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Theatre & Performance Theatre Centre will honour artist Tracy Wright in first season at new $6-million 'live arts hub'

Cabaret Brise-Jour by L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres is part of The Theatre Centre’s 2014 programming.

Guillaume D. Cyr

The newest performance space to arrive in Toronto will honour the memory of an avant-garde artist who departed the city too soon in its first season of programming.

On Tuesday, The Theatre Centre revealed what will be presented when its new $6.2-million "live arts hub" on Queen Street West opens in January, 2014. Alongside work by the internationally acclaimed Mammalian Diving Reflex and local award-winning theatre-makers Studio 180, there will be an eclectic assortment of projects inspired by performance pioneer Tracy Wright, who died in 2010 at age 50.

"Tracy Wright has a long history with The Theatre Centre – early work by the Augusta Company, formed by Tracy, [her future husband and actor] Don McKellar and [director] Daniel Brooks, was presented here," artistic director Franco Boni explains in an email.

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Wright's battle with cancer is the inspiration behind a "one-woman/two-ghost show" to be presented by Beligian theatre director Tine Van Aerschot in May. Based on conversations between Wright and Van Aerschot during her illness, We Are not Afraid of the Dark will be performed by Valerie Buhagiar with the pre-recorded voices of Claire Marshall and McKellar.

The late actress will also be remembered in June with the Tracy Wright Global Archive – a project that will, in its first year, see artists such as director Daniel Brooks, playwright Marcus Youssef and performance artist Nadia Ross create new dance pieces, lectures or installations that engage with communities elsewhere around the world.

"We decided to name our new program – the Global Archive – after her because of her belief that international travel and experiences are central to building a great career as a theatre creator," Boni says. "Tracy fully embraced the notions of artistic risk; her fearlessness and belief in rigorous process are incredibly inspiring."

The Theatre Centre is set to kick off its lineup of outside-the-box, interdisciplinary work on Jan. 26 with Carbon 14: Climate is Culture performance series, featuring artists such as Inuit singer Tanya Tagaq and author Alanna Mitchell addressing various aspects of the topic of climate change.

In April, Studio 180 will stage the Toronto premiere production of British playwright Mark Bartlett's comedic drama Cock – the first production in a five-year relationship between Theatre Centre and the peripatetic company behind such hits as Stuff Happens and The Normal Heart. In May, Darren O'Donnell's company Mammalian Diving Reflex will team up with teenage artists The Torontonians to present a new piece called Promises to a Divided City.

Founded in 1979 by a co-op of five theatre companies, The Theatre Centre has moved from space to space over the past three decades. Its new home in the renovated Carnegie Library will be the first permanent home for the self-proclaimed "arts incubator."

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