In 2021, Mixed Company Theatre (MCT) revolutionized community engagement by developing a unique virtual model for theatre-based learning thanks to a $32,800 Resilient Communities fund grant they received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). The funding enabled the company to create and deliver innovative virtual Forum Theatre programming for schools, communities, and workplace professionals between January and September, 2021. This new digital model will be used in their next season of programs and will be published in a handbook shared with participants of the company’s professional development workshops.
Forum Theatre is an interactive type of theatre that engages communities in developing actionable strategies for positive social change. This new virtual model is ground-breaking for practitioners because it maintains the high impact, participatory aspects of the form when communities aren’t able to be in the same physical space. MCT staff collaborated with long-time associate artists Luciano Iogna and Pavla Uppal to develop the model and resulting handbook which details tried and tested digital variations on the key Forum Theatre exercises and format. OTF’s support also enabled MCT to offer intensive one-to-one training on virtual Forum Theatre, as well as develop new virtual programs and promotional materials for workplace training which will be released soon. All of these activities have led MCT to build operational and financial sustainability and thrive during these challenging times.
“This exploration enabled MCT artists to learn how to be creative virtually and broaden our reach throughout Ontario. This bodes well for the artists and all the different communities we serve in the future. We were all surprised at how engaged the community became and the number of people who participated in the dialogue,” said MCT’s Artistic Director Simon Malbogat.
Mixed Company Theatre has been producing innovative, socially relevant drama as a tool for positive change since 1983. They have brought their engaging educational programming to students, community members, and workplaces in Toronto and across Ontario. As the needs of the community grow and change, they continue to alter and expand their offerings to address new challenging social issues.