Evalyn Parry is an award-winning theatre creator, songwriter, and spoken-word poet based in Toronto, Canada. Steeped in the folk tradition but born to innovate, her genre-blurring work is inspired by intersections of history, auto/biography and contemporary social activism. Over the last decade she has created and directed numerous original performance works, released four CDs, and performed her unique combination of music and spoken word at festivals, theatres, schools and campuses internationally. Fierce, funny, poignant and provocative, Parry takes her unique perspective on the world and transforms it into art that spans genres, genders and generations. She is the new artistic director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.
Evalyn’s acclaimed multi-media show SPIN (starring the Bicycle as muse, musical instrument and agent of social change) premiered in 2011 at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and has been on a multi-city tour ever since.
“Part theatre, part musical gig, part spoken-word poetry and part documentary…whatever it is, it is brilliant.” Toronto Star (SPIN)
Her work has been honoured with the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award, the Canadian KM Hunter Award for Theatre, and Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best Production among others. With her Toronto-based company Independent Aunties she has co-authored and performed five plays; the latest, Gertrude and Alice (about Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas) will premiere in Toronto in 2016. Her first short film To Live in the Age of Melting: Northwest Passage will be released in 2015.
When not on tour with her own work, Evalyn is busy collaborating on theatrical projects in Toronto vibrant theatre scene. She is the new artistic director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, where for the last decade, she has been the director of the Young Creators Unit, helping to develop over 40 new theatrical works by young queer identified artists. As a director, her most recent credits include directing Obaaberima by Tawiah M’carthy (Buddies in Bad Times), winner of the 2013 Dora Mavor Award for Best Production (she was also nominated for Best Director), Shaista Latif’s Graceful Rebellions (SummerWorks Emerging Artist Award, 2014), Fringe Festival hits Oh God – The Drums by Brad Hart, Fishbowl by Mark Shyzer , and The Emergency Monologues by Morgan Jones Phillips. She was the 2013 recipient of the KM Hunter Award for Theatre, the 2009 Ken MacDougall Award for Upcoming Director, and is a founding member of the Independent Aunties, with whom she has co-authored (with Anna Chatterton) and performed five plays, including the Dora-nominated Breakfast (Buddies in Bad Times 2010, Theatre Centre 2008) and the multiple-award-winning fringe favorite Clean Irene & Dirty Maxine. The Aunties are currently working on a new play about Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas, which will be produced at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in March 2016.
Music and spoken word
“Parry redefines folk music” The Daily News, Halifax
Parry’s witty, personal and highly original creations – ranging in theme from 19th century cycling heroines, to 21st century sailors; from “feminine protection” to bottled water, to the quest for the Northwest Passage – have been widely produced, broadcast, commissioned and anthologized, and she has released four critically acclaimed CDs. Accompanying herself on guitar, water bottle, shruti box and loop pedals, parry shoots from the hip and aims for the heart.
Evalyn grew up running around at folk festivals, folk music running in her veins: her father David a member of the iconic Toronto folk ensemble The Friends of Fiddlers Green, and her mother Caroline a children’s music performer, author and folklorist. No surprise then, that evalyn and her brother Richard (a member of Montreal’s Arcade Fire) have both emerged as innovative artists in their own right. Evalyn’s material stands on the foundation of the traditional Celtic and American music she was brought up singing, but takes it in original and unexpected directions.
She has been the recipient of the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award, The Beth Ferguson Songwriter Award (Ottawa Folk Festival) and nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award for SPIN. Featured performance highlights include: Vancouver Folk Festival; Yukon Arts Centre; Hillside Festival, Guelph, Ontario; Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts; Word on the Street, Toronto; Lincoln Center Out of Doors Roots of American Music Festival, New York; Calgary International Spoken Word Festival; Home County Folk Festival, London, Ontario; Ottawa Folk Festival; Toronto Pride; Harbourfront Centre,Toronto, and many more. She has performed extensively for political, environmental, LGBTQ, feminist and activist events, and has been a featured artist at university and colleges campuses.