Why Not Theatre is an agile, international theatre company based in Toronto, Canada, rooted in the values of innovation, community and collaboration. Our work is inventive, cross-cultural, and reflects our passion for the exploration of difference. We challenge the status quo, by examining what stories are being told, and who is telling them. More than just a theatre company, we develop creative strategies to build a healthier and stronger arts ecology. We MAKE and tour critically-acclaimed and award-winning new work, SHARE resources with other companies and artists to produce and tour their work, and PROVOKE change through new producing models and the presentation of work for new audiences. We are led by a core team of Founding Artistic Director Ravi Jain, Managing Director Owais Lightwala, and Executive Producer Kelly Read.
“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 we do.” – Ravi Jain
Artistic & General Director
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 65 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 artistic ventures include Prince Hamlet; A Brimful of Asha; Like Mother, Like Daughter; Iceland, Greenland and Faroe Islands; Butcher; Gimme Shelter, and we are currently in development with a new adaptation of The Mahabharata; and a new commission titled Code.
We share our resources with other artists and companies to help produce and tour their work more effectively. We often function as accelerators and relationship brokers, co-producing new work with emerging artists who have less infrastructure, or producing a tour with a larger company that doesn’t tour often. Some recent collaborations are Mouthpiece (Quote Unquote Collective); Salt-Water Moon (Factory Theatre); 4 ½ (ig)noble truths (zeitpunktheatre); Concord Floral (suburban beast); Out the Woods (Sidemart Theatrical Grocery); and Late Company (surface/underground theatre).
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 present international and national work to expose local artists and audiences to new artistic forms and practices, and to build new audiences through diverse languages and cultures. We experiment with new producing models with The RISER Project, to address systemic challenges to developing art sustainably in Toronto. We created a gathering called ThisGen, bringing together a group of dynamic culturally diverse artistic leaders from across the country and the world that are often referred to as the “next” generation, rather than “this” generation.
"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"