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Theatre class explores Rouge Valley park

Theatre troupe descends into the ravine during rehearsals. (Photo by Ken Jones)

Theatre goers will take a trip into the ravine when UTSC students put on a new performance that asks questions about the ways to experience the proposed Rouge National Urban Park.

The performance on April 9 will be a “participatory experiment,” says Barry Freeman, professor of theatre and performance studies and instructor of the theatre class which is putting on the performance.

Parks Canada plans to create a 47-square-kilometre park in the Rouge Valley, and is working with UTSC as a research partner on the project. At the same time the David Suzuki Foundation is running a program called Camp Suzuki in the Rouge, which aims to educate people about the park.

When Freeman heard about the Camp Suzuki he had already been looking for a topic that could be turned into a piece of “verbatim theatre” – a kind of documentary theatre that is based word-for-word on documents or interviews. He applied to the Suzuki Foundation and was accepted into the program.

Students interviewed members of the community about their experiences with the Rouge Valley. Rather than create strictly verbatim theatre, however, they decided instead to give a performance that used a playful cast of characters to explore questions raised by an urban park.

“This unusual workshop performance aims to raise questions about how we should ‘experience’ nature in a park, and by extension, how we relate to nature in an increasingly urbanized Canada,” Freeman says.

The performance is less a polished show than an “experimental work in progress,” Freeman says. It will take place April 9 at 2 pm, beginning and ending in the Leigha Lee Browne Theatre, but with a portion taking place outdoors.

Those who would like to attend should RSVP to Freeman at

© University of Toronto Scarborough