EXPECT THEATRE is located at the historic Distillery District in downtown Toronto. Founded by Laura Mullin and Chris Tolley in 1996, Expect is an award winning, Toronto-based company dedicated to producing cutting edge, original, multi-disciplinary productions that explore modern urban life. The company’s creations incorporate elements such as site-specific spaces, verbatim theatre, integrated arts, and audience/performer interaction. The company works to blur the lines between artistic disciplines, professional and emerging artists, and mainstream and community audiences.
On January 14, 2016, Expect will launch an new and exciting initiative, PlayME - Canada's national digital theatre, in partnership with NextStage Theatre Festival and the Playwrights Guild of Canada. PlayME celebrates the best of Canadian Indie Theatre on a national and international scale. The project will help raise the profile of Canadian playwrights by highlighting new and unproduced works through a series of podcasts, making it accessible to audiences worldwide. PlayME will help transform the way we experience Canadian theatre, by taking a bold and innovative approach to disseminating plays. The podcast will feature distinguished actors, and will focus on current and relevant scripts geared to the growing “on-demand” audience.
Expect has been nominated for five Dora Awards in the General Theatre category, is a Dora winner for Outstanding Choreography, and has been shortlisted twice for the Toronto Arts Foundation Awards. The company has been widely covered in the national media including CBC TV, CBC Radio, CTV, The Globe & Mail, and The Toronto Star. One of Expect Theatre’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.
In 2014, Expect created BEATS+INTENTIONS, a pre-professional training and mentorship program that cultivates emerging artists who are interested in pursuing a career in the performing arts. The ensemble created and performed RAPID EYE MOVEMENT and TO THE KID THAT I WAS at Nuit Blanche Festival to packed audiences. Entering its third year, the project continues to help young artists across the city develop their artistic and business skills in order to take their craft to the next level.