About US

The Departure Train

About The Artists

Playwright Michelle Tocher and Director Nicole Arends share a passion for telling stories that break the frame of ordinary human life and enable us to see ourselves through the perspective of other beings and other worlds.

In 2017, Michelle read to Nicole a short story called “The Departure Train” which she had written some time after her mother’s death.  Nicole was enthralled with the magical dimensions of the story and wondered if it could be developed into a play. They began meeting once a month and Nicole worked with Michelle as a dramaturge. In Michelle’s words, “During the winter of 2017-18 I walked around with one foot in this world and one in the otherworld, researching the lives of the characters and intuiting the ‘rules’ of the ‘train’ and Audrey’s interactions in the afterlife.”

Michelle Tocher



Michelle is a writer and storyteller and has a unique interest in expressing the spiritual and mythic dimensions of human life. She has authored five highly praised books including How to Ride a Dragon: Women with Breast Cancer Tell Their Stories, and Brave Work: The Hero’s Journey at Work. Formerly President of a communications company, she has served as an Artist in Residence at Gilda’s Club and at Casey House, a treatment center for people with HIV-AIDS. For over 25 years she has been teaching writing and storytelling workshops and has made numerous appearances as a storyteller in the Toronto Storytelling Festival and other venues. In recent years, she has produced several short films based on her short stories, and has also created a web-based course called “Wonderlit” for people interested in exploring the meaning of fairy tales. The Departure Train is her first play.

Websitesmichelletocher.com ; wonderlit.com

Nicole Arends

Dramaturge and Director


Nicole Arends has been directing plays for over 25 years. She is a 1990 York theatre graduate and has experience directing professionally, independently as well as with community theatre.  She has produced and directed many independent shows in Ottawa and Toronto and has also assistant directed several productions with Young Peoples Theatre.  Nicole looks for projects to help us see the world in a new light, examining how to make spirituality theatrical, and in blurring the line between audience and performance using site specific and immersive theatre methods.  Theatrical interests include magical realism, science fiction, mythology, and spiritual transformation.  Select directing credits include The Hope Slide, Cloud Tectonics, Hamlet, Collected Stories, Foxfinder, Evidence to the Contrary, Yeats in Love, The Makeover Show, Impressionism, and The Taming of the Shrew.