dare to have hope and the confidence to believe in their power to make change. It is thrilling to see.”
Along with Abraham and Kushnir, the production team behind Towards Youth includes production designer Ken Mackenzie, music composition and sound designer Deanna H. Choi, and dialect designer Eric Armstrong.
Towards Youth: A Play On Radical Hope runs February 25 – March 16, 2019 (Media night: February 28) at Streetcar Crowsnest (345 Carlaw Avenue) in the Guloien Theatre. Shows are scheduled Monday through Saturday at 8:00pm with matinees on March 13 and 16 at 2:00pm. For Monday February 25 and March 11 performances, 40 pay-what-you-can tickets will be available.
Tickets are now available for Crow’s 2018-2019 season with regular tickets starting at $22 + tax. Frequent Flyer season passes are available: 4-Play Flyers save 20% on all of their tickets. Passholders choose the dates, times and shows for maximum flexibility and savings.
Get online information and make ticket purchases at crowstheatre.com
Originally commissioned through Dr. Kathleen Gallagher's research project: Youth, Theatre, Radical Hope and the Ethical Imaginary, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Crow’s Theatre’s 2018-19 season is made possible by lead sponsorship from BMO. Production sponsorship provided by the Slaight Family Creation Residency, the Max and Larry Enkin Family Foundation in memory of Sharon Enkin, and the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program.
About Project: Humanity
Project: Humanity (PH) creates original and innovative socially-engaged theatre. Now entering its 10th year, the company participates in vital community conversations using the arts and explores better ways of listening to marginalized individuals and groups – especially young people. Our fusion of artistic excellence and a rigorous social justice mandate resonates with many communities outside of the performing arts; PH connects with groups across the globe at conferences, high schools, universities and youth shelters.
PH is one of Canada's leading developers of Verbatim Theatre: transforming original interview transcripts into drama. Our play The Middle Place (constructed from interviews done in a youth shelter in Rexdale) has had over 100 performances, played at Theatre Passe Muraille/Canadian Stage, toured nationally, and received the 2011 Toronto Theatre Critics’ Award for Best Production. Our verbatim piece, Small Axe was named among the Top 10 Shows of 2015 by both the Globe and Mail and The Torontoist. Freedom Singer toured to 15 cities across Canada in 2017 and 2018 – from Halifax, NS, all the way to Dawson City, YT.