the red light district is a theatre-making thing that operates (mostly) out of toronto canada. we’re a nebulous and nomadic collection of humans who get together when time and granting bodies permit to make and enable work that excites us.  it’s usually defined by any or all of the following: radical collaboration (with audience and artists), queerness in process, work that offers audiences multiple “ways in,” ambition in scale, and work that connects artists and audiences to theatrical ideas from around the world. we have a manifesto and stuff; it’s over there to the right.

people and things they do. ted witzel – artistic things // lauren gillis – also artistic things // kerry freek – producer things and also twitter // christopher ross – technical things

ted witzel: artistic director (co-founder).  ted witzel (he/him) is a queer theatre-maker based between berlin and toronto.  he has also worked in theatres in vancouver, montreal, stratford, ottawa, london, milan, palermo, stuttgart, ingolstadt, baden-baden and bad hersfeld.  ted also works at the stratford festival as assistant creative producer for the laboratory, the festival’s R&D wing.  ted is currently an artistic leadership resident with the national theatre school and a member of the banff centre’s 2019 cultural leadership cohort.  ted been an artist-in-residence at buddies in bad times theatre, harbourfront centre and institut für alles mögliche. ted was in the inaugural cohort of york university/canadian stage’s MFA in directing, and holds a BA from the university of toronto.  in 2016 ted won the KSF artist of choice award.  as a director, he most recently co-created and directed LULU v.7 // aspects of a femme fatale at buddies in bad times (nominated for 3 doras, including outstanding direction and production), and the scavenger’s daughter, part of susanna fournier’s EMPIRE trilogy.  ted has a spider-plant on his desk that is taking an awfully long time to make spiders.

lauren gillislauren gillis: assistant artistic director. lauren is an actor, director and deviser. she graduated from the university of toronto in 2011 with a double major in drama and neuroscience, studying performance, production and directing at the university college drama program while exploring mouse models of narcolepsy and epilepsy elsewhere on campus. she has been working with the red light district since 2008. in 2011 she co-founded lester trips (theatre), a company with a keen interest in making visceral, new work through collective training in physical theatre-related disciplines such as clown and butoh. lauren has been studying butoh-based embodiment with denise fujiwara for the past 2 years, receiving the fujiwara dance inventions scholarship in 2012-2013. she is currently working with denise and colleague alaine hutton on devising and performing an original work, intangible trappings, incorporating principles of butoh within the framework of narrative and character-based physical theatre. for the red light district: the lord chamberlain in IVONA princess of burgundia, ida methusalem/mr. & mrs. katgut/the jokebot in METHUSALEM or the eternal bourgeois, marie in WOYZECK, somerton in the WITCH of edmonton, the young wife in …la ronde…, director FIREraisers.

kerry freekkerry freek: producer. kerry freek has a formal education in cultural management and in past years has worked for not-for-profit arts organizations and arts-focused consulting firms. by day, kerry edits magazines and writes in toronto. she is not an actor, but has a tendency to be melodramatic.


christopher rosschristopher ross: technical director. christopher ross has extensive experience as a technician, stage manager, and production manager. he has worked in most of toronto’s independent theatres, and has been a venue technician for the fringe festival, the next stage theatre festival, and the summerworks performance festival. he is currently the head technician of the theatre passe muraille backspace. for the red light district: production manager (the RESISTIBLE rise of arturo UI), production manager for (SUDDENLY last summer), stage manager (…la ronde…), stage manager (the WITCH of edmonton), lighting technician (WOYZECK).


theatre is urgent. there is nothing casual about the theatre.

it both holds the mirror up to nature and takes you straight through the looking-glass.

wonderland is where our world can make even more non-sense.

theatre is poetry beyond words. the rules of grammar don’t apply.

the syntax of interaction, image, and imagination are broken and twisted. no clause is independent.

thinking does not preclude feeling. feeling does not preclude thinking. and there is no reason why we shouldn’t all be dancing.

the only bad reaction is boredom.

theatre is low art, is trash, is filth. theatre is at its best when it is most earnest about its desperation to please.

theatre is not a place of safety. nothing is certain. nothing ever goes exactly according to plan. the actor goes on against all odds.

in the theatre truth is misleading. art is a good lie, a facsimile. a lie is only untrue when it’s badly told.