We’re over 25 now and busier than ever! Mixed Company is incredibly excited about the two new shows we’re touring this Spring. You will be too when you read about them in SPRING HAS SPRUNG.

Our newest play, A Fine Line, will be ready just in time. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Report on Sexual Harassment reveals what our Ontario Arts Council supported Playwright in Residence, Heather Marie Annis knew all along: the disturbing prevalence of harassment in our schools. Learn more in WHAT’S MY LINE? Students Speak Up About Harassment.

There are new staff on board to help us launch Project ACT, an exciting new province-wide project focused on Physical Activity, Healthy Eating and Substance Abuse Prevention. Read more about how communities across Ontario will be involved in both creation and development as we begin ACTIVATING PROJECT ACT.

We’ve revamped our workshop schedule for educators, social workers, community leaders, theatre students and professionals we’re now offering more workshops than ever before. Find your opportunity to participate as we ANNOUNCE OUR 2010 WORKSHOPS.

Mixed Company Theatre works with thousands of young people each year. In ‘BOUNCING BACK’, you’ll have the unique opportunity to hear from some of them, as youth write (and rap!) about their experiences with this year’s Homelessness project.

Last, but hardly least, browse through photos of our 1st Annual STARS Awards Gala. Our 25th Anniversary event was a huge success and we once again thank the many people who made it so.

Engage, Educate, Empower—and Enjoy!


Ainsley Skye
Education and Community Outreach

Mixed Company Theatre


Mixed Company Theatre is committed to tackling a wide range of social issues. From gang violence to environmentalism, the company will be engaging and empowering students of all ages and this spring’s educational tour proves it!

Touring March 22 – April 23, DISS is Mixed Company’s acclaimed 2009 summer production that focuses on gang presence in our neighbourhoods and the pressures youth face in finding social connection and identity.  Aimed at students in grades 9 through 12, DISS was created in collaboration with Toronto Police Service, Chalmers Award-winning playwright Rex Deverell and youth who have experienced violence.  The plot covers snitching, family relationships, friendship, theft, gun violence and many other issues that affect young people living with gang presence in their communities.

Presenting the worst-case scenarios of gang involvement, the play catalyzes audience members to express their voices to make our communities safer. This show garnered such positive response and media attention Mixed Company felt it was important to tour this particular show. The power of the play’s message has brought several major sponsors on board: the Ontario Arts Council, the Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, CIBC and the Rotary Club of Toronto. As Ric Williams, member of the Rotary Club of Toronto Board of Directors, put it: “The first step in confronting the problems of youth violence is bringing issues into the open and facing the drama that is played out with terrible consequences. DISS facilitates this through a narrative that doesn’t shame individuals or damage lives. We are proud to be involved with DISS, and we honour their contribution to a better life in our communities.”

All this doesn’t mean that Mixed Company is forgetting the little ones! With generous support from the Ontario Arts Council and TD Friends of the Environment, from April 12-30 the company teams up with UNIT – Up Your Nose and In Your Toes – to tour Morro and Jasp…GO GREEN! Previewing at the Lower Ossington Theatre April 11, this clown show for grades 1-6 makes environmentalism more accessible than ever before. In what NOW Magazine calls “their best show yet: and eco-tainment piece about environmental issues that’s both funny and informational for youngsters,” Clowns Morro and Jasp turn assumptions about being green on their heads, teaching that every little bit does make a difference. Embarking on a journey to reduce their ecological footprint, together they make not always easy changes in their daily lives and learn that being environmentally friendly is certainly important and curiously rewarding.

New Sponsorships Make Youth A Priority

Mixed Company Theatre announces sponsorship from Catherine & Maxwell Meighen Foundation, CIBC, and the Rotary Club of Toronto.The support of these organizations will make DISS more accessible to Toronto’s priority schools where students will benefit most from participating in these forum theatre presentations.

Mixed Company Theatre announces a new sponsorship from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation. Morro and Jasp Go Green! will tour to schools accross the GTA. The TD Friends of the Environment Foundation shares Mixed Company Theatre’s concern for the environment and recognizes that all of us have a role to play in making a difference in our community.

Catch Morro and Jasp GO GREEN at the Lower Ossington Theatre Sunday April 11 at 11:00am and 2:00pm

For more information, contact us at 416 515 8080 x22 or info@mixedcompanytheatre.com

By Deidre Budgell

WHAT’S MY LINE? Students Speak Up About Harassment

In February 2010, Dr. David Wolfe, RBC Chair in Children’s Mental Health of The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) released new research on school violence, sexual harassment and bullying. After surveying 1819 Grade 9 and 11 students in 23 schools across Southwestern Ontario, the data collected shows increased cause for concern.

Students and community members; youth and arts organizations; school administration and police officers are teaming up to address the issue of harassment in schools. Readings of Mixed Company Theatre’s newest play, A Fine Line, facilitated a community response to harassment at Empowered Student Partnership (ESP) events in February. Through collaboration with students who have experienced harassment in their schools, supported through the Ontario Arts Council, Mixed Company’s Playwright in Residence, Heather Marie Annis, creates the worst-case scenarios of harassment. At the ESP events, hosted by Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School and Birchmount Park Collegiate, these readings catalyzed audiences to discuss and react to the issues, together creating solutions that will make our communities safer.

“It was great having Mixed Company at Birchmount.” said Curtis Carmichael, a Birchmount ESP student, “We got to talk about different ways of handling harassment in an open group discussion with equal input from both males and females.”

The final version of A Fine Line will incorporate insights gained at these readings and will tour schools in the Fall of 2010. “It was incredibly valuable to receive feedback from the students,” said playwright Annis. “They are living these stories and scenarios now. If a moment in the play connects with them, then it is very clearly headed in the right direction. And if not, the students let you know immediately and truthfully. Their honesty and willingness to share their own experiences keeps the play evolving and ensures that it is going to be  effective in performance.”

Reading Between the Lines

Facts from CAMH’s Report on Sexual Harassment and Related Behaviours:

  • 29% of grade nine girls and 33% of grade nine boys reported feeling unsafe at school in the past month.
  • 4% of grade 11 boys admitted to trying to force someone to have sex with them, while 10% of males and 27% of females admitted to being pressured into doing something sexual that they didn’t want to.

Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School and Birchmount Park Collegiate (pictured above) hosted ESP events to discuss the issues of harassment.

By Ainsley Skye

Activating Project ACT

Our office is jumping with activity as we launch Project ACT, an exciting new province-wide initiative sponsored by Ministry of Health Promotion— we gratefully acknowledge their support!—and Mixed Company Theatre. It’s an interactive, theatrical presentation that focuses on Physical Activity, Healthy Eating and Substance Abuse Prevention to help students in grades 6-9 recognize and overcome the blocks, excuses, barriers and deflections that can prevent them from leading active, healthy lives.

Like adults, children today receive many messages about healthy eating, physical activity and even the use of substances. Sometimes it can be tough for young people to make the best decisions around these issues because of mixed messages and environmental and social barriers.

Beginning with research and development, the pilot segment of Project ACT is well underway and continues until June 2010. In the coming weeks, playwright Rex Deverell and Artistic Director Simon Malbogat will meet with students and community experts in four regions of Ontario to get input and feedback about these issues to inform script development. In March and April, they’ll return, with actors, to those schools to hold readings of the first draft of the play and get further feedback. By May, the new play will be unveiled during a limited pilot tour.

A distinctive element of Project ACT is to get students to organize events related to the healthy and active living issues addressed through the play. We’ll be partnering with local organizations such as district health units, sports and activity clubs to deliver this element. This lets students personally take charge of leading their own active healthy lives while inspiring others to do the same. We’ll tell you more about this as those events evolve.

In the second phase of Project ACT this new work goes on the road with a full tour throughout Ontario in Fall 2010. A key element then will be facilitated, small-group, post-show discussions with students and educators to create a safe and encouraging forum in which to further delve into these issues.  And we’ve already started gathering research from experts in the fields of healthy eating, physical activity and substance abuse prevention to help us prepare a Project ACT Study Guide that will contain information and resources to help students make sense of the messages and deal with challenges they may face. Off we go!

ACT I: The Pilot

“The McGuinty government is committed to improving the overall well-being of individuals and their broader communities. Working together with organizations like Mixed Company Theatre will help Ontarians enhance and maintain their most valuable asset – their health.”

– Minister of Health Promotion, Honourable Margarett R. Best

“87% of children and youth are still not meeting the recommended 90 minutes of physical activity a day.”

-The Active Healthy Kids Canada
Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth

By Alicia Payne, Jillian Ellis & Monica Nunes

Want to learn more? Contact alicia@mixedcompanytheatre.com

Announcing 2010 Workshops

By popular demand, Mixed Company Theatre once again presents its Forum Theatre Workshops this summer. Sessions include a two-part Introduction to Forum Theatre, a two-day exploration of Masks of Manipulations and a three-day Joker/Facilitator workshop. For over 25 years, Mixed Company Artistic Director and primary workshop facilitator Simon Malbogat has engaged audiences and students in the art of Forum Theatre in numerous countries and he continues to be an in-demand educator.

These workshops challenge participants to awaken the internal and external manipulators of human behaviour, and master nuances for guiding groups through hard-to-talk about issues.  Designed for educators, social workers, community leaders, theatre students and professionals, workshop participants will learn the methodology of forum theatre – a UNESCO-recognized tool for positive social change – these professional development workshops create a space for solving problems and practicing solutions. Forum Theatre scenes are quickly created and participants practice various styles of facilitation. By studying themselves and others with input from the group, participants learn conflict resolution, audience/group management, and techniques that further animate an audience to express their opinions and ideas.

Through the fine art of ‘Joking’ – asking questions, making connections, and instructing in the engagement of groups, Forum Theatre audiences and “Spect-actors” – all of Mixed Company Theatre’s high calibre, experienced facilitators deliver solutions to help you address your unique challenges.

Workshop Schedule

Intro to Forum Theatre Part I
May 7
May 21
June 28
August 6
Intro to Forum Theatre Part II
May 7
May 21
June 28
August 6
Masks and Manipulations
June 29-June 30
August 9-August 10
Joker Master Class
August 11-August 13

For more information or to reserve your spot, contact 416 515 8080 x22 or info@mixedcompanytheatre.com

By Deidre Budgell

‘BOUNCING BACK’ from Homelessness

Every year Mixed Company’s artists collaborate with youth who are ‘at-risk’ or have experienced homelessness to develop an original, interactive, and issue-based homelessness project. Garnering intense media interest over the years, these annual presentations result in astonishing experiences that transform the lives of participants, company members and audiences alike.

2010’s Holding Boundaries is no exception as it explores the challenges of shelter life, substance abuse and manipulative relationships. Funded by the City of Toronto’s Drug Prevention Community Investment Program, this “Bouncing Back” Project tours shelters, community centers, and schools across Toronto to raise awareness surrounding the issues of homelessness and substance abuse.

Will Casey, a “Bouncing Back” participant expresses his response to the project through his own rap:

This Project God sent before my past was bent
But I’m on the right path
I found my way to vent
The time that I spent
Doing this has left me with a new scent
On how life works
No matter how hard your life hurts
Get the strength to bounce back
Watch how the mouth smirks
It’s a great feeling
Knowing you lent a hand to change
Without any experience
Was willing to jump up on stage
So I could do just that
Watch mine and others lives grow stronger
Not only that
It’s a fact our life light will glow longer
It’s a reality when we talk
About these people in the shelter
Their falls at times uncontrollable
So it’s often you see them welter
In other words, confusion on their direction
Pause for a reflection
Try to think about their rejection
How in life they are bounded to a section
Or every other week a flippin inspection
So we’re trying to find a connection
These are points that should be
Brought up at the election
I sort of have a thing for Announcing Facts
Our message is quite clear in Bouncing Back
You have your own mind, use it for your choices  Cause in this world
People like being other people’s voices
You have to think
How would I want to be treated
You’ll see it helps everything
Starting from the way you got greeted
Staying calm even if the convo is heated
I’ve come to find you can never be defeated

Holding Boundaries

Will Casey and Katy Currie in Bouncing Back Project’s Holding Boundaries

Katy Currie, a Bouncing Back participant shares her experiences:

“Being a part of the Bouncing Back Project has been an incredible experience.

I love that Holding Boundaries is made of everyone’s past or passion. Whether we were on the outside looking in or the inside looking out. Everyone’s experiences mattered.

I’ve learned so much about myself and how easily acting can become a passion. It’s become my way of expressing myself and my thoughts.  All I wanted was an opportunity.  Acting with Mixed Company has given me that opportunity: to be a voice for homeless youth, the ones that feel unloved. Knowing what it’s like to have a voice that isn’t heard, I wish someone had had the opportunity to be a voice for me.

It’s important to get the word out there about what is happening to our youth. For the adults that watched our play, I hope it encourages you to hug your child more often and actually listen to what your child is saying. You only have one chance to be a parent: the choices you make determine if they sleep under your roof, or someone else’s.

Hearing the stories of the audience, then working with Aaron, Tashieka, Will, Stephanie and Mitch, has been heartbreaking but reminds me why we need to keep pushing forward and make change happen.

I learned to express myself through acting and that words are not always necessary to make people listen. I’ve learned that everyone has a little bit of Liza in their heart and that all people want is a home. We want love.

I hope that other youth have the opportunity to experience what I have for the last month… it has meant the world to me. I finally have something I can do to make a difference in my life and for the lives of others. Thank you Duncan, Heather and Rebecca.”

FIRST Annual STARS Awards Gala

On behalf of Mixed Company Theatre and its Board of Directors, I would like to thank everyone who turned out on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 and made our 1st Annual STARS Awards Gala such a memorable event.

I would like to personally thank our hard-working Gala Committee, Angela Barbieri Angela Bishop, Megan MacKeigan; Master of Ceremonies, Suhana Meharchand; jazz icon Jackie Richardson; the SHAMBA foundation and Inga Skaya, Dennie & Chris Theodore; Deidre Budgell; our committed volunteers and all of our entertainers: Morro & Jasp, SilverElvis, Scott Jackson, and the engaging artists of Mixed Company Theatre.

We also express our gratitude to our special guests the Honourable Margaret R. Best, Ontario’s Minister of Health Promotion and Dr. Alok Mukherjee, Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board for their participation. The event would not have been the success it was without the $14,000 of in-kind donations provided by Toronto community organizations. Most of all, our appreciation goes to the many people who came out to support and honour Mixed Company Theatre’s 25 years of excellence.

As well as celebrating ourselves, the Gala was also Mixed Company’s way of honouring the excellence of others. This event inaugurated our Annual STARS Awards. Described in a previous newsletter, the awards were presented to individuals and organizations that have demonstrated commitment to educating, engaging, and empowering their peers and community in creating positive solutions to challenging issues. Congratulations the 1st Annual STARS Awards winners!

  • RISING STARS: Aidan Gowland and Susie Jaroszeska
  • SHINING STARS: Mike Fuh, Luciano Iogna and Alex Neumann
  • SHOOTING STARS: Toronto District School Board, Toronto Hydro and Toronto Police Services Board

Finally, this gala would not have been possible without the initial vision and 25 years of the championing of that vision by Mixed Company Theatre’s founder and current Artistic Director, Simon Malbogat.

The STARS Awards Gala demonstrated what Mixed Company Theatre is all about – unique, spirited, caring and community drive – and that’s how we like it. I am proud and honoured to be a part of celebrating 25 years of Mixed Company Theatre and of its exciting future.

Daniel Booth

General Manager

A Star-Studded Night

Morro and Jasp with Suhana Meharchand “I had a wonderful night…Your work and passion are inspiring and I congratulate you on the accolades and funding you received last night. Thank you again for inviting me to be a part of the fun.” – Suhana Meharchand

Jackie Richardson and SilverElvis

Dr. Alok Mukherjee, Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board with Simon Malbogat and Sgt Jeff Pearson

1st Annual Rising STARS winners Aidan Gowland and Susie Jaroszeska

Mixed Company Theatre Staff Duncan McCallum, Daniel Booth, Ainsley Skye, Simon Malbogat

Support Mixed Company Theatre


Horizontal RuleHorizontal RuleThank you to our generous supporters!

Saint Luke’s United Church

The Enkin Family

Mrs Heather Brooks-Hill

Ms. K.E. Lyn Royce

Thanks to all that supported MXCO at our

1st Annual STARS Awards Gala