As Buddies 40th anniversary celebrations come to a close, the world’s largest and longest-running queer theatre company delves into the queer Canadian theatrical canon with an exciting and timely production of Lilies; Or, the Revival of a Romantic Drama.Prolific indie company lemonTree creations (Body Politic, Rope Running Out) leads this revival of Michel Marc Bouchard’s rarely-produced 1987 masterpiece – the second collaboration between the two companies after 2016’s hit production Body Politic – this time joined by Why Not Theatre.
In 1912, two schoolboys in Roberval, Quebec fall in love performing a play about Saint Sebastian. Their passion is interrupted when one is unjustly sent to prison. Decades later, a group of inmates agree to stage this story of young love in search of their own redemption.
In this reimagined production, director Cole Alvis (bug, The Kente Cloth) actively engages with the prison as the setting where this story unfolds, directing a cast of predominantly Indigenous and Black artists to make visible the high incarceration rates of these communities. Alvis and their directorial team – associate director Nikki Shaffeeullah (The AMY Project) and outside eye Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (Cake, Sound of the Beast) – revisit the past with a new lens, incorporating critical discussions around colonialism, the justice system, and their own lived experiences into their creative vision and process. Centring Indigeneity and diverse worldviews, the creative team bring this romantic drama into the 21st century, unearthing love, lies, and colonialism.
Leading the cast are film and stage veterans Alexander Chapman, who played Lydie-Anne in John Greyson’s film adaptation ofLilies, and Walter Borden (Harlem Duet, The Tragedie of Lear).
The two are joined by an ensemble of prison inmates ‘playing’ the 1912 story including Mark Cassius (Ragtime, Jesus Christ Superstar), Waawaate Fobister (Gashkigwaaso, Agokwe), Tsholo Khalema (Box 4901, Cake), Troy Emery Twigg (They Shoot Buffalo, Don’t They?; Dancing the Universe in Flux), Joseph Zita(Picture This), and lemonTree artists Ryan G Hinds (#KanderAndEbb, MacArthur Park Suite) and Indrit Kasapi (Les Moutons,The Boys in the Band). With set and prop design by Jay Havens (bug, Th’owxiya:The Hungry Feast Dish), costume design byJoanna Yu (School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play, Body Politic), lighting design by Michelle Ramsay (Obaaberima,Gertrude and Alice), and sound design by Deanna Choi (CHICHO, The Wolves).
Previews begin May 4 with the production closing May 26, 2019. For ticket information visit www.buddiesinbadtimes.com or call 416-975-8555