The Centre for New Theatre, located in the department of English and Drama at UTM, commissions original large-cast plays by major Canadian playwrights that are written for and with our students. The Centre creates the conditions for ambitious, grand-scale writing that would not be possible within the constraints and expectations of commercial theatre and builds lasting relationships between the university and diverse artistic communities in the Greater Toronto Area. By sustaining the creative activity of artists during the entire development cycle of a new play—from its initial conception through drafting, acting and dramaturgical workshops, and a full staging—students have a unique opportunity to participate in every aspect of creating new spoken drama with leading industry professionals.
The multi-year development cycle of a play at the Centre for New Theatre includes:
- a funded residency for playwrights
- the participation of a playwright and students in DRE380: Developmental Dramaturgy, a laboratory class in which students dramaturg a play-in-progress
- movement and acting workshops to take a play through subsequent drafts
- a full-scale production with the resources of our theatres and a professional director
In 2019, David Yee, winner of two Governor General’s Award and the 2023 Siminovitch Award, created a new play, missing endangered, with our students. In 2021, TDS students performed a five-part companion piece Yee wrote during the pandemic as an audio drama, the cecil hotel. Directed by Nina Lee Aquino, current Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, the cecil hotel and missing endangered explore the history of a notorious Los Angeles hotel that has been the site of a string of deaths, disappearances, and other eerie happenings since the 1920s. Taken together, the two plays form a searing indictment of our culture’s morbid cross-media fascination with true crime stories.
In 2021, Matthew MacKenzie, winner of the 2023 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best New Play in Toronto and Artistic Director of Indigenous-led Punctuate! Theatre, began development of a new play, The Monkey Project, with our students. TDS students also participated in exploratory choreography workshops during the spring of 2022. MacKenzie’s play examines the human-animal relationship among a camp of scientists during the early years of the post-apartheid era in South Africa. The Monkey Project is currently being workshopped and revised towards a future production that will be staged at UTM.
The Centre for New Theatre is also a hub for national and international research creation partnerships in the live arts at UTM. These collaborations include:
Kafka’s Ape, a performance, roundtable, and workshop about staging the stories of Franz Kafka, conducted with the Centre for the Less Good Idea in Johannesburg, South Africa. April 20-21, 2021.
Anomaly, a performance and discussion of a sound-based experience that fuses video games and theatre, created by Frog in Hand Theatre and Diaspora Games. January 24, 2024.