Award-winning playwright Kat Sandler on her latest production, Bang Bang
The Dora Award-winner talks inspiring true events and achieving authenticity onstage
Sandler’s new play, ‘Bang Bang’ will premiere at Factory Theatre on Feb. 1
Kat Sandler was the kind of kid who had big dreams, big ideas and the ability to turn them into reality.
“I can always imagine what I want something to be at the end, and figure out steps needed to get there,” she says.
Before Sandler was a Dora Award–winning mainstay in the Toronto theatre scene, she was a student at the University of Toronto Schools (UTS), a high school full of very smart, very ambitious children.
Although UTS is a great school, it was unfortunately devoid of a drama program when I started. So Sandler fashioned her own creative outlet. For her final project, while some students were building rockets, she was writing and directing a musical.
While at Queen’s University in her early twenties, Sandler continued to pursue her directorial dreams and directed a version of Broadway classic Cabaret. And after university, she began working with Toronto’s Theatre Gargantua.
“People were always accusing our generation of killing theatre. So we set out to create work that was accessible to our generation,” she says.
The group of passionate ingenues aimed to make theatre that mimicked the binge-worthy shows of HBO. They wrote plays with edgy themes and titles, and with marketing that looked more like movie posters than play ads.
“I used my condo seed money to rent out the Factory Theatre backspace,” she says.
The play, Love, Sex, Money, premiered to great success, and thus, Theatre Brouhaha was born, with Sandler as its very capable artistic director, and Tom McGee as her co-founder and business partner.
The burgeoning company, fueled by Sandler’s rapid-fire writing, produced a staggering 11 plays from 2011 to 2016.
Theatre Brouhaha started raising eyebrows among the media and theatre aficionados around town, and Sandler was introduced to the good people at Tarragon Theatre.
She became part of the Tarragon Writer’s Unit in 2014, and it was in that unit that she wrote the 2016 Dora Award winner (which honours theatre, dance, and opera productions in Toronto) for Outstanding New Play, Mustard. Kat Sandler went very quickly from touted indie darling to professional powerhouse.
“It was nice not having to worry about making my own money back for a change,” she says jokingly.
Sandler’s new venture, Bang Bang, premiered at Factory Theatre’s Mainspace on Feb. 1 and will run until Feb. 18 (tickets available on Factory’s website).
The play is inspired by the debate around racism and excessive force in shooting deaths at the hands of police, and considers the impact of being inspired by true events and the responsibility artists have in the process of storytelling.
“How do you achieve authenticity without burdening people in trauma? I had to interrogate my own process,” says Sandler.
We can expect exciting things from Sandler in the near future. Keep your eyes peeled for her name in stage credits and maybe even television credits too.
Through hard work and determination, Sandler has made her own opportunities and made herself an integral voice in Canadian theatre.
“If you want to do something, you have to just do it yourself,” she says. “It’s not easy, but it is possible.”