Out The Window

Written by:

Lisa Balkan

Cast Size:

Roles For:

  • LGBTQ+: 3
  • Men: 6
  • Women: 2




Justice System
Mental Health


110 min.

Year Written:



In August 2000, Liza Balkan witnessed the beating death of a man named Otto Vass during an altercation with the police in the west end of Toronto. Called to the witness stand on several occasions over several years, Balkan kept careful track of the aftermath, then turned verbatim court transcripts, audio, video and text derived from multiple interviews with lawyers from both sides of the bench, officers, family members of the deceased, activists and artists, into Out the Window. This is a documentary theatre project that interrogates the subjects of policing and police violence, use of force, mental illness, racism, justice, memory, witnessing and theatre. It was created to be a malleable, inclusive theatrical investigation, one that has evolved over many years, responding to the times and the layers of the harsh realities around police violence and calls for change. Its story-telling vibrates in the past and in the present.


If replicating the gender and race of those involved in the actual events: one white woman in their mid/late 30s playing the Witness.( Open. Intelligent. Naive. Sense of humour. Dogged desire to uncover truth) Two white older men- 50’s/60’s, playing the Lawyers. Lawyer 1: Strong personality. Healthy ego. A bit of a showman. Loves the theatre. Lawyer 2: Astute. Down to earth. social justice lawyer, sense of humour and irony.
The Officers/waiters:
2 white males, one Asian male, one Black male – all in their late mid-late 20’s/early 30s. All: Young. Doing their job.

All of the above return to the stage in Part 2, as themselves – dropping character. Those actors playing the officers will jump in and out of character twice during part 2.

Additional cast members for this iteration: The Artist/Activist who draws through much of the first half and then leads conversations in the second half.
I musician and 1 singer.

First Produced:

Produced by The International Luminato Festival and The Theatre Centre 2018.


Play can be accessed through the Canadian Play Outlet, Scirocco/JG Shillingford, Amazon.ca., or Barnes and Nobles.

Out the Window by Liza Balkan



Out The Window is both a highly theatrical play and a public forum; a conversation – one that aims to continue forward. This book chronicles this project’s process through its various iterations and includes the script from The Theatre Centre/ Luminato Festival co-production in Toronto in 2018, directed by Sarah Garton Stanley.

A production can choose to replicate the race//gender of those involved in the actual event – or not.

This choice is open to the collective and creative team engaging in the project and its larger conversations.

Part 1 is a ” play and is text-based. Part two is a community event occurring in real-time. It holds theatrical elements, alongside discussion and song. The nature and full content of part 2 will shift depending on those involved in the production – and the given audience in the theatre.

This iteration included the Bruised Years Choir* *in part 2 and the participation of any audience members who chose to join. Other choices and options are possible and at the artistic discretion of the creative team and artists involved.
**Bruised Years Choir is created by Workman Arts: “an arts and mental health organization known internationally for its artistic collaborations, presentations, knowledge exchange, best
practices and research on the impact of the arts on the quality of life of people living with
mental illness and addiction.”


Theatrical depictions of Violence, violent subject matter. Two parts with Part 2 involving an invitation to the audience to participate. part 2 is created to be malleable, chosen by the creative team and company members and is reflection of the time and place in whcih the piece is performed