Artistic Director Larry Beckwith to Step Down

Artistic Director Larry Beckwith Annouces that
2017/18 will be Toronto Masque Theatre’s Last Season

Photo credit: Tara McMullen

Larry Beckwith announced on Thursday, 2 March 2017 that he will be stepping down as Artistic Director of Toronto Masque Theatre at the end of the 2017/18 season. Furthermore, after extensive consultation with the board of TMT as well as other stakeholders, including the company’s Artistic Associates, it was agreed that the company would also cease operation at the end of the 2017/18 season, the company’s fifteenth year of creating masque in the heart of Toronto. 

Larry Beckwith had the following to say:

This past December, after much soul-searching, I came to the decision to step down. Reflecting on the pressures of fundraising, programming and grant-writing, and observing the changing trends in Toronto's cultural landscape, it seemed to me a logical time for such a decision. We have always operated with a very lean administrative structure, pouring the majority of our modest resources into the work that appears on our stage: hiring top-notch performers and commissioning some of the leading creative artists this country has to offer.

I look back on the past 14 seasons with nothing but pride and joy. Over close to 60 programs, we have explored a wide repertoire and, I hope, have helped to inform our audiences about the great potential that the masque art form represents, existing as it does at the intersection of the performing arts of music, dance and theatre.

I am deeply grateful to all of the creative souls who have invested their time and talent in bringing each Toronto Masque Theatre production to life. Over a decade and a half, we’ve been privileged to present some of Canada’s most beloved and dedicated artists.

What is perhaps dearest to me are the major new works that Toronto Masque Theatre commissioned from composers James Rolfe, Dean Burry, Alice Ho, Juliet Palmer, Omar Daniel and Abigail Richardson, working with some of our best writers, including André Alexis, Anna Chatterton, Marjorie Chan and Steven Heighton. I hope these pieces will enjoy a life beyond the company and, together, will stand as a uniquely Canadian repertoire of "modern masques”.

And it has, of course, warmed my heart every time we have been able to program anything by that genius, Mr. Henry Purcell!

The community’s support of Toronto Masque Theatre has been overwhelming. My thanks go out to our loyal subscribers, donors, sponsors and to the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for their consistent and inspiring investments in the company.

There is one more season to come once this one concludes. And our plan is to make it an ambitious and celebratory year, the details of which will be announced very soon.

In closing, I want to thank the Board of Directors of Toronto Masque Theatre and my close colleagues - Vivian Moens, Derek Boyes and Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière – for their support, counsel, friendship and tireless efforts on behalf of the company. At every turn, they have been an absolute dream to work with.

Throughout my time with Toronto Masque Theatre, I have been reminded again and again of the transformative power of art. At the beginning of the first evening of Toronto Masque Theatre’s premiere production, in May, 2004, the words of one of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Sonnets of Orpheus were spoken. They are an apt epitaph to the work of the company:

Although the world changes itself
As rapidly as clouds
All that is completed returns
Home to the primeval.

Over the change and course,
Further and more freely
Your song endures,
God with the lyre.

Never has grief been recognized
Neither has love been learned
And what removes us in death
Is not revealed.

Only the song above the land
Hallows and heals.

You can read Larry's original blog post here.

Our current season will conclude on 1 May with a special salon featuring a staged reading / singing of Ben Jonson’s The Vision of Delight.

Next season's programming, an opportunity to celebrate the history of the company, has been announced and can be found here.  Subscription packages will be available in early May.

About Toronto Masque Theatre
Founded in 2003 by Artistic Director Larry Beckwith, Toronto Masque Theatre is one of the only companies in the world devoted to the performance of masque, an art form that results from a fusion of music, dance and theatre. Inspired by the rich courtly tradition of the late renaissance, we seek to reinvent the art form for today’s audiences, speaking to contemporary Toronto. We have produced close to 60 critically acclaimed productions, ranging in repertoire from the late renaissance to the present day, including eight commissions of original work from Canadian artists. Our current season continues with our most recent commission, The Man Who Married Himself, receiving its world premiere later this month.

For more information please contact Andrew Templeton or 416 829 7196.