The RARE Theatre Company is a not-for-profit community theatre and outreach organization dedicated to creating theatre with communities seldom seen and rarely heard on our stages.
Playing the role of Helen Keller at the age of eleven, I knew I had found my people, my path, my life. I never thought to question any aspect of the world of theatre until my mid-twenties. When I began to write plays driven by my social conscience, I started to feel a shadow; something was wrong with our theatre – in the rehearsal room, on the stage, in the audience.
There was one look: white and pretty – and one sound: fancy, except for the maids and fools who were generally not pretty and did not sound fancy; they were there to be laughed at, and to make the audience feel superior.
Shouldn’t the theatre MIRROR the world we live in?
Shouldn’t we see on the stage what we see in our world?
In the last decade there has been more diversity of colour on our stages, but there is still a large sector of the human community absent; those who are seldom heard and rarely seen. These communities can range from foster children to the elderly, to people with exceptionalities and special needs; those individuals who remain hidden away in many societies, and largely invisible and unacknowledged in ours.
Our company is devoted to using our theatrical skills to create theatre with individuals from these communities, giving them artistic space to reveal their souls and speak their truths, so that they are truly heard and seen by the public. We have been hugely successful already in developing keen awareness of the lives of “others” and we believe, contributing to a process of social change.
- Judith Thompson, Artistic Director
RARE engages in three categories of high-level activities in furtherance of its mandate: (1) curatorial activities, which include purposeful selecting and organizing of stories following artistic sensibility; (2) collaborative and interpretive acts of creativity and self-expression to bring alive distinct works of theatre; and (3) inventive participation that engages the mind, body, and spirit in acts of artistic creation. Additional activities include: Community needs assessments, participant recruitment and interviews, facilitating workshops, producing shows at Soulpepper and in other venues around the city, which will attract a more diverse audience, and mentoring emerging artists.
RARE seeks to effect three important changes through its work: (1) to nurture the self esteem and validate the ideas and creative impulses among members of targeted communities; (2) to change public perception about people living with visible and invisible differences; and (3) to change the state of community-based art creation in Ontario. By connecting more people with arts and culture created with people with differences, we aim to inspire and enrich people’s lives, while challenging any and all pre conceptions about people with exceptionalities.
RARE Theatre’s methods provide a framework for alternative artistic approaches. Further, it can facilitate a sense of community to encourage dialogue among those whose current work or life challenges traditional models. Collective creation provides models for living, metaphors for civic engagement, and methods for social and cultural growth. With each project, Judith Thompson applies proven methods allowing audiences to hear uncomfortable or provocative truths directly from the mouths of an otherwise invisible community.