“Oh look, we can PARTICIPATE”, exclaimed a young mom to her partner and children as they arrived at the launch point of Clay and Paper’s annual “Night of Dread” event that began and ended at Dufferin Grove Park in Toronto. Volunteers helped the family outfit themselves with masks from the theatre’s assembled accessories available for sign out. Participation proved to be but one of the extraordinary components of this community arts event.
Halloween has always seemed to me a bit of a difficult holiday in modern times. Most of us no longer believe in ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night. We feel guilty as parents about scaring our kids with superstition. Besides, aren’t there enough horrors in the world? When we think “okay, let’s dress up in more fanciful, happy clothes” we run into another set of dilemmas.
“A fairy princess?”
“No, no, too sexist! Gender stereo-typing, that will never do!”
“A belly-dancer? An Indian brave?”
“No, no! Cultural appropriation! What will the neighbours think!”
And what about the whole thing of “trick or treating”? In a time when so many children are overweight, we know the dangers of high carbohydrate loads on the whole system, not to mention tooth decay, do we want our kids super sugar-loaded. We fear for their safety on dark streets at night. It’s just hard to celebrate the tradition anymore.
How do we update this late autumn holiday in a way that is meaningful to modern times without causing the wincing feeling that we are going against our core values or exposing our children to harms of various sorts? Clay and Paper Theatre has crafted an annual event that keeps the core components of Halloween, while avoiding all of the baggage. Their creativity has resulted in a new celebration in harmony with the season and our actual lives.
Halloween is a festival for a time when the days are becoming darker and primitive people might have worried that the sun was dying. It is a time of fears and shadows. Some of the oldest civilizations had traditions of building fires on hillsides to feed the sun and wearing disguises to fool malevolent spirits.
In our modern world there are shadows of fears that haunt all of us in our dark moments. Near the gardens in Dufferin Grove Park, Clay and Paper Theatre had set up a garden of fears. Economically (and humorously) using pizza boxes on sticks, they had emblazoned the boxes with modern fears: nuclear annihilation, global warming, bio-hazards, isolation, losing a home, bankruptcy, financial ruin, war… and so on. What a fantastic opportunity for family dialogue as people moved about the garden of fears and chose which fear to pluck from the garden and carry in the parade as representative of that individuals worst fear this year.
Masks were black and white papier mache creations that, to me, symbolized the dark and light in all of us, in the changing seasons and our world. Walking about among us as we selected our fears to carry and our black & white masks to wear (if we chose to wear a mask) were a collection of giant puppets representing some of our fears. I was struck in the gut by the representation of pollution. She was a giant blue puppet with a serenely beautiful appearing face and flowing blue silken fabric, horrendously littered with bits of plastic garbage bags and excretions of fast food containers, drink cups, plastic water bottles and straws. Some of the huge puppets were a bit more mysterious and we didn’t quite know what they were representing until the end of the event.
A bugle call and drum roll signaled the assembly of the march and about 1,000 people or more set out following as we paraded our fears through the streets of Toronto. It was interesting to watch the faces of the people who came out of houses and stores to watch the passing march. Some were delighted and seemed to know what to expect. Others were extremely puzzled, even a little worried. It was a long enough route that children were wanting to be carried by the end of the journey so families with young kids are advised that a stroller or wagon will likely be required at some point in the trek.
Back at the Dufferin Grove Park we walked along a path of shrines. This lacked any explanation but it seemed to me that they were shrines erected to things lost in the past, a loved pet, a farm. Made from the simplest of materials they were reminiscent of Day of the Dead shrines built on grave sites.
We walked towards a bonfire in the middle of a circle of people. Here the fears we had carried through the dark night streets were burnt in a warming sacrificial fire. The crowd cheered the burning of the fears. The giant puppets representing major fears like “Corruption & Greed” “Nuclear Annihilation” were introduced as they did their final macabre dance around the fire. With a fanfare of humorously discordant circus music, the “Fear of the Year” was introduced. In this year’s case that was “The fear of selfish leadership” represented here in Toronto appropriately by a giant gravy boat. The artistic reference was to our hapless Mayor Ford who promised to save billions from the city budget by cutting the “gravy” and then his hired consultants couldn’t find any such gravy. His attempts to instead define libraries and culture as gravy have met strong citizen opposition. The gravy boat was taken on a last lurching voyage. The responsive creativity of the team at Clay and Paper Theatre added a last minute touch drawn from the latest headlines as a Margaret Delahunty lookalike pursued the gravy boat on it’s final voyage to the fire. A great cheer rose up from the crowd as the final great fear went up in a tower of flame.
Death dancers waltzed around the bonfire as our fears burned. Only the fear of death which can never totally leave us remained alive. The figures of death beckoned to the crowd to come and dance with death. The message to my understanding was that only when we learn to dance with death are we truly alive. The circle of dark and light, yin and yang came into focus in this conclusion, sombre, meditative and graceful. Then exploded into light with fire twirlers and jugglers harking back to a primitive time where warmth and light drove away the terrors of winter and darkness.
What a wonderful achievement and gift to the people of Toronto. My one and only suggestion to the creative team is that they lost people at the conclusion due to the length of the march. It was a very cold night, so that was also a factor. Some great entertainment was available at the end and I would have liked to stay and dance but like many others I was freezing and very tired so we packed up at the conclusion of the fire twirlers.
Night of Dread
Dufferin Grove Park
Saturday, October 29, 2011
7:15PM – Fire Circle
Learn the fire circle chant:
“We laugh at fear, And we laugh at death, And we’ll laugh at you, ‘Til our very last breath, Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
8:30PM: Celebration with Lemon Bucket Orkestra
Dress Code: Black & White & Dreadful
Pay-What-You-Can/ $10 Suggested Donation
Councillor McConnell’s message (in response to an email I sent her earlier) is clear and takes a stand against library cuts AND the whole direction of Mayor Ford. She does not believe that we should be “participating in a race to the bottom.“!
Way to go, Pam! You have my vote!
Thank you for your message on the library system and your concerns about its future because of the recent reports by KPMG.
The consultants’ reports have clearly demonstrated that the vast majority of City services are either essential or mandatory, and that there is very little waste that can be trimmed to balance the budget. As a result, KPMG only had a few non-legislated services and functions to be considered as frills. It is entirely unacceptable that our library system be considered as non-essential and an option for service cuts.
I am extremely critical of the options presented by the consultants, and I do not believe that we should be participating in a race to the bottom. Our library system is of vital importance to our community, whether it is the student doing school work, the new Canadian accessing learning tools and a social circle, or the family enjoying reading and learning. The success of our library system is testament to its importance in our community.
I consistently hear from residents that they want our city to maintain and improve our services. I heard this throughout the recent municipal election, at the meetings I have hosted and attended in the community, and in the calls and e-mails my office has received. I remain committed to defending the services and programs that make our city and our neighbourhoods desirable places to live, work, and play – from our libraries to the Riverdale Farm, our child care system to our long-term care homes, from our affordable housing program to our parks and recreation facilities.
Thank you, once again, for your message and your support for the libraries and city services. I hope that you will talk to your friends and neighbours about the city you want to live in and encourage them to make their voices heard.
Calling all artists who love the birds and bees!
The Pollinators Festival is coming to Evergreen Brick Works on Saturday June 25th, 2011. The Festival is in honor of International Pollinator Week and seeks to raise awareness and appreciation for the birds, bees, flies and butterflies that pollinate our fruits, veggies and flowers.
We want to integrate the arts into the festival and will do so by hosting a community art exhibit. We are looking for any pollinator-inspired artwork (poetry, paintings, photographs, etc) to share with the public. If you have any existing work of anything pollinator related, send it to us. If you don’t have anything yet, go outside and make something! Please email a jpeg of your work to Madeleine.email@example.com by June 15th, 2011. We will print a copy of your masterpiece and hang it up at Evergreen Brick Works during the Festival. With your permission, we will sell the work and donate all of the proceeds to Pollination Canada.
Help us spread the word and pass this on to your artist friends. The exhibit is open to all!
Here are the details about the festival (see attached flier for more):
Saturday June 25, 2011
9 am-2 pm
Evergreen Brick Works (map)
Join us on Facebook here.
It’s More Than Just a Theatre Festival:
Toronto Fringe Launches Creation Lab!
TORONTO – On May 5 Toronto Fringe Executive Director Gideon Arthurs announced an exciting new development to Toronto’s theatre scene – The Fringe Creation Lab at the Centre for Social Innovation Annex. The Fringe Creation Lab features over 3,000 square feet of creation space and a quickly growing list of resources that will accommodate rehearsals, workshops, readings, seminars and intimate special events for Toronto’s theatre & dance community. The Fringe Creation Lab stems from the Fringe Festival’s founding values of access to creative opportunity.
Arthurs explains, “The Toronto Fringe has been a launching pad for Canada’s most successful theatrical ventures, but too often independent ‘Fringe’ artists aren’t given access to resources they need to have their creative endeavours succeed”. The Fringe Creation Lab was born out of roundtable conversations that identified problems facing the independent theatre community. While much of the community’s immediate response was a lack of funding, the Fringe identified common needs and is offering the Fringe Creation Lab as a pooled resource for stage artists in the GTA.
Arthurs continues, “The Fringe Creation Lab will be a home base for independent artists, thinkers and arts enthusiasts to foster their creative spirit and entrepreneurship. By creating a hub for this diverse community, we can elevate our craft, share resources, and reach new heights together”. The Fringe Creation Lab is an extension of the Fringe Festival’s founding values of access to opportunity and is available to artists at pro-bono and subsidized rates on a first-come, first-serve basis. Registration to book space will be announced in the fall.
CSI Executive Director Tonya Surman says, “We are absolutely thrilled having the Toronto Fringe as an anchor tenant at CSI Annex. The Toronto Fringe – and the Creation Lab – are precisely what the Centre for Social Innovation is all about: creativity, opportunity, and community driven solutions that strengthen our future”. The Centre for Social Innovation is a social enterprise with a mission to catalyze social innovation in Toronto and around the world. Operating two sites in downtown Toronto CSI provides a home to over 300 social change organizations. The Fringe Creation Lab will be CSI’s largest space dedicated to one tenant, however it will be shared by hundreds of theatre artists each year. CSI creates community workspaces, incubates emerging enterprises, and develops new models and methods with world-changing potential.
The Fringe Creation Lab marks Toronto Fringe’s last step in its year-round transformation (at least until the next surprise from the home of the unexpected). In 2008 Toronto Fringe began this transformation when it launched The Next Stage Theatre Festival, a second festival in the wintertime. An impressive roster of outreach programs benefiting artists and youth have launched as well, including distributing up to $10,000 to Fringe artists remounting their shows through the Fringe Evolution Fund and handing out 1,000 passes each summer for priority youth to attend the Fringe Festival free of charge.
But wait, there’s more!
‘Da Kink In My Hair is one of the biggest success stories to start at the Toronto Fringe. The show was picked up by David Mirvish and went on to tour the world and later be developed into a show for Global Television. Trey Anthony, the show’s creator, joined today’s celebration announcing the launch of a new award to recognize and promote culturally diverse Fringe artists. To whom much is given…. ‘da Kink award will give $500 to two shows at this year’s festival that are written by a person of colour or a cast featuring people of colour.
Today’s announcement also marked the launch of a new partnership for the Toronto Fringe with Toronto’s NOW Magazine – Canada’s leading alternative news and entertainment weekly since its inaugural issue in 1981. Alice Klein, NOW’s Editor and CEO, says “We are so delighted to be working with the Toronto Fringe as it settles into a new home and takes its last step in a transformation from annual event to a truly year-round arts organization. Looking forward to this summer’s Toronto Fringe Festival, NOW’s passionate theatre-adoring readers and the Fringe’s surprise-filled excitement are as natural a combo as “love” and “first sight”. This year’s Fringe Festival will run July 6 – 17.
Individuals looking to donate to the Fringe Creation Lab can visit
Creation Lab Media Contact:
Toronto Fringe Festival Media Contact:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday April 11, 2011
Celebrating the Life of Cayle Chernin Toronto, ON…
Join us for an evening of memories and entertainment honouring the life and work of celebrated Canadian actress, Cayle Cherin. In support of the newly founded Cayle Chernin Memorial Fund and hosted by David Gale and Deb Filler, this celebration will play for one night only, Monday, April 25 at 8:00 p.m. at the Bloor Street Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W. The evening will include musical performances, spoken word and dance, with performances by Tabby Johnson, Rosie Shuster, Steve Shuster, Spirit Synott, Jillian Rees Brown & Women of the Rock, Susan Gross, Kirsten Bishopric, Theresa Tova, Vladimir Jon Cubrt & Aidan Devine, Jayne Eastwood, Stanley Endersby, Keith McKie, Michael Fonfara, Johnny Wright, Robbie Rox and others (performers are subject to change).
Personal and professional anecdotes, photos and film clips will shared by Cayle’s closest friends and family and her loving husband, actor Dwight McFee.An online auction has been launched in support of the Cayle Chernin Memorial Fund and includes great gifts, exciting nights out, one-of-a-kind art and more. There will be plenty to bid on including autographed film and television memorabilia, singing lessons and photographic services; theatre tickets to Soulpepper, Tarragon, Factory Theatre and passes to Hot Docs, the Female Eye Film Festival and the Bloor Cinema. Don’t miss out on great items including clothing, jewellery, art and home decor from Dreamboat Lucy, 72 Jem Street, Theodore 1922, Tulips and Sunflower, McKenna Photography and Gift Certificates for Pineapple Kensington, Bungalow, Crema, Crush Wine Bar, The Lakeview Lunch and much, much more. The auction will run from April 12th to April 26th only. To sign up and bid on great items, visit http://vonality.com/caylecherninmemorial/.
A special thanks to Vonality for hosting the auction.
The Cayle Chernin Memorial Fund was created to commemorate the nurturing spirit of actress Cayle Chernin. The fund will award an annual cash prize to an emerging female artist in the performing arts, alternating yearly between theatre and film/digital media performers. The fund will and is administered by the Creative Arts Savings and Credit Union.
Cayle Chernin, actor, documentary filmmaker, teacher, mentor, and star of Don Shebib’s classic Canadian film Goin’ Down the Road and its recently completed sequel Down the Road Again, passed away on February 18th. Cayle was known for her talent, generosity, imagination, intellect and incredible smile. She was also valued for her commitment to women’s issues. Her career spanned more than four decades in film, on stage and developing new works and encouraging up and coming artists.
This is a Free Event, with donations being accepted for The Cayle Chernin Memorial Fund. Special thanks to Equity Showcase Theatre, The Creative Arts, Bloor Cinema and Paupers Pub, for their support of this event.
Media Contact: Zoe Carter, Producer Cleopatra’s Needle Productions 416-346-0467 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Making Paper Movie – A workshop with Ron G. Davis, founder of the San Francisco Mime Troupe www.sfmt.org Friday, April 15, 2011 11:00 – 1:00 Palmerston Ave & Bloor St. Picture storytelling is a practice and tradition that finds roots in China and other Asian nations going back over hundreds and hundreds of years. Our contemporary cinema finds surprising picture storytelling precursors in medieval German bankelsang (literally singing banners), Italian cantastoria (sung stories), and even 12th Century Japanese Buddhist kamishibai (literally “paper scrolls”). Ron G. Davis, found of the San Francisco Mime Troupe has practiced numerous forms of popular theatre including the production of “paper movies” – moving scrolls of paper in which stories are illustrated and brought to life with witty and pointed scripts. In this workshop Ron will share some of his experience and he will lead some thinking, research, writing and production of a paper movie (likely to focus on the global production, marketing, distribution and consumption of the tomato; bring with you everything you know about tomatos). Registration is Pay What You Can & you can get some guidance about Catalyst Centre’s fee policy here: http://www.catalystcentre.ca/a-school-of-activism/fees-policy and to register, please RSVP by e-mail to email@example.com and to get the workshop location address We invite you to participate in a potluck lunch after the workshop
Kim Jackson, Community Arts Practice associate and Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate student at York University, is coordinating a community exhibition, Capitalism and Culture, in the Junction, opening this Thursday, Feb. 3, 7 – 10 PM, at 3109 Dundas Street West at Clandenan.
See poster below for details.
Silverthorn Symphonic Winds (SSW), under the direction of Andrew Chung, presents “Odyssey — a Wind Ensemble Concert” featuring 2010/2011 Artist in Residence Peter Stoll, who will perform as soloist on clarinet and saxophone. Join us for a musical journey from the banks of Newfoundland to the streets of Harlem, from the rhythms of the Middle East to the melodies of Russia, from Celtic simplicity to Parisian sophistication. Featured soloist Peter Stoll will perform Rossini’s “Introduction, Theme and Variations for Clarinet and Band,” Hagen’s “Harlem Nocturne” for saxophone and band, and Morrissey’s “Interlude for Clarinet and Band.” Compositions by Copland, Hazo, Cable, Reed, and Ellerby will complete the programme.
The concert takes place on Sunday, December 5 at 2:00 p.m. at the Richmond Hill Centre for Performing Arts, 10268 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill, ON. Ticket prices are $25 for adults and $20 for students/seniors, and can be purchased online at www.rhcentre.ca or by phone at 905.787.8811.
The SSW Artist in Residence Program, established this year, offers an opportunity for ensemble members and the general public to benefit from the expertise of an established, professional musician. The 2010/2011 Artist in Residence, Peter Stoll, will be the featured soloist and host at the two Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts concerts, and will offer a free public masterclass (date to be announced) for adult and high school aged clarinetists. Throughout the season, he will attend six SSW rehearsals to provide coaching for woodwinds and to offer general feedback to the ensemble as a whole. In addition to enhancing the skills and musicality of ensemble members, Peter’s solo performances and engaging manner will be a delight for audiences.
Known for his virtuoso energy on stage, Peter Stoll was a prizewinner in the International Clarinet Society Competition, Solo Clarinetist with the World Orchestra of Jeunesses Musicales in Berlin and Vienna, and has been a guest clarinet soloist with orchestras in Canada, the U.S., and Russia. He has performed as a saxophone soloist with the Toronto Philharmonia, the Orillia Wind Ensemble, and with choirs in the Toronto and Ottawa area. A frequent performer of new music, Peter has traveled to Germany, New York City, Finland, and Lithuania with the ERGO ensemble. He is a core member of the Talisker Players, Principal Clarinetist of the Toronto Philharmonia, and a member of the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. More information can be found on his website at: www.peterstoll.ca.
Founded in September 2006, Silverthorn Symphonic Winds brings classical and contemporary repertoire for wind ensemble to audiences in Toronto and York Region. The all-volunteer ensemble is characterized by exceptional dedication and a commitment to the highest possible level of performance. The musicians, who are all chosen by audition, range from highly accomplished amateurs to semi-professional musicians. Silverthorn Symphonic Winds is supported by a generous grant from The Ontario Trillium Foundation. For more information, visit: www.silverthornsymphonicwinds.ca.