The Rhubarb Festival is back for its 38th year, and we can’t wait for the two weeks in February when over 100 artists fill the Buddies space with new and provocative work. This year’s lineup features special presentations by Staceyann Chin, AnimalParts, Black Lives, Black Words and Manifest Destiny’s Child, with new works by BAMBITCHELL, Scotty Dont, Gitanjali Lena, Sonny Mills, Open Fortress, and more. We’re also excited for new partnerships with FADO Performance Art Centre, Images Festival, Inside Out, Obsidian Theatre, and the National Arts Centre.

Canada’s longest-running new works festival returns for its 38th year! For two weeks, the Rhubarb Festival transforms Buddies into a hotbed of experimentation, exploring new possibilities in theatre, dance, comedy, music, and performance art. Rhubarb is the place to experience the most adventurous ideas in performance and catch your favourite artists venturing into uncharted territory.

This year, Heritage Canada is returning as a Rhubarb funding partner, after funding was discontinued under the Harper government in 2013. Buddies is grateful to the many community members who supported and advocated for Buddies and Rhubarb when this funding was cut.

On announcing the festival line-up, Rhubarb Festival Director Mel Hague comments, “This year the Rhubarb Festival is looking both forward and back – with two evening presentations devoted to looking at our past, and a full programme of some of the most cutting-edge new artists and works in Canada and beyond. This year Rhubarb invites you to Get Weird with us. With over 100 artists, 20 new works, and seven special events, Rhubarb38 invites you to join us for performance that is bold, that is unapologetic, and that is always provocative.”

Festival highlights include:

• The Rhubarb Haunted House: a full-facility performance installation that brings back the ghosts of Rhubarb past, featuring David Bateman, Daniel Ellis, Virgilia Griffith, the Independent Aunties, Justin Manyfingers, Fay Slift, Brian Solomon, Trixie & Beever and Jacob Zimmer – co-curated by Mel Hague and Rhubarb alum Chad Dembski

• A performance by prolific New York-based performance artist, poet, and activist Staceyann Chin in partnership with FADO’s Monomyths series

• Rhubarb Does Movie Night: a one-night collaboration between Rhubarb, Inside Out and Images Festival featuring queer film and video

• A new show about a time travelling treadmill from NYC/Toronto-based performance duo AnimalParts

• A Toronto edition of Reginald Edmund’s Black Lives, Black Words, featuring new short works by local Black playwrights – in partnership with Obsidian Theatre and the National Arts Centre • Dur à Cuire, a new show by Scotty Dont that blends acrobatics, dance, and knifethrowing to explore the weight and absurdity of gender and racial norms  

• A new work by BAMBITCHELL juxtaposing the 15th century trial of an egg-laying rooster with images of drag queens and other pop culture references

• A brand new sketch comedy piece by Toronto’s Indigenous women’s stand-up comedy collective, Manifest Destiny’s Child

• New short works from Jivesh Parasram, Gitanjali Lena, Gein Wong, Sonny Mills, Izad Etemadi, JP Faienza, Open Fortress, and more


For years, Buddies and Rhubarb have nurtured queer artists and their work. The 38th Rhubarb Festival continues this tradition, with projects led by queer artists such as Bambitchell, lo bil, Staceyann Chin, Scotty Dont, Izad Etemadi, Claren Grosz, Anthony Johnston, Gitanjali Lena, Sonny Mills, Keshia Palm, Patrick Salvani, Anais West, and Gein Wong.

Buddies’ Emerging Creators Unit also continues to showcase the voices of emerging queer talents, this year featuring the work of Bilal Baig, Teiya Kasahara, François Macdonald, and Sofia Rodriguez, led by ECU director Sunny Drake and company dramaturg Mel Hague.

This year’s festival also features a work-in-progress presentation of The Youth / Elders Project, a year-long community arts project led by Evalyn Parry, Vanessa Dunn, and LeeLee Davis that brings together a group of queer youth and elders to investigate the queer histories of our communities. This project has been in development since September 2016 in partnership with The 519 and Senior Pride Network, and will premiere on the Buddies main stage in May 2017.

More information on events and tickets can be found here  

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment, and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors, and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats. Reach out -