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Events We’re Crushin’ On: Everybody to the Theatre Company’s “Theatre on a Theme: Love” – Sunday February 23rd

Interview by Bailey Green

Everybody to the Theatre Company unintentionally greeted me with piano chords and harmonized voices as the cast rehearsed a musical interlude for their upcoming show, Theatre on a Theme: Love. This unique show is EtoTCompany’s second production, following the success of their first show Theatre on a Theme: Failure (September 2013).

“The interesting thing about the theme of love is how much it is related to pain. This show isn’t just a happy stroll through the park, under the stars,” director Drew O’Hara says of his cast. “The company have brought some really personal stuff to the work.” Artistic Director O’Hara founded Everybody to the Theatre Company with several members of his Ryerson acting class. The soon-to-be graduates were looking for a creative outlet and something they could call their own. O’Hara had conceived the idea of constructing a show called “Theatre on a Theme” where new, short plays would be woven into a whole, cohesive performance.

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This winter the company put out its second call for submissions on the theme of “Love”. The plays have to be 5-10 minutes in length and use up to any of the three men and three women of the company (and of course be based around the selected theme). “When the audience watches through the lens of a theme, it allows them to make the connections for themselves,” said director Drew O’Hara. “It gives our audiences a more immediate connection to the actors and to the show. The experience of seeing Theatre on a Theme is more personal.”

Everybody to the Theatre wants to explore the theme of love in all its facets. Though many of the submissions were romantic, and that aspect is not ignored in the performance, O’Hara looked for plays that explored love in many forms. “The goal is that hopefully we’re going to find something for everybody,” said Artistic Producer Jade Douris. “But there are as many different kinds of love as there are people.“

Then something amazing happened when the call for new plays was posted for Theatre on a Theme: Love website. “The submission post went viral in the United States,” O’Hara said. None of the company knew how it had happened. Somehow the call for plays about love made its way into the right hands. Everybody to the Theatre Company was rewarded with almost two hundred plays from LA to New York, from Ohio and Michigan and from Halifax to Texas to Toronto.

Artistic director O’Hara selects the plays for each show by searching for the most unique perspectives, the variety of character or shows that may compliment and contrast each other. “We got so many submissions in the last ten days,” said producer Jade Douris. “Sometimes we just couldn’t cast the show, say a grandmother and grandchild scene, but for the most part it wasn’t easy. We read all of them.”

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Everybody to the Theatre Company’s mandate reflects its name as they focus on bringing theatre to different audiences. Theatre on a Theme searches to find stories from as many different voices as possible. The playwrights range in age from 19-65 and include a past Dora nominee, a graduate of two masters programs, not to mention both experienced and amateur playwrights.

Two members of the company have their own work included in Love. “Owen and I both wrote for this show for the first time,” says Jade Douris pointing to founding member and actor Owen Stahn. Stahn smiles and admits, “Yeah, I’m still pretty self-conscious about that.” They laugh, grin and shift in their chairs.

Not to mention that the company still balances a full semester of theatre school. The collective process can be challenging and the company works hard to knit the plays into a cohesive whole. Honesty is key. “It requires you to bring a lot of passion and energy to rehearsal and risk getting completely rejected by your peers,” O’Hara says of the process. “Most of us learn to let go,” Jade Douris smiles as she teases Owen. Owen mourns for a vignette of his that was cut from Failure, the company’s first production. “By the end of the process, we learned that failure is an absolute part of life and a critical part of growing,” Owen says. “You can escape it, but you can also just embrace it.”

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These intrepid artists have plans for future themes, but plan to adjust them depending on the social climate or what life throws at them. They hope to one day bring their shows to as many audiences as possible. After the performance in Toronto, Theatre on a Theme: Love is travelling to Peterborough to perform at the Theatre on King. Showtime is at 9:30pm, tickets are $15 or $10 if you see The Dumb Waiter, the show performing before theirs.

If you see an Everybody to the Theatre show and think of a theme you would love to see, visit their website and drop them an email. They are always open to hearing suggestions from their audiences.

Theatre on a Theme: Love

Presented by Everybody to the Theatre Company

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When: Sunday February 23rd at 2pm and 8pm
Where: Unit 102 Theatre (376 Dufferin Street)
Tickets: Visit their website: www.everybodytotheatrecompany.com  $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

Everybody to the Theatre Company rehearses in the UCRC Studio. It’s a lovely studio space on Saint Clair West and has great, affordable rental prices, (http://www.uppercanadarep.com/#!rentals/cij8).

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