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Talk Is Free Theatre Announces The Bees in the Bush Festival

Theatres across the globe are beginning to open up and provide safe ways to enjoy live theatre!

Just today, May 31st, 2021, Talk Is Free Theatre in Barrie, Ontario, which is very close to my hometown, announced a summer festival featuring world premieres, presented productions, and an exciting musical revival!

I am so thrilled that live theatre is returning to my area, and that these productions will be presented outdoors while following the current COVID-19 protocols!

As always, I simply had to share all of the information here with you:


Barrie, ON….TIFT Artistic Producer Arkady Spivak announced today the programming of The Bees in the Bush Festival, featuring twelve eclectic in-person productions. Running from August 3 to October 3, 2021, all programming will be performed at outdoor locations – using parks, conservation areas, residential backyards and more, for a reduced in-person audience and with observance of current COVID-19 protocols.

The Bees in the Bush will include several productions reconfigured for an outdoors presentation, as well as boundary-pushing new works and a return of TIFT’s hit musical-in-concert in a new setting. Six world premieres will also be produced, including the musically infused cabaret based on a Greek legend; a documentary-style interactive collection of migration stories, created by DopoLavoro Teatrale (DLT); an experimental performance piece created by Simcoe Contemporary Dancers; an intimate but amplified one-person musical discussion; an immersive installation using augmented reality technology; and an explorative piece about one of history’s most divisive figures.

As previously announced, all programming will be free, and subject to TIFT’s booking policy available at Talk Is Free Theatre supporters are offered exclusive booking privileges starting on June 15, 2021. Bookings will be open to the general public starting July 5, 2021.

Further Details of the Bees in the Bush Festival programming

August 3-8, 2021, several engagements between 5 and 7pm

I & I

World Premiere

Written and Dramaturged by

Daniele Bartolini and Anahita Dehbonehie

with personal stories of newcomer artists

Directed by

Daniele Bartolini and Danya Buonastella

A DopoLavoro Teatrale - DLT production

The confrontation of the self of the immigrant before and after leaving their motherland I & I is a poetic, documentary style collection of migration stories, memory treasures and rituals from different cultures where you are invited to get close and personal with a world of newcomers. Created by Italian born Daniele Bartolini, Italian-Canadian Danya Buonastella and Iranian born Anahita Dehbonehie with a group of newcomer artists, I & I provides an opportunity of encounter for citizens of different cultural backgrounds, shining light on the life experience of newcomers to Canada.

Maximum audience capacity per performance: 4.

Performance duration: Approximately 60 minutes

Venue: Sunnidale Park, Barrie

August 5-8, 2021 at 6pm


Written by

Wajdi Mouawad

Translated by

Shelley Tepperman

Directed by

Alon Nashman

a Theaturtle production, in partnership with Shakespeare in Action

“A Runaway Theatrical Success” – J. Kelly Nestruck, The Globe & Mail

Alphonse is lost, walking along a country road, weaving an intricate web of stories, while everyone is searching for him: parents, friends, teachers, the police. What they find is the thing we often give up in order to grow up.

Maximum audience capacity per performance: 20

Performance duration: 70 minutes

Venue: A private residence at 801 Big Bay Point Road, Barrie, outdoors

Aug 11-14, 2021 at 6pm


Written and performed by

Maja Ardal

Directed by

Mary Francis Moore

Designed by

Julia Tribe

Maja Ardal returns this summer with You Fancy Yourself, the prequel to last season's sold-out production of Cure for Everything.

You Fancy Yourself is the story of young Elsa and her attempt to fit into a tough world after immigrating to a new country. Touring for the last 10 years across Canada and through England, the production is acclaimed for portraying the world of childhood with humour and tenderness, in a way that people of all ages can relate to.

Maximum audience capacity per performance: 20

Performance Duration: 60 minutes

Venue: The backyard of a private residence, located at 23 Theresa Street, Barrie.

August 16-29, 2021 at 6pm


Written and performed by

Katherine Cullen & Britta Johnson

Directed by Aaron Willis

An Outside the March Production

“…riotously funny, musically charming, and emotionally resonant… a perfect blend of humour, heart, and soul.” – Kingston Theatre Reviews

A dyslexic backyard musical about not being alone.

This is a show about learning that no matter who you are, you’re not alone. After successful runs at Theatre Passe Muraille in 2017 and Kingston’s Kick & Push Festival in 2019, Talk is Free and Outside the March are teaming up with Cullen, Johnson, director Aaron Willis and designer Anahita Dehbonehie to reimagine that message for our collective isolated purgatory.

Maximum audience capacity per performance: 16

Performance Duration: 90 minutes

Venue: The backyard of a private residence, located at 1076 Winnifred Court, Innisfil

Aug 19-22, 2021 at 4pm


in Concert

Book by

James Lapine

Music and lyrics by

Stephen Sondheim

Directed by

Michael Torontow

Music direction by

Wayne Gwillim

Choreography by

Lori Watson

Set design by

Joe Pagnan

Costumes by

Laura Delchiaro

Sound Design by

Josh Doerksen


Noah Beemer, Aidan deSalaiz, Griffin Hewitt, Richard Lam, Jamie McRoberts and others

“…the star for me is Director Michael Torontow. What he created was a clear reading of the musical that was inventive in its presentation, creative, illuminating and accomplished in realizing Sondheim’s difficult piece.” – Lynn Slotkin, The Slotkin Letter

Nestled whimsically within one of Barrie’s beautiful forest parks, TIFT’s hit production of Into the Woods returns by popular demand in a new outdoor setting for a unique and magical experience.

Enjoy the masterful songs of Stephen Sondheim and become immersed in the fantastical world of these beloved Brothers Grimm characters as they search for their ‘happily ever after’.

Maximum audience capacity per performance: 50

Performance duration: 2.5 hours, including one intermission.

Venue: Springwater Provincial Park

August 25-28, 2021 at 6pm


World Premiere

Written, directed, and performed by

Griffin Hewitt

Original text by


Original music by

Juliette Jones

Assistant direction and dramaturgy by

Giovanni Spina

Cyclops: A Satyr Play takes Euripides’s only surviving Satyr comedy, and using music, dance, games, good wine, good food, and everything else you need for a good time, engages the audience in a journey to find what makes us truly free.

This production is also part of the Eternal Ego Festival

Maximum audience capacity per performance: 16

Performance Duration: Approximately 60 minutes

Venue: The backyard of a private residence, located at 16 Lougheed Road, Barrie

September 1-4, 2021 at 7:30pm


World Premiere

Written by and starring

Brendan Chandler

Dramaturged and Directed by

Maja Ardal

This new short play explores aspects that surround the legend of Rasputin, the historical figure whose life and actions are shrouded by rumour and hearsay. Was Rasputin wicked, was he good or was he neither? A divisive character in Russian history, Rasputin gained considerable influence with Tsar Nicholas II and their relationship is one of mystery and allegation. Set in the afterlife, witness the story of Rasputin and Tzar Nicholas II as they meet for a date.

Maximum audience capacity per performance: 25

Performance Duration: Approximately 30 minutes

Venue: The Beth Foster Floating Auditorium

Located between Southshore Centre and Minet’s Point

September 8-11, 2021 at 6pm


Written and directed by, and starring

Roy Lewis

Creative Adviser

Marti Maraden

“Roy Lewis instills so much joy in the telling, makes the words sound delicious and makes us fall in love with the beguiling Nat Love.” – Lynn Slotkin, The Slotkin Letter

Poet, actor, storyteller, Roy Lewis takes us on a cattle drive with legendary African American cowboy and raconteur Nat Love. Join Roy as we explore together this forgotten history of the late 19th century, from the end of American Civil War, the freeing the African Slaves, the expansion of the Railroad and the killing of the buffalo. This is an impressionistic vision in prose song and poetry. I See The Crimson Wave is a vivid reimagining of the old west which comes to life in the captivating persona of Roy Lewis.

Maximum audience capacity per performance: 14

Performance Duration: 55 minutes

Venue: The backyard of a private residence, located at 59 Shanty Bay Road, Barrie

September 10-12 and 26 2021, various times


World Premiere

Process Facilitator

Sarah Lochhead


Jaqui Brown, Casey-lee Cooper, and Eligh Zimmerman of Simcoe Contemporary Dancers

Creative Technologist

Max Lupo

The Base - Rich Aucoin, Remixed sound samples of The Base - Rich Aucoin

Source files courtesy of Aucoin

A Simcoe Contemporary Dancers Production

What happens when our live experience of performing and witnessing are mediated by technology while simultaneously dependent on our presence in the shared physical space? You are invited to be part of a performance experiment. Your presence in the space determines the sequence of events. A solo performer responds in real time to the sound cues activated by your location as read by a 360 radar. The dancer’s movements are in turn interpreted by a device that will activate a signal inviting you to find a new spot in the space — creating the next sequence of events.

Maximum audience capacity per performance: 6

Performance Duration: 25 minutes

Venue: MacLaren Arts Centre Courtyard, located at 37 Mulcaster St, Barrie.

September 15-18, 2021 at 9pm


Written by

Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht

Libretti by

Bertolt Brecht

Musical Composition by

Kurt Weill

Directed by Richard Ouzounian

Based on Mahagonny Songs, a series of five poems written by Brecht, Mahagonny-Songspiel is a small-scale scenic cantata, created by two of the 20th century’s most accomplished and versatile creative minds. This ground-breaking collection of songs set in motion the long running relationship between Weill and Brecht whose collaborations would take Germany and the world by storm.

Maximum audience capacity per performance: 25

Performance Duration: 30 minutes

Venue: The amphitheatre behind the Southshore Community Centre, located at 205 Lakeshore Dr, Barrie

September 22-25, 2021 at 8pm


World Premiere

Conceived by and starring

Michael Torontow

Michael Torontow loves a good post-show talkback. You know, that rare opportunity after a performance when artists share secrets about the show, the process, and themselves.

Torontow {After Dark} is this intimate gathering but amplified, when Michael--director of TIFT’s Into The Woods and leading actor in The Curious Voyage, Every Brilliant Thing, The Music Man, Candide and Floyd Collins—invites you in to relax, hear some stories, some great music, and indulge your curiosity.

Maximum audience capacity per performance:16

Performance Duration: Approximately 60 minutes

Venue: Five Points Theatre, located at 1 Dunlop Street West, Barrie

October 1-3, 2021


World Premiere

Based on the folklore written by

Alexander Afanasyev

Created and Artistically Led by

Joe Pagnan

Movement Directed by

Clarke Blair

Composition by

Richard Lam

Narrated by

Glynis Ranney

Walk into the woods to retrace steps taken by a heroine of Russian folktales. Find out What She Burned this fall in an immersive installation using mid-century bootlegging techniques fused with modern augmented-reality technology. Inspired by a children's story about a young woman facing an evil witch in the woods, this piece has dark elements and is experienced in intimate groups no more than four.

Maximum audience capacity per performance: 2 per viewing.

Multiple viewings are available throughout the day of the performance.

Running time: 30 Minutes

Venue: Location in Barrie to be announced at a later date.

I will definitely be booking tickets to more than a few of these exciting productions, and will keep you all updated!

You can find more information on The Bees In The Bush Festival at :

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