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TIFT pulls back curtain on live performance lineup for September

Highlighting the resilience of the human spirit, shows will be staged outdoors in private backyards around the Barrie area
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(Stock image)

Today, Artistic Producer Arkady Spivak announced that Talk Is Free Theatre (TIFT) will present a lineup of intimate live performances this September that exemplify the resilience, fortitude, and determination of the human spirit during these times.
Staged outdoors, in private backyards around the Barrie area, this collection of captivating works will give voice to the many diverse and vital voices, with the utmost attention to new health and safety protocols.

A total of eight different works will be staged at a variety of locations, with a drastically reduced audience size of up to 20 patrons per performance in order to ensure the safety of patrons and artists. Further details are included below.


TIFT is keenly aware that not all regular patrons will find it possible to attend this September. However, they can still become part of all performances by sending their applause. All contributions will become part of the soundscape and will be played at the end of every performance. Recordings of clapping, in an MP3 format using a mobile app (Voice Memo, Audio Recorder etc.), can be sent to [email protected] by Aug. 15.


Sept. 9 -19, 2020

Beneath Springhill: The Maurice Ruddick Story
Created and performed by Beau Dixon
Music and Lyrics by Susan Newman and Rob Fortin
Originally dramaturged and directed by Linda Kash
Sound design by Beau Dixon

Maurice Ruddick, an African Canadian, was awarded “Citizen of the Year” for saving the lives of his fellow workers after an historic mining disaster in Springhill, Nova Scotia, in 1958.

Actor Beau Dixon will recall the events of the seven miners trapped two miles beneath a small mining town, the effect it had on their rural Canadian community and the racial tension that surfaced as a result.

Dixon plays 10 characters: Maurice; the six miners whose lives he was credited with saving; a news reporter; Valerie, one of Ruddick’s 13 children; and Ruddick’s wife, Norma. Beneath Springhill is a story filled with tragedy, drama and comical, yet conflicting, moments of hope and bravery.

Performances: Sept. 9 to Sept. 19, 2020, on Wednesdays to Saturdays at 8 p.m.

Venue: Backyard of a private residence at 801 Big Bay Point Rd., Barrie

Sept. 23 - Oct. 4, 2020


A brand new mini-festival created and performed by women and feminine-identifying artists. These works are a collection of timely and poignant stories from unique perspectives.

Details for the individual performances for The Plural of She are as follows:

Having Hope: A Hand Drum Song Cycle
Created and Performed by Nicole Joy-Frase

Through her gifts of song and hand drum, 60’s Scoop witness Nicole Joy-Fraser shares the reclamation of her Indigenous identity, her journey of healing and her personal decolonization through the performing arts. 

Birthed from an invitation by her colleague and mentor Maja Ardal, Nicole thought if she replaced the piano and bar scene of a Cabaret-style concert with the hand drum and a back yard, then it could be an opportunity for a small audience to learn and hear her story.

Ultimately this is the perspective of a professional Indigenous Artist and Cultural Arts worker who has been establishing herself over the last 20 years with the incredible support of her family, her community and her ancestral lineage. This is the official premiere and first time that Nicole is devising solo-work. Kininâskomitin.

Performances: Sept. 23, 2020 at 6 p.m. and Sept. 24, 2020 at 6 p.m.

Venue: Backyard of a private residence at 16 Lougheed Rd., Barrie

In Case We Disappear
Created and Performed by Vanessa Smythe

In Case We Disappear is a series of poems, songs, and comedic anecdotes that “quickly tack between the humour in everyday minutia, and grand, heartfelt observations about big life questions.” (NOW Magazine).

Vanessa Smythe has toured the show to sold-out houses through North America and the UK where it was Critics Pick in 9 publications, and also named one of the best free shows at the Edinburgh Fringe (BFTBOScotland).
Performances: Sept. 25, 2020 at 6 p.m. and Sept. 26, 2020 at 2 p.m.
Venue: Backyard of a private residence at 72 Monique Cres., Barrie


The safety of our audience and artists are of the utmost importance. The following procedures will be implemented at every performance:

  • A screening checklist will be completed prior to entry for all patrons.
  • All patrons must provide their name and phone number for easier tracing, with the option of information not being used for any other purpose.
  • Masks must be worn by all attendees at all times.
  • Each venue has been measured extensively to ensure social distancing measures are met and maintained for each patron (or their bubble), as well as between them and the performer.
  • The seating capacity has been significantly reduced to the maximum of 20 seats, depending on the venue. 
  • An unlimited exchange policy up to one-hour prior to the performance. 
  • Additional measures at the direction of health officials.


In the case of rain during any of the performances, we ask that patrons come prepared with an umbrella and a raincoat. In the event of light rain, the performance will continue. In the event of heavy rain, thunder or lightning, the performance may be paused or cancelled. 


This season, additional programming will be announced every two months to better mitigate the current health crisis. However, TIFT already plans to produce a revival of their internationally acclaimed Secret Musical, directed by Mitchell Cushman. The work will be staged at an undisclosed location for a very limited audience, for an experience unrivalled since the work’s premiere in London, UK two years ago.
Patrons of TIFT’s revival of Into the Woods, an iconic musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, will be asked to bring their favourite stuffed animals as their guests and seatmates.

Director Michael Torontow says: “Children possess a sort of magic, which adults have a very difficult time accessing as they grow older. Their boundless creativity and curiosity, their unconditional love and acceptance of others...” And so, the patrons will help contribute to the whimsy and the imagination of the story, by turning the social distancing parameters into one of the greatest magical moments in the woods.
Finally, TIFT’s long-running production of Tales of an Urban Indian by Darrell Dennis, and staged on a moving city bus, will be revived in Grande Prairie, Alberta later this fall.


Only single tickets and the Producer’s Circle program will be offered this year. All regular ticket prices have been reduced to $25 plus HST. To purchase limited tickets, please visit  or call (705) 792-1949. For health reasons and due to the lower seating capacity, all tickets must be pre-purchased.