For 28 years Clay and Paper Theatre has been creating original, multi-disciplinary image-based plays, pageants and parades with and for the community, using narrative theatre and large-scale puppetry, to tell today’s urgent stories. Since 1994, C&P has been the resident theatre company of Dufferin Grove Park, making art accessible to all, building/rehearsing/performing productions in public space and in full public view, always offering Pay-What-You-Can performances and free Open Studio workshops.
Clay and Paper Theatre’s work is inspired and informed just as much by oral traditions, folk tales, songs, poems, and fables, as it is by local stories, history, and current social issues. Clay and Paper Theatre embraces an aesthetic that honours ancient traditions in performance (commedia dell’arte, puppetry, mask, pageantry, spectacle, street theatre) and tools (clay and paper), and then reinvents them for today’s urgent storytelling needs. Because Clay and Paper Theatre’s work is also predominantly image driven, we have a particular focus on the use of hand, rod, shadow and giant puppets. Music is also a foundational element to our performances in public space, where an array of musical styles, original songs, playful sound invention and, on occasion, invented instruments help us shape the performance and play environment.
Clay and Paper Theatre brings together seasoned arts professionals and practitioners, emerging artists, not-for-profit organizations and a wide array of community members and volunteers in both the co-creation and performance process of its productions. C&P has also long been a training ground for young actors, designers, builders, musicians, stage managers and arts administrators. Since 1994 C&P has trained over 250 emerging artists during our summer Performance in Public Space Apprenticeship program. Our Open Studio workshops for the public welcome everyone from children (10yrs+) to seniors, from at-risk youth to newcomers, from students to professionals, within the City of Toronto and throughout the province of Ontario.
Clay and Paper Theatre works with multiple communities and partners throughout the year on a variety of issue specific, theatre-based projects. But as the resident theatre company of Dufferin Grove Park, we have three annual signature events that anchor our work within the Dufferin Grove community. In late autumn, Night of Dread invites the public to build their private and collective fears and then to mock and banish them through parade and pageantry, music and masquerade. In the winter, C&P presents their newest parade, a lantern puppet, community event, LuminUS, to light up our darkest nights. Lastly, Clay & Paper Theatre produces a new Canadian play almost every summer, built and rehearsed in full public view, revealing the art-making process as it happens, to all park users. To date we have produced twenty-eight original plays in public space.