Theatre SKAM Association

Theatre SKAM was formed in 1995 with a mission to create theatre that is innovative and entertaining, and above all – never boring.

Theatre SKAM AssociationOur Impact Why We Exist

For 20 years, Theatre SKAM has served a mandate to create a living, contemporary, professional theatre; to provide varied and provocative theatrical entertainment for audiences in Victoria and on tour; and to employ emerging theatre artists. We work in partnership with like-minded arts practitioners (professional & non-professional), community groups and local experts to create unique and positive theatrical experiences. Here are just two:

Our annual Bike Ride festival gives over a dozen performance companies the opportunity to present their work to hundreds of cycle-bound audience members. For these artists, this is often their first professional performance opportunity, and a vital first step towards making a living as a working artist. Meanwhile, delighted audiences are introduced to the natural beauty of the Galloping Goose Trail and get the chance to see theatrical art from Victoria and across Canada.

Our project Fashion Machine, developed in partnership with the Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria, sees SKAM leading an in-depth training session with kids aged 9-13. These kids learn to sew, are gently encouraged to think critically about the fashion industry, and play fun drama games to inspire their confidence. Then on performance night, the kids get the chance to remake select audience members' clothes based on an interview they've designed. This project has seen a hugely positive response from participants and their families. For example, we received this letter after the premiere:

To everyone at Skam — producers, administrators, interns — and everyone at the Makehouse, thank you so much. You created an interactive show where kids refashioned people's outfits in a mere 55 minutes. You shared so many skills with my daughter Juliana. She learned the obvious — some sewing — and that's a fantastic life skill right there. But her learning went deeper than that. She learned some critical thinking through discussions around the politics of fashion. She learned perspective through the lesson on the history of fashion. She learned teamwork and tolerance through having to consult with her team and share a sewing machine. She learned showmanship and theatre craft by having to present her creation, answer questions in front of the audience, and by seeing the nuts and bolts of how a show is created. Her learning was both broad and deep, and as a family we are thrill

Our Story What We Do

Theatre SKAM was formed in 1995 by four emerging artists (Sarah Donald, Karen Turner, Amiel Gladstone, and Matthew Payne) as a means for the creation and production of new work.

After twelve years as an ad-hoc, project-based company, in 2007 founding member Matthew Payne took over as Artistic Producer, with a mandate to move the company to year-round operations. The company now operates year-round, supporting local artists and creating new work from our studio/office in Victoria’s Gorge neighbourhood.

Over the years, the company has produced numerous works to critical and audience acclaim, including Aerwacol and Billy Nothin’ by Sean Dixon, who has written several plays for the company as official playwright-out-of-residence; Hippies and Bolsheviks, The Wedding Pool, Black Box and My Three Sisters by founding Artistic Director Amiel Gladstone; and The Lieutenant Nun, by Elaine Avila, among many others. Recent work includes Cariboo Buckaroo, developed in partnership with the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation and presented with community partners throughout the Cariboo Chilcotin; Bike Ride, a festival featuring performances along the Galloping Goose Regional Cycling Trail, with the audience on bikes; and Smalltown, a new musical by Amiel Gladstone and Lucas Myers, selected as Victoria’s Critic’s Choice Spotlight Awards Best New Play.

Theatre SKAM has built a solid reputation as creators of innovative site-specific work and intimate elegant theatre. We play a pivotal role in the cultural life of our region and are recognized by peers across the country for our contribution to national networks and new work development.

Theatre SKAM has toured to Vancouver, Toronto, Seattle, Philadelphia, New York, France and Nanaimo.

Our Programs How We Do It

At Theatre SKAM, our work is developed in phases. We always have refined works ready to be seen and new projects waiting in the wings. Here's just a sample of what we have on the go:

The SKAM SummerKamp Remix is a year-long celebration of the company's 20th birthday, and will feature four established and emerging companies restaging classic SKAM shows in new and exciting ways.

— Bike Ride has become an annual Victoria tradition, with 2015's festival set to be rebranded and revitalized with longer hours and new modes of transport.

Fashion Machine enters dissemination this fall at schools across the city, in advance of a Royal BC Museum incarnation in early 2015 and an international tour later that year.

Joan is a stage play about the late Joan Mans (who was a fixture in the Victoria arts community), her friendship with the writer Matthew Payne, and the time she spent in extended medical care. Payne shares the stage with two performers playing the young and old Joan, a company of dancers and young actors who make cameo appearances, and video & audio recordings of Joan Mans herself.

Runaway is a new full-length play adapted from a successful Bike Ride short. It examines grief and growth through the eyes of Sam, a teenaged environmental activist with a fear of UFOs. Runaway is set to premiere in 2015.

Smalltown: A Pickup Musical is a Broadway-style musical performed on Theatre SKAM's flatbed pickup truck stage. A premiere run in 2013 included a mini-tour to parks throughout the Capital Regional District. We plan to tour the show to small towns across BC.

Cariboo Buckaroo is a one-man show developed in partnership with the X'eni Gwet'in; the true tall tale of an 1860s cattle drive full of surprise, magic and beans. The play explores three actual historic events in BC's history, including the Chilcotin War of 1864. Cariboo Buckaroo has toured to the Central Interior, Alberta, and Ontario.

What You Can Do

Theatre SKAM is a registered charity and not-for-profit association. We greatly appreciate the support we receive from a wide range of sources: foundations like the Victoria Foundation; local, national and provincial arts councils; sponsors, donors, audiences, and our own board of directors. These groups provide financial support, donate in-kind resources, and often volunteer hours of their precious time. We couldn't do what we do without their help.

If you think that performance enriches the lives of patrons and participants alike; if you believe a child's creativity should be nurtured and given the opportunity to grow; if you believe that theatre can be an equally effective tool for impressive spectacle and delicate surprise; if you want to support Theatre SKAM (even just by grilling smokies at our summer festival), we want to hear from you. Drop us a line or give us a call. We only have one question to ask:

...are you in?


Matthew Payne
Artistic Producer
Charitable Number: 868484627RR0001

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Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 288,157


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