Independent feminist theatre company, based in Toronto, Ontario. Common Boots Theatre began as Theatre Columbus, founded in 1983 by Martha Ross and Leah Cherniak, who trained in France under Jacques Lecoq.
The Company was based at The Poor Alex Theatre in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood, a shared space with Crow's Theatre and Theatre Smith-Gilmour. Working through collective creation, Theatre Columbus devised over thirty original works, including The Anger in Ernest & Ernestine (1986), which has been produced eighteen times internationally, and translated into Spanish and French; The Attic, the Pearls & 3 Fine Girls (1995), produced across Canada and internationally; and The Betrayal (1999). In 2012, Theatre Columbus initiated the development The Public Servant, about the massive layoff of federal public servants in that year, by interviewing forty civil servants. The women in the play find themselves in meaningless jobs, unsupported by the politicians they serve, and disconnected from the public. It premiered at Great Canadian Theatre Company’s festival of new works in 2013 (dir. Jennifer Brewin). The text is published in CTR 166.
Theatre Columbus has curated several festivals featuring work in development, including The Knee Plays, Mayhem and The Naked Muse, Kristen Thomson’s I Claudia, Theatre Smith-Gilmour’s Chekhov’s Shorts, Brooke Johnson’s The Trudeau Stories, and Darren O’Donnell’s A Suicide-Site Guide to the City.
In 2011, an annual outdoor winter theatre production was initiated—a processional show performed in and around Toronto’s historic Evergreen Brick Works.
Jennifer Brewin became the Artistic Director in 2009. The current AD is Alex Bulmer. The company was renamed “Common Boots” in 2015, and is located in Evergreen Brick Works.
“Common Boots dramaturgy is based on the humour and tragedy of the mundane, offering unexpected stories of unnoticed people… Its practice focuses on the relationship between actor and audience in the moment of performance… Movement, specifically the physical vocabulary of each character, is central to the work and is the impetus for text” (Jenny Salisbury, CTR 166).
Common Boots Theatre has received ten Dora Mavor Moore Awards and 53 nominations; and the Chalmers Award for Best Canadian Play for The Betrayal, as well as nominations for Dr. Dapertutto and The Attic, the Pearls & 3 Fine Girls.
Sources: Common Boots website; Jenny Salisbury. “Political Acts and Public Voices: Paying Time and Attention to The Public Servant, Canadian Theatre Review 166 (2016): 72-77.
Last updated 2020-11-10