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MT Space

Intercultural theatre company, founded in 2004 in Kitchener, Ontario by Lebanese-Canadian theatre artist Majdi Bou-Matar, who was its Artistic Director until 2016. The current A.D. is Pam Patel. MT Space was incorporated in 2005.

”MT” is a homophone of "empty," alluding to Peter Brook’s book on theatre The Empty Space. The name is also an acronym for “multicultural theatre,” and gestures towards the need for a space for culturally diverse artists. In its first year of operation the organization, through a Human Resources and Skills Development Canada grant, transformed a warehouse space into an intimate black-box studio, and drafted a five-year business plan.

Its mandate is “to explore cultural intersections amongst people, their histories, and their forms of expression. Drawing upon the wealth of multicultural identities living in the Waterloo Region, The MT Space aims to increase activity between performance artists of many disciplines, cultural backgrounds and styles of practice”(website). It develops works collectively, through physical gesture and image, eschewing a conventional script-writing process.

Since its inception, MT Space has created six main-stage productions, and toured to Montreal, Ottawa, London, Hamilton, and in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Tunisia. The 2005 production, entitled Seasons of Immigration, was based on a collection of immigration stories solicited from Kitchener-Waterloo’s diverse community. It was re-mounted at the Centre in the Square as part of the Great Canadian Play series in March 2008.

Legion of Memory (2006, dir. Andrew Houston) was a site-specific event staged in an abandoned Legion Hall, which presented the stories of war refugees who immigrated to the Kitchener-Waterloo region from former Yugoslavia.

In 2007, MT Space developed Pinteresque: Exit Strategy, which follows the journeys of war refugees living in Canada and draws on Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize speech “Art, Truth and Politics.” The play was presented at Toronto's Theatre Passe Muraille as part of SummerWorks Theatre Festival.

The Last 15 Seconds (2009) uses movement, dance, video, vocals and text to explore issues of responsibility in terrorist acts. Beginning with a factual incident -- the violent death of Syrian-American filmmaker Mustapha Akkad and his daughter Rima, when three hotels in the Jordanian capital Amman were bombed in 2005, the work imagines a dialogue between the filmmaker and the suicide bomber. Three women play corresponding roles in each man's family. The script was devised by Gary Kirkham from the improvisations of the actors. The play was performed in “Impact 2009,” a biennial festival of international performance pieces, workshops and symposia that takes place in Kitchener in September, and has since travelled across Canada and to Lebanon.

The theme of Impact II in 2011 was "displacement"--of bodies, of gender identities, of First Nations, and of immigrants and refugees. Works included dance theatre from Bogota, Columbia, and Beirut, Lebanon; Bashir Lazhar by Evelyne de la Chenelière in a production by Wishbone Theatre, Edmonton; Body 13/The Changeroom, developed by Gary Kirkham and Joan M. Kivanda with the MT ensemble, exploring intergenerational and inter-gendered conflict amongst international cultures; and This is My Drum, performed and created by Heather Majaury from the Algonquin Nation; as well as site specific and workshop productions.

Impact '13 focused on the multiple meanings of "occupation" -- as work, as occupying space, as a political statement. It included performance pieces from Denmark and Colombia, aboriginal stories by De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre from Manitoulin Island, short site-specific encounters by Flush Ink Productions, and "play for iPod and library" by Ken Cameron.

The theme of Impact '15 was technology and human connections. It featured international performances from Morocco, Syria, and New Zealand. Canadian productions included MT Space collaborations with Urban Ink Productions and Salish Sea Productions (Return Home); and with Gwaandak Theatre (What If We Could Just Fly Away).

Impact '17 featured international works by Pan-American, Indigenous, and Latinx artists, and an interpretation of a Maori myth by a New Zealand dance company. MT Space collaborated with Al Hamra Theatre of Tunisia to create The Raft which toured in Tunisia and Egypt, and has won many awards. Let’s Not Beat Each Other to Death, a genre-defying electro-pop dance party created and performed by Stewart Legere (dir. Christian Barry was inspired by the murder of a Halifax queer activist and musician. Map of the Land, Map of the Stars by Gwaandak Theatre is a collection of women's ancestral stories. Theatre for Young Audiences included the Quest Theatre production of Making Treaty 7; and Geordie Theatre's Jabber by Marcus Youssef.

The Raft. MT Space and El Hamra Theatre production, Impact '17 Festival.
The Raft. MT Space and El Hamra Theatre production, Impact '17 Festival.

Impact '19 presented a diversity of contemporary dance and physical theatre, featuring nine international performances from Iran, Ecuador, Tunisia, and Mexico, seven Canadian shows, and seven locally-devised performances, including Tales of an Urban Indian, by Darrel Dennis, performed on a bus.

MT Space also develops theatre for social change pieces, commissioned by agencies or organizations, including Across the Veil (2008), about Somali hate crimes issues.

MT Space received the Ontario Trillium Foundation's Great Grant Award for the Arts and Culture Category in 2007. It also was short-listed for the Volunteer Impact Award 2007, awarded by the Volunteer Action Centre for the most effective volunteer programs in the community.

Website: www.mtspace.ca

Last updated 2019-10-18