Led by artistic director Jenn Deon, PerSIStence Theatre is a feminist-first charitable organization that strives to change hearts and minds through professional theatre and related initiatives.
Guided by a shared desire for a brighter future, the PerSIStence community works to celebrate underrepresented stories and voices.
Jenn says, “Theatre and storytelling play a powerful role in supporting cultural shifts in society.”
PerSIStence Theatre is intentional in its goal of celebrating underrepresented voices: we promote plays written and directed by women* as well as performances where more than 50% of the lines are spoken by women*.
For example, the Votes for Women 100 project commemorated the 100-year anniversary of some women gaining the right to vote in NL and brought to life a half dozen original plays about historical women in Newfoundland. This project culminated in “The Mirror” by Trudy Morgan-Cole, a full-length production sharing the life of Newfoundland suffragette Armine Nutting Gosling.
One great opportunity of feminist theatre is to re-imagine stories traditionally told by men through a feminist lens. PerSIStence took up this challenge in 2021 with “Original” by Sharon King-Campbell, a feminist exploration of women’s cultural influences through infamous creation stories.
Other stunning recent performances shine a light on the contributions of women in Newfoundland’s own history. Written by L’nu playwright Leahdawn Helena, STOLEN SISTERS explores the lives and legacy of a people now culturally extinct through stories of Beothuk women. The “The Haunting of Margaret Duley” by Bernadine Stapleton 2020, and the unforgettable “What Hangs in the Balance” by Petrina Bromley, 2021.
PerSIStence Theatre Company was founded in early 2017 out of the Women’s March Movement with a mission to “respond to the persistent and universal need for promoting, understanding and embracing the core beliefs of feminism through professional theatre and related initiatives.” Officially incorporated as a non-profit on April 25, 2017, the board of directors worked quickly to become a professionally run organization, with the first Annual General Meeting on June 12, 2017. The company received sustaining funding for professional arts organizations from Arts NL in 2020 and achieved charitable status in 2021. To date, they have produced 18 professional theatre productions, including the premieres of 10 new works written by women.
Bringing people together is at the heart of PerSIStence Theatre’s mission. PerSIStence is committed to building a supportive and empowered community of people from diverse backgrounds, energized by a shared vision.
The patriarchy does not rest, and neither does PerSIStence Theatre. During the pandemic, it was the first company to perform live (in accordance with public health guidelines), it moved performances online, and found ways to safely accommodate the ongoing pursuit of activism through performance.
The annual Persistence Pink Tie Gala is a flagship fundraiser, and guests return year after year to support, connect, share, and recharge. For a taste of a past Pink Tie Gala, click here.
Community is key for PerSIStence theatre, as we work to empower and learn from one another and let thought-provoking storytelling become a vehicle for change.
*PerSIStence Theatre recognizes the limits of using binary language. Issues facing women do not only affect cisgender women: systems of oppression are interdependent and the patriarchy affects everyone in different ways. Our activism includes those identifying as transgender, non-binary, 2SLGBTQIA+, racialized, Indigenous, disabled, as well as people with lived experience.
PerSIStence Theatre respectfully acknowledges that our space in St. John’s is located on the ancestral homelands of the Beothuk and that the island of Newfoundland is the ancestral homelands of the Mi'kmaq and Beothuk. PerSIStence also recognizes the Inuit of Nunatsiavut and NunatuKavut and the Innu of Nitassinan, and their ancestors, as the original peoples of Labrador. PerSIStence strives for respectful relationships with all the peoples of this province as we bring awareness that no women are free until all women are free.