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Ruby Slippers Theatre

Theatre company, based in Vancouver British Columbia, co-founded in 1989 by a collective of women artists from various disciplines. Ruby Slippers Theatre is committed to the growth and development of socially relevant and entertaining theatre. The company develops and produces provocative works which question social assumptions, usually two shows a year, and often in collaboration with other theatre companies. It has no theatrical home, but participates in a large, exciting, productive culture of small theatre companies on the periphery of the Vancouver mainstream. Its recent productions have taken place in Performance Works, Granville Island. The Artistic and Producing Director is Diane Brown.

Ruby Slippers launched in 1989 with Mud: A Theatre Installation by Marie Irene Fornes, followed by Blackout: Six Short Pieces by Samuel Beckett at the Firehall Arts Centre. At the 1990 Vancouver Fringe Festival, the company performed Men Inside by Eric Bogosian, with a female cast; Dominic Champagne’s The Rehearsal (1991); and Norman Chaurette’s The Queens (1992), the beginning of its long-standing interest in Quebec theatre.

In 1993, continuing its exploration of international works, Rudy Slippers undertook two eastern European plays entitled The Angel of History at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. At the Women in View Festival in 1994, it premiered Herotica -- an evening of erotica by and for women, which subsequently toured to Theatre Passe Muraille. Herotica 2 (1995) toured to One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo in 1996.

Ruby Slippers’ biannual Brecht in the Park series launched in 1994 with a production of Mother Courage. Encouraged by its success, the company produced The Threepenny Opera in Stanley Park in 1995 and other Vancouver parks. In 1998 it collaborated with Touchstone Theatre and Vancouver Moving Theatre to produce The Good Woman of Setzuan (adapted by John Lazarus), which won a Jessie Richardson Award for Best Production. In 2001, the collaborative Brecht production was Sucker Falls: The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, adapted as a satiric musical by Drew Hayden Taylor, portraying the creation and collapse of a First Nations casino. The 1996/97 season featured Serpent Kills by OYR’s Blake Brooker and Jim Milan.

With Pink Ink (now Pi Theatre) and Théâtre la Seizième Ruby Slippers initiated a reading series called “Acts of Passion” which introduced Quebec playwrights and translators to Vancouver audiences. The company has also commissioned translations by Linda Gaboriau, and produced the English-language premieres of Michel Marc Bouchard’s Down Dangerous Passes Road (1998, Belfry Theatre).

In collaboration with Talking Pictures music ensemble Rudy Slippers presented the original jazz cabarets RubyCAB (1998) and RubyCAB 2000, which toured to the OYR High Performance Rodeo.

Lucia Frangione was the artist in residence during the 2002/03 season. Her play, MMM, about the decline of three sex icons, premiered in 2004. Ruby Slippers also premiered Citizen Pochsy by Karen Hines in the 2002/03 season. In 2004 and 2005 it hosted A Fabulous Disaster, conceived and performed by OYR’s Denise Clarke.

Other recent Canadian productions include: Trout Stanley (2007) by Claudia Dey; and Life Savers (2009) by Serge Boucher (trans. Shelley Tepperman). In collaboration with Théâtre la Seizième, Ruby Slippers commissioned The View from Above by James Long, which was translated into French by Shelley Tepperman. Set in North Vancouver in 2012, the play takes place following the cancellation of the Olympics because of a three-year-long deluge. It depicts the disastrous social consequences for the homeless and the well-healed. The company also performed A Beautiful View (2009, written and directed by Daniel MacIvor), which toured to the Centaur Theatre 2011; and The Russian Play and Mexico City, two one-act plays by Hannah Moscovitch (2010). In October 2012, Ruby Slippers produced Daniel MacIvor’s Communion to celebrate its 25th anniversary season. In 2015, it produced The Duchess a.ka. Wallis Simpson by Linda Griffiths. In 2016, the Company co-produced with Zee Zee Theatre the Canadian premiere of 5 @ 50 by Brad Fraser.

Continuing its initiative to produce Quebec plays in translation, Rudy Slippers has mounted François Archambault’s The Winners (1999), The Leisure Society (2006), and You Will Remember Me (2016), all translated by Bobby Theodore. It also produced It'll Never Last by Rébecca Déraspe (trans. Leanna Brodie) in 2014, and Après Moi by Christian Bégin, (trans. Leanna Brodie) in 2015.

In 2015, Ruby Slippers Theatre, in partnership with the Vancouver Fringe Festival and Equity in Theatre, launched a new play development initiative entitled Advance Theatre: New Works by Women program. Play submissions by women across Canada are curated for production at the Vancouver Fringe Festival. Priority is given to scripts foregrounding diversity of all kinds (age, cultural background, sexual orientation, physical ability). The five plays selected for production in the 2016 Fringe included: Aiming to Float by Janet Hinton, and Anywhere but Here by Carmen Aguirre.

In November 2021, when the Covid-19 pandemic closed theatres across Canada and the world, Ruby Slippers premiered a digital production of We Are the Same by Sangeeta Wylie, directed by Diane Brown and Patricia Trinh. A Vietnamese mother tells her daughter how in 1979, the family fled Saigon by boat, surviving pirate attacks, typhoons, shipwreck and starvation.

Since its inception, Rudy Slippers has undertaken over sixty projects, including eight full-length original works. It has won forty Jessie Richardson Awardsfor outstanding work in acting, lighting design, set design, costume design, sound design, and directing. It has toured nationally three times.

Website: www.rubyslippers.ca

Profile by Anne Nothof, with additional information by Jerry Wasserman.

Last updated 2021-10-21