Help bring RE:UNION to Mag North

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre is extremely proud to be able to bring our production of RE:UNION to the very important Magnetic North Theatre Festival in Ottawa this June. We’ve spent the past 4 years since our first production of RE:UNION in 2011 preparing for this opportunity, and now we get to show RE:UNION to the world! Our audience this June 5 – 9 will consists of theatre presenters and producers from all across Canada and the world, as they come to the festival seeking productions which they can bring back to their own theatres!

We’ve just launched our first-ever crowdfunding campaign, and we hope that you can make a contribution. As you know, it’s been very rare over our more-than-ten-years of history that we reach out to our community for their financial support…and now we are.

Please check out our recently launched Indiegogo campaign and make a donation. We need to raise $6,000 to reach our goals, and your support will help us get there. We’ve got a lot of interesting and one-of-a-kind perks to offer you, so go check it out.



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To Peek Inside Where Looking is Forbidden

This year’s World Theatre Day message comes from Polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski.

“…Most often I turn to prose for guidance.  Day in and day out I find myself thinking about writers who nearly one hundred years ago described prophetically but also restrainedly the decline of the European gods, the twilight that plunged our civilization into a darkness that has yet to be illumined…Their common sense of the inevitable end of the world—not of the planet but of the model of human relations—and of social order and upheaval, is poignantly current for us here and now. For us who live after the end of the world. Who live in the face of crimes and conflicts that daily flare in new places faster even than the ubiquitous media can keep up. These fires quickly grow boring and vanish from the press reports, never to return. And we feel helpless, horrified and hemmed in…We no longer have the strength to try and glimpse what lies beyond the gate, behind the wall. And that’s exactly why theater should exist and where it should seek its strength. To peek inside where looking is forbidden.”

Over the decade that we’ve been creating theatre, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades has sought to define ourselves, as all of our peers do, through the well-penned phrases that encapsulate our purpose, our values, our mission. For us, these have been to “embrace boldness”, or to “reveal the vulnerable heart and champion the brave idea”, or “to shine light into darkness”. Over the history of our many works, from 4.48 Psychosis, to Palace of the End, to Re:Union, to Except in the Unlikely Event of War and This Stays in the Room, and to what’s coming down the pike, we believe that we’ve held true to our ideals. We’re proud to say that we’re trying to peek inside where looking is forbidden.

On this specific occasion, on World Theatre Day 2015, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre is spread out far and wide. In Vancouver, co-artistic director Mindy Parfitt and associate artist Amber Funk Barton continue to work on their new collective creation RUN, a dance / theatre piece which explores the undefined space between opposing ideas. In Ottawa, associate artist Kyle Ahluwalia just wrapped production of Suit Up, a short piece about the diseased effects of capitalism on the third world, for the subDevision Festival. Meanwhile, co-artistic director Alexa Devine (Ottawa), and associate artists Andrew Wheeler (Vancouver), Brad Long (Ottawa), Noah Drew (Montreal), John Webber (Vancouver), Jason Thompson (Los Angeles), Vanessa Imeson (Ottawa) and Lois Dawson (Vancouver) prepare for Re:Union, the true story of a father’s sacrifice in the face of national injustice, at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival. In Seattle, associate artist John Langs (and Associate Artistic Director of ACT Theatre) prepares for a workshop of Daisy, a new play about the birth of negative advertising, by co-artistic director Sean Devine. And in Reykjavik, Sean Devine finishes up a research trip to Iceland and Greenland in preparation for Hans Island / Tartupaluk, being created with associate artist Emily Pearlman, a new project about the elusive search for Utopia and the corruptive forces that prevent us from finding it.

As I sit and write this message from Reykjavik, I’m directly across the street from the Althing, Iceland’s Parliament building. In 2009, this was the site of the mass protests that turfed out a corrupt government and set in motion one of recent history’s most inspiring citizen-led actions for change. Although the Icelanders haven’t yet got the change they’re after, the world sat up and took notice.

Althing 2009


On this day when we at HHG Theatre are so inspired by the world unfolding around us, we reach out to our community of citizens to continue supporting theatre that matters, theatre that seeks to inspire action and change, theatre that doesn’t worship exclusively at the altars of form and process, theatre that reaches in and pulls your guts out, theatre that dares you to peek inside where looking is forbidden.


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From the Far East to the Far North

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades is going from Bangladesh to Iceland and Greenland in less than 24 hours! Well, not so literally as that, but close. Here’s co-artistic director Sean Devine to tell you about what’s going on:

We just closed  SUIT UP, a collective creation for subDevision that was based on survivor accounts of the tragic Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013 in Bangladesh, using those official transcripts in juxtaposition with transcripts from the Loblaws fiscal earnings report from the fiscal quarter in which the tragedy took place (Loblaws product line Joe Fresh was one of the manufacturers implicated in the building collapse).

The driving theme for this piece came from the remarks of Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, in an important speech he gace to the Council on Foreign Relations. Addressing the role that technology has had on bridging the awareness gap between rich and poor, Dr. Kim said:

“Everyone knows how everyone else lives. While we in the rich world may be blind to the suffering of the poor, the poor throughout the world are very much aware of how the rich live, and they have shown that they are willing to take action.”

And now I’m sitting in an airport getting ready for a flight to Reykjavik and then Nuuk, for a lighting-quick 5-day trip to the capitals of Iceland and Greenland, as part of a new project I’m developing along with HHG Theatre associate artist Emily Pearlman called HANS ISLAND / TARTUPALUK (Can an unclaimed island help me be happy?)Still very much in its infancy, this new project is about the elusive search for happiness and Utopia, and the many ways in which the State tries to corrupt and corrode even the noblest of human pursuits.

I’ll be posting short field logs about my discoveries and exchanges in Iceland and Greenland, as we set off on a multi-year project that we hope turns into an international collaboration for 2017.

First up – Reykjavik, Iceland. For many years, this small island-nation was the model for social democracy and fair economy. But in 2008, Iceland went through a calamitous financial meltdown on a scale never before seen in history. Essentially bankrupt, the country bucked the trend of corrupt governments imposing austerity measures and decided to get rid of their government instead. Then they took it one step further and launched a citizen-led process in which they set out to rewrite their constitution and re-set the country’s national values. They were well on their way to establishing a new Utopia where the values of honesty and integrity were literally to be inscribed in the constitution as the nation’s top values. But, as so often happens, the deep roots of corruption managed to thwart the entire process, terminating the constitutional process and returning Ice;and to a depressing status quo.

Tomorrow I’m meeting with Thorhildur Thorleifsdottir, an Iceland theatre director who had been selected as one of the 25 diverse Icelanders trusted with rewriting the constitution. As with many of her compatriots, I can only presume that she’s in shock and dismay over what happened to her beloved nation that had nearly discovered Utopia. I’m going to talk to her about what happened, and where the country is headed now.

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Call for Volunteers

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre is looking for 6 volunteers for our production of SUIT UP, which will be part of Ottawa’s fabulous subDevision, 2 per night for March 19 – 21. Preferably those with FOH and/or backstage experience. What’s in it for you? Getting up close and personal with one of the community’s most exciting new arrivals.

Please contact sean@horseshoesandhandgrenades.ca if interested.

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HHG Theatre News – Jan 2015

First: Our Big News

Well, it’s hardly news anymore, but as of July 2014, HHG Theatre has set up operations in Ottawa, while maintaining operations in Vancouver as well. Crazy, but true.

This came about when HHG co-artistic directors Alexa Devine and Sean Devine moved to Ottawa with their family this past summer. Obviously, they wanted to bring HHG’s work with them, just as co-artistic director Mindy Parfitt wanted to continue her work with HHG in Vancouver. And so we came up with the largely unprecedented idea of having HHG Theatre create and produce theatre in both cities, while operating as one “company”. In other words, we take the spirit and practice of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, our mandate and our vision, and expand it into two halves.

The ultimate objective, if we can pull it off, is to create theatre in BOTH cities, engaging artists from BOTH cities, and for the community of BOTH cities. It’s a crazy experiment, but one that we’re excited about. So keep your fingers crossed.

RE:UNION at Magnetic North Theatre Festival

Here’s another secret that we’ve been holding onto for a while! Our 2011 award-winning production of Sean Devine’s Re:Union has been selected for the mainstage program of the 2015 Magnetic North Theatre Festival in June 2015!

Equal parts fact and fiction, Re:Union is the harrowing tale of American Quaker Norman Morrison, who took his life in a political protest in 1965. But the manner in which he did it, and the repercussions of his actions felt around the world, and within his own family, are the stuff of myth. Only it wasn’t myth.

Ottawa actor Brad Long joins original cast members Andrew Wheeler and Alexa Devine in RE:UNION at Mag North 2015

Ottawa actor Brad Long joins original cast members Andrew Wheeler and Alexa Devine in RE:UNION at Mag North 2015

HHG Theatre has always hoped that this painfully relevant tale would have a second life, and to get a second-showing at Canada’s pre-eminent festival for contemporary Canadian theatre is simply amazing. Considering that their theme for 2015 is “Radical lessons for a meaningful life”, we feel that we’re about to fit right in.

And the 2015 Mag North festival is happening in Ottawa! What an opening number for HHG Theatre in the nation’s capitol!

HHG Theatre Associate Artists

Along with the news of expanding HHG Theatre’s operations to both Vancouver and Ottawa comes the parallel news that we’re finally about to formalize an initiative that we’ve long considered, and even practiced, to an extent.

For the last several projects, HHG Theatre has often found itself working with several people over and over again. These aren’t just theatre makers at the top of their game, they’re people who we admire, with generous spirit, professional integrity, amazing talent, great collaborators, and that intagible quality that just makes you want to have them in the room with you.

And so we’ve put together a group of theatre artists that we will soon proudly announce as HHG Theatre’s Associate Artists. Right now there’s about 25 of them, from Vancouver, Ottawa and some other places as well.

Of course this doesn’t mean that we’re working with these people exclusively. The door is always open to new collaborators. But these folks have found a special place in our organization, and we wish to acknowledge them for it.


n Spring 2014 HHG Theatre produced the collective creation THIS STAYS IN THE ROOM, easily one of the most innovative and beautiful projects we’ve ever had the pleasure of creating. It’s only fitting, then, that TSITR is getting a rare remount in Vancouver.

THIS STAYS IN THE ROOM is a bold exploration of what it requires to face ourselves and others as we grapple with shame, forgiveness, vulnerability and hope. A collaborative project, the play recruits from the true life stories of its cast and creative team. It’s an unbelievably touching meditation on the nature of shame and forgiveness.

See the original TSITR in a new setting on Granville Island for this limited run.

See the original TSITR in a new setting on Granville Island for this limited run.

And it made at least 3 lists of the Best Vancouver Theatre Productions of 2014, and was the 2014 Critics Choice Innovations Award Winner at the 2014 Jessies!

Although this remount is being produced independently by the fearless and talented Mindy Parfitt, we are so proud of what these artists have done and want to help ensure that it gets as much visibility as it can.

THIS STAYS IN THE ROOM plays 6 times only from February 4 – 7 at Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island. Tickets can be purchased here.


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Looking forward to 2015

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre wishes all of our community a safe and happy holiday season. We had an amazing year in 2014, and we’re excited about new projects and new directions in 2015.

As we look to the New Year, there’s a number of announcements we’re eager to make (with one of them being the worst kept secret imaginable), including some big news for Re:Union, some even bigger news for the future of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, and plenty of other new projects in development. (Here’s a sneak peak: we’re going to Greenland and Iceland.)

But for now, we’ll leave you with an announcement of what’s happening with This Stays in the Room, our award-winning collective creation that we premiered in Spring 2014, and which recently was listed as one of the top 5 theatre experiences by The Vancouver Sun.

This Stays in the Room (or TSITR, as we like to call it), is being remounted independently by HHG’s co-artistic director Mindy Parfitt, and will play a limited number of performances from February 4 – 7, as an off-shoot of PuSh Fest. This ground-breaking piece is being showcased to presenters for a possible tour, but we’re just as excited that our Vancouver community will get to experience it once more.

For info and tickets, please click here.

 Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!


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