PuSh Blog

ThisGen Conference 2016—A field report by Joyce Rosario

August 31, 2016

ThisGen 2016 Conference
Photo: Why Not Theatre

I’m just back from Toronto, where I took part in a four-day gathering called ThisGen, hosted by Why Not Theatre, at the invitation of Why Not’s artistic director, Ravi Jain.

For almost 10 years, Why Not has been creating and touring work as well as making a substantial impact to the conversation of equity, diversity and representation on stages and in leadership.

I got to know Ravi in 2014 when he was in Vancouver to perform A Brimful of Asha with his mother (yes, his mother) as part of the PuSh Festival. Ravi is a sparkplug—driven, passionate, and full of positive energy; when he’s got an idea you just want to get behind it.

So of course, when he asked if I was available in August for a gathering of artistic leaders from around the world to chat about new ideas and what’s next in the world of the theatre and performance, I said yes!

In a follow-up email Ravi explained further, “For a long time I have wanted to gather a group of like-minded artists from around the world who are leaders within their own communities. People who are making change in their communities through theatre and pushing the form creatively. I want to bring people together to have a conversation, build an international network and engage with the question: ‘What’s next for the theatre?'”

I was part of an intimate group of artists from Canada, America, United Kingdom, Egypt, Turkey, Rwanda and Nigeria. Everyone in the group are artistic leaders in positions that range from grassroots organizations to institutions, and everything in between.

We spent four days together in four different venues in Toronto (The Theatre Centre, Soulpepper, Canadian Stage and The Factory Theatre) and were also joined by guest speakers from Canada, America and the UK.

We talked about our artform, the context in which we each work and how to push the art we make forward. Through deep conversation, honest dialogue, and often heated debate, we got to know each other.  I’m still processing the ideas, the provocations, the shifts in perception, and can hardly begin to explain the impact and influence that this gathering will have on my practice. What I can say for now is that I’ve come home energized, inspired and invigorated.

Many thanks to Ravi Jain and Jenny Koons (co-curators of ThisGen), Kelly Read and Owais Lightwala (producers) for bringing this outstanding group of humans together—I’m eternally grateful.

For a glimpse of some of the events that took place, check out #thisgen2016 on Twitter.

Images courtesy of Joyce Rosario