The Villain’s Theatre Q and A

Why are you changing things?

After five years as a company, VPT realized that our vision was evolving. We still have many plays from the early modern period that we would like to explore, but we had already started branching out. We have developed our Sixth Act Series, which includes new works like In the Telling (our adaptation of Peele’s The Old Wives’ Tale, which toured to the maritime fringe festivals this summer). We’ve also got some other projects coming down the line which will be similarly explorative.

Our (very specific) mandate is dear to us, but we felt like it was time to broaden our scope so that we could do these strange and wonderful plays while also drawing inspiration from them for new works. We have many dreams for the future, and this expanded vision gives us a lot to play with.

Why The Villain’s Theatre?

We are very excited to pair our expanded focus with a new moniker. The word ‘Villain’ originally meant a serf or common worker. Today it more commonly refers to a scoundrel or criminal. We have always been interested in the term, and since 2009, we’ve referred to our company members as “Villains.”

What is a villain? Villains areĀ others, someone who is seen as evil or lesser. Victors write history and determine what is judged as evil or good, who is villainous and who is heroic. We are fascinated by what is left behind, who is left out. If Shakespeare emerged victorious as the best playwright of his age, what about all of the others in his community, those who were written out of the larger cultural narrative and confined to academia? As we continue to grow and evolve, we are interested in exploring more playwrights from other cultures and periods who have been neglected even more so than those such as Lyly, Rowley, Ford and their ilk.

We also look at the concept of the villain as the shadow side, as that which is dark in ourselves. Many of the plays we have explored, be they tragedy or comedy, derive their dramatic conflict from that shadow side of the human experience. We have only begun our multi-faceted journey into the nature of villainy, and we look forward to continuing to explore it in the years to come.

The Villain’s Theatre is Marlowe’s theatre. It is Cary’s theatre. It is our theatre.


Did the company switch leadership?

Nope! The Villain’s Theatre is run by Artistic Director Dan Bray, and Artistic Producer Colleen MacIsaac (formerly Executive Director of VPT), supported by our board of directors and recurring artistic collaborators.


Are you still going to do early-modern plays?

Absolutely! This evolution isn’t about turning away from the work that we have done, it is about expanding and building upon it. As we continue to transition you can look for some exciting takes on early-modern plays as well as new works inspired by such texts. We will also still be running our Upstart Crow reading series this summer, where we will look at a variety of plays from the early-modern period and beyond!


Why now?

We feel that the timing couldn’t be more perfect. We are celebrating our fifth anniversary season with The Duchess of Malfi, the same play that we began the company with in 2009 when Artistic Director Dan Bray was finishing his Masters at the University of Toronto. By staging the play anew, we are able to kick off the company’s new vision with a nod to the production that started it all. As we enter the next stage of our growth, we can reflect on what we have learned over the past five years, as well as look forward to the years to come.


Questions? Comments? Drop us a line!