Talk Is Free Theatre (TIFT) was founded in 2003 in Barrie by Artistic Producer Arkady Spivak and colleagues, and has since produced close to 100 works. The company develops and produces a wide range of work from the periphery of the mainstream, concentrating on new writing, neglected classics and drastic re-examinations of established repertoire. TIFT’s programming emphasizes the development and production of off-centre, story-driven musicals and new types of site-specific, immersive creation, among others.
The company recently undertook one of the boldest and largest immersive experiences in Canadian theatre history. The Curious Voyage was a 3-day long journey, which began in Barrie, Canada and took the audience, quite literally, to London, UK. This was an unprecedented endeavour that garnered national accolades and was a major step towards the creation of The WOW Collection, the multi-disciplinary festival of immersive art.
TIFT has produced several world premieres of Canadian musicals including Scenes from the Bathhouse, Variations on a Nervous Breakdown, One Step Forward and Music for the Changing Voice. Other notable productions of musicals include the Canadian premiere of absurdist musical Anyone Can Whistle, a cross-gendered production of Guys and Dolls, site-specific roving production of The Music Man, the world premiere of the American musical Dani Girl, and the rarely seen Floyd Collins (in co-production with Vancouver’s Patrick Street Productions). TIFT’s co-production with Birdland Theatre of Sondheim’s Assassins was a sold-out success, a Dora Mavor Moore Award winner for Best Production of a Musical in 2010 and has been named one of Ten Best Toronto Theatre Shows of the Decade by NOW Magazine.
TIFT also tours its productions. Staged on a moving city bus, the company’s production of Tales of an Urban Indian premiered in 2009 and has been on an indefinite tour across Canada, to the United States, and internationally. Tales of an Urban Indian celebrated its 500th performance in Brisbane, Australia in 2019 and was part of Yirramboi Festival, Australia’s premier First Nations arts and cultural event. Other tours include Possible Worlds to Munich, Assassins to The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg, The Wedding Party to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and The Tale of Ivan vs. Ivan to Serbia, England and Russia. In 2020, TIFT toured site-specific productions of Every Brilliant Thing, For Both Resting and Breeding and Tales of an Urban Indian under The Canada Capsule to Adelaide, Australia where Every Brilliant Thing was awarded ‘Best Production’ in the theatre category.
Some of the artists who have worked with TIFT include Maja Ardal, Leslie Arden, Herbie Barnes, Mitchell Cushman, Darrell Dennis, Arlene Duncan, Cathy Elliott, Alana Hibbert, Chilina Kennedy, Diana Leblanc, Craig Lauzon, Marti Maraden, Mike Nadajewski, Lucy Peacock, Jennifer Phipps, Glynis Ranney, Michael Torontow and Jean Yoon, among many others.
For a list of our past productions click here.