History

In 1994 as the Friends of Dufferin Grove Park began to envision a park that was “a community centre without walls”, Clay and Paper Theatre was invited to establish its residency in the park’s field house. That same year, inspired by the newly built park bake ovens, Clay and Paper Theatre produced the play The Resurrection of Fornax, and thus the company’s penchant for telling local stories as well as building and rehearsing in public space, was born.

This is how Clay and Paper Theatre became a “theatre without walls”, the vision that still lies at the heart of all of our work today.

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As Clay and Paper Theatre’s founding artistic director, David Anderson has always said, “The role of theatre is to give the community an image of itself. I think of our task as being a kind of ‘thinking in public’, and thinking in public works most effectively when all citizens are present.”

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From his earliest days with the radical commedia dell’arte troupe, the Vancouver Street Theatre (1969), David’s fervent wish has been to eliminate barriers to the arts and to tell contemporary stories using ancient techniques in bold and arresting ways for the public in public. This guiding principal still lies at the foundation of all of Clay and Paper Theatre’s work today. David’s vast knowledge of puppetry, his technical expertise, artistic vision, practiced eye for site-specific staging, and a sublime sense of how to engage & invite the community into the art making process, form the basis of The Centre for Insurgent Puppetry curriculum. This aesthetic continues to impact all who work with Clay and Paper Theatre’s’, including the emerging artists who study with the company every year.

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“I don’t do popular theatre. I do unpopular theatre. In public space.” Read about the rich history and roots of David’s work in Alan Filewod’s Committing Theatre in the chapter “Generation Agitprop, with Puppets.”

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