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DEANNE TAYLOR Over the course of her career as a performer, playwright, producer, director, activist, and mentor, Deanne Taylor has been one of the most innovative and politically engaged theatre artists in the country. Born in Berkeley, California, to Canadian parents Violet and Malcolm Taylor, Deanne was schooled in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. She found her calling early, beginning her professional career at age nine, when she was cast as Maggie Muggins in the popular CBC children's show. After graduation Deanne travelled widely in Europe, the Middle East and India, living in Morocco and then in London, England. There she studied film, took part in the local music scene and helped create the city's first repertory film house, Electric Cinema. Upon returning to Toronto Deanne quickly engaged at the cutting edge of Canadian art and culture playing a key role in Toronto's exploding Queen St. West artistic scene - first with Women & Film, then turning to performance and theatre. Together with Jenny Dean and Janet Burke, The Hummer Sisters, backed by Andy Patterson and The Government, delivered a kinetic kind of 'stand-up journalism' through the medium of Deanne's brilliantly witty lyrics. In 1982 they stepped offstage and into the political arena when they collectively ran for mayor of Toronto, against incumbent Art Eggleton. Their campaign slogan, 'ART vs. Art' pointed to a future in which show biz and politics have become indistinguishable. In 1976, she co-founded VideoCabaret International with her partner playwright Michael Hollingsworth. With its high-tech, low-budget approach to spectacle, Deanne's work with VideoCabaret created a whole new - and highly entertaining - grammar of stage performance. What began in the small rooms of Theatre Passe Muraille, Factory Theatre, and the Cameron House ended up playing to audiences in New York and London as well as on the Soulpepper, Stratford Festival, and national touring stages. Deanne wrote, produced and performed a remarkable array of works - plays, (video) cabarets, musicals, and an opera. From The Patty Rehearst Story, Nympho Warrior, and Where's Fluffy? to 2nd Nature, Life & Times of Brian Mulroney, and City for Sale. During the 1970's and 1980's Deanne also wrote, produced and performed in a number of "Vox Pop" cabarets responding to municipal and national, concerns and events. When not creating insightful productions on these issues Deanne was engaged in city planning processes as an activist, policy wonk, and commentator. Together, Michael and Deanne developed their own innovative "black box" style of theatre and since 1982 have collaborated on Hollingsworth's epic 21-play cycle about Canadian history, called The History of The Village of The Small Huts. In recent years, Deanne has also been engaged with new play development, playwrights' and directors' workshops, mentorship of a lucky few very talented individuals, and production/co-direction of the company's seasons. She also oversaw moving VideoCabaret's HQ from the Cameron House to a more spacious venue on the aptly named Busy St. in Toronto's east end. Deanne kept her cancer a secret for a long time. She was fully focused on living every bit of her life and didn't want anyone else to be distracted by her illness. "Tragedy tomorrow, Comedy tonight!" she declared. Deanne passed peacefully, at home on December 15th, in the company of husband Michael, close friend and associate Cliff Cardinal, her wonderful care team; and with her brother, isolated in Vancouver, by phone. Deanne leaves her husband and partner of 45 years, Michael Hollingsworth, her brother Burke Taylor (Sue Harvey), her aunt Beth Smith, stepmother Helen Taylor, her devoted and much-loved Toronto "coven of sisters, co-conspirators, and purveyors of fine casseroles", her extended creative family at VideoCab, her Caribbean family-by-choice, Ann, Naette, and Golda Lee, her wonderful tireless caregivers, Niki, Navjot, Lovepreet, Zara, and Sharon, as well as a host of colleagues, friends, and family who miss her already. The family wants to express special thanks to the Toronto circle of sisters and others who rallied to sustain Deanne through challenging times, and to the Canadian Health Care system doctors, nurses, technicians, and PSWs, who, together with the team from Home Instead, gave Deanne their "All", sharing and supporting her fight for life. Thanks too to Suzanne DePoe, Marni Jackson, and Leslie Lester for... "everything", and to Michael Cooper for sharing one this wonderful photo. We also thank life-long friend Marni for her fuller bio of Deanne, (posted on the VideoCab website and FB page), from which this notice was heavily cribbed. A celebration of Deanne's life will be held at a future date when gathering is permitted. Donations in memoriam may be made to VideoCabaret or at

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Published in The Globe and Mail from Dec. 26 to Dec. 30, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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10 entries
March 17, 2021
...I never had the privilege of meeting her in person...growing up as a member of her extended family in Alberta, I heard a lot about her from a far. I did have the privilege of meeting her mother Violet, my cousin. My thoughts are with the family.
February 1, 2021
I've just found out that Deanne has left us.
I had been in Canada for a short time when I had the good fortune of meeting Deanne and Michael at Video Cabaret headquarters on Yonge St.
Dianne's small figure, regal and gentle manners always reminded me of a queen. Very sorry and saddened by the passing of such a beautiful human being, generous and very supportive of fellow artists.
Please let me know if there will be a memorial.
Thanks, Arturo
Arturo Fresolone
January 7, 2021
I did not know Deanne personally but her presence in the city of Toronto was undeniable. I first was aware of her incredible energy back in the 80's when I also found myself part of the Queen Street crowd with my husband who was chef/owner of The Parrot. She along with so many other artists opened up a world of expression, exploration and performance for so many of us. She was greatly loved, respected and will be greatly missed. Gianna Patriarca Milne-Allan
Gianna Patriarca
January 4, 2021
Your smile was infectious,your music a treat
Your dedication to theatre and film was hard to beat
Your humanity shined bright and your smile lit the room
Your strength saved us from the oncoming doom..
God bless your spirit wherever it is...keep ‘em laughin up there cause we all know it’s bliss!
Adele Steinberg
January 4, 2021
one of a kind - thanks for sharing your talent and spirit...
Joanne Smale
January 4, 2021
thank you so much for this obituary to a wonderful woman

patti Habib
January 4, 2021
Sincere condolences to her family and friends.
Michele Williams
December 30, 2020
As a young theatre student I was lucky enough to see 1984 at the Bamboo. My ‘Toronto’ friends brought me to the show. I was utterly blown away. And from that moment on I followed The Hummer Sisters, VideoCabaret and the History of the Small Huts - and Deanne and of course Micheal Hollingsworth and the reoccurring ensemble of actors - created astonishing, innovative, powerful and FUN theatre. Thank you Deanne. You have worked tirelessly in that great good cause. M Mason
Martha Mason
December 29, 2020
It was a privilege to learn and share with Deanne. Some happy hours were spent on the rooftop of the Cameron as we surveyed the city and canvassed ideas about the political condition of our city. Enjoyed every single production of VideoCab's offerings. Genius.
Ceta Ramkhalawansingh
December 26, 2020
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