Behind the Curtain: The Tashme Project: The Living Archives

QDF spoke with the co-creators Matt Miwa and Julie Tamiko Manning of The Tashme Project: The Living Archives.  The responses are in one voice as creators.

QDF: Can you tell us a little bit about your experience as co- creators of the project? How was the experience working together on such an intimate work?

As half-Japanese Canadian theatre creators, we bonded very quickly as it is extremely rare to meet other Japanese Canadians in the world, let alone in this field. Being creators, we both had always yearned to delve into our past, and the legacy of the Japanese Canadian internment, yet alone, we felt equally powerless to start.  As a rule, stories of the internment are not discussed in Japanese Canadian families and growing up in the face of this silence impacted us both at a very deep level. We needed each other in the end, to begin the process of discovery and transformation. We shouldered each other through the initial outreach to our elders, through the interview process that has forever changed our relationship to them, and finally through the years-long and nerve wracking creation process that has led to this point.

QDF: As performers of documentary theatre, can you tell us what it’s like to perform these people you had interviewed?

It is an immense privilege, particularly because of how connected we feel to our community and our elders through this process. Speaking these stories and embodying our interviewees vocally, physically and spiritually, is a form of communion. We feel that we carry, cradle and champion these stories and in doing so we hope to ignite a pride of identity for all generations of the Japanese Canadian community. We seek to validate the long silent voices of our elders, and by sharing the vitality inherent in their testimonies, we not only want to illuminate our history for younger generation Japanese Canadians, we want to inspire in them a desire to reach out to their own elders and to talk to each other about what it means to be Japanese Canadian.

QDF: You’ve described the reluctance of subjects and how they developed into lengthy sessions. Have all of the subjects seen the finished work? What has the response been like?

It is both wonderful and terrifying to perform/impersonate our interviewees, but of course we always extend invitations out to them when we are performing in their part of the country. Over the years we have managed to show a good three quarters of our interviewees the work, and while their response is not always vocalized, we can tell they have been touched by the work and this very personal process. The thing is, we always perform their stories from a place of reverence and honour, and when they are in the audience, these emotions have a very specific place to land. It is wonderful to come full circle in these moments, and to direct the work back onto its sources.

QDF: As per the title, the project is living and seems to be evolving. What do you see for its future?

We are so lucky to be able to carry these stories forward for the rest of our lives; they will always serve as touchstones to the past, to our community, and to an inarticulate sense of faith.  Specifically, because it is such a pleasure to perform these stories, we do not want to stop. For the next iteration of this project, we want to break out of theatre into new media: graphic novels, podcast and documentary.  We have no firm plans; we just know we don’t want to stop!


You can see The Tashme Project: The Living Archives at Centaur Theatre from November 15-24. You can get your tickets here.

Thank you Matt and Julie for taking the time to speak with us!

The Tashme Project Creative team

Mike Payette, Director

Rebecca Harper, Movement Dramaturg

James Lavoie, Set & Costume Designer

Laurence Mongeau, Assistant Set & Costume Designer

David Perreault Ninacs, Lighting Designer

George Allister & Patrick Andrew Boivin, Video Designers

Patrick Andrew Boivin, Sound Designer

Isabel Quintero Faia, Stage Manager

Tristynn Duheme, Technical Director

Merissa Tordjman, Production Consultant

Behind the Curtain: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Quebec Drama Federation with Andrew Morissey (Hedwig), Noelle Hannibal (Producer and Yitzhak), Elisabeth Nyveen (Stage Manager) and Nadia Verrucci (director)

QDF: Can you tell us about your relationship(s) to the original film and broadway production Hedwig and the Angry Inch? How would you say In the Wings’ Hedwig is different to past productions?

Andrew Morisphy: I first stumbled upon the movie in high school having no idea what it was and fell in love with it. I realized how big of a cult-classic it is after. I saw it on Broadway a couple of years after with Michael C. Hall and reinforced my love for the show.

Noelle Hannibal: I first saw the show open in Hollywood in 1998. I went every single weekend for the six-month run, I loved it so much. Ian our Music Director and Nadia our Director were at my house and I asked if they had heard of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and they soon fell in love with it too.

Elizabeth Nyveen: My mom was super into the Hedwig soundtrack and introduced it to me when I was younger. I knew a few songs and for a long time I had no idea they were from Hedwig. She sat me down and we watched it together. I’ve never seen a live-production of it, so working on it right now is a nice introduction to it.

NH: I like that the broadway show is big and splashy, and I feel like a club like Mado is bringing it back in some ways. It’s such a beautiful show, and is so timely in the themes. Who doesn’t want to find love? Who hasn’t had their heart broken?

AM: I agree. Something that Nadia is making sure we’re doing is that it’s paired back and from a realistic view. It’s very different from the Broadway show that I saw where there was a lot of spectacle to it. I think it’s special to do it in such an intimate space.

Nadia Verucci: I’ve been approached by so many people who love the show and who’ve ever only seen the movie and never a live-performance. I’m so excited for those people to come and see this show because it is so different from the film.

NH: We had that in the audition process also. The majority of those we auditioned had only ever seen the film.

QDF: Noelle had touched on the theme of love and heartbreak. Are there any other themes in Hedwig you can speak to?

EN: It’s famously a queer show. Not just with sexuality but with gender. For my identity personally, I think it’s strong in presenting both of those. I find it really relevant today especially where we’re going through a gender renaissance where trans people have been making strides with obstacles before them. Doing Hedwig in this political and social climate is really important to see.

QDF: Can you tell us a bit about your direction for this production Nadia?

NV: I’m really mean.

NH: She’s not mean, she’s tough. What I can say is that Nadia’s toughness has made me a better actor in my approaches and how I work, and why I always ask to work with her. Her vision is what makes this show special.

NV: It always makes me laugh when people say ‘vision’. When I’m in rehearsal I usually see something and know where to go rather than walking in knowing exactly what I want to do, I find that limiting.

NH: For Andrew and I, right off the bat, we connected and I think that’s important for this show. Where the band is onstage.

AM: There’s also a sense of play where Nadia lets us try a scene so many different ways  that makes us feel that we are a large part of the process and ownership.

QDF: Oh, the band is on stage?

NV: They are, and they participate!

NH: It’s the whole connection and a piece to what makes a shiny glittery puzzle.


You can see Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Cabaret Mado, 1115 St Catherine St E, Montreal, QC H2L 2G2, Tickets on sale NOW! Visit the website here.

Book by John Cameron Mitchell Music and Lyrics by Stephen Trask

Directed by Nadia Verrucci

Musical Direction by Ian Baird

Production Support Jayne Heitmeyer


VIP $35 (plus service fee) Includes Reserved, front row Seating and a non alcoholic beverage

General Admission $25 (plus service fee)

Students and Seniors $20 (plus service fee)

CAEA/ACTRA/UdA/QDF $20 (plus service fee)


*Hedwig and the Angry Inch co-creator, composer and lyricist STEPHEN TRASK will be present on Opening Night for a talk back performance, November 14!

**Thursday, November 15 performance will be a special charity night. $5 from every ticket sold with go directly to Project 10. In addition, proceeds from raffle ticket sales from ALL performances will also go directly to Project 10.

Behind the Curtain: Other People’s Children

Diana UribeSet and Costume Design
Chantal Labonté, Lighting Designer

Quebec Drama Federation: Can you talk a little bit about choosing to go with a minimalist aesthetic for the design in this production?

Diana Uribe: It’s a story that involves three different people whose lives are invested in this house. The story is not about the house as much as it is about them. The big inspiration was for the set to be a frame for them. The set had to be as clean and as pure as possible with the design. With Hannah, the story is so amazing that you don’t have a lot of time to worry about where they are.

      On the costume side it was a little more complex. It’s a period of three months and transition where things happen and the characters are each involved in their own way. The set doesn’t change but the costumes do throughout the show.

Chantal Labonté: With the lighting it needed to be minimalistic as well to keep the characters as the focus. Because everything was so simplistic I didn’t want to impose ambiances during the scene. Even with colour, we’re playing with cools and warms without imposing a dramatic effect on the scene. The time where we do see a little more movement is when we show the passage of time. With music, we go into this other kind of atmosphere without saying anything- it’s very neutral.

Diana Uribe (Set and Costume Design)


QDF: We just walked through the set- it all looks and feels so expensive. Even with so few physical objects onstage, the set exudes a certain luxury.

DU: The story is of privileged people who have someone come to raise their child. On the other end of the spectrum, the woman who came from a third world country to raise another family’s kids. We needed to show that in their place. We needed to see the privilege from this family. They have money and we need to see it. Those elements are important in design in relation to the story. With minimalism, it works well to be contemporary and modern.

CL: This is the most blank canvas I’ve ever worked with, and in a way it stays blank. It’s the characters and the story that contrasts the blankness.

DU: I almost wanted this set to be like a sculpture in the middle of the stage. We started to put together our notes and both mine and Chantal’s were the exact same.


QDF: The architecture of the set you’ve designed allows for multiple rooms to be visible for the audience.

CL: It kind of looks like one full world.

DU: We have two levels for two bedrooms for the characters. They’re both merged together from opposite worlds and backgrounds together somehow onstage.

CL: They interact with each other.

QDF: Where did you draw references from for this production?

DU: Architecture. I love Scarpa’s architecture. It’s so clean and so modern. His work will still be contemporary a hundred years from now. I also think the internet is great, especially Pinterest. Before it would’ve been a library but now it’s all in my computer for image references.

CL: For me it’s paintings. When there’s just simply two colours, that hits me and will become my colour pallet.

Chantal Labonté (Lighting Design)

QDF: Do either of you have any advice you would give to up and coming designers or folks looking to break into designing?

DU: Open your eyes. If you walk on the street, you’re on the metro, you’ll be inspired. Also, if you know the story, stay true to it. Yes, we would all like to put our signature on our work, but you need to check your ego. Work for the story and keep your ego down.

CL: On my end, I would say play with the objects and set that is given to you. Also explore! If you have an object work the different angles and colours. I would also say collaborate and listen to your fellow designers to make sure you understand their vision but you also have your own. Stay open,  there is no one right answer.



QDF: That kind of goes with ego too.

CL: Listen and work with your team.
DU: I can go in my own studio and do my own work, but I need to keep a dialogue going.



Imago Theatre presents Other People’s Children by Hannah Moscovitch from October 25-November 4 at Centaur Theatre. 

Or visit or on Facebook here.

Imago Theatre is a catalyst for conversation, an advocate for equal representation, and a hub for stories about unstoppable women. 

Interview conducted October 24, 2018.

Behind the Curtain: The Domestic Crusaders

This week, QDF sat down with The Domestic Crusaders director, Deborah Forde. We had a wonderful time talking with QDF’s past Managing Director about identity, her practice as a director and the power of dark comedy.

Quebec Drama Federation: The Domestic Crusaders premiered on September 28! How has it been going?

Deborah Forde: I guess for me as a director I’m still in a place with the actors that I’m not really out in the audience yet. It was well received by the people we were aiming for it to be well received by. It’s a community that hasn’t seen themselves onstage. My favourite moment of the night was when someone from the community came to me and said, ‘Deb, it was like you were in my living room!’ That was the pinnacle of my night. The story is set in somebody’s living room, kitchen and two bedrooms.  We wanted people to see their reflection of self in their space. There was a moment when me and the designers sat down and Nalo Soyini, our set designer, threw the central question into the room, ‘who are we making this piece for?’ I think that is an important question you need to be asking yourself as you’re doing the work. Especially as I’m aware I’m very different in my approach.

We discussed that today’s artistic practices aren’t what we want to go for here. We created a world that is much richer and fuller than would be the norm. Some of the areas we couldn’t do that were where resources are limited. It’s a world where most families, not just Pakistani families, would look at that room and recognize it. The set design was a conscious decision to go in that direction.


QDF: A lot of the conversation around the show has been about representation of the Muslim identity and the Muslim community in Quebec, can you talk a bit about that?

DF: We really talked about the idea of representation, so audiences coming in and being able to see themselves onstage. We’re hoping and we believe that people will feel,  because this is a community that doesn’t get to see themselves onstage, that this is all about them. We hope that they will see the love we’ve put into it and the celebration. Because really, it was a journey of discovery and how is this falling in love with the music, food, the people.

It was a journey of having people from the culture and people around the table who came from the culture. People to say, ‘hey you know what, this is how we do it’. I always try to do that in my practice but especially in this, giving more over to the actors.


QDF: Can you tell us about your practice as a director?

DF: I should declare my practice upfront. I don’t believe in art for the sake of art. People have that practice and god bless ya, but it doesn’t work for me. As a director, they talk about visionaries and I don’t see myself that way. I see myself as a facilitator to the writer and to the actors. I don’t walk into the theatre seeking to make great art, I seek to tell a story. I trust that the actors and the designers are going to collaborate to bring in something beautiful and they can bring it to the stage. If everyone comes together then maybe someone will come and say, that was great art. I’m more interested in them saying, ‘that was great storytelling’.

I come in with an idea of what the story is going to look like. From the table read, what actors start to offer, that image starts to change in my head. You want actors to have a confidence in you, and a part of that is me going home to process the ideas. In this particular case, I did more of that work in the room.


QDF: So, a part of your process is empowering actors to take the position of director?

DF: For example, the Isha prayer. We wanted to start the show and finish with the prayer, and we wanted to be authentic with it. So, one person in our cast who is the two, Muslim and Pakistani, presented. I was waiting for someone to come forward who had the authority to teach us. He kindly stepped in and said ‘I know this, do you mind if I do it?’ I said ‘please do’ and I handed the reins over to him.

Because we are representing a family, it was very important that the actors have that connection between characters. It’s incredible the work they did to get there; incredible and generous! To allow themselves to be in the discomfort as we explore this. Allow themselves to find each other in the room while being sensitive to the other actors. To take the moment and be vulnerable while having that dialogue in the room. Because that’s the dialogue we need to be having in the audience. If we avoid having the dialogue then what’s happening out there?


QDF: The Domestic Crusaders presented at QDF’s Fall Theatre Calendar Launch, with a very positive reaction! The comedy in the show is poignant and sharp, can you talk a bit about the comedic tone of the play?

DF: I think it’s the craft of the playwright, Wajahat Ali, recognizing self, and the subjects. Most of the work we see depicting the Muslim community is heavy and you come to expect that. This play is coming from a place where a family is around the kitchen table. It’s not just the politics of the family. I’m not just talking politics to my brother, Im talking to my brother and he’s being an asshole about it! I think that being in the audience, the comedy takes the fear out of it because you’re seeing someone else have a conversation about it.

Some of the words are harsh. If you were to say some of this script in mixed company, you would likely raise an eyebrow or two. It’s in the context of a play, but some of the things that are said are really difficult. It’s something that me and the actors spoke about, ‘what am I really saying here?’ Something to understand, why somebody of a minority culture for instance shows dislike to their own culture, where does that come from? It comes from living in a society where only a certain profile of my culture is welcomed. I have to disassociate from them in order to be welcome there, but that’s an illusion as well. Seeing this play, the humour comes from that human-element and people dealing with it in the best way they can.


Thank-you to Deborah for taking the time to sit with QDF. You can still see The Domestic Crusaders at Espace Knox – 6215 Avenue Godfrey, until October 6th. For more information, you can check out the Silk Road Institute website here.


Behind the Curtain: Sapientia

By Benjamin Chafe

This past week I went and visited the team behind the upcoming production of Sapientia. Running at Mainline Theatre from August 16- August 26, Scapegoat Carnivale’s Sapientia is sure to spark conversations. I met with Alison Darcy (playing Sapientia in addition to Co-Artistic Director of Scapegoat Carnivale), Mia van Leeuwen (Direction and Conceptualization), and Joseph Shragge (Co-Artistic Director of Scapegoat Carnivale and adapted from a literal translation by Lynn Kozak). We sat down at Mainline Theatre, surrounded by the objects that add to the vibrancy of Sapentia. Our dialogue focused primarily on the process of Object Theatre, religion and gender.

QDF: Can you tell us a little bit about what Object Theatre is and why you chose this technique?

Mia van Leeuwen- So, Object Theatre is a form I came in contact with and then eventually trained with and under the tutelage of Grant Guy in Winnipeg, MB. When I was thinking about how to stage Sapientia after Joseph had brought the script to me, I was like ‘oh my gosh, how are we going to do this piece?’ It’s super violent and has all of these miracles in it. With my background in Object Theatre, I put it all together and thought- this is something I can investigate with objects.

Object Theatre is in line with puppetry. Instead of using any form of face, you are using household objects or domestic objects. Sometimes the objects are more designed, which is along with Grant’s work. He would design, do a bricolage or assemblage of objects. In this style of Object Theatre, I learned from Grant, the performer is very much a part of the picture. For people who are new to Object Theatre, it can take a while to get into because they have to see the performer and object move together.

QDF: What’s it like as a performer, negotiating your role while operating the object?

Alison Darcy- I came to it brand spanking new, so everything I’ve learned has been through Mia. I’ve directed puppetry before so I understand it from the outside eye. Looking through the object rather than looking at the person holding the object so a lot of your focus is in placing (the object). Putting your energy into that object. I was struggling a lot with understanding how to do that with an object that doesn’t have a mouth and like googly eyes or hands. I had to get over the idea in my head that I am not trying to animate it to be a person. I have to find a way for the object to move itself or it wants to move itself. If it were to have life, how would it express its life.

I’m playing a hand mirror. She’s very pretty. She has a way to flip her head around, pivot and turn. The way I place my hands can express a lot through the flick of a finger. If I pick her up and move her, is she jumping or flying, what is she doing? It’s a language that I had to find a whole other vocabulary with Mia.

QDF: You’ve referred to the mirror as ‘she’ and ‘her’. So the object as a character then becomes gendered.

AD- Oh yeah. She, the mirror, is a part of me. We’ve had a lot of fun with like, is it the mirror? Is it me? Or is it Allison performing the mirror?

Joseph Shragge- I also think there’s a way the objects reflect gender. Initially, it seems very gendered like this woman and her three little girls displayed with femininity of a vanity mirror and teacups versus this very rugged flashlight. 

QDF: Has Object Theatre changed the way that you view potentially mundane objects in your daily life? Are you seeing objects with a new perspective and how to bring them onstage? 

MvL- As the director, I often work with objects. I am always looking for an object’s potential. Maybe that object could function in a theatrical space, not just as a prop.

JS- It’s really about the performer and the object. Sometimes people get confused about, ‘I don’t know where to look’ and really it’s just about following the story. The performers are in their way telling you when they’re in the objects and when they are themselves.



QDF: Can you describe the process in selecting the objects that you use in the production?

MvL- When I started the process in 2014, I was studying a religious theatre course in University of Alberta. I started considering how objects could be applied to Sapientia. I started thinking about the teacups. The characters Faith Hope and Charity are each portrayed by teacups. They can be fragile and yet beyond their body is much stronger than the appearance of them.

Sapientia was the first character I chose and I did a lot of reflection in her, and I knew right away that a mirror could function. Because of her actions and the extremism of them, I am not a religious person but I was curious to reflect that character in myself. With Rome, I wanted someone who surveyed the land and decided to use a mechanical flashlight.

AD- We found a lot of fun ways within the text that can be interpreted as literal reference. Words like ‘reflecting’, are literally in the text that we can play off of.

QDF: The production has included a trigger warning. Is there anything you would like audiences to know before coming to the production?

AD- There are also flashing lights we would like to include in the trigger warning. There is violence towards the representation of women or particularly girls in the show. That can be a very upsetting idea. It kind of lies in the genius of choosing to do Object Theatre that we can have a distance from it and witness the act without actually having to watch a woman being tortured on stage. Within this modern climate I think people are asking why we would ever need to see violence against women because we’ve seen it for so long, since antiquity. This is an interesting way to address that and tell this story, while recognizing that we are doing work that is rarely done by the first female playwright. A playwright who’s been forgotten overtime for her male counterparts. So in honouring the piece and the original words but being aware of the society we’re in now and how to intelligently marry those worlds rather than ignore the fact that this will be an issue. 

QDF: Can you tell us about some of the other themes Sapientia explores?

MvL- Violence and miracles. The violence I knew I definitely didn’t want to portray in the piece with realism because it would be way too much and over the top. I was curious how to deconstruct the violence. In Object Theatre you can deconstruct everything. You use mechanics in order to display the actions. As opposed to a more psychological approach.

The miracles, are more difficult to show to stage. The investigation of violence and the feeling of pain in relation to how they feel miracles is really what made me buy into this piece and how to stage both.




Thank you to Alison, Mia, and Joseph for taking the time to meet with me during your busy rehearsal schedule!


The talented cast includes Alison Darcy (Sapientia), Robert Leveroos(Hadrian), Alexandra Petrachuk (The Daughters—Faith, Hope and Charity) and Paul Van Dyck (Antiochus), with foley sound performed by Evan Stepanian. Vancouver creator/performer Robert Leverooshas designed a set resembling an industrial kitchen to draw a parallel between the bodily carnage onstage and food preparation. Bruno-Pierre Houle tackles the lighting and costume designs. David Epstein stage manages. Dramaturgy by Anthony Kennedy.

About Scapegoat Carnivale: Scapegoat Carnivale is an award-winning company reflecting the diverse talents and extraordinary creativity of the Montreal artistic community, presenting innovative new work, with an interest is in the carnivalesque, the roughly-hewn, and the highly theatrical. Whether producing new works or adaptations from the classical repertoire, they strive for theatre to be an unruly, visceral and authentic shared experience.


Scapegoat Carnivale at MainLine Theatre, MiniMain Space, 3997 Blvd. Saint-Laurent

Thurs. to Sat.—Aug. 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25: 8pm; Sat. Aug. 25: 2pm; Sun. Aug. 19, 26: 2pm

Ticket prices: $20, $15 student/senior/underemployed; Pay-What-You-Can Aug. 19 at 2pm

Box office: 514 849-3378,


*Please note there will be talkbacks on August 17, 19, 23 and 24.

Behind the Curtain: The History of Sexuality with Dane Stewart

By Benjamin Chafe

Dane Stewart

Quebec Drama Federation: Alright Dane, let’s get into it! What are some of the main topics in The History of Sexuality?

Dane Stewart: At its core, The History of Sexuality is about queerness and how the queer community interacts with other communities. In this production, 8 of the 9 actors are playing queer characters or queer adjacent; characters that are close to the LGBTQ acronym. I personally identify as gay and explore my own thoughts and experiences throughout this piece. How do I write outside of my understanding? For me, this is a product of how to ethically represent others.


QDF: Can you tell us a little bit about Talking Dog Productions?

DS: I needed some sort of company in order to produce my productions. For people who don’t know me, you will after the show, I am a part of the pup play community. So, Talking Dog- I am the talking dog. Last year during pride we did Voices in Leather. It was an oral history exhibit using audio interviews to explore what it means to be a part of the leather community.


QDF: Both Voices in Leather and The History of Sexuality provide testimonials. What was the experience like getting the testimonials and personal narratives?

DS: It started as a masters thesis taking a more ethical approach to verbatim interviews. There are texts that I’ve referred to like The Vagina Monologues. However, I’ve been taking a different approach. I run the interviews and fictionalize. In 2016, I transcribed portions through characters. An ethical feedback mechanism and would take the variations back to the participants and see if they can be better represented so the end result is a very kaleidoscope representation- they were theme-driven instead of plot-driven.


QDF: You’ve performed this show before, this time being presented with Montréal Pride. How do you think the show reflects Pride?

DS: I definitely think it’s an exciting trajectory for the show. Coming from Mainline and for it to be presented with Pride, I’m thankful that they and Place des Arts gave the opportunity. I think Pride can be perceived as monolithic in what it means to be identified within the LGBTQ community. Hopefully audience members are able to see themselves or a version of themselves outside of the events Pride usually has to offer.  


QDF: Have there been any changes in the production since showing at Mainline?

DS: There is a change that people should be aware of. There is a pretty intense narrative of sexual assault. A character has a scene with audio clips of the interview I did with the survivor. I did interviews with perpetrators of sexual assault within the community. There’s now a scene with verbatim interviews of perpetrators of sexual harm so participants should be aware of that.


QDF: What do you want the audience to take away from the production?

DS: Hopefully, there is a willingness to listen to others’ experience and for the audience to feel a sense of empathy. We have narratives from sex workers where it is a positive experience for some, and negative for others. We have characters with anxiety and depression. We present the checkered past of the history with authorities, including the police. I hope people come to see it with an open mind and take away something different and personal.

Hood, Erika Rosenbaum.

You can see The History of Sexuality at Fierté Montréal Pride August 9th-12th at Place des Arts, 175 St. Catherine O. Thank you Dane for taking the time to chat with us!