In 1998, a new theatre company called Soulpepper appeared on the scene with a two-production summer season. The company was composed of a dozen founding artists who took on all aspects of the company’s operation — including raising the funds to produce the work. Today, Soulpepper operates year-round from its multi-venue home, the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in the Distillery District, with an annual budget of $12 million. It is now an incredibly successful Canadian theatre. In fact, it is Toronto’s largest not-for-profit theatre company and North America’s only year-round repertory company.
The company is still guided by artists and is committed to community and youth outreach. Soulpepper has positioned itself as a National Civic Theatre. A place for artists to train and grow. It provides a platform for our diverse national voice and shares its work with communities across the country through broadcast and digital media. We spoke with Katie Saunoris, Manager of Communications and Media Relations for Soulpepper Theatre Company, to find out more about the company’s mission and its latest season.
So Katie, what are the highlights of the 2017 and 2018 season?
As part of its 2017-2018 season, Soulpepper Theatre Company is presenting a variety of theatrical and musical presentations, year-round from its home in the Distillery District, the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. This includes the upcoming Family Festival, with family-friendly programming like A Christmas Carol, and Peter Pan in association with Bad Hats Theatre. 2018 kicks off with Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus (a familiar story to many from the popular movie version), Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance, a new adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, new concerts and more.
Are this year’s performances appropriate for all ages? If not, which of your current performances are appropriate for children?
Although it’s not generally the focus of Soulpepper, a selected amount of programming per year is family-friendly – particularly the artistic work offered each December as part of Soulpepper’s Family Festival. Shows will be marked as family-friendly if appropriate, and the company’s Box Office (416-866- 8666) or Website (Soulpepper.ca) can provide additional information.
We love that Soulpepper has a youth outreach initiative, please tell our readers a little bit about the work that you do in the community.
Community and Youth outreach has been a central part of Soulpepper since its inception 20 years ago. Soulpepper offers free interactive theatre programs for teenagers throughout the year, including artist-led workshops and opportunities to engage with performances on our stages. It also provides programming in local schools and with community groups as with its Culture-Link New Canadians Welcome Program, which provides free access to theatre as well as mentorship with Soulpepper artists to newcomers.
Soulpepper is growing! We were excited to read a bit about your 5 year expansion plan. What do you hope to achieve by the end of that period?
Over the past few years, Soulpepper has positioned itself as a National Civic Theatre, dedicated to sharing its work widely on the stage, on the road as it tours nationally and internationally, and through broadcast initiatives like album recordings of original musicals, podcasts, and through co-producing Kim’s Convenience on CBC. It is dedicated to being a place of belonging to staff, artists, and visitors, and new work and new exciting programming is being developed all the time. Find out more at Soulpepper.ca.
Soulpepper has certainly grown and evolved over the almost twenty years since its inception, but their commitment to cultivating creative energy, to providing a platform for our unique national voice, and to the community remains unchanged. If you love the theatre and want to support the Toronto arts community, be sure to check out Soulpepper this season.
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