Sky Gilbert, the playwright, novelist and drag queen who founded Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto, is creating a new theatre project in Hamilton, Ont.

His new Hammertheatre will present its first play, Crack, a work written and directed by Gilbert, in late February.

Gilbert, a colourful actor and writer who ran Buddies in Bad Times for 18 years, says he has founded Hammertheatre to focus on works that deal with issues of gender and sexuality in experimental ways, especially his own works.

He plans to produce at least one play annually at Hammertheatre.

"I moved to Hamilton three years ago, and have found myself gradually becoming a part of the arts community," he said in an e-mail.

"I teach at Guelph and have been given time and money to do theatrical research. The two came together when an arts patron in Hamilton donated a space for performance, saying 'do anything you like here.'"

Crack is billed as an "edgy" comedy about a man sitting in a Hamilton bar who has encounters with three different women that illuminate issues of class, sexism and homophobia. In each encounter, the play looks at a different definition of "crack."

The cast are Jason Cadieux, who recently had a role on Train 48, and Stephanie Jones, artistic director of the Essential Theatre Collective.

The workshop presentation is scheduled for Feb. 24 in aspace just above "The Factory" in downtown Hamilton.

Once the Forester's Hall, it was built in 1884and used as jazz and performance space in the early 20th century.

Gilbert has written more than 20 plays, including More Divine and Drag Queens in Outer Space, and is now a drama professor at the University of Guelph. He continues to direct and remains connected with Buddies since stepping down as artistic director.

His controversial plays deal with sexual deviance, class conflict and artistic excess.