OAF News

2019 Wuchien Michael Than Fund Grants Announced

Toronto, October 1, 2019 — The Ontario Arts Foundation and the Wuchien Michael Than Foundation are pleased to announce the 2019 grants from the Wuchien Michael Than Fund. This year's grants are being given to help fund productions across the country, including two 2018 Development Grant - Phase II projects Here Are The Fragments at the Theatre Centre and Mahabharata at Why Not Theatre. 

Production Grants

Here Are The Fragments by Suvendrini Lena
B.A.A.N.N. Theatre Centre
A Caribbean immigrant psychiatrist, early in his training, develops psychosis and ultimately, treatment resistant schizophrenia. Twenty years later, Eduard, his son, struggles to re-connect with his estranged father, and faces difficult treatment decisions.
Here are the Fragments is an immersive theatrical installation, a unique combination of story, experiential exploration, and analysis, fostering empathy for and understanding of the experience of schizophrenia. In this unique collaboration between art and medicine, artists, scientists and clinicians will work together in development workshops in December 2018 and July 2019, with public performances scheduled in November 2019 at The Theatre Centre.

Lady Sunrise by Marjorie Chan
Factory Theatre
Lady Sunrise, set among the wealthy and hangers-on in Vancouver’s Chinese and Chinese-Canadian community, is a tale of social climbing and the fraying of the social fabric that holds us all together. Lady Sunrise is inspired by Chinese playwright Cao Yu, who single-handedly introduced Western modernism to Chinese theatre. Inspired by Yu’s own Sunrise (1936), Chan’s play, set within Vancouver’s condo and casino playground, examines the moral degradation of contemporary Canadian society. A remarkable play with seven powerful roles for Asian-Canadian women performers, this will speak to Toronto audiences as our city continues to grow vertically, while often forgetting the people who live on the ground.
The world premiere of Lady Sunrise is part of Factory Theatre’s 50th anniversary season.

Gramma by Maki Yi
Pacific Theatre
Gramma is an autobiographical tale that explores cultural memories in a place of displacement through the Integration of Korean traditional rituals and Western Theatrical conventions. It depicts the relationship between two lonely persons, and the possibility of human understanding and connection beyond fundamental differences.

Three Women of Swatow by Chloe Hung
Tarragon Theatre
“Swatow women are supposed to be fierce.”
That’s what Grandmother tells her daughter. Grandmother’s a butcher and to her disappointment, her daughter’s a vegetarian. But to her satisfaction, her granddaughter killed her first chicken at the age of three. In this ferocious comedy, the three generations of women grapple with their dark history, emotional inheritance and the legacy of mothers’ life lessons and daughters’ love lives.  
And there’s blood. Lots of blood.

Loreta Seto Loreta Seto Mahabharata adapted by Ravi Jain and Miriam Fernandes
Why Not Theatre
A new adaptation of the ancient Indian Epic, The Mahabharata, with Why Not’s Artistic Director leading a cast of performers and artistic collaborators that comprises the South Asian Diaspora around the world. This large undertaking will incorporate multiple disciplines – theatre, dance, music, visual arts and film – into a multi-part production intended to tour to prestigious venues across Canada and the world including a world premiere at the Shaw Festival.

Development Grants - Phase II

The Frost Fair by Marjorie Chan, Eponine Lee, Jeff Yung, Nina Gilmour, Courtenay Stevens, Jennifer Brewin, Kate Walker, Alex Bulmer, Laura Baxter, and Jenny Salisbury
Common Boots Theatre
The Frost Fair will be an outdoor winter production, currently in development, and scheduled to premier in Toronto in February 2021.

The Frost Fair will be an immersive, site-specific performance that shows off both the diverse artistic and cultural fabric of Toronto in winter. Its story will be performed by large company of professional artists. The world of the play will be populated by community arts groups, such as choirs and dance ensembles.

Suvendrini Lena Obvi by Gary Mok
Factory Theatre
Obvi is about a girl who can’t wait to grow up, a man who doesn’t want to, and their time-travelling hairdresser who has a story for every situation.
This story centers on Emma, an overachieving Chinese-Canadian teenage girl who has surpassed every expectation set out for her and is now on the search for her next mountain to climb: making the world better through selective human breeding.

April Leung Salesman in China by Jovanni Sy and Leanna Brodie
Playwrights Theatre Centre
Salesman in China is a play inspired by Arthur Miller’s trip to China to direct Death of a Salesman at the Beijing People’s Art Theatre, starring the legendary Ying Ruocheng.
In 1983, the People’s Republic of China, only recently opened to the West, was still basically a Maoist regime coming out of decades of xenophobia, to whose citizens America seemed remote and mysterious. This is where Miller was invited to stage his theatrical examination of the American Dream: the tragedy of a salesman who kills himself so that his son can collect his insurance… in a society with neither salesmen nor insurance. This fascinating chapter of history was our launching pad for an exploration of culture, language, and Chinese-North American relations.

Otosan by Shizuka Kai, Jess Amy Shead, and Randi Edmundson
Powell Street Festival Society
Otosan is a work in development, a puppet show for families featuring table-top puppetry and wildlife documentary footage.
“Otosan” means “father” in Japanese, but in a gentle and friendly way. It invokes a feeling of nostalgia. Otosan is based on key creator Shizuka Kai’s real-life experience of trying to connect with her father, a wildlife videographer. In the play, little Shizu hides in her father’s suitcase and travels secretly to his most dangerous destination… the”North.” At first, Shizu is a big nuisance to her gruff, no-nonsense father. As they encounter grizzly bears, snowy owls, white wolves, and other Arctic critters, Shizu scares the animals away, ruins her Otosan’s films, and puts the pair in danger. Otosan and Shizu are forced to face challenges together, and eventually, they learn the value of one another’s unique way of solving problems.

K BODY AND MIND by Conor Wylie
Theatre Replacement
K BODY AND MIND is envisioned as a new evening-length work of science-fiction, a wild convergence of maximalist anime cyberpunk and experimental theatrical minimalism. The development process will employ a hybrid playwriting and design-led devising process, exploring questions of mixed identity, genetic and physical memory, and a “post-racial” society.

Production and Phase Two Development Grants from the Wuchien Michael Than Fund are available for new works by Asian-Canadian playwrights which are either in production for the current season or in the pre-production phase and projected to be ready for full public productions within one or two seasons.

Phase One Development Grant applications can be made at any time. Visit the Wuchien Michael Than website for details.

The Wuchien Michael Than Fund was established at the Ontario Arts Foundation by Michael Than in 2012 and launched in 2013 to support the development and nurturing of theatre arts in Canada, with a particular emphasis on new works by Asian-Canadian playwrights, and the development of emerging talent in the Asian-Canadian theatre community.

List of Past Grant Recipients

For more information, please contact :

Richard Lee 

Ontario Arts Foundation inquiries:
Alan Walker
Executive Director, Ontario Arts Foundation
Tel: (416) 969-7413 

Established in 1991, the Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario. In 2018-2019, the OAF paid out over $4.35 million in endowment income and $315,000 in awards and scholarships.

The Wuchien Michael Than Foundation was established to support the development and nurturing of theatre arts in Canada, with particular emphasis on the creation, development and production of new works by Asian-Canadian playwrights .

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