Talking Fringe – Ben Hayward directs A Tournament of Lies at Toronto Fringe 2015

Who are funerals really for? The deceased or those that are left behind in the wake of tragedy? A Tournament of Lies, playing as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, seeks to provide an answer as a group of friends gather to mourn the loss of someone who touched all their lives.

Director Ben Hayward speaks about the inspiration for the show and how collaboration is the key to success

1) Describe your show in 7 words or less.

A pretty good time, for a memorial.

2) What sets your show apart from other Fringe shows?

The audience is the most important part of the show. In most plays – though it’s nice to have an audience and actors definitely talk about the energy of a good house – the audience has little impact on the performance itself.

In A Tournament of Lies we’ve made the audience the integral component. They serve as scene partners for the actors, they participate in the event, they even generate a tech cue. As a company, we talk a lot about why people should come to theatre. We think the answer is to be a part of their own entertainment. Hamlet doesn’t really need an audience, but every character in our show does.

3) What is the most interesting or surprising thing you have you learned in the process of developing the show?

As a director, you tell yourself that you have a vision for the show – this is nonsense. You have ideas, that’s it. These ideas are no more valid than the ideas of anyone else in the room. They all have great things bouncing around in their brains. I learned how to collaborate with every actor to create the play. Unsurprisingly, this made rehearsals much more engaging. No one sat around waiting for their turn to act, we were all responsible for every moment. It’s far from a perfect process, but I don’t think we’ll ever develop a show another way.

4) What events or experiences in particular inspired you to create this show?

We were inspired by Evan Brown, a poet/madman/Haligonian who we had the pleasure of working with last summer at the Atlantic Fringe. He liked our production so much he offered us A Tournament of Lies to do with what we would. We liked him and his work so much we put on this show.

5) What are you hoping people will take away from your show?

Whatever takeaways they have are all equally wonderful and valid. I hope, beyond anything else, that they enjoy themselves. I hope that they think about us on the walk home. If I’m being really greedy, I hope they argue about the show with someone they saw it with. That’d be really cool.


A Tournament of Lies plays at the Multi-Faith Centre at 569 Spadina Ave.

Remaining Dates
Thursday July 9th at 9:00pm
Friday July 10th at 9:00pm


  • Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the peformance. Venue sales are cash-only.
  • Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.

Photo provided by the company.