Soulpepper, a lively theatre in the Distillery District

By Krishika Jethani –

Soulpepper Theatre was launched in 1998 and is home to artists who write and produce their own plays. Located at 50 Tank House Lane, the theatre is also a large company that puts on classics.

Education coordinator Ahlam Hassan says Soulpepper is known for reimagining the classics. “That’s Shakespeare, Chekhov and Ibsen. A lot of these older texts are reimagined into differ­ent locations that are sort of di­versified in terms of the cast and the crew that are brought into the space.”

Soulpepper is the name of the programming theatre, but the building has physical theatres of different sizes and names. George Brown Theatre School operates in the same building.

Soulpepper Theatre is striv­ing to become a community hub. “We strive to be a space for everyone to create meaningful experiences related to the thea­tre,” explained Hassan.

Artistic director Weyni Mengesha helps artists early in their career to explore new things. “Soulpepper puts out professional theatre. We work with actors who have typically undergone conservatory train­ing so they are at a bit of a dif­ferent stage in their career as students,” said Hassan.

“We are looking towards this rapidly changing neighbour­hood where condos are being built, new housing is being built, and we’re welcoming new people. So we’re always striving to respond to our environment and be a place where people of all ages can go…” she said.

There’s programming and events for children and adults. From October to November, Soulpepper hosted the Her Words Festival for the second time. They hope to make it an annual event.

To promote the voices of wom­en and also actors of colour, Mengesha commissions women playwrights “to write original work and to be compensated for that and be able to have a long rehearsal process to develop their work ,” said Hassan.

Plays have included Wild­woman by Kat Sandler and The Guide to Being Fabulous by Sandra Caldwell.

As education coordinator, Hassan deals with a range of youth theatre programs. “Everything from selecting the artists, to designing what our curriculum is going to be, and then putting out the open call for our participants,” she said.

She also explores different neighbourhoods and talks about the work at Soulpepper Theatre.

All the plays are open to the public. Tickets are available on­line or at the box office.

“We have a program where folks who are 25 and under get tickets for free,” Hassan said. “We also have ‘Pay What You Can Tuesdays’ and a tiered sys­tem.”