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Evalyn Parry is the daughter of David Parry, an English-born Canadian singer and theatrical director who died in 1995, and performer and author Caroline Balderston Parry. Her brother Richard Parry performs with the bands Bell Orchestre and Arcade Fire. She is married to Canadian writer Suzanne Robertson. She is a Quaker.
Parry is a theatre creator, actor, director, collaborator and educator. She is the artistic director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto. Her plays have been produced at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille The Theatre Centre and others across Canada and the USA. Parry's acclaimed showSPIN, which features a bicycle played as a musical instrument (played by percussionist Brad Hart), charts the feminist history of the bicycle, and tells the story of Annie Londonderry, first woman to ride around the world on a bike in 1895. SPIN has toured festivals and theatres all over North America. Parry frequently writes and performs with the all-female theatre company Independent Aunties with Anna Chatterton and Karin Randoja, most recently with Gertrude and Alice, which premiered at Buddies in Bad Times in 2016, and was published by Playwrights Canada Press in 2018. Gertrude and Alice was a shortlisted finalist for the Governor General's Award for English-language drama at the 2018 Governor General's Awards.
Before becoming artistic director, Parry was the director of the Young Creators Unit at Buddies in Bad Times from 2005-2015. She has been the recipient of the 2013 km Hunter Award for Theatre and the Ken McDougall Award for Directing (2009). In 2012, she directed Buddies' production of Tawiah M'carthy's Obaaberima, garnering a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for Outstanding Direction of a Play; Obaaberima was awarded the Dora for Outstanding Production.
She was appointed artistic director of Buddies in Bad Times in 2015, succeeding Brendan Healy.
Steeped in the folk tradition but born to innovate, Parry's genre-blurring work is inspired by intersections of social activism, history and autobiography, exploring themes that range from 19th century cycling heroines to bottled water, from queer identity to the quest for the Northwest Passage. Her unique combination of music and spoken word has been presented at folk festivals, theatres and campuses internationally; she has released five CDs of original music (with Borealis Records and her own Outspoke Productions). Parry performs solo and with a band. She is the recipient of the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award (2003) and the Beth Ferguson Award for Upcoming Songwriter (Ottawa, 2001). Parry has performed at numerous music, poetry and Pride festivals across North America, including Toronto Pride Week, Hillside Festival, The Vancouver Folk Festival, North by Northeast Music and Film Conference and Festival (Toronto), the National Arts Centre (Ottawa), the Lincoln Center Out of Doors in New York City. Parry has also performed with the group Girls with Glasses, a quartet of female songwriters including Parry, Eve Goldberg, Allison Brown, and Karyn Ellis.