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Civic Impact

Pressgang Theatre announces new site-specific storytelling event

“The Fringe season is a time when Toronto’s theatre audience gets out like no other,” says Graham Isador, Artistic Director of Pressgang Theatre. Despite the fact that the Fringe festival won’t kick off for another seven months, Pressgang is already gearing up for a new kind of event in next year’s showcase.

Pressgang Storytelling has been a bimonthly event for the last five years. Each night revolves around a theme—identity, love, sex, parents—and storytellers both emerging and established share slices of their personal histories. Past performers include Precious Chong (daughter of Tommy); Faisal Butts, a past Just for Laughs performer and winner of the 2014 Sirius FM “Top Comic” competition; and Sam Mullins, who has twice won the Canadian Comedy Award. They will share the stage with local actors, storytellers, and performers. “While it’s always nice to have people who are professionals and who are good on stage, what matters most is the ability for people to share their experience,” says Isador.

The event’s eleven-night run will be held at Kensington watering hole Handlebar, which has hosted Pressgang storytelling nights for the past few years. As a result, some of the stories that will be told next summer will feature Handlebar in a guest-star role. “There are a handful of stories that will be told at Handlebar that actually happened at Handlebar,” laughs Isador. He’s no stranger to site-specific theatre: his show, Served, which played at the 2015 Fringe Festival, was staged in the Queen West restaurant the Epicure Café.

This time around, the focus will be on celebrating Toronto’s burgeoning storytelling scene. Isador, who will emcee the Fringe show, has invited other storytelling night curators to contribute to the event. “The hope is that we can highlight the scene that’s been growing here, and that we can grow that scene,” he explains. “What we’ve been trying to do is make sure each show reaches a diversity of Toronto. We’re having people of colour on, LGBTQ, different cultural experience, and the hope is that they can share their stories with an audience they might otherwise not reach.”
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