A University of Regina theatre professor and practitioner is inviting artists and theatre companies across the Prairie provinces to join him in reimagining theatre for the post-pandemic world.
Nigeria-born Taiwo Afolabi, whose career has seen him developing theatre in over a dozen countries across four continents, moved from British Columbia to Saskatchewan with his family in 2020. He is launching a series of what he calls ‘messy conversations’ with theatre artists and leaders based in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba — conversations that will be documented in a 10-episode web series proposing various ways forward for the live performing arts in a society gripped not only by the impact of COVID-19 but by a resurgent movement toward greater equity, diversity, and representation.
“Theatre is one of many sectors in which people are asking enormous questions about what we are doing, how we are doing it, and why,” Afolabi says. “These questions — and possible answers — must be approached and documented methodically and ethically so that we have a chance to build a better world for those who work in the live performing arts and those who love these arts as patrons and supporters.”
Afolabi says his Prairie theatre initiative, the “Reimagine and Rebuild” project, recognizes the Canadian Prairies as a distinct region for theatre-making with artists and organizations that will share common contexts, challenges, and hopes.
“Though the conversations may be difficult, the idea is to bring us together,” he says. “We need to talk about COVID, talk about the unmarked graves of children, confront the horrors and the hopes that are affecting us as artists and demand new ways of creating and presenting theatre.”
With financial support from numerous theatres and arts organizations in the Prairie provinces, Afolabi plans to invite a diverse group of participating theatre practitioners into the filmed sessions and compensate them for their contributions. The issues and themes identified in the series’ earliest episodes will drive the content for subsequent episodes as solutions are sought.
The deadline for applications is September 15th, 2021.