Evalyn Parry is the artistic director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto. She is an award-winning, interdisciplinary performance creator: a theatre director, writer and performer, a songwriter and collaborator whose work is inspired by intersections of social justice, history and auto/biography.
She has released five critically-acclaimed CDs of original music, written/created/directed numerous theatrical productions, and toured extensively around the continent. Her show SPIN – about the feminist history of the bicycle – has taken her all over North America, with more than 200 performances from the Lincoln Center in New York to Inuvik, NWT. Other recent theatre project include playing Gertrude Stein in the Buddies/Independent Aunties co-production, Gertrude and Alice (co-written by Evalyn and Anna Chatterton with Karin Randoja, forthcoming publication by Playwrights Canada Press 2018); directing and devising The Youth/Elder Project (upcoming at Buddies, May 2017), and directing the multi-Dora Award Winning Obaaberima by Tawiah M’Carthy (Buddies / National Arts Centre / The Cultch 2012/15). Her upcoming production These Sharp Tools, created and performed by Parry and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, will complete her trilogy of work about the Arctic (which includes To Live in the Age of Melting: Northwest Passage, and The Idea of North 2.0). Fierce, funny, thoughtful and provocative, Parry takes her unique perspective on the world and transforms it into performance that spans genres, genders and generations.
Evalyn is a founding member of The Independent Aunties (with Anna Chatterton and Karin Randoja), with whom she has authored and performed six plays, including the Dora-nominated Breakfast (Buddies in Bad Times 2010, Theatre Centre 2008) and the multiple-award-winning fringe favourite Clean Irene & Dirty Maxine.
Before becoming artistic director at Buddies, Evalyn was the director of youth programming at Buddies for ten years, helping to develop the work of more than 40 emerging LGBTQ2S artists. Several shows created through this program went on to critical success around the country, including Obaaberima by Tawiah M’carthy (Buddies in Bad Times), winner of the 2013 Dora Mavor Award for Outstanding Production, Shaista Latif’s Graceful Rebellions (National Arts Centre’s Ontario Scene, SummerWorks Emerging Artist Award, 2014), and Fishbowl by Mark Shyzer. She directed Fringe Festival hits Oh God – The Drums by Brad Hart, The Emergency Monologues by Morgan Jones Phillips. She was the 2013 recipient of the 2013 KM Hunter Award for Theatre, the 2009 Ken MacDougall Award for Upcoming Director, and has been nominated for several Dora Awards, including Outstanding Director and Outstanding Ensemble.
Steeped in the folk tradition but born to innovate, Parry’s genre-blurring work is inspired by intersections of history, auto/biography and contemporary social activism. Her witty, personal and highly original musical 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 ofToronto iconic 1970’s 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 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. She has toured extensively and been featured music festivals and concert series, university and colleges campuses, and political, environmental, LGBTQ, feminist and activist events. Performance highlights include: The Vancouver Folk Festival; 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.