How do you think we're doing at this moment in time?
I think we're moving in the right direction but we're still pretty darn slow. It's like a dinosaur, old habits are hard to break and old fears are hard to destroy. But I have faith and confidence in the new generation of theatre makers and I'm seeing a lot of great signs in the works that are coming out. We should all try and see the world in different sizes, shapes and colours. It makes me hopeful to see the change in Toronto - but larger institutions are much slower to change. I have to remember the small things when I'm in a place of despair and feeling like there is no hope. Maybe I won't see the fruits of my work fully in my lifetime but I sure hope that my daughter will.
What do you say to people who are still rallying against colour blind casting? How do you address their concerns?
I hate using the term 'colour blind' because I think it's misleading. Diversity is all about seeing in colour. I think as a director I'm going to make a choice to hire the best actors in all shades of colour and really see all the options. I think it should be about opening up to ideas and creating a new vision.
I feel bad for directors who can't see options because their imagination can't stretch that far. We have to check our biases. For example, why can someone understand a Canadian playing a British role but they're unable to imagine an Asian Hamlet? That's when I get frustrated by the double standard. As a director you need to keep challenging your values and principles, it is what makes you grow.
What would you say to encourage a younger audience to come and see this show?
I think a younger audience should come so they can learn something that is outside of Canada and so that they can expand their knowledge about an event and a person they've never heard of. They can be inspired - especially for young people who feel uninspired or not at their best - I think this is the show for them to see and feel like there are people who can make noise in life. It would be great if they could come out looking for that kind of person within their own lives.
My big thing is that I don't really believe in the idea of universality, I don't necessarily think that everyone could relate, but the goal is for them to access it from a standpoint of learning and hopefully that feeling will pay forward. That's the kind of theatre I'm interested in and that's the track record of what I've done in the past. I want to keep expanding that circle.
When and Where?
Every Letter Counts
Jan 26th - Feb 24th
Tickets can be purchased in person at the box office, by phone at 416 504 9971 or online at https://secure1.tixhub.com/factory/procurement/