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Buddies In Bad Times Theatre

Challenging sexual and cultural norms

As the world’s longest-running and largest queer theatre, Buddies in Bad Times plays an important role in Toronto’s theatre community by presenting stories that challenge sexual and cultural norms.

In contrast to the mainstream theatre of Toronto’s Entertainment District, Buddies is committed to theatre that is challenging and avant-garde. While catching a show at the Royal Alexandra or the Princess of Wales is like going to a restaurant and ordering the house salad (always a safe bet), catching a show at Buddies is like asking the chef to throw together something new and one-of-a-kind.

Buddies advances the cause of queer liberation while serving a broad and diverse community of people. Blending art, dance, music, and drama in innovative ways, it is a theatre company like no other. You will never leave a performance at Buddies without having something to talk about.

In addition to its regular season, Buddies in Bad Times supports an artist-residency program and several youth-focused initiatives, such as the Young Creators Unit training program for budding artists and the Queer Cab monthly open mic night for queer youth. Every weekend, Buddies opens its doors to the community for two nights of fun and dancing, with all proceeds going to support its theatre and youth programs.


Buddies in Bad Times Theatre was founded in 1979 by Sky Gilbert, Matt Walsh, and Jerry Ciccoritti. Although its original intention was to adapt poetry for the stage, Buddies developed a distinctly queer aesthetic during the 1980s under the leadership of the always provocative Sky Gilbert (and his drag persona Jane).

After Buddies moved into its first home at 142 George Street in 1991, it started to gain more attention – and notoriety. Particularly controversial were the infamous Dungeon Parties, which experimented with the use of bondage in performance. Three years later, Buddies relocated to its current home in the Gay Village at 12 Alexander Street.

Throughout the ‘90s and into the new millennium, Buddies witnessed two new artistic directors, numerous theatrical successes, and an increased emphasis on alternative art forms like cabaret and burlesque. The theatre also developed a marked focus on queer youth with the development of its youth initiatives and weekend club nights.

Buddies’ leadership was taken over by its fourth and current Artistic Director, Brendan Healy, in 2009. The theatre remains committed to its values of difference, excellence and community, and has continued to enjoy a growing audience while spawning the careers of dozens of Canadian actors, playwrights and directors.

In 2012, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre was voted Toronto’s Best Small Theatre Company by Now Magazine.

2014 Season

This season, Buddies is featuring another unique lineup of shows and events not to be missed. Here is just a sampling of what there is to look forward to in 2014.

Manon, Sandra and the Virgin Mary

By Michel Tremblay. Translated & directed by John Van Burek.

Dates: January 11th to February 2nd.

Described as “a hauntingly powerful evening of theatre” by the Vancouver Express, Manon, Sandra and the Virgin Mary contrasts parallel monologues by the quietly pious Manon and the irreverent drag-queen Sandra, exploring the relationship between the sacred and the profane.

The Wanderers

By Kawa Ada. Directed by Nina Lee Aquino.

Dates: March 1st to 23rd.

In The Wanderers, Kawa Ada tells the story of a father and son who flee the war in Afghanistan only to be haunted by a mysterious force, reminding them (and us) that the horrors of war can never truly be escaped.

Me Talking to Myself in the Future

Written & directed by Marie Brassard.

Dates: March 26th to April 6th.

Theatrical innovator Marie Brassard imagines a fantastical future dream world in which a dying old woman drifts among the thoughts of someone in the present. A unique blend of music, drama, and technology, Me Talking to Myself in the Future is a poignant reflection on time and death.


Written & directed by Sky Gilbert.

Dates: April 30th to May 11th.

What happens when gay love and national security collide? The founding artistic director of Buddies is back in full form with this inventive look at a fictional love affair between two men in the midst of the 2010 WikiLeaks scandal.

Queer Pride 2014

Date: June 2014.

Celebrate World Pride with flair during Buddies’ month-long festival of theatre, art, music, and parties – featuring some of the best queer entertainers around. Programming details to be announced in Spring 2014.

Expand your artistic and intellectual horizons with a night out at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Tickets are available for purchase online, by phone, or at the box office.

For more information, visit BuddiesInBadTimes.com.