Digital Driftwood: A 2021 Pandemic Update

Oh, we so want to be sharing live theatre with communities across Ontario this summer! But it is not to be. 

In response to the ongoing Covid pandemic and after careful consideration, Driftwood Theatre has made the very difficult decision to refrain from producing the Bard’s Bus Tour for a second season. 
Though we are disappointed by this news, we feel that it is in the best interest of the safety and well-being of our company members and audience to delay until we are able to gather again in the way we’d like: face to face, eye to eye, shoulder to shoulder. 
But that doesn’t mean we’re resting idle! In many ways, Driftwood is busier than ever as we ramp up for a digital shift to bridge the gap. We have three very exciting projects lined up for the summer of 2021 and hope you’ll join us from home (and on the road, when it’s safe to do so) as we embark on new adventures. 
Read on for a quick preview of Driftwood Digital 2021 and be sure to visit back here again or follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on all the Driftwood news. 

The Motorcycle Monologues

Join Artistic Director Jeremy Smith as he sets out on a solo quest across Ontario to rediscover and reconnect with places and people we’ve been separated from during the Covid pandemic.
The Motorcycle Monologues will be an entirely unique and innovative experience fusing together three seemingly disparate elements: motorcycling, Shakespeare and documentary storytelling.
The Motorcycle Monologues, an 8-part video web series, will air in the summer of 2021.

Beyond The Bard Digital Short Play Festival

A week after Driftwood held its annual 24-hour play-creation festival, Trafalgar 24, on March 8 2020, the world came to an abrupt stop. The Covid pandemic has held us in its grip ever since.
For months we’ve been working with five playwrights to develop the short plays they originally wrote at Trafalgar 24, intending to present their work as opening-act performances for the Bard’s Bus Tour. 
The Beyond the Bard Digital Short Play Festival will instead air these stories online as short films in late summer 2021. 

Pop-Up Play Workshops

This summer, tell your story.
Driftwood artist Deivan Steele is back for another summer of in (socially-distanced) person and online workshops focusing on play and storytelling.
Pop-Up Play Workshops will encourage participants to explore the theatrical storytelling through fun and safe play. 
Pop-Up Play Workshops will be offered both digitally and in select Toronto and GTA parks during the month of August.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Update

It has been five months since we posted our first statement in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and our commitment to becoming an actively anti-racist theatre company. During that time, we’ve been looking into what our future as a company looks like – both in response to the pandemic, and in response to the important calls for change in the theatre industry. As we continue to listen deeply and learn from our BIPOC* peers, leaders and partners we are concurrently taking steps to grow and develop a more inclusive environment of mutual respect and support within our organization.

To begin our process of learning and education, all Driftwood staff and board members have completed Human Rights 101 and Call It Out online modules through the Ontario Human Rights Commission to better understand our responsibilities and privileges with respect to the Human Rights Code and how to recognize and become active partners in calling out racism in our communities.

During the summer months, Driftwood was using social media to regularly share links to anti-racist resources and BIPOC art/artists. This kind of sharing and outreach will continue to be a part of our social media presence going forward.

We believe that the composition of Canadian theatre should reflect the composition of the world at large, and as such we are committing to achieving a minimum of 50% BIPOC representation and 50% female and non-binary people in positions across our organization (board, permanent and contract staff) within the next two years. To achieve this, we will not only be prioritizing BIPOC candidates, but we will actively seek out BIPOC candidates for all future postings by reaching out to BIPOC community organizations and hiring programs.

We have updated the wording of our job postings, specifically prioritizing BIPOC candidates and using language that is free of unconscious bias, such as “years of experience” or specific education requirements. 

We believe that transparency is integral to building trust and confidence in an inclusive and respectful environment and as such we will be making Driftwood’s full budget and all salaries public with our next, and all subsequent, annual reports (January). This report will be shared with all donors and will be available on our website.

We will also find affordable ways to ensure that all our company members have the appropriate knowledge and training to be a part of a safe, anti-racist workplace. We recognize that while Driftwood’s limited fiscal resources may limit the scope of our work to some extent, it does not excuse us from doing the necessary work to bring about change. As of our 2021 summer season, we are committed to:

  • Finding a way for all contracted, seasonal company members to have anti-racism training of some kind.
  • Developing anti-racism statements that will be read at the start of all meetings and rehearsals alongside land acknowledgements and anti-harassment statements.
  • Updating our company handbooks to include our explicit commitment to anti-racism, as well as including resources for learning more about anti-racism, anti-ableism, and other forms of harassment and exclusion. We will also be including specific best practices and suggestions for bystander intervention and dealing with conflict wherever it may arise onsite in our over 25 touring communities in Ontario.
  • Making a permanent commitment to maintaining a five-day work-week and to shortening and restructuring rehearsal days. We will also restructure technical rehearsal days to divert from the traditional 10/12 model and minimize the required hours for as many company members as possible.
  •  Building in time at the beginning of the contracted production/rehearsal period to work toward creating an environment where everyone feels empowered to express themselves and talk about their concerns. We recognize that one of the insidious parts of systemic and institutional racism is a pervasive fear that criticism will result in negative backlash or the loss of employment, and so one of our long-term goals is to do everything we can do to prevent this in our own company. Time will also be built in each week for company check-ins, explicitly designated for company members to express any concerns or criticisms they may have about their experience and how we might resolve any problems that have arisen.
  • Expanding our current annual anonymous post-mortem comment form to be accessible to all company members throughout their entire contracts. The form will be regularly monitored and all submissions will be discussed weekly during check-in meetings. 

Once we have conducted this initial work and undertaken a full process of self-evaluation, we will hire a team of no fewer than two Black and/or Indigenous people to act as an anti-racism working group. This working group will be paid to assess and critique (and alter where applicable) our current and planned commitments, as well as to lead us in taking other anti-racist actions across all facets of the company. This working group will be composed of people who have not previously worked for Driftwood and who do not plan to work for us in other capacities in the future. This is to ensure that they are able to critique us freely and without any fear that doing so might jeopardize their future job prospects. This working group will be hired by our 2021/2022 season.

Looking further out, our long-term goals include: the evaluation, investigation and change of our current artistic model by considering de-centralized structures; undertaking projects to cultivate meaningful, long-term relationships with BIPOC artists and communities across Ontario; working toward fully diversifying our audience to ensure an audience that is diverse in race, age, and ability, with explicit priority being placed on BIPOC audience members. 

And finally, we are committed to learning how to do better by listening to and accepting criticism and taking responsibility for our actions. If you would like to engage in further discussion or provide any feedback, please reach out directly to Jeremy (jsmith[at]driftwoodtheatre[dot]com) or the board (boardofdirectors[at]driftwoodtheatre[dot]com). 


Jeremy Smith, Artistic Director

Shirley Freek, Board President


*BIPOC; Black, Indigenous and People of Colour

Ontario Storybook Winner

Congratulations to Elyssia Giancola from Brampton, our Ontario Storybook winner!

Elyssia has chosen to use their $100 gift certificate at Michael’s Back Door Restaurant in Mississauga. 

Read Elyssia’s inspiring submission using the prompt, “Tell us the story of your best friend”:

I met my best friend on the first day of high school in fourth period English, my last class of the day. I was sitting in the centre of the front row when someone came in and asked if they could sit next to me. I said yes. She sat down and we started chatting, comparing schedules and the like. We discovered that we’d already been in two classes together that day and hadn’t realized. 

The next morning was a difficult one for me. I didn’t know it at the time, but this would be the first of many days I experienced crippling anxiety in high school. That morning, I stood outside my first period class – phys ed, as if things weren’t already bad enough! – and could not stop crying. I wanted to run, I wanted to hide, I wanted to be anywhere but school. I didn’t know what to do. And then, the girl from English class arrived. She put a hand on my arm and told me it was going to be okay, in a way that wasn’t condescending or pitying but truly, genuinely kind. She walked me into class that day, and she would walk me through countless other days in the years to come.

My best friend has the most beautiful heart of anyone I have ever met. When I talk, she listens with curiosity and compassion. There is not a judgmental bone in her body. When I am lost, she somehow always knows what to say to set me back on the right course. She makes me want to be the best version of myself because that is the version of me that she sees. 

In the years since high school, we’ve never lived in the same city at the same time, so we see each other rarely. Indeed, because life gets busy, there have been years where we’ve hardly even spoken, aside from a quick check-in here and there. Nonetheless, there is no one I feel more comfortable with, no one I trust more. And because of the amount of time we spend apart, we have a little tradition. When we do get the chance to see each other, she writes dozens of notes and hides them around my room. Some are drawings, some are inside jokes, some are affirmations. I find some of them easily, but others surprise me weeks, months, or even years down the road. In fact, some are still hidden somewhere, waiting to be found. They always bring a smile to my face and a warm feeling to my heart, just as my best friend always has. 

And that’s the story of my best friend!

Thanks to our Restaurant Partners

We want to send out a huge thank you to all of our restaurant partners across Ontario for being a part of our Storybook this summer. The contest may be over, but you can still support your local diner or pub by getting a delicious meal for dine in or take out! Read the stories of all of our restaurant partners and decide where you want to eat next here.

Ontario Storybook Restaurant Partners

Our amazing restaurant partners from across Ontario shared their stories with us; tell us your story for the chance to win a $100 gift card for a night out at one of these restaurants!

Ashburnham Ale House (Peterborough)

In the mid-1800’s, there was a man by the name of Dan McDonald. He worked in a dry-goods store and could be commonly found moving 400 lb barrels of goods about the shop. In fact, he once lifted a platform of 4 barrels of ale on his back; and even better, he hoisted a 500 lb pig over his head in the town square! These great feats of strength earned him the name of “Strong Man Dan.” So, as you could imagine, we were delighted to find out that “our man Dan” once lived on the very same property as the Ashburnham Ale House. As such, we have an artist’s rendition of our image of Strong Man Dan hoisting the pig above his head to pay homage to a man that was very much a part of our community in its earlier day. Cheers to you, Strong Man Dan!

Chanterelle Bistro (Bowmanville)

I originally worked in a hotel in Hong Kong and came to Canada in the early 90s. I first started working for the Oliver and Bonacini group, then I became the head chef of Mondo and Tosca Banquet Hall. In my mid-20s I had a dream of owning my own restaurant and was thinking of naming it Chives. I had this idea that I would open many restaurants, all named after different herbs. When my wife, Marita, and I opened our restaurant in 2005, the name Chives was taken so we decided to name our restaurant after mushrooms instead, like porcini, shiitake, etc. We ended up naming it Chanterelle Bistro, but quickly realized that one restaurant was more than enough for us to handle. We’ve now been opened for almost 15 years, and we’ve been incredibly lucky to have such a supportive community behind us. 

– Derek Leung, Canadian Certified Chef de Cuisine

Three Kretans (Kitchener)

Three Kretans was opened in 1996 by Angelo & Doxa Makrydakis. The name Three Kretans tells a bit of Angelo and Doxa’s story – they have three sons and are from the island of Crete in Greece. Angelo and Doxa’s son, Niko, completed chef school and took over the restaurant in 2010. Three Kretans truly is a family business, as Niko’s wife Gina and both of his parents help out with the cooking, serving, and daily operations of the restaurant. The Makrydakis are long-time friends of the theatre community, with the Centre in the Square and Registry Theatres just across the street. They go the extra mile to make things easy for theatre-goers by offering them complimentary parking and a theatre menu that allows them to get in and out quickly, ensuring that they’re on time for their performance.

Nice Bistro (Whitby)

Nice-Bistro restaurant has been part of historic downtown Whitby since 1993. Family owned & operated, they offer classic French dishes made with the highest quality ingredients and infused with a Mediterranean flair. The atmosphere transports you to a little neighborhood bistro in France. Come for the food, stay for the experience.

Loondocks (Burlington)

In 2012, having grown up in Muskoka and sharing a deep love for the region, Kevin Duynstee and his wife Brittany founded a brand new restaurant in the heart of Port Carling, Ontario and named it “Loondocks” after the local bird whose beautiful calls echo the lakes at night. They created a fresh new destination offering quality casual fine dining to both cottagers and tourists. They received overwhelming support, including articles in the local media, as they became known for great service and outstanding quality at a fair price. In 2018, to be closer to family, Chef Kevin and his wife Brittany relocated Loondocks to a beautiful new space at Appleby Village in Burlington. The entire Loondocks team is very pleased to be serving this community, and proud to offer our award winning fine dining experience to the residents and visitors of Burlington and beyond.

Chúuk (Pickering)

We opened Chúuk opened 2 years ago. As a third generation restauranteur I had the amazing opportunity to operate a restaurant in the same location as my father, and my grandfather before him. Our initial goal was to offer Durham Region something different, an experience similar to something our guests would be familiar with enjoying downtown. Chúuk is inspired by the vibrant culture and traditions of Mexico, and we look forward to serving our community for many more years to come.

Michael’s Back Door (Mississauga)

Established in 1981, Michael’s Back Door Restaurant has been providing Mississauga and the GTA with award winning Italian cuisine and professional courteous service in a warm, comfortable atmosphere for over 35 years. Principal owners Michael Morra and Michael Morra Jr., along with partner Anthony Coffa, invite you to experience creative Italian, continental fare, offering the freshest ingredients and a variety of rare wines. Executive Chef, Mark D’Souza, joined Michael’s Back Door in 2015.  Since becoming the head of the kitchen, Mark and his team have focused on adding a modern twist to our traditional rustic and regional Italian dishes. Whether you are looking for a quick, casual family dinner, a romantic night out or an opportunity to catch up with friends, Michael’s Back Door has the perfect table for you!

Sand and Pearl Oyster Bar (Prince Edward County)

We fell in love with Prince Edward County – like everyone does! After a weekend invite to help harvest with friends at Domaine Darius, we began our journey to find our place in The County. 1705 County Road 12 was exactly what we wanted! An existing roadside restaurant adjacent to the dunes at Sandbanks, a big backyard and a few acorn trees; our ideal location for the Sand and Pearl Oyster Bar! Our intention is to welcome everyone to share in the the things we love; Great Food, Friends & Family, Campfires, Yoga, Music, Theatre, Art and Joy. Join us in the summer and fall in love too.

– Nathan and Nicole

The EL (Cobourg)

El Camino, also known as The EL, is owned and operated by Amanda and Greg Leng. Greg and Amanda came to Northumberland almost four years ago, making the move from Toronto in favour of a small town life. The couple loves to travel, and they create the menus at The EL and vibe at the restaurant based on their global travels and what inspires them.

The Auld Spot Pub (Toronto)

Since 1998, The Auld Spot has been a community space on the Danforth in Toronto with great food, drink, music and people. Over the years, the pub has seen many stories of romance, heartbreak, celebration, sorrow, friendships and food. The Auld Spot  would love to hear your story!

Donattela Bar & Grill (Bobcaygeon)

“Donattela Bar and Grill, a name which pays homage to my wife’s Grandmother, was established in 2004. Having taken a wrong turn, my family ended up in the town of Bobcaygeon; where the scenery and generosity of the community spoke to us. Deciding to call this town home, we soon began the plans to establish a restaurant that aimed to create finer dishes, yet still encouraged a relaxed and laid back atmosphere. Generations of love and dedication are felt in our dishes, and we would love the opportunity to share our passion for dining with you. ​From our familia to yours, Buon Appetito!”

– Ned, Rada, and Adam