Inspired by UFC, Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille presents The Ultimate Theatre Championship
Fans of theatre and pay-per-view combat, prepare to rejoice: your two passions will soon become one. Theatre Passe Muraille will be transforming their Mainspace into a caged octagon for The Ultimate Theatre Championship, a three-day event beginning on April 9 that will culminate with the TPM Gala fundraiser and “Heavyweight” Championships on April 11.
“I’ve always straddled the world of improv and the theatre world,” said Rebecca Northan, who created the Ultimate Theatre Championship. “I would meet amazing actors and think, ‘It would be great to play Theatresports with them’.”
“I will also confess that my boyfriend has turned me on to the UFC in the last five years,” she said. “The producer in me watches those matches, in arenas of literally thousands of fans screaming their heads of, and I can’t help but dream of achieving that level of engagement in the theatre.”
Actors are paired up according to their division for a series of rounds in an all-out theatrical duel. A panel of celebrity and industry judges, MC’s providing colour commentary, hot dogs, and popcorn will complete the experience.
“I think friendly competition is healthy and inspiring,” said Northan. “Each of the actors who has agreed to compete in the UTC, first and foremost, has an excellent sense of humour.”
How each match will work:
3 Round, Undercard Fight:
Round 1 – Monologue from Canadian Theatre cannon
Round 2 – The Cold Read! Actors are surprised with a scene from a Canadian play. Watch them make choices on the fly and work together.
Round 3 – The “Free” Round – Actors can do anything they want to show of their unique skills!
5 Round, Title match:
All of the above plus TWO more rounds:
Round 4 – Anything musical!
Round 5 – An improvised, slow-motion stage fight, extreme danger in super slow-mo!
The variety of competitions allow for the performers to showcase their individual talents.
“A lot of actors are uncomfortable with the idea of pure improv,” said Northan. “The Ultimate Theatre Championship gives those actors a safe framework to play inside of – it’s meant to show them off at their best. A few actors get mildly nervous as I describe how each round unfolds and what is asked of the performers, but that’s only because you can see the wheels turning as they envision what they might do ‘in the cage’.”
The hope is that by combining two seemingly different forms of entertainment – theatre and UFC – people who may think they aren’t interested in theatre will come give it a shot.
“The work that I’ve created in the last 10 years tends to always be looking for ways to entice non-theatre goers into the theatre,” said Northan. “Theatre can be intimidating if it’s “not your thing”. I look for a hook that seems familiar to them – a poster design that looks more like a movie poster, themes that appeal to comic book collectors or Sci-Fi fans. The thing I’ve learned is that if you can get those groups of people through the doors, they’re actually an extremely loyal and enthusiastic audience.”
The reactions to the Ultimate Theatre Championship have been good.
“I’m thrilled to say that people ‘get it’ immediately,” said Northan. “When they find out who is in each match, then you really see the excitement and who they’d put their money on. Kate Hennig vs Tanja Jacobs is a pairing that people seem pretty pumped about. There also seems to be a considerable amount of bloodlust surrounding Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt.”
Performance “Fight” Schedule & Artists:
Thursday, April 9th – “Welterweights”
Joella CRICHTON vs Craig PIKE
Katherine CULLEN vs Rose NAPOLI
Christy BRUCE vs Qasim KHAN (title match)
Friday, April 10th – “Middleweights”
Leah-Simone BOWEN vs Craig LAUZON
Alex MCCOOEY vs Ellen-Ray HENNESEY
Kristen THOMSON vs Matthew EDISON (title match)
Saturday, April 11th – “Heavyweights” – GALA presentation
Kate HENNIG vs Tanja JACOBS
Maja ARDAL vs Andre SILLS
Ted DYSTRA vs Richard GREENBLATT (title match)
- The Ultimate Theatre Championship 2015 is playing at Theatre Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Avenue, from April 9 to April 11.
- Doors at 7pm, “Fights” at 8pm
- General Admission April 9th & 10th: $20 each (incl. HST)
- Gala: $100 (charitable tax receipt of $70. Admission includes two complimentary beverages, gourmet food – exhibition style, special guest judge appearances and more)
- Purchase tickets by Phone: 416.504.7529, online at passemuraille.ca/gala
or in person at The Arts Box Office located at 16 Ryerson Avenue (open Wednesday-Saturday from 3:00pm-6:00pm)