Ergo Arts Theatre began in the early 1990’s. We started as a core group of artists who were passionate about telling stories and giving a new perspective.
The start. With a shoestring budget, we began simply - with readings. We created worlds with words, actors and a stage. This was the West End Reading Series – an ongoing initiative featuring modern classics and new plays pared down to the essentials: the script and the actor. This four-year series always maintained a pay-what-you-can policy, as a way to make theatre accessible to everyone. Some highlights include Copenhagen, The Gin Game, The Pride, Betrayal, Musical Chairs, 7 Short Farces by Chekhov, The Seagull, and Fifty Plays.
Growing. New play development has been one of our mandates from the beginning. We have been a part of developing homegrown works throughout our 25 years of operation. From 1993 to the present, we have collaborated with many of Canada’s finest theatre talent: Martha Henry, Diana Leblanc, Oliver Dennis, Jordan Pettle, RH Thompson, Patrick Galligan, Deb Drakeford, Richard Lee, Janet-Laine Green, directors Sue Miner, Andrea Donaldson, Anita La Selva, and playwrights and dramaturges, Alexis Bernier, Marcia Johnson and Beverley Cooper to name a few.
We have had the privilege of seeing many new works journey from inception to realization – works like, The Pride, Still Life, The Women of Casterbridge, Pride and Prejudice, Then/Berenice and Vicious Circle.
A new language. In the exploration of new text development, we began to push the boundaries of text and style. With ancient Greek classics Lysistrata and the poetic works of Constantine Cavafy, Giorgos Seferis and Yiannis Ritsos, we delved into bilingual and polyglottal scripts. In 2008, Artistic Director Anna Pappas was commissioned to create an adaptation of Antigone, which was performed at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche. Our bilingual work continues with Two Voices (Δυο Φωνες).
On the road. We are no strangers to touring. Our production of the Canadian classic, Billy Bishop Goes to War, saw two Ontario tours. From Toronto to North Bay, the show was presented in theatres and private and public schools within the province. The show gave students a unique experience of theatre followed by a talk back with the actors and a World War II veteran. This production was our entry point into theatre and education.
Reaching youth. The idea of seeing with new eyes, instigating change and being the change has permeated all the work we have done with youth. In 2014, Through Your Eyes: The Odyssey Project brought together youth and seniors to play and create art around themes of journey and home. Later that year, young artists were assembled to improvise and create original versions of Homer’s The Odyssey.
The Indie Scene. From 1993 to the present, we have been a part of the Fringe and Summerworks communities with productions Vicious Circle, Then/Berenice, Truce, Breaking Character (chosen as Patron’s Pick) and Buckle My Shoe (selected as one of NOW Magazine’s Fringe Favourites). Both Festivals have been playing grounds for the development of alternative and experimental work for us.
Pink and Pink Fest. 2017 and 2018 saw the creation of Pink, the arm of Ergo Arts dedicated to supporting emerging (young and older), female-identifying and non-binary artists; and Ergo Pink Fest, the festival created to mentor and give visibility to female-identifying and non-binary playwrights. The festival gave platform to new and exciting work like Women of Casterbridge, The Sister Op, Being Helen, Witts: Ballad of Queer Cowboys, The Next Mary, Sol and Manners. The festival also offered audiences a chance for arts community engagement with dynamic panel discussions.