Praise From Educators

“For teachers of Canadian history, why would you NOT use this opportunity to make history come to life in such vibrant, delightful and complex colours?”
-Richard Peters, High School Teacher, Woodbridge

“Many students spoke about the context they now had, and the enriched understanding about not only what had happened, but why it had happened.”
-Shari Roberts, High School Teacher, Fergus

“Many thanks for an outstanding theatre experience. What a wonderful testament to the magic of the stage and the fascinating story that is our country.”
-John Mazurek, Middle School Teacher, Toronto

“At long last your great work is getting the attention and larger audiences it has always merited. The War of 1812 really was a triumph.”
-Steven Bush, Drama Centre, University of Toronto

 

Interested in bringing your students to learn more about Canada's History Plays? Contact our Producer by email.

Michael Hollingsworth's
THE HISTORY OF THE VILLAGE OF THE SMALL HUTS


New France
(Parts I-IV) · The British (Parts I-IV) · The Mackenzie Papineau Rebellion · Confederation
The Red River Rebellion · Canadian Pacific Scandal · The Saskatchewan Rebellion
Laurier · The Great War · The Life and Times of Mackenzie King
WWII · The Cold War · Trudeau & the FLQ · Trudeau & the PQ
The Life & Times Of Brian Mulroney

VideoCabaret is perhaps best known for its celebrated 21-part play-cycle about Canadian history, presented annually to sold-out audiences of theatre lovers. The plays combine comedy, tragedy, pathos and farce to dramatize Canada's history from Chief Donnacona and Jacques Cartier to modern times. The unique staging-style moves the story at a cinematic tempo as colourful scenes are conjured up in a 'black-box' set. Using quick-change costumes and scene-setting props, seven actors portray dozens of characters who appear and vanish as if by magic. The acting-virtuosity required is legendary: VideoCabaret's alumni include Janet Burke, Graham Greene, Gary Farmer, Nancy Beatty, Stephen Ouimette, Layne Coleman, and of course the new rising stars of stage, film and mega-musicals.

The original productions premiered from 1985 to 1999, delighting audiences of all ages with their spectacular style and hearty substance. From 2000 to 2011, VideoCabaret has been re-inventing the Repertoire of CANADA'S HISTORY PLAYS, demonstrating their timeless appeal to new audiences of all ages,
and garnering new awards and honours.

 

“VideoCabaret puts the 'story' back into history,
and the result is hilarious and irresistible." -CBC Radio

                  

The Life and Times of Mackenzie King (2011), The War of 1812 (2012) and The Great War (2010) with Paul Braunstein, Greg Campbell,
Richard Campbell, Mac Fyfe, Jacob James, Kerry Ann Doherty and Linda Prystawska. Photos by Michael Cooper


Playwright's Note

THE HISTORY OF THE VILLAGE OF THE SMALL HUTS is a comedy of manners, satirizing Canada’s various colonial periods. It is an historical epic for an audience raised on Rock and TV. It is the goons of history in their very own Goon Show. It is the Canadian book of the dead, a merry tale told by ghosts and demons.

Canada is state-of-the-art colonialism – perfect, immaculate, pure. Double think is a seminal characteristic of Canadian citizenship. Blink your eyes and you’re a nation, blink your eyes and you’re a colony. Blink your eyes…

THE HISTORY OF THE VILLAGE OF THE SMALL HUTS dramatizes the French and the British imperial periods of Canadian history, and chronicles Canada’s place in the American Nation Planet. The only thing one knows for sure is that the new boss will be the same as the old boss. What is going to happen has already happened.

                                                                                                                                                                                        

  – Michael Hollingsworth

 

Educator and Artist Comments


The Great WarRICHARD PETERS , Secondary School Teacher, Woodbridge
The work that VideoCabaret does is exceptional, inspiring, and technically unparalleled…there are precious few companies in Toronto who offer such consistently amazing theatre. For teachers of Canadian history, why would you NOT use this opportunity to make history come to life in such vibrant, delightful and complex colours?

JOHN MAZUREK, Middle School Teacher, Royal St. George’s Many thanks to you and your team for an outstanding theatre experience. What a wonderful testament to the magic of the stage and the fascinating story that is our country. I believe you have won many new fans for VideoCabaret and Michael's work… History of the Village of Small Huts is such a special project…I look forward to bringing my next group of students to see the reprise of The Great War in the fall.

JACKIE BURROUGHS, Actor, Governor General's Performing Arts Award 2005
To my mind there has been nothing to equal this body of work either in the wit of its material, the invention of its design and music, or the calibre of its ensemble playing.

SHARI ROBERTS, Grade 8 Teacher, J.D. Hogarth Public School, Fergus
My current teaching assignment is Grade 8 English, History and Geography. The Grade 8 History curriculum is particularly challenging. Students find it difficult to relate to the major players in Confederation and the Opening of the West; the politics are confusing and the issues seem somewhat distant.

ASTRID JANSON, Theatre Designer, thirteen-time Dora Award recipient
Having just completed the costume design for Red River Rebellion (my 8th play in the History series, and 12th VideoCabaret production) I am again struck by the unique contribution Michael Hollingsworth’s play cycle is making to the Canadian theatre scene. There is more talk around town and more “must see” recommendations for any VideoCabaret productions than for just about anything else. Red River Rebellion is obligatory viewing for all the U.of T. Drama Program students including design, performance and directing. VideoCabaret is a considerate employer: even with tight budgets artists are given the necessary resources to create a vision. These productions are so joyfully entertaining, visually exuberant and painlessly educational that I always look forward to VideoCabaret's call to embark on a new project.

CETA RAMKHALAWANSINGH, President, LEARNXS Foundation
Toronto is very privileged to have Videocabaret as part of the city. The creative work of this theatre company is without comparison. The quality of the plays -- the writing and all aspects of production -- illustrate the hands and minds of geniuses at work. As important is the response which Videocabaret productions evoke from their audiences. The history of Canada and thestories of the city as told in City for Sale, Confederation, Red River Rebellion, etc., leave audiences feeling passionate about Canada and indeed about history and its relevance to current events. Our Foundation works closely with the educational system and our experience is that there is a crying need for alternative ways of learning. VideoCabaret productions open doors for students, young and old, to experience theatre in an unforgettable way... Toronto and Canada needs more, more, more.

NEIL ORFORD, Secondary School Teacher, Centre Dufferin D.H.S., Shelburne
The bubble around me gets bigger and bigger with excitement … they are always a joy. Always love it!

ANGIE SILVERSTEIN, Secondary School Teacher, Bishop Strachan School and Upper Canada College, Toronto
When I saw one of your productions Canadian History suddenly became exciting. I feel that our students need to become more aware of our dynamic past, and this show will encourage their enthusiasm towards Canada.

The Birtish
CYNTHIA ASHPERGER, Director of Acting Program, Ryerson U.

I first saw a Video Cabaret production of the History of the Village of the Small Huts in 1987. The impression that I was left with has stayed with me to this day and I have seen all of the “Histories” since. The acting and writing styles excellently match the distinct production style, which thankfully took a large step away from naturalism. Over the years not only have I watched Mr. Hollingsworth fine-tune his style but I’ve also learned my Canadian history by coming tothese plays as I am originally from Europe... Recently I brought a group of young theatre students to Video Cabaret’s production of the Red River Rebellion. When we discussed the production in the acting class the following day this is what one of the students had to say: “I’m thrilled and very excited by the possibility that one day I too might have an opportunity to do the work such as we have seen last night. I simply loved it and was blown away by it.” That quote was echoed by many of the classmates.

Parallel with watching the “Histories” I’ve also admired the work of Deanne Taylor. Herpolitical satire captures the present as successfully as the “Histories” have done with the past.For the political cabarets Deanne has created her own multimedia theatrical stylewhich accounts for the company’s name, and which abounds with relevance, wit and humor.

The stylistic findings of this company need to be supported and passed on to the next generation of Canadian theatre artists. I can assure you that a company of this quality, consistent success and this prolific would by now have amounted to a national treasure in most European countries and I like think of this company in such terms. Tradition is built by continuous, long-term support. VideoCabaret is irreplaceable in Canadian theatre scene by being both innovative and by now a tradition of its own.

PAUL THOMPSON, Theatre Director; former Director General National Theatre School
Michael Hollingsworth’s totally original approach has found a way of connecting our past to a contemporary audience with vitality and intelligence.

JOEL GROTHE, Post-Graduate Student of Theatre, UofT, Univ. of Virginia
There is no equivalent to VideoCabaret; there is no theatre company in Canada that chronicles our national history so emphatically and extensively in a completely individual style that is distinctively Canadian. The company is unique in content, unique in form, and unique in process in a way that no other theatre in Canada can lay claim to.

Every young person studying Canadian History should supplement their classroom studies with a visit to a performance of VideoCabaret's presentation of Canada's History plays. The company has seen hundreds of students of all ages come through their doors this year, all of them leavingwith a fresh, exciting new perspective on history. I believe that VideoCabaret's work is as important as any project in Canadian theatre, and that support from Canada's arts councils and governments should reflect that. With greater support, VideoCabaret can extend its sold-out runs to larger audiences.

The importance of the work is further reflected in the fact that VideoCabaret's audience is made up of any extremely high percentage of other theatre artists. As someone from Passe Muraille recently remarked to me, VideoCabaret is the show every actor wants to be doing when theyleave theatre school, and it is a rite of passage in Canadian stage acting.


New FranceRAE JOHNSON, Painter, Associate Professor Ontario College of Art and Design

Deanne and Michael take over where Pierre Berton leaves off in telling the story of our nation, warts and all. It is no accident that these productions have attracted the most talented and intelligent actors and artists...a veritable Who's Who of Canadian theatre and art. The anadian artistic community recognizes the importance of this work.


W.R. CLEMENT, Historian, Author

In 1985 when (Michael Hollingsworth) proposed the History Play cycle there was great doubt that such an ambitious project could be completed. Against all odds (the company has) completed it gloriously...earning the respect of the arts community and theatre audience. Now is the time for a wider constituency to discover the wisdom and pleasure of the work.


RAMSAY COOK, Historian, Editor of The Dictionary of Canadian Biography

I greatly enjoyed and admired 'The Mackenzie Papineau Rebellion'. Why have I not seen the whole series? I guess that is my fault, but I hope you will repeat them.


RON SINGER, Professor Emeritus, Theatre Department, York University
I am an ardent fan of VideoCabaret. I have seen literally each and every one of their productions and have frequently taken acting classes with me. I believe their work is exciting, relevant, theatrical, educational and intelligently provocative...