vc at aspace 1976

THE EARLY DAYS .... Photo by Thaddeus Holownia taken in 1976 during VideoCabaret's three-year Residency at A-Space.
ictured: Andrew Paterson, Janet Burke, Ron Terrill, Alan Rosenthal, Bobbe Besold, Marien Lewis, Michael Hollingsworth, Bob Nasmith, Deanne Taylor, Brian Condie




VideoCabaret is one of Canada's most inventive, prolific and honoured companies. The founding playwrights, Michael Hollingsworth and Deanne Taylor, have written many enduring works and, with the company’s celebrated designers and actors, created unique styles of staging for plays, multi-media cabarets, opera, and masquerade.

The founders converged in a Toronto art gallery in 1976. They included: Deanne and other members of a groundbreaking video-performance troupe The Hummer Sisters; Michael who had been un-stageable since his ‘73 play Clear Light was snuffed by police; art-rock composer Andrew Paterson and video-design-prodigy Chris Clifford. Together they created the first theatre productions integrating cameras, tapes, piles of hot-wired TV’s and live rock’n’roll –genre-mashing spectacles staged across Canada, in New York and London.

 


Michael Hollingsworth in 1973.


1984

Michael Hollingsworth's adaptation of George Orwell's 1984 at Toronto Workshop Productions (1981).


Cold War

Campaign poster for the Hummer Sisters' municipal bid (1983).

 


Billy Merasty in The British, at the Cameron House (2001).

 

1976 - 1980
In Toronto 1976, VideoCabaret began to make the first plays integrating video-cameras, piles of hot-wired TV’s, and live rock'n'roll; and staged these spectacles in famous and notorious venues in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, New York and London.

After the world tour, VideoCab moved into the Cameron House, an art and music club on pre-hip Queen Street West in Toronto. The company wired the building for video, joining their upstairs studio and the Cameron stage ina half-real half-virtual theatre space. In this environment Michael staged adaptations of Brave New World and 1984, while Deanne and the Hummer Sisters ran for Mayor of Toronto and helped define the local zeitgeist with political cabarets involving hundreds of actors, designers, musicians, painters.

 

1980-1999
In the 80's and 90's VideoCab performed mainly on the stages of Toronto's heroic new-play producers -- Theatre Passe Muraille, Factory Theatre and the Theatre Centre. Deanne and long-term collaborators honed the 'video-cabaret' staging-style to realize her plays about mass-media politics and societies. In the same period, the company's core artists invented the 'black-box' style for Michael's epic play cycle: The History Of The Village Of The Small Huts which satirizes and dramatizes Canada’s history from Chief Donnacona and Jacques Cartier to recent times.

 

 

2000 - present
In 2000, at the invitation of the legendary Cameron House, VideoCab refurbished a theatre space where the company is creating new work, re-inventing their classic History Plays, supporting play workshops for Guest Artists, and sustaining a Carnival Arts Exchange that connnects Trinidadian and Toronto artists in the practice of Carnival design.

In 2012 the Stratford Festival presented VideoCab's production of The War of 1812 for two months of sold out performances. The following year, a two-month run of The War of 1812 at Toronto's Young Centre launched a collaboration with Soulpepper visionaries Albert Schultz and Leslie Lester, followed by a long-awaited Ottawa debut at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival. 2014 brought Trudeau and the FLQ back to the political stage, continuing the collaboration with Soulpepper, and another hit for Toronto theatre-goers.

 

VideoCabaret's work has been honoured by scores of Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations and a total of twenty-three awards.

 


Deanne Taylor's VIDEOCAB NEWS, at Factory Theatre (1998).


THE GREAT WAR at the Cameron House (2010.)


Deanne Taylor with Camera, from 1976 original production of Patty Rehearst

Our Cameron House Headquarters at Queen & Spadina, in Toronto.

Gary Farmer in the first produced History Play, NEW FRANCE at Theatre Passe Muraille in 1985.

 

The BritishDeanne Taylor's CITY FOR SALE (2004)

Programme covershot for THE BRITISH, at The Stratford Shakespeare Festival (2012).