Rigid job descriptions are disappearing in the theatre. Directors, playwrights, stage designers, choreographers and actors of the past are giving way to versatile theatre creators who bring together a variety of skills and talents to advance their artistic expression. Whether these artists work alone or in groups, new technologies are constantly improving the means available to implement projects that were once unimaginable. While theatre as a unifying art continues to draw inspiration from dance, film and other art forms, today, easily accessible digital media have themselves become a source of inspiration. This same evolution makes touring easier as the size of the equipment needed decreases. This is particularly important for French-speaking Ontario, where the conditions of performance venues unfortunately remain too often deficient. Finally, in Toronto, one cannot ignore the cosmopolitan and multiethnic demographics of a rapidly evolving audience.
It is in the context of profound disciplinary change that the Théâtre français de Toronto (TfT) began discussing possible short and long term partnerships with the Université de l’Ontario français (UOF). UOF’s experiential teaching model clearly corresponds to the well-established teaching tradition of apprenticeships in the theatre. There are plenty of possibilities for linkages between the proposed media program and TfT’s various activities in arts education, cultural mediation, and the creation of new works for the stage. For TfT, finding personnel in tune with current trends in the theatrical sector is an ongoing challenge, making it imperative to access as quickly as possible training programs that can guarantee the professional success of students.
The announcement of $1.9 million in support of UOF by Mélanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie of Canada, is significant in more than one respect. Beyond allowing this new university to continue its work generally, it is a contribution that will allow the long awaited school and its partners to continue setting up the Carrefour francophone du savoir et de la ‘innovation (Francophone Centre for Knowledge and Innovation). TfT has been working for three years on the construction of a rehearsal and performance space. Following the success of numerous theatre infrastructure projects elsewhere in French-speaking Ontario, particularly in Ottawa and Sudbury, no one can doubt the urgency of such a project for the oldest Franco-Ontarian theatre company and for the GTA. Bearing in mind that TfT has no performance space of its own, the advantages of joining this project with that of the Carrefour are numerous: a proximity that brings TfT closer to its constituency while creating a permanent space which – finally! – will serve as a gathering place for francophone artists from here and around the world.
Clearly, the issues surrounding the creation of UOF go far beyond the education sector. It is an essential tool to enable members of the franco-ontarian community in Toronto to fully assume their role as ambassadors to francophones throughout Canada and the world in both cultural and economic fields. For a government that has put the fiscal success of Ontarians at the forefront of its electoral platform, this is surely the strongest argument for opening such an educational institution.
Artistic Director and Co-Director General
Administrative Director and Co-Director General