Program Description

Two-Sided Mirror is an interactive role-play based workshop written by Catherine Frid. The scenes tell the story of Jim, a father and grandfather, coping with his daughter’s recent cancer diagnosis. As the story progresses, we see Jim trying to navigate his own feelings of depression and suicidality while supporting Marissa and her daughter, Corrine. As it becomes apparent that Marissa’s illness may be terminal, she begins to consider whether Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) is right for her. Through the eyes of Marissa, Corrine, and Jim we see a family contending with the realities of MAiD and its implications, through three different viewpoints.  

Jim, like many seniors and their families, has complicated feelings surrounding the separate but intertwined issues of depression, suicide, and MAiD in aging communities. Due to issues such as stigma, ageism, and ableism, there are few places where Elders and their loved ones are able to speak about these challenges honestly and candidly.  

Two-Sided Mirror is our offer to these communities. We would like to provide folks with an opportunity to have open and frank conversations around these topics. At the workshops, audiences will be invited by the facilitator to comment on the scenes, suggest changes, and replace characters to try out their own ideas to improve the situation for the characters. Through these dialogues, our hope is that elders and their families will find new ways to support one another if and when these circumstances arise.

A promotional design for Mixed Company Theatre's 2023-24 virtual tour of "Two-Sided Mirror"

We have developed a resource guide for communities that summarizes the key strategies that have been shared in presentations of Two Sided Mirror. Click the button below to access and download the resource guide:

Recent Presentations

We recently hosted presentations of Two-Sided Mirror virtually on the following dates/times:

  • Friday October 20, 2023 at 7:00 PM (EST)
  • Saturday October 21, 2023 at 2:00 PM (EST)
  • Wednesday October 25, 2023 at 7:00 PM (EST)
  • Friday October 27, 2023 at 7:00 PM (EST)
  • Monday October 30th, 2023 at 1:00 PM (EST) – in partnership with Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario
  • Wednesday November 1, 2023 at 1:00 PM (EST)
  • Wednesday November 1, 2023 at 7:00 PM (EST)
  • Tuesday January 23, 2024 at 1:00 PM (EST) – in partnership with Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario

Content Note

We recognize that the content of Two-Sided Mirror, and the issues of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), Suicide, and Depression in aging communities are complex and nuanced. And we know that as audience members who may be personally impacted by these issues, you may have feelings, thoughts, and experiences you would like to discuss during or after watching this show.  

We have emotional support professionals present at all workshops of Two-Sided Mirror that audience members can speak to during, and after the program. Thank you to our mental health workers for joining us to provide support for those who need it.  

Furthermore, we would like to clarify that our role here is to facilitate a community-led conversation to find ways to respond to these situations. We are not healthcare professionals or practitioners and cannot fill this role for you in any way, including by giving medical advice or information.

If you would like to contact a healthcare professional, we have an emotional support person present at the presentations and we also share resources that attendees can access outside of the session.

Production Team

A photo of Catherine Frid in front of a green background.

Catherine Frid – Playwright

Catherine Frid co-creates and presents new work with communities, including Living Below the Line, AfterWhys, and Our Voices: Senior Selfies. Catherine’s other produced plays include Spend Your Kids’ Inheritance (Toronto Fringe – Patron’s Pick), What I Gave I Have (Guelph Museums), Half Full (Mixed Company Theatre school tours), Burying Toni (Alumnae), The Bold Canadian (Arts and Letters Club), Homegrown (SummerWorks and others), GuineaPigging (Alumnae), Dead Cat Bounce (Toronto Fringe and others), and many short works in Canada and the United States.

Publications include Our Voices: Senior Selfies (Art Age Publications); This Isn’t Toronto in Long Story Short, (Playwrights Canada Press); Community with Strangers in Scenes from a Diverse World (ICWP Press); and Us and Them in Thirtysomethings: Mother-Daughter Monologues (ICWP Press).

She has been Playwright in Residence at Mixed Company Theatre, and Artist in Residence at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Catherine is Artistic Director of Watercourse Theatre, and she teaches dramaturgy at Ryerson University’s Chang School. www.catherinefrid.com

A photo of Simon Malbogat smiling in front of a beige and brown background.

Simon Malbogat – Director | Facilitator

Simon Malbogat co-founded Mixed Company Theatre in 1983 and has been the Artistic Director since 1989. In 1992 Mixed Company Theatre became a CTO (Centre for Theatre of the Oppressed). Simon has over thirty years’ experience as a director, dramaturg, teacher, actor, and workshop facilitator. Teaching highlights include University of Toronto, Concordia University, York University, Humber College, Brock University and Queen’s University. Simon has facilitated hundreds of workshops for youths and adults in Europe, South America, USA, and Canada and has facilitated over 1,000 Forum Theatre presentations. Simon has led workshops in Turkey, Brazil, Finland, and the Ukraine. In Toronto, Simon has been involved in developing the arts in the community with programs for families, women, seniors, youth, homeless adults & youth and persons with disabilities.

A photo of Heather Cherron von Atzigen staring forward in front of a brown background.

Heather Cherron von Atzigen – “MARISSA”

Heather Cherron von Atzigen has been with Mixed Company for over 25 years and is still going strong. This season, she wrote, created a song, directed and co-facilitated “PUSH” a virtual Forum Theatre piece about the culture of sexual assault on post-secondary campuses. “PUSH”  was followed up with another virtual creation, “I Carry With Me”; a poignant hit of reality on race and privilege. In the fall of 2022, she also performed as Marissa in MCT’s live tour of “Two-Sided Mirror” and is reprising her role in the 2023 virtual tour. 

A grayscale photo of Luciano Iogna staring forward.

Luciano Iogna – “JIM”

Luciano Iogna has been a professional Theatre practitioner for almost 45 years and for over 35 years has specifically worked using Theatre for Social Change. Luc has had the privilege to work across Canada and internationally with diverse cultures as a facilitator, actor, writer, director and instructor; working with Labour, institutions, government agencies, schools and communities.

A photo of Jane Smythe smiling in front of a gray background.

Jane Smythe – “BRENDA” | “DR PABEL”

Jane E Smythe (Brenda/Dr. Pabel) is a film/television and theatre actor. Most recently she performed as a writer, puppet maker, and puppeteer in Concrete Cabaret’s Objecto Festival, her final presentation being “Apple”. She did voice over for a piece in the Slaight Music Residency program for the Canadian Film Centre, and performed a tiny role on the mini series “Fellow Travellers” – shot in Toronto. 

Earlier work with Mixed Company Theatre includes the debut live production of “Two Sided Mirror”, “Knocking On Doors” – a virtual production, and “Never In The Room”. 

She co-wrote and performed in “The Collagen Letters” – both at The Social Capitol Theatre, and at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre for Haus of Dada. Laura in the “Glass Menagerie” (Nova Theatre), Mrs. Smith in “The Bald Soprano” (Tantramar Theatre), Meg in “The Birthday Party”(Rhino Theatre Collective – also produced), Brenda in “Pogie” (Tantramar Theatre), Sex Therapist in “In Your Dream’s Freud” (Theatre at York). Toronto Fringe work includes: Dr. Vera Peters in “Radical”, MC in “The Make Over” (at the Monsieur Barber Shop) and Mona the psychic in “Society of Skeptics”. Film and Television work includes “The Handmaid’s Tale”, and “American Gods”, as well as Canadian Independent productions “White Night” and “Lucky 7”. 

Upcoming work includes another puppet play that she is currently working on, and some work in the PLS York Cycle 2025.

A photo of Alexis Wilson smiling in front of a brown wall with windows visible.

Alexis Wilson – “CORRINE”

Alexis Celestine Wilson is an Emerging Actor, Singer, Mover, Writer and Multidisciplinary Artist. She completed her performance training at Humber College (2021) where she graduated with top marks. She has just recently completed her studies in theatre at York University in Production and Multi-Media Arts. Her recent credits include (Casimir and Caroline) directed by Severn Thompson, (The Humans) directed by Christopher Stanton and (The Green Bird) directed by Adam Paolozza. She is very excited to be working with Mixed Company’s theatre production of Two-sided Mirror

Maranda Tippins – Stage/Tech Manager

Jo Fan – Virtual Background Designer

Tony Babcock – Sound Designer

Brie Bennett, Yirou Guo – Tech Support

Project Context

Seniors 65 years and older have one of the highest rates of suicide in Canada, particularly men. It’s not as publicized as youth suicides, but is just as important. It’s also true that older men are much more likely to die through a suicide attempt than any other group, in part because they have access to more lethal means (prescription medication). Seniors, especially those in residential care, suffer high rates of depression (44%) and loneliness. (Please see links below for the sources of these statistics.)

Catherine first began exploring this subject when she wrote a play about hope and resilience, AfterWhys, for the Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington-Dufferin. AfterWhys focused on rural stigma and community support, and has been well received.

Some additional avenues Catherine wanted to explore in this project with MCT are the distinctions between MAiD and senior suicide, as well as the challenges created by Canada’s diversity, urban loneliness and isolation, lack of family support, and now pandemic anxiety, which strains mental health.

The theatre creation approach outlined in the below video, “Seniors & Suicide – Starting the Conversation with the AfterWhys Play,” was pioneered by the Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington-Dufferin and Catherine Frid. The development process Catherine devised for AfterWhys recognized the taboo nature of suicide for some people, ensured all participants were respected and their stories remained confidential. Catherine used a similar approach for Two-Sided Mirror.

Statistics

https://www.suicideinfo.ca/resource/seniors-suicide/

https://www.canada.ca/en/national-seniors-council/programs/publications-reports/2014/social-isolation-seniors/page05.html

Older adults and suicide fact sheet.pdf (mentalhealthcommission.ca) 

Project History

Click on the headings below to learn more about how this project was developed.

We began this project in 2021 by engaging in conversations and workshops with older adults whose lives have been impacted by depression, suicide, and/or Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). From these explorations, playwright Catherine Frid wrote the script of “Two-Sided Mirror” that encapsulates a “universal story” of the challenges older adults experience on these topics, based on what was shared in the workshop sessions. 

Funded By:

The logo for the Canada Council for the Arts/Conseil des arts du Canada.
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Once the script was completed, we did 10 performances (7 in person, and 3 virtually) in an initial tour in the Greater Toronto Area between November 2022 – January 2023. 

Facilitators and Contributing Artists: Catherine Frid (Playwright), Simon Malbogat (Director/Facilitator), Heather Cherron von Atzigen, Luciano Iogna, Kelsey Rideout, Jane Smythe, Flávia Martin (Stage Manager), Christopher Jacobs (Costume Designer), Jessica Balyk (Set Designer), Tony Babcock (Sound Designer) 

We are grateful to the following organizations who partnered with us to bring “Two-Sided Mirror” to communities across the GTA: College Street United Church, Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women, Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities, Scarborough Village Theatre, Mimico Presbyterian Church, East End United Regional Ministry, and the Bernard Betel Centre. We also thank the Toronto Public Library – Palmerston Branch where we hosted one of the performances.

Funded By:

The logo for the Canada Council for the Arts/Conseil des arts du Canada.
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

2023-24 Virtual Tour Funder

The logo for the Government of Canada with text that says "Funded by the Government of Canada's New Horizons for Seniors Program".