Founded in 2007, Why Not Theatre is a Toronto-based theatre company with an international scope. Under founding Artistic Director Ravi Jain and Artistic Producers Owais Lightwala and Kelly Read,Why Not has established a reputation as a company synonymous with inventive, experimental, cross-cultural collaborations resulting in shows featuring new Canadian writing, company-devised and site specific shows alongside revitalized interpretations of classics. In recent years, the company has also become known for its presentation of international productions and workshops from diverse cultures and artistic practices, along with support for the development of local emerging artists and companies.
Essential to our creative process are the collisions that arise from our different cultures, languages and experiences provoking us to seek new styles, stories and forms. Our theatre is international in the truest sense of the word: it is created between nations and transcends the borders of race, celebrating all cultures, languages and forms.
“While working in Nairobi, Kenya I learned of Ngugi wa’Thiongo. He was a pioneer of Kenyan theatre, who was exiled for rediscovering a Kenyan theatre, which challenged the British rule and history of the country. Someone wrote of his work, “he was searching for alternative visions of existence”. That phrase has stuck with me ever since, and is the bedrock of everything I do. For our company, it means challenging the status quo and what kinds of stories are being told and who is telling them. “ – Ravi Jain
Guided by our core values of innovation, community and collaboration, our three main streams of activity are Creating, Presenting and Innovating.
We develop and produce new work that has gained critical acclaim and has toured across Canada and around the world. Over the last 10 years we have developed over 13 productions, 14 co-productions and had over 60 tour stops in 21 cities across the world. We strive to be undefinable, creating theatrical experiences that engage an audience beyond the confines of the theatre. Our plays are a reflection of the people we work with, therefore no two shows are alike.
Some of the company’s recent successes include A Brimful of Asha (written and directed by Ravi Jain, starring Ravi’s real life mother Asha Jain), Butcher (written by Nicolas Billon, directed by Weyni Mengesha) and Like Mother Like Daughter (created in collaboration with Complicite, co-directed by Ravi Jain and Rose Plotek), amongst other projects on tour across Canada and the world.
Why Not Theatre presents the highest quality of international artists and their work to expose artists and audiences to new artistic forms and cultures. We have hosted workshops by artists from companies such as:
Why Not is more than just a theatre company, we are also socially minded entrepreneurs invested in building a healthier performing arts ecology in Toronto. We are experimenting with new producing models in order to address systemic challenges to the development of art and sustaining of artists in Toronto.
We are currently exploring major initiatives, such as the RISER Project which are building innovative partnerships between established institutions and local emerging companies in order to support new work and challenge traditional modes of creation.
In 2016, we brought together a group of dynamic culturally diverse artistic leaders from across the country and the world in ThisGen, which will continue to host biannual gatherings and events in different host cities.
"Why Not Theatre is a great addition to the Toronto theatre scene because clearly whatever Jain and his cohorts put on stage will be unpredictable"
"I admire Ravi Jain's fire, passion and sense of adventure!"
"From the sublime to the ridiculous…[Why Not Theatre] is an example of innovation in theatre"