our story

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


Our Mandate

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.

Our goals

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. 

our methods

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.




Blackout, featuring a blind artists, two deaf artists and two artists suffering from aphasia, tackles the stereotypes and misconceptions behind each physical disability. With trenchant and challenging stories, music and song, and radical movement blackout will offer the audience the experience of total blindness, deafness and the inability to speak. This play will not solely focus on disability, but rather a story about each characters struggles to be really seen and heard - in order to define themselves beyond their disability.

our team


Artistic Director

Artistic Director of RARE Theatre Company, Judith is a playwright, director, actor and professor of theatre at the University of Guelph.  She is the author of 15 published plays, many of which are performed all over the world. They include The Crackwalker, Lion in the Streets, Perfect Pie, and Palace of the End. She has directed and co-created four collective creations including Body and Soul, Sick, RARE, and Borne.  She wrote two feature films, Perfect Pie and Lost and Delirious, several TV movies and many radio plays.  She has twice won the Governor General's award for playwriting, as well as the Toronto Arts Award, a Dora Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Award, and the Amnesty International Award for Freedom of Expression. She is honoured to have the privilege of collaborating with performers with exceptionalities.



Founding Member & Executive director

Nick is a founding member of the Rare Theatre Company. Nick is also Broadcast Producer at KBS, the host of Coffer Salon and has worked with organizations such as SummerWorks, Spur, Soulpepper, TIFF, The Tarragon Theatre, Toronto's Nuit Blanche, The New Yorker, Luminato and the Banff Centre.


Brett Haynes 

General Manager 

Brett is a producer, director, playwright, and founder of Triangle Pi Productions. He is a graduate of the University of Waterloo and George Brown Theatre School. Brett recently worked as a Special Events Associate at TAPA and is the Artistic Producer for d’bi.young anitafrika’s company Watah.

RAre theatre's board of directors 

Suzanne Cross (President), Gregor CampbellChristopher HorkinsMark Lipton


our supporters

We at RARE Theatre wish to thank everyone for their support and donations.




RARE Theatre will be delivering a project that builds on the success of a proven model or program with a $394,400 grant over 36 months to create a sustainable model for artistically driven, community-engaged theatre. Enriching people’s lives through arts, culture and heritage, this initiative is helping access to arts-based learning opportunities and compelling artistic, cultural and heritage experiences, and has an impact on the lives of 9,000 people in the community.

An agency of the Government of Ontario, the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is one of Canada’s largest granting foundations. With a budget of over $136 million, OTF awards grants to some 1,000 projects every year to build healthy and vibrant Ontario communities



Please donate to the RARE THEATRE COMPANY and help us continue to create theatre with communities seldom heard and rarely seen on our stages


ARCH Disability Law Centre

ARCH Disability Law Centre is a specialty community legal aid clinic dedicated to defending and advancing the equality rights of people with disabilities in Ontario. ARCH provides legal services to help Ontarians with disabilities live with dignity and participate fully in our communities. We work with Ontarians with disabilities and the disability community on law reform and policy initiatives, community development, legal advice and referrals, public legal education and litigation.


People first of ontario

People First of Ontario is the provincial voice for people who have been labeled with an intellectual disability. We are about rights – human rights, citizenship rights, accommodations rights and language rights. The right to freedom, choice and equality for all.


The Disability Channel 

The Disability Channel is an international leader in the world of disability issues and solutions. Through due diligence and with over 30 years experience within the television industry, TDC has found today's market desperately needs original programming for and/or by persons with disabilities to be included on the TV programming schedule . TDC, with the proper components in place, is prepared to become that leading force on both the domestic and international stages for persons with disabilities.

TDC is leading the way in the world of technology with HD Digital TV platforms, combined with it's multiple national and Regional broadcasters. Customers will be able to receive the TDC signal domestically and global via the internet at a much lower cost, high speed efficiency and with many more viewing options available. TDC has a mandate to employ, support and promote persons with disabilities via our content, platform and marketing components, making the network stand out within the television industry.