Expect Theatre is a registered charity that was formed in 1996 by Laura Mullin and Chris Tolley. The company has created and produced ground-breaking and award winning shows that have attracted international media attention and have been embraced by a wide range of audiences; from rural east coast Canada to inner-city New York City. Expect’s cutting edge productions explore modern urban life using multi-arts including site-specific theatre, video, music and dance.
One of the company’s most notable productions, their 2003 multi-media theatrical production ROMEO/JULIET REMIXED, was nominated for five Dora Awards including Outstanding Production, and won for Outstanding Choreography. In 2007, Expect won the inaugural Harbourfront FreshGround Commissioning Program for their interactive theatre piece, STATIC, which also premiered in the New World Stage Festival at Harbourfront Centre. In 2005, Laura Mullin and Chris Tolley were commissioned by CBC Radio to write the radio drama, the TUNNEL RUNNERS as part CBC’s The Conspiracy Series. The radio play aired nationally on CBC Radio One and Two. In 2011, Expect Theatre’s new show AWAKE featured the real stories of young people coping with gun violence in the community of Jamestown. AWAKE premiered at the Toronto Fringe Festival to sold-out audiences. The show received four N’s in NOW Magazine, and was a NOW Critic’s Pick. It was the second highest grossing show at the festival, and was featured in almost every media outlet including: The Toronto Star, The Globe & Mail, The Sun, NOW, The Metro, CBC Radio, The Torontoist and The Grid. In January of 2013, AWAKE was presented at the Next Stage Festival and was a critical success receiving 4/4 stars in the Toronto Star and four N’s in NOW Magazine. Since 2012 with the support of The Canada Council for the Arts, Expect has been working on AWAKE the screenplay.
Expect Theatre’s community and educational programs have also received recognition, as the company was shortlisted for the Toronto Arts Foundation Awards in both 2009 and 2013. Expect was the creative force behind Arts Etobicoke’s PROPS Theatre Project, which began in 2004 and set the groundwork for the company’s many youth programs that followed. Over an eight-month period, Mullin and Tolley worked directly with high-risk youth in one of Canada’s most economically and culturally depressed areas, Jamestown, located in North Etobicoke. Together with hundreds of youth and a team of industry professionals, they created the groundbreaking production, FILLIN’ THE BLANK, a play about life in Canada’s hip-hop heartland. Following PROPS, Mullin and Tolley created REXDALE VOICES, an on-line documentary about Rexdale by interviewing, audio recording and photographing community members in their homes, places of work, schools and meeting places. The piece covered the history of this community from its first settlers in the 1800′s to the present day. The success of REXDALE VOICES inspired the company’s next project urbanNOISE. Last September, Expect Theatre and its partner Arts Etobicoke completed the seventh successful year of urbanNOISE, a Festival and Training program that brought some of Canada’s top urban artists into the high priority neighbourhood of Jamestown/Rexdale. The event has featured top international artists such as Drake and Jully Black and has been attended by almost 10 thousand people in the past 7 years.
This year, Expect is launching the new Emerging Inter-Arts Ensemble, a pre-professional training program that cultivates young artists who are interested in pursuing a career in the performing arts. The ensemble’s first project, Beats & Intentions, will start in 2014 and is supported by The Ontario Trillium Foundation for three year’s of funding.