Upstream Downtown


Animacy Theatre Collective and Common Boots Theatre presents

Upstream Downtown

Toronto Fringe Festival 2018

Created by
Alexandra Watt Simpson & Morgan Johnson

  • Director Martha Ross
  • Choreographer Alyssa Martin
  • Composers Anders Azzopardi & Stefan Hegerat
  • Projection Designers Alexandra Watt Simpson & Morgan Johnson
  • Mask Designers Alexandra Watt Simpson & Morgan Johnson
  • Set Designers Alexandra Watt Simpson & Robert Morgan
  • Land AcknowledgementOonagh Butterfield, Kelly King & Morgan Johnson
  • Wave Animations Oonagh Butterfield, Kelly King & Morgan Johnson
  • Stage ManagerNoa Katz
  • Poster Designer Madeleine Tuer
  • Poster Designer Kathryn Hanson
A poster containing multicoloured illustrated fish swimming from the top of the image towards the bottom. There's two cartoom women beneath them, one of whom is holding an umbrella.

After being evicted from their watery dwellings, Sojo and Beagle must play their very best “human” to survive in a world dominated by suits (not scales) – all the while searching for home, food, room (or reproductive!) mates, and a bit of multispecies’ love. Hiccups along the way include: a swim out of the water, a hook in the mouth, a pregnancy, and four cans of chatty salmon. A research-based, physical theatre play about salmon and humans finding home in Toronto. It loves humanity. It hates humanity. It’s fishy.

Salmon are often found on our dinner plates, but are not too often swimming around our minds asking philosophical questions about home, reproductive rights, settler-Indigenous relations, feminism, and interspecies narratives. What can salmon tell us about domestic, public, and watery spaces? Salmon also have a remarkable connection to place, using homing abilities to find their way back to their native streams and rivers. As two female artists of European ancestry, living as settlers on Indigenous land, we are interested in how to address the complexity of ‘home’ when our access is predicated on the history of colonial/patriarchal violence. How can a multispecies lens (say, a salmon-humans lens) challenge and influence traditional modes of theatre performance and creation, and habitual modes of thinking? How do we go forward? For two salmon-human amalgamates who are just as complexed about these big questions as any of us, the future is fish.

Awards and Reviews

Upstream Downtown is an amalgamation of theatrical choices that reflect an impressive body of research and a depth of consideration by all parties involved. It is worth seeing for entertainment value alone, but hopefully, the audience will also emerge with new understanding of, as Sojo and Beagle put it, “the regular ways we murder all the time,” as we inevitably contribute to unyielding capitalism

– Kate Croome, The Theatre Times

“Upstream Downtown is ingenious theatre. In the space of an hour, the Animacy Theatre Collective gave a lucky audience not just a taste of the salmon spawning grounds of the Don in the hall of St. Vladimir’s, but a fun story of novelty and struggle that the audience can enjoy. Theatre fans interested in fun shows that experiment will find much to enjoy here.”

– Randy McDonald, Mooney on Theatre

“Johnson and Simpson are an exciting new clown duo whose progress will be fascinating to follow”

– Christopher Hoile, Now Toronto NNN