November 9, 2017

Theatre @ York launches its 2017-18 season with Post National, a new work devised by students under the mentorship of an international collaboration between UK-based artist Deborah Pearson and Volcano, Toronto’s world renown boundary pushing theatre company. An innovative exploration of Canadian identity and citizenship in an increasingly populist world, Post National previews Nov. 19 and 20, opens Nov. 21, and continues to Nov. 25 in the Joseph G. Green Theatre on York University’s Keele campus.

“There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada.  There are shared values — openness, respect, compassion, willingness to work hard, to be there for each other, to search for equality and justice. Those qualities are what make us the first post-national state.”     —Justin Trudeau 

4th Year Acting Conservatory cast of Post National.
4th Year Acting Conservatory cast of Post National.

Inspired by the prime minister’s comment that Canada is “the first post-national state,” Post National is a double bill. Continuing the tradition of shows that feature guest performers, pioneered by Rimini Protokoll’s 100% Project, Tim Crouch’s An Oak Tree, and Nassim Soleymanpour’s White Rabbit Red Rabbit, Volcano is creating an instruction-based piece from and about Canada.  The first part of the evening consists of 12 guest performers between the ages of 18 and 24 from the York community answering live questions on stage about their relationship to nationhood and protest. The second part of the evening features the fourth-year acting students from York, performing the piece they devised with Pearson and Volcano, exploring the same topics from a different perspective.

The combination is a much-needed snapshot of university-aged students and how they regard nationalism in 2017. Questions will be asked: Where were you born?  Do you think that is a good question to start with?  What question would you start with?  

Discussing the project, Post National director and Volcano Artistic Director Ross Manson, said “Was our stylish prime minister talking politics or truth? We are thrilled to be working with our Post National Jury of Twelve to determine where Canada stands on the idea of nation and citizenship.”

Commenting on the concept, Pearson added “Living in the UK and witnessing the rise of the far right and nationalism in that country in such a visceral and disturbing way, I was both deeply touched and somewhat challenged by Trudeau’s assertion about Canada, the country where I was born. I wanted to go back and put this assertion under the microscope with a group of young Canadians, to see how it writhed or bloomed. Are we really setting a good example for the rest of the world?”

Pearson is a live artist who tours her work all over the world and has most recently had her work staged at the Royal Court in London. She has a PhD in narrative in performance and has acted as dramaturg for more than 20 shows internationally, many of which have won multiple awards and accolades. She was also named one of the UK’s 100 most powerful people in theatre in 2016 and 2009 by Stage Magazine.  Pearson is an associate artist with Volcano and teams up with Manson and Volcano Associate Artist and Choreographer Kate Alton, both of whom are celebrated figures in the Canadian performance community and frequently tour their work internationally.

 Post National kicks off “Worlds of Exile,” a season of plays exploring longing, belonging and displacement. Exile, refugee, asylum-seeker, nomad, migrant, immigrant, these are terms that share a sense of displacement and a feeling of Otherness. While some of these terms can be defined in legal and political terms, others speak to a rift that generates a social and psychological condition. With Worlds of Exile, York’s Department of Theatre reflects on aspects of the varied experience of persons who, either by choice or as a result of imposition, are living outside their home of origin, are “othered” by virtue of colonial exile practices, who have returned home only to find it unrecognizable, or who, as the children or grandchildren of exiles, are living in two worlds.

WHEN: Nov. 19 to25


  • 7:30pm from Nov 19 to 24
    ● 1pm on Nov. 22 & 24
    ● 2pm on Nov. 25
  • Wednesday, Nov. 22 7:30pm is an ASL interpreted and Deaf performance
  • Thursday, Nov. 23 7:30pm is a Relaxed performance

 WHERE: Joseph G. Green Theatre, Centre for Film and Theatre, York University’s Keele campus. See number 38 on the Map (Maps & Directions)

BOX OFFICE INFOMATION: Tickets are available online or over the phone at 416-736-5888.

  • Previews:$7, Nov. 19 & 20
  • ASL Interpreted Performance:$5, Wednesday, Nov. 22 7:30pm
  • Relaxed Performance:$5, Thursday, Nov. 23 7:30pm
  • All Other Performances: Tickets: $20 Student/Senior $12
  • Groups of 10 or more: $10 (Group price applies when all group tickets are purchased at once for a single performance. Not available online, phone or visit the box office