RESIDENT ARTISTS

Julie Tamiko-Manning with Home 
(click on Julie’s picture to read her bio)

This project is supported by
Canada Council for the Arts

 

She pointed upwards and cried that some were in heaven…then she said “and some won’t talk to me”.

She finished her coffee, we left the cafe, I lit her smoke and left her my umbrella. Her name was some kind of bird: Anna Sparrow…Jessica Partridge…I don’t remember. I’ve never seen her again and most likely won’t ever. And that bugs the shit out of me. That we briefly came into each other’s lives and then I went back to work and she went back into the rain.

So that’s my struggle: I want to reach out and touch people, change lives, dispel misunderstanding and fear, make the invisible visible, make things better…but what right do I have to go into a world I know nothing about and have no connection to? How can I dunk my lens into a community, get what I need from it then jump back out again when I want to, without being like a European explorer, claiming stories and lives for my own?

Artist Statement

“I am struggling with why I want to do this project…I thought I knew why, but now I find myself on shaky ground. My original thought was to create a show about women who find themselves without a physical home: homeless. I came from a privileged home and a close-knit family. These things gave me emotional, financial, physical and mental security. When I first came to the big, scary city from the safety of the country, I could not understand how there were people without homes. It haunted me that there were people in my new community that somehow, didn’t have those safety nets around them. How did that happen to certain people? Why did I have those things and they did not? I probably gave a fair percentage of my student budget to the men on the street because I didn’t know what else to do and how else to solve it. When I think back to that time I don’t ever remember seeing women on the street. I wonder why? Were there none? Were they more timid? More in the shadows? Did I just not want to see them? I didn’t think that they existed.

When I first saw a woman on the street, I didn’t know how to feel. In my experience, women were the holders of family, community, children and culture. Where were their families? Why were they not taking care of them? I never realized until just now that at the time I immediately went to blame. And pity.

Recently I bought this woman a coffee. First I helped her across the street in the pouring rain, then I bought her a coffee and a pack of smokes and a muffin and I awkwardly sat with her at the Café Depot, afraid that if I left her, they’d kick her back out into the rain.I asked her where she was from, where she lived, what her name was…the answers were none to incoherent. She looked like she could be my auntie. If my auntie was alone in a wheel chair, incoherent in the rain, with her infected foot wrapped in some gross bandages, dirty hair and smelly body.

I asked her if she had a family. Children. She started to cry and I thought, “fuck, Julie, asshole, you’ve just opened a can of worms you are gonna walk away from- you’re gonna be late for work”…

 

She pointed upwards and cried that some were in heaven…then she said “and some won’t talk to me”.

She finished her coffee, we left the cafe, I lit her smoke and left her my umbrella. Her name was some kind of bird: Anna Sparrow…Jessica Partridge…I don’t remember. I’ve never seen her again and most likely won’t ever. And that bugs the shit out of me. That we briefly came into each other’s lives and then I went back to work and she went back into the rain.

So that’s my struggle: I want to reach out and touch people, change lives, dispel misunderstanding and fear, make the invisible visible, make things better…but what right do I have to go into a world I know nothing about and have no connection to? How can I dunk my lens into a community, get what I need from it then jump back out again when I want to, without being like a European explorer, claiming stories and lives for my own?

Jennifer Roberts with The Sound of Dogs
(click on Jen’s picture to read her bio)

with  support from Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal and the NAC’s Collaborations program

 

I do feel I belong to the Deaf culture and community and have craved for a true representation of the Deaf, something rarely seen on stage or on screen. My parents have such interesting stories and things to say, and I have yearned, and this for a long time, for these to be heard by a larger public than myself. However, since few people learn ASL, I struggled with the way in which these stories could indeed be heard. Sadly, up until now, the stories have stayed within the Deaf community, within that circle. I want hearing people to learn about this culture. I want to do it for my family, and I want people to see how inspirational and strong and beautiful they are. And these stories are just from my own parents, so imagine how many stories come from the countless other Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing members in our society. I want hearing people to view the Deaf as complete humans with a wealth of life experience and knowledge. I want my hearing friends to see it and be inspired to learn ASL or think more highly of Deaf people they have met or will meet in the future. I don’t want Deaf people to be seen as pitied or “handicapped” anymore.

I also want to examine our response to difference. I want to explore the absurd decisions our society and politicians make in order to “normalize” anyone who is considered different. This includes an investigation into our educational system, the philosophy of our top politicians in the US and Canada in the last 50 years when it comes to the Deaf, and the history of ASL acceptance within our country. In short, I want to play with how strange it is, that we as a society, have such a hard time allowing people to be themselves, as they were born, and that we have such a need to assimilate the other.”

Artist Statement

“I am an actor who was raised in a Deaf family as well as within a Deaf community. My mother, father, aunt, and cousin are Deaf and I grew up in a small town that hosts one of Canada’s only schools for the Deaf, which subsequently meant there was a large local Deaf population. We have always used American Sign Language at home to communicate and my parents felt strongly about making their culture a central part of my upbringing. I therefore consider myself bi-cultural and it is an identity that I have always been proud of.

This upbringing also means that I witnessed a lot of harsh treatment toward my family and friends, such as stigma from the hearing community, assumptions that my family was lesser-educated or capable of being financially independent, or even able to raise children. People were often surprised at how “bright” my brother and I were and couldn’t understand how we ended up “that way.” I grew up very defensive of my family’s culture and have supported my parents in their fight to be seen as “normal” and autonomous people. Just a few weeks ago, two women saw me with my parents at a pub. As we left, the two women told my boyfriend: “What a sweet girl, taking care of her parents like that.” The assumption that these women made in me being a caretaker for my parents because of them being Deaf (or in their minds, handicapped) is not only ridiculous, but exhausting and all too repetitive.

Over the years I’ve been told many stories from my family about what it was like growing up Deaf. For years I have been toying with the idea of turning these absurd, imagery-filled, and impactful stories into a play. During my time at the BTW Artist Mentorship Program, I met with Julie Tamiko Manning, a theatre artist who was creating a play involving her Japanese background. We talked about the right to represent a community you are half a part of, and this conversation re-kindled my interest in putting my family’s stories on the stage.

 

I do feel I belong to the Deaf culture and community and have craved for a true representation of the Deaf, something rarely seen on stage or on screen. My parents have such interesting stories and things to say, and I have yearned, and this for a long time, for these to be heard by a larger public than myself. However, since few people learn ASL, I struggled with the way in which these stories could indeed be heard. Sadly, up until now, the stories have stayed within the Deaf community, within that circle. I want hearing people to learn about this culture. I want to do it for my family, and I want people to see how inspirational and strong and beautiful they are. And these stories are just from my own parents, so imagine how many stories come from the countless other Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing members in our society. I want hearing people to view the Deaf as complete humans with a wealth of life experience and knowledge. I want my hearing friends to see it and be inspired to learn ASL or think more highly of Deaf people they have met or will meet in the future. I don’t want Deaf people to be seen as pitied or “handicapped” anymore.

I also want to examine our response to difference. I want to explore the absurd decisions our society and politicians make in order to “normalize” anyone who is considered different. This includes an investigation into our educational system, the philosophy of our top politicians in the US and Canada in the last 50 years when it comes to the Deaf, and the history of ASL acceptance within our country. In short, I want to play with how strange it is, that we as a society, have such a hard time allowing people to be themselves, as they were born, and that we have such a need to assimilate the other.”

Marie Barlizo with The Warrior
(click on Marie’s picture to read her bio)

About The Warrior

The Warrior is inspired by the atrocities experienced by my family when the Japanese invaded the Philippines in World War II. On September 16, 1943, about twenty-five members of my great uncle’s family were hunted down by the Japanese army and systematically beheaded on the fields of Buntal in Barotac Viejo, my father’s birth town. They were targeted because they supported the local anti-Japanese guerrilla movement. There are many theories about who reported them and why. In The Warrior, I am exploring what people, in particular women, are willing to do to survive in the extreme circumstances of war and how and why they betray each other.

 

TWO GREEK ADAPTATIONS IN DEVELOPMENT NEXT YEAR 

Odd Stumble is Imago Theatre’s company in residence this year with Erin Lindsay’s adaptation of Aristophanes’ The Lysistrata Movement.

ABOUT ODD STUMBLE

Odd Stumble is a politically engaged theatre collective whose core artistic work is presently based out of Montréal. Odd Stumble produces new works and also initiates projects that respond to current events with improvisation and devised collaboration as creation methods. With a penchant for the odd, experimental and physical, the company works laterally with artists of various disciplines to explore diverse forms of narrative. Politically relevant stories, theatre design elements (set, lights, and sound), and unique performance spaces, are central to the company’s creation approach.

ABOUT THE LYSISTRATA MOVEMENT

The Lysistrata Movement is a contemporary adaptation of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata that centres around the lives of women living in an isolated matriarchal commune in Northern Canada who have decided to join a “movement” to refuse to bear children or have sex with men to protest against and end a war being waged against society and the environment. The play looks at gender and abuse of power, institutions and equality, survival and climate change, and intergenerational differences around hope for the future of the world. The piece will feature a soundscape devised with an opera singer who acts as The Oracle, a vicious and complex deity who informs Lysistrata and her disciples.

 

PRODUCTION WORKSHOP OF THIS RESTLESS HOUSE

Also in development this year with Imago Theatre is a production workshop of U.K. playwright Zinnie Harris’ This Restless House.

ABOUT THIS RESTLESS HOUSE

Aeschylus’ Oresteia opens with Agamemnon sacrificing his daughter to the gods; an act which sets in motion a bloody cycle of revenge and counter-revenge. When he in turn is killed at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra, their son Orestes takes up the mantle of avenging his father, continuing the bloodshed until peace is ultimately found in the rule of law.

Zinnie Harris reimagines this ancient drama, using a contemporary sensibility to rework the stories, placing the women in the centre. Orestes’ leading role is replaced by his sister Electra, who as a young child witnesses her father’s murder and is compelled to take justice into her own hands until she too must flee the Furies.