Hysteria: A Festival of Women

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Hysteria: A Festival of Women was a recurring arts festival in Toronto. It was founded in 2003 by Moynan King of the Buddies in Bad Times theatre company.

Over a ten-day period, Buddies hosted a succession of events particularly for and with the queer women's performance community, including art, installations to dance, film, music, spoken word and theatre.[1]

Hysteria debuted such Buddies in Times' productions as Kinstonia: Dialect Perverso by Ann Holloway, The Scandelles’s Under the Mink (2007), organ-eye-zed crime (2006) by d’bi young, The Salon Automaton: A play for three automatons and one flesh and blood actress (2009) by Nathalie Claude, and The Beauty Salon (2008). Ivan Coyote’s You Are Here was originally scheduled for a cabaret run in 2009, but was cancelled in January of that year.[2]


The festival name alludes ironically to female hysteria, an archaic medical diagnosis applied to women the 19th and early 20th centuries. The festival's name is about embracing women's disobedience[2] and reclaiming the term hysteria.


During Hysteria's years of existence, the festival shared some artists, as well as aesthetic curatorial-social-political sensibilities with Montreal's Edgy Women festival.[3]

Hysteria after 2009[edit]

2009 was a year marked by an increase in the production of women's theatre works at Buddies in Bad Times, in large part due to the publication of an Arts report by Canada Council for the Arts, entitled, "Adding it Up: The Status of Women in Canadian Theatre," which showed the vast majority of plays appearing on Canadian stage coming from male playwright's.[2] following this season, however, a shift occurred in the programming, beginning with the decision not to renew King's contract as artistic associate. This decision was made with the caveat that King's festival, Hysteria, would continue to run, even without her presence. While that commitment was made, the festival has ceased since she left. Since then, Strange Sisters has been revived, a one-night festival of queer women's work. In 2015, it was renamed Insatiable Sisters by co-curators Kim Katrin Crosby and Gein Wong. Insatiable Sisters highlights new performance works of queer womyn and trans* folks.


  1. ^ Kaplan, Jon (October 20, 2009). "Hysteria: A Festival of Women's Performance". NOW Toronto. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c King, Moynan, The Foster Children of Buddies: Queer Women at 12 Alexander, Theatre and Performance in Toronto
  3. ^ Cowan, T. L. (2019). "Edgy + Hysteria: Not Like Sisters, or How Montreal's Edgy Women and Toronto's Hysteria Festivals Got It On Across Space and Time". Theatre Research in Canada. 40 (1–2): 118–134. doi:10.7202/1068261ar. ISSN 1196-1198.