History and Bio

Julia Gray

Julia Gray

I am currently a SSHRC-funded postdoctoral fellow at Bloorview Research Institute, which is embedded in Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (fully affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at University of Toronto).  Through this fellowship, I draw together my work as a playwright, theatre director and physical theatre creator with disability, aging and health research.  My work is interdisciplinary and intersectinoal, drawing on theatre, dance and performance studies, critical disability and age studies, queer and feminist phenomenology and aesthetic philosophy.  I hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Arts from York University’s Department of Theatre, and attained my PhD from Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at University of Toronto, which was supported by a CIHR‐STIHR Doctoral Fellowship in Health Care, Technology, and Place.

I have worked in professional theatre for 20 years in a number of capacities, including artistic work, administration, education and production – this includes companies such as CanStage, Young People’s Theatre, Mirvish Productions, Tarragon Theatre, The Charlottetown Festival, and many Toronto-based independent theatre companies.  Since 2005, with the development of After the Crash: a play about brain injury which was commissioned by Toronto Rehab and University of Toronto, I have been working with health researchers, community members and clinical practitioners integrating the arts in disability, aging and health research and practice.  In 2008 I launched Possible Arts.

I have published many articles in peer-reviewed, professional and social media forums, in addition to four peer-reviewed book chapters. I also recently produced an edited collection aimed at providing creative spaces for imagining difference called ‘ReView: An Anthology of Plays Committed to Social Justice’ (Sense Publishers, 2017, editor).  I have published and presented across disciplines, including theatre and performance studies, age studies, disability studies, literature, education, social science, rehabilitation science, public health, recreation and leisure studies and nursing.

I have created many research-informed theatre projects in the area of disability, aging and health . Most notably, I am the primary playwright for the collectively created After the Crash: a play about brain injury (Ruckus Ensemble / Toronto Rehabilitation Institute) and co-wrote the play Seeing the Forest (York University), a play about patient safety culture, with Dr. Gail Mitchell.  My most recent project, co-produced by Partnerships in Dementia Care Alliance at University of Waterloo, is called Cracked: new light on dementia, and challenges how dementia is understood as irrevocably tragic.  Cracked was filmed in 2017, and is available for download at http://www.crackedondementia.ca

I am also a founding member of both Ruckus Ensemble, a theatre company committed to producing After the Crash, and The Question Company, a company dedicated to the creation of new, innovative theatre pieces, with a particular focus on physical work.

photo credit: Dahlia Katz

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