About Outdoor Theatre
Winter theatre was born in B.C’s Okanagan Valley at the Caravan Farm Theatre. Legend has it that the local police force wanted a sleigh ride for their Christmas party. They inquired at the Caravan because it had horses, and one snowy evening the constabulary and their families headed out across the Caravan’s 80 acres of pasture and forest. But the resident artists couldn’t resist the temptation: dressed up as bandits and on horseback, they staged a western-style hold up — to the delight of all involved. And so winter theatre was born. In 2011, Jennifer Brewin (Caravan’s former Co-Artistic Director) introduced Toronto to winter theatre as a walking show. Critics hailed it as a tradition in the making.
Common Boots Theatre’s annual outdoor winter productions are 50-minute processional plays performed entirely outdoors throughout December. The audience follows the action on foot across a spectacular urban landscape. Each night a different local community choir accompanies the journey.
Our productions are low tech: the stages are simple platforms, the lights are hand-held flashlights and lamps, actors change costumes in temporary stations along the way. The art of the play is in highlighting the unique personality of the site through the creative use of space, route and lighting.
A typical audience is made up of children and grandparents, bankers and students, neighbours from down the street and their cousins from around the GTA. They work across the city and bring friends from around the world. They come alone and in groups, by car and by public transport. Their path through the performance area is chosen to accommodate a variety of mobility aids. Our audience represents the diverse city in which we live.
For 5 years, we performed at the historic Evergreen Brick Works on the banks of the Don Valley. Our past shows include The Story by Martha Ross, Weather the Weather by Haley McGee, The Dog and The Angel by Martha Ross and Tails from the City by Marjorie Chan.
This year we bring The Story to a new location—Christie Pits Park, in one of Toronto’s most vibrant and multicultural neighborhoods. The community is historically known to be a safe haven for newcomers as they transition to a new life in Canada. After 5 years at Evergreen Brick Works, we’re so excited to share our love of outdoor winter theatre with different communities and bring our stories, laughter, and questions to a new corner of our wonderful city.
- Show begins at 7:30pm
- Running time is one hour
- Audiences travel 1km over uneven terrain
- Dress warmly, no kidding!
- Wear suitable boots for wet and cold
- Thick socks!
- A good hat that covers the ears
Performing Artists in past and upcoming Common Boots/Theatre Columbus outdoor productions:
Kawa Ada, Neema BIckerseth, Leah Cherniak, Lisa Karen Cox, Colin Doyle, Lucy Hill, Derek Kwan, Amy Lee, Richard Lee, Eponine Lee, Haley McGee, Paul Rainville, Michael Rinaldi, Courtenay Stevens, Sanjay Talwar, Jennifer Villaverdi, Connie Wang, Ryan Wilke and Jeff Yung
VIDEO: A short story about Common Boots Theatre’s’ winter theatre tradition at Toronto’s Evergreen Brick Works.
Filmed during a performance of Haley McGee’s play, “Weather the Weather” in December 2013.