2009 Theatre Subscription Series – Harbourfront’s World Stage

Next in the subscription series profiles is Harbourfront’s World Stage.

This one is a bit different than the other series.  It isn’t a focus on Canadian theatre, it’s not even a focus on Toronto productions, in fact, just the opposite, World Stage focuses on bringing to Toronto, “unrivalled works of international and national theatre, dance, music and multidisciplinary performance from the globe’s leading artists.”

This means that there are Canadian offerings, we do, of course, create “unrivalled works”, but you also get to experience stuff from Ireland, England, Australia, Belgium, Germany, and France.

Some of the most memorable things I’ve ever seen, I’ve seen at World Stage.  I’m a huge supporter of Canadian theatre, and, to be fair, basically can’t get enough of it.  But sometimes it’s good for me to be reminded that there’s really bloody amazing stuff happening elsewhere.  That said, some of the memorable stuff has been Canadian, it’s just Canadian not from *gasp* Toronto.  I find myself getting very very focused on what is going on in Toronto, and not going far afield.  The danger of living in a city that is already so thick with culture.  No need to stray.

What I’m saying is, World Stage is a unique opportunity in Toronto, one that I feel lucky to have.  Plus, this year there will also apparently be post-show talks with artists (except for DV8).  Personally I prefer post-show talks, but I’ll take what I can get.  Now, onto the packages…

As with many other of the other theatres I’ve featured, the are a few different options to choose from for World Stage.  The absolute best value is the ‘Flex Pass’, which you need to buy before October 17, 2009.

Details on the different options are:

Flex Pass  (only available until October 6)

– 4 tickets for $100 ($25/show instead of regular

– 6 tickets for $160

– Note that the Flex Pass is only available for purchase by phone at 416-973-4000 or in person at 235 Queens Quay W, Tuesday – Saturday, 1-6pm.


– Paying a one-time flat rate service fee of $10 gives you the opportunity to buy a package of tickets to either 4 to 6 shows at a 10% discount, or 7+ shows at a 20% discount off the regular ticket prices. 

– Packages also include 10% off additional World Stage single tickets, a Rees St. parking discount, package pricing on single Next Steps tickets (dance focused programming), 15% discount at Bounty and discounts at local stores and restaurants.

Performance Card (only available to Youth, Students, Seniors and Arts Workers)

– Youth (under 25), Students of any age (of dance, theatre and performance art), Seniors, and Arts Workers can apply for a Performance Card by filling out a form available for download online (but must be returned in hard copy)

– The card entitles the holder to single tickets to Tuesday – Thursday performances for only $15 per ticket.


Information on World Stage 2009-10 season pulled from the press release:

The Walworth Farce – Oct. 6 to 10, Fleck Dance Theatre

Druid (Ireland)

World Stage launches with the Canadian premiere of playwright Enda Walsh’s acclaimed dark comedy about a father and his two sons who have been acting out the same farce in their squalid London apartment for 20 years. As their play within a play unravels, the destructive secrets that have kept the family together come into ghastly focus.

Necessary Angel’s Hamlet – Nov. 19 to 29, Enwave Theatre

Necessary Angel Theatre Company (Canada)

A highly anticipated world premiere, this play previewed as a workshop to sold-out audiences in November 2008. Toronto’s Necessary Angel pairs up with provocateur Graham McLaren (former artistic director of Scotland’s Theatre Babel) to direct this rendering of Shakespeare’s classic Hamlet. Gripping, violent, immediate and seething with amorality; a radical version of one of the greatest plays in the theatrical canon.

To Be Straight with You – Dec. 2 to 5, Fleck Dance Theatre

DV8 Physical Theatre (England)

DV8’s artistic director Lloyd Newson leads a multi-ethnic cast in a poetic but unflinching exploration of tolerance, intolerance, homophobia, religion and sexuality. A powerful new production based on hundreds of hours of audio interviews collected throughout the UK with people directly affected by these issues. Incorporating dance, text, documentary, animation and film.

roadkill – Feb. 3 to 6, Enwave Theatre

Splintergroup (Australia)

A North American premiere of dance-theatre from Brisbane-based trio Splintergroup. A couple is stranded in the harsh Australian outback with a car that won’t start, a phone that doesn’t work and a stranger who seems a little too eager to help. With unorthodox physicality and intense drama, roadkill takes the form of a road movie that examines the folklore and paranoia surrounding the outback.

Once and for all we’re gonna tell you who we are so shut up and listen – Feb. 16 to 20, Enwave Theatre

Ontroerend Goed and Kopergietery (Belgium)

A wild bunch of teenagers create and perform Once and for all… a physical piece of theatre that challenges clichés about adolescents. Filled with a manic enthusiasm that manages to offer poignant understanding of youth, its joys and dilemmas; this show will close in 2010 as the teens will be too old to perform it – they will be adults.

Blind Date – Feb. 23 to Mar. 6, York Quay Centre

Rebecca Northan (Canada)  (Mooney on Theatre review)

The runaway hit the Toronto Star (4 out of 4 stars) hailed as “[a] mixture of uproarious laughter, honest sexuality and genuine emotion” returns by popular demand to World Stage. Mimi (Rebecca Northan) is a young Parisian woman waiting for a blind date in a café. When she is stood up, she turns to a complete stranger in the audience in search of someone brave enough to answer love’s call. 

Do Animals Cry – Mar. 3 to 6, Fleck Dance Theatre

Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods (Germany/Belgium)

Last seen at Harbourfront Centre in 1994, U.S. born and Europe-based choreographer Meg Stuart returns with her amazing company Damaged Goods and Do Animals Cry. Fascinated with imperfection, Stuart delves into the complex relationships of parents and children, revealing the disconnections at the heart of every family.

Loin…(Far…)  – Mar. 11 to 13, Enwave Theatre

Rachid Ouramdane L’A (France)

The Canadian premiere of Loin… (Far…) is a multimedia solo dance performance from French artist Ouramdane that retraces the steps of a journey made by his Algerian father 50 years ago. Drawing from the diary his father kept while serving in the French Army, Ouramdane considers the layered and ever-changing nature of identity.

On the Side of the Road – Mar. 24 to 27, Fleck Dance Theatre

Theatre Junction (Canada)
In partnership with The Theatre Centre’s Free Fall Festival ‘10

A story of secrets and family set a
gainst the sprawling Alberta landscape, On the Side of the Road centres around a young novelist who returns to his family cottage with his Parisian girlfriend to confront his past and the murky depths of identity. This is the first foray for Calgary’s Theatre Junction into Eastern Canada.

relay – Apr. 7 to 10, Enwave Theatre

Ame Henderson Public Recordings (Canada)

A world premiere from Toronto-based dance maker and artistic director of Public Recordings, Ame Henderson enlists a team of international collaborators to celebrate and challenge notions of dance and memory. This new work borrows from memories of dances to question the politics and possibilities of being – and whether it is possible to move together without abandoning individuality.

Giselle – May 4 to 8, Fleck Dance Theatre

Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre (Ireland)

Fabulous Beast is an international ensemble led by Irish director and choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan. This radical reinterpretation of the romantic ballet, a Canadian premiere, is a moving two-step between the forces of laughter and disaster, blending speech, song and superb choreography in an uncompromising production on the very edges of theatre and dance.


Some things that may (or may not) influence your decision:

– These are VERY short runs.  So, if you want to see something, you’re going to have to be pretty flexible in fitting it into your schedule, ‘cause there won’t be a lot of time to choose from.

– Some shows are in very intimate spaces, I’ve been to a World Stage production with a maximum audience size of 22 (or was it 18?  Small anyway), so you need to book early.

– Since it’s at Harbourfront there’s loads of parking lots around, and, although it’s not the quickest transit around, it’s certainly transit-able.

– This stuff may not be ‘traditional’ theatre, but It’s usually damn good theatre, and you’re not gonna easily find it elsewhere in the city.  Even if you don’t end up liking it, you’ll end up remembering it, and I’m betting it will give you lots of conversation fodder, which is often worth the price of admission.