Pi Theatre began life as the Pink Ink Co-op in 1984, led by Sandhano Schultze. It quickly established a distinct position in Vancouver’s theatrical ecology, with a reputation for producing the work of Québécois playwrights, as well as works from the world stage. In 1990 the company began to engage performers under Equity Guest Artist Contracts and in 1991, Pink Ink joined PACT, becoming a signatory to the Canadian Theatre Agreement.
Pink Ink was very influential in bringing the French-Canadian canon to Vancouver’s attention and it continues to be a specialist in this field. To date, Pi has produced more than 20 plays from Québéc in English translation, the most recent being Bashir Lazhar by Evelyne de la Chenelière in 2009.
In 1998, Del Surjik was appointed AD. Under his tenure, Pi continued its community leadership role as major force in See Seven, a marketing and shared-resource initiative for independent theatre in Vancouver. In 2005, Pi began touring, most notably at the National Arts Centre for the Magnetic North Festival, as well as regionally in BC.
Also in 2005, Pi formalized its commitment to mentorship with the launch of the emerging artists’ showcase Prime Placements. Since then, the company has welcomed more then 69 participants to the program in many different positions.
Early in 2008, Pi welcomed its third and current artistic director, Richard Wolfe. The company is now building a vision that puts the role of authorial voice at the centre of its activities and programming choices. 2009’s highly regarded Canadian premiere of after the quake introduced our audiences to the distinct voice of Japanese author Haruki Murakami.
In 2013, Pi presented the Vancouver premiere of Mark O'Rowe's Terminus to rave reviews, eight Jessie Award nominations and three wins. This was followed by the world-premiere of Pi's first playwright-in-residence Sean Devine's Except in the Unlikely Event of War, which was nominated for three awards.
In 2015, Pi celebrated its 30th anniversary. In January, Pi toured its 2014 site-specific production of Jordi Mand's Between the Sheets to Victoria and in April we presented the second Canadian English-language professional production of Sarah Kane's Blasted. Blasted was nominated for eight Jessie Awards and won three, including one for Richard Wolfe for outstanding direction.
2016 marked a year of premieres for Pi. We introduced the Lost Words series, conceived and developed by Pi's Artistic Associates Pippa Mackie and Jeff Gladstone. In March 2016, we hosted a concert featuring our composer, Gordon Grdina, and vocalist, Fathieh Honari, for our production of Ayad Akhtar's The Invisible Hand. This Canadian premiere of The Invisible Hand was nominated for eight Jessie Awards and won the award for outstanding lighting.
In 2017 we produced the world premiere of Long Division by Peter Dickinson. This exploration into the mathematics of human connection features an all-star cast and creative team. It premiered in November 2016 at Gateway Theatre, and received an encore production at the Annex Theatre in downtown Vancouver from April 26-30th, 2017. Long Division was nominated for Outstanding Set for the Jessie Awards.
We were also presented by Boca del Lupo as a part of their Micro Performance Series with Amy Lee Lavoie's Genetic Drift from April 5-8th, 2017. Pi ended an exceptional season with a reading of Leanna Brodie's The Paradise Arms, a new English translation of Olivier Sylvestre's La beauté du monde.
For 2017-2018, Pi presented a season of Emotionally Charged work. In the fall, Pi presented Episodes 1 and 2 (BOOBS and BRAINS) of Lady Parts, an incisive female sketch comedy series written and created by Katey Hoffman and Cheyenne Mabberley.
We also joined up with The Only Animal to co-produce Climate Change Theatre Action, an event that featured 8 different companies and groups of individuals coming together to perform work that explores themes related to climate change.
We produced Jordan Tannahill's elegant and hauntingmusical meditation of the extinction, Nocturne with the help of Pi Associate, Mishelle Cuttler.
On December 10th, 2018, Pi held our 3rd annual Sunday Soul Brunch with the powerful voice of Dawn Pemberton and the Good Almighty getting our morning going!
In January 2018, Pi produced the English Canada premiere of David Greig's The Events, presented with the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. This show featured 12 community choirs from across Metro Vancouver who had not rehearsed with the cast prior to their performance.
Also in 2018, Pi presented Episode 3 (HEART) of Lady Parts at the Anza Club in Vancouver to a sold out crowd! Episode 4 (VAGINA) of Lady Parts was presented on May 31st. Then in June, Pi presented Pearle Harbour's Chautauqua as part of its Pi Provocateurs. This fabulous drag queen came all the way from Toronto to set up her tent in The Cultch's Culture Lab! It was a HUGE season for Pi Theatre!
Our 2018-19 season featured the Jessie nominated Canadian premiere of Hir by Taylor Mac. Alongside this event, Pi produced Hir: A Trans, Non-Binary & Two Spirit Cabaret which featured an evening of amazing performances from artistis based in Metro Vancouver.
The 2019 Pi Provocateurs Presentation series was a huge success with 4 1/2 (ig)noble truths by Thomas MchKechnie. In all the way from Toronto, this zeitpunktheatre show in association with Why Not Theatre sold out it's run at the KW Production Studio. To finish off the season, Pi presented Theatre Conspiracy's Stray by Tanya Marquardt which filled PL1422 for a big weekend of punk music and amazing storytelling about Tanya's life.
We began our 2019-20 season with a presentation of Scott Thompson's Aprés Le Déluge: The Buddy Cole Monologues as part of our Pi Provocateurs series. In December 2019, we continued our Provocateurs Presentations for the year with Little Thief Theatre's In Response to Alabama- a piece of verbatim theatre about three women's lived experiences of abortion.
Following that in January 2020, we partnered with the PuSH Festival and the Anvil Theatre to produce a 3 day workshop of a new work entitled Shakespeare's Em, a re-telling of Othello from the character Emilia's perspective. This workshop was entirely open to the public. This was our last in-person event for that season, as our cornerstone production of Lampedusa was cancelled during to the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In June 2020 we hosted a digital showcase entitled "Encounter: Cabin Fever". Pi commissioned 7 digital pieces from Artists in our community which audiences could enjoy from the comfort of their homes, and pay what they could directly to each artist.
Our exploration of digital theatre continued in the 2020-21 season, which marked a successful pivot to online platforms for most of our programming. We commissioned Munish Sharma, Libby Willoughby, and Cameron Peal to each create a piece for the National Transformations project hosted by the National Arts Centre, which were viewed by hundreds of people across the country.
In February of 2021 we presented livestreams of La Fille Du Laitier's MacBeth Muet, and HEIST Collective's Frequencies, followed by a digital presentation of Telethon Telethon by [elephants] collective, which doubled as a fundraiser for Vancouver's Aboriginal Front Door Society.
Our transition back to in person gatherings began firstly by presenting Epidermis Circus by SNAFU Society for Unexpected Spectacles- a drive-in puppet show for adults in a parking lot on Great Northern way. The next phase of our transition was our production of Munish Sharma's Dance Like No One's Watching; pop-up dance parties which happened in parks all over Vancouver and encouraged unsuspecting audiences to find a moment of connection and uncomplicated joy through movement.
Finally, we returned to fully in person Theatre in Fall 2021, with a sold-out Pi Provocateurs Presentation of Screen Door by José Teodoro and Stephen Lyons. Our other Pi Provocateurs shows in our 2021/22 season were Destiny, USA by Laura Anne Harris, and This Is The Story of the Child Ruled by Fear by David Gagnon Walker.
In February 2022, we produced Erin Shields' cutting satire, Beautiful Man, directed by Keltie Forsyth. This production was presented by the Cultch as part of their 2021/22 Femme Fest. That May, we were back at the Cultch for our long-awaited production of Lampedusa, written by Anders Lustgarten and directed by Richard Wolfe.
Our 2022/23 season was filled with innovative and compelling new work by Canadian Playwrights and Creators. Our Provocateurs Series featured Szepty/Whispers produced by V. West and Rumble Theatre, Black Space Jam produced by Afro Van Connect, and Untitled Peter Tripp Project produced by Curtain Razors.
In Spring 2023, we Produced the world premiere of Shayna Jones' Black & Rural at Pacific Theatre, before touring the show to other communities in the Province. This was the company's first foray in to touring our own work. Our second Cornerstone Production in our 2022/23 season was entitled Truth & Lies, and featured 4 short plays by up-and-coming Canadian Playwrights, co-directed by Libby Willoughby and Richard Wolfe.
Since the company’s inception, our peers have recognized Pi and its collaborators with 34 Jessie Richardson Awards and 118 nominations for outstanding artistic achievement in Vancouver professional theatre.