How a radical form of accessibility is pushing the boundaries of theatre performance

Dr. Carla Rice and Kayla Besse’s latest on Relaxed Performance in The Conversation Canada. Read it in full here.

Image description: a photo of Erin Ball performing at Cripping the Arts. Over the photo in white text, it says “Radical accessibility pushes boundaries of theatre
Carla Rice, University of Guelph and Kayla Besse, University of Guelph

Have you ever been nervous about going to the theatre?
Maybe you’re unfamiliar with theatre etiquette, maybe you have children or maybe you find it hard to stay still for hours feeling trapped in your seat. In Shakespeare’s day, theatregoers drank, ate and socialized their way through performance. ...  Continue reading

Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario

Thin white text on a black background reads: Coming September 14, 2019 to March 1, 2020 Bodies in Translation and the Guelph Civic Museum present: Into the Light: Eugenics and Education in Southern Ontario Guelph Civic Museum 52 Norfolk St, Guelph. Curated by: Mona Stonefish, Peter Park, Dolleen Tisawii'ashii Manning, Evadne Kelly, Seika Boye and Sky Stonefish

We invite you and your students to =&0=&=&1=&The exhibition will be featured at the =&2=& from =&3=& and will offer =&4=& to professors and courses addressing themes of diversity, inclusion, decolonization and reconciliation. You can book these in advance (details below) with the exhibition’s lead researcher Dr. Evadne Kelly, Post-doctoral Fellow at Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice, University of Guelph, co-creator and co-curator of Into the Light, and Dawn Owen, Curator of Guelph Museums.

Museum Hours of operation are Tuesday – Sunday 10AM-5PM and Fourth Fridays of each month until 9PM. Admission is $6.00/person, and free on Fourth Fridays from 5PM-9PM.

Exhibition Overview

Into the Light examines local histories and ongoing legacies of racial “betterment” thinking in Southern Ontario that de-humanized and disappeared those who did not fit the normative middle-class lives of white, able-bodied settlers.

In the early to mid 20th century, eugenics (race improvement through heredity) was taught in a number of universities throughout Southern Ontario, including Macdonald Institute and the Ontario Agricultural College, two of the three founding colleges that formed the University of Guelph. Educational institutions played a significant role in the eugenics movement by perpetuating destructive ideas that targeted Indigenous, Black, and other racialized populations, poor, and disabled people for segregation in institutions, cultural assimilation and sterilization.

While eugenics sought to eradicate those deemed as “unfit,” this exhibition centres the voices of members of affected communities who continue to work to prevent institutional brutality, oppose colonialism, reject ableism, and foster social justice.

Into the Light is co-curated by Mona Stonefish, Peter Park, Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning, Evadne Kelly, Seika Boye and Sky Stonefish. This exhibition of artistic, sensory, and material expressions of memory aims to bring one of Guelph’s dark secrets, as well as stories of survival, out of the shadows and into the light.

=&5=&=&6=&=&7=&

Evadne Kelly: Dancing Spirit, Love, and War

We’re so excited to announce the publication of Evadne Kelly’s Dancing Spirit, Love, and War: Performing the Translocal Realities of Contemporary Fiji! Evadne is one of our brilliant postdoctoral researchers.

The cover of Evadne's book, in black and golden yellow. 4 dancers in grass skirts and making fists are at the top, above the title and author in yellow block print.
The cover of Evadne’s book, in black and golden yellow. 4 dancers in grass skirts and making fists are at the top, above the title and author in yellow block print.

This text explores meke, a traditional rhythmic dance accompanied by singing, signifies an important piece of identity for Fijians. Despite its complicated history of colonialism, racism, censorship, and religious conflict, meke remained a vital part of artistic expression and culture. Evadne Kelly performs close readings of the dance in relation to an evolving landscape, following the postcolonial reclamation that provided dancers with political agency and a strong sense of community that connected and fractured Fijians worldwide.

Through extensive archival and ethnographic fieldwork in both Fiji and Canada, Kelly offers key insights into an underrepresented dance form, region, and culture. Her perceptive analysis of meke will be of interest in dance studies, postcolonial and Indigenous studies, anthropology and performance ethnography, and Pacific Island studies.

Available for purchase now wherever you buy your books, and you can also read an excerpt on Google Books.

Brand Ambassadors Wanted: Menstrual Accessory

Do you menstruate, and are you interested in representing your menstruation experiences in creative ways?

A photo of Vanessa wearing all white, with one hand on her hip. She has hot pink Menstrual Accessory between her legs, and hot pink shoes. She's standing on a metro platform, with the tracks behind her.
A photo of Vanessa wearing all white, with one hand on her hip. She has hot pink Menstrual Accessory between her legs, and hot pink shoes. She’s standing on a metro platform, with the tracks behind her.

The Menstrual Accessory Menstruation Sponsorship and Ambassador program is exclusive membership to the ultimate elite menstruators and social influencers. Those who are leaders in their community and are passionately engaged in promoting menstruation. ...  Continue reading

Exploring Accessibility in the Canadian Theatre Landscape

Cover image of report with woman performing on a wheelchair

We’re so excited that the Relaxed Performance report we wrote in collaboration with British Council Canada is now out in the world!

Relaxed Performance (RP) is an accessibility practice which “invites bodies to be bodies” in theatre spaces, including in their movement and vocalizations. RP also involves technical modifications, which were introduced in RP training sessions across Canada over the past several years.

The report was written by Andrea LaMarre, Carla Rice, and Kayla Besse.

Click here for the report.

Image description: the cover image of the “Relaxed Performance: Exploring Accessibility in the Canadian Theatre Landscape” report. The background is black, and the text is white. The British Council and BIT logos are at the top. The photo is of Erin Ball, a performer with prosthetic legs, balancing on her hands on top of a wheelchair. She has tattoos on her arms, and is wearing a black body suit and looking directly at the camera.

Jeff Thomas on Disability Visibility Project

Alice Wong’s podcast episode #51 features an interview with Jeff Thomas, urban Iroquois photographer, artist, researcher, public speaker, curator and BIT collaborator. Jeff talks about racism, indigeneity, colonialism and how his photography re-contextualizes historical images of First Nations people.

To listen to podcast go to Disability Visibility Project.

Reframing Difference

Image of quote: I'm interested in disability justice because it's important to live in a society where you don't have to hide your disability.

Produced in support of the 2019 Hart House Hancock Lecture by Sarah Jama, Moving Toward a Disability Justice Revolution, the purpose of this podcast is to amplify the voices of people with disabilities and to emphasize actions U of T can take to make the university more inclusive. Kate Welsh, MEd, disability activist and artists, interviews students and has frank, open conversations.

This exhibition highlights the voices of U of T students living with disabilities. Produced in support of the 2019 Hart House Hancock Lecture by Sarah Jama, Moving Toward a Disability Justice Revolution, the purpose of the exhibition and podcast is to bring awareness to the lived experiences of people with disabilities, and to build compassion and understanding for members of our community.

Presented by the Hancock Student Advisory Committee. Our heartfelt gratitude to the student contributors for their generosity in sharing their stories.

Listen to Reframing Difference podcast

Defying Barriers

Poster for Defying Barriers

Community members, researchers and students are invited to join the McMaster Faculty of Humanities and the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging on May 15th from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. for Defying Barriers, a workshop examining how aging and disability impact engagement with the arts, and how we can enable participation and expression through a variety of artistic media.

The workshop will feature an accessibility audit and tour of community studio space Centre[3], presentations from invited artists, Dave Bobier and Rebecca Baird, and round-table discussions to explore topics and future research directions.

You are invited to join this dynamic, free workshop!
Register here by May 10.

Please feel free to share this invitation with any interested colleagues, students and community members.

For further information, click here.

Additionally, please do follow us on Twitter: @DefyingW (https://twitter.com/DefyingW?lang=en), and Instagram: defying_barriers (https://www.instagram.com/defying_barriers) for regular updates on the workshop.

Please direct inquiries to Netri Pajankar (defyingbarriersworkshop@gmail.com)

Finding Language: A Word Scavenger Hunt by Vanessa Dion Fletcher

Image of text on page with highlighted words.

In this interactive tour, artist Vanessa Dion Fletcher will engage participants through response cards that have been meticulously embroidered with quills. The program will encourage reflection on the political, social and emotional meaning of language.

Saturday, March 23, 1-2pm
Textile Museum of Canada
55 Centre Avenue, Toronto, ON
PRICING: General $20; Members $15*; Students $10

Vanessa Dion Fletcher is an artist of Potawatomi and Lenape ancestry, living and working in Toronto. Her practice is aligned with the intersections of contemporary performance and community engagement as they exist beside the powerful and longstanding material cultures of quillwork and beadwork—actively engaging with identity, social exchange, political critique, and hands-on learning.

In 2017, she asked artist and teacher Brenda Lee of Nipissing First Nation to teach her the process of working with porcupine quills, from harvesting the quills from the deceased animal to cleaning, dyeing, and stitching them onto a finished object. The two artists continue to share their knowledge of their relationships to materials, the land, traditional cultures, and the female body in relation to the natural world.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Vanessa Dion Fletcher