Based in Stouffville, ON, Theatre of the Beat (TOTB) is a travelling theatre troupe that tries its darnedest to challenge and inspire the communities it finds itself in.
Founded by Johnny Wideman in 2011, TOTB truly hit the stage when it produced Rebecca Steiner's Gadfly: Sam Steiner Dodges the Draft in partnership with Conrad Grebel University College. The troupe spent a summer touring Fringe festivals and performing at churches. They slept on floors and ate a lot of peanut butter and jam sandwiches, but received great reviews for the piece which helped to establish the company as a trusted grass-roots, social justice theatre troupe. Since then, TOTB has gone on to partner with NGOs and communities across Canada to create several other original works, performing over two hundred shows in theatres, festivals, churches, universities, and prisons throughout P.E.I, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and the U.S.
Half a century ago, the definition of “Beat” or “Beatnik” was split between two philosophies: poet Allan Ginsberg believed the word represented a people who were beaten down or oppressed, while writer Jack Kerouac found the word to have a much more spiritual connection, claiming the word described a people who lived out the teachings of the Beatitudes. Regardless of the definition, the “Beat” generation decided that even in the face of overwhelming political confusion and social turmoil, they would create. And so, we explore "beat" in all its themes by "Staging Change."
In theatre, the word “beat” is used to describe a pause for dramatic effect, a silence that allows the audience the process the information they’ve been given. We hope our plays can be this pause in our otherwise busy lives, a chance to ponder the issues that affect our communities but escape our day to day conversations.
And so, we travel around performing original theatre, hosting talk backs, sparking discussions, teaching workshops, staying with people in homes, and eating at dinner tables. We hope to create and live in inspiring ways and to fully immerse ourselves within the communities we find ourselves in.