Using highly visual, non-verbal theatre techniques the show’s story revolved around the spirit of community cooperation prevailing in the face of age-old and 21st century threats. The show opened with a choreographed flag display representing the Four Directions and the world in balance before the central character of a Home puppet was set upon by three stilt-walking Terrors – Disease, Climate Change and Greed, portrayed in carnivalesque costumes. Badly beaten, Home was attended by buffoons masquerading as Learned Doctors until the Hero of the People, a Carpenter who, utilizing the spirit of community, restored the heart of the Home, ending the show with a celebratory parade involving the community participants.
We were delighted to gather with the local communities in Fountainhead Park, Rustic Park, Dentonia Park and Parma Park this summer.
Huge thank you to our community partners, the Toronto Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Foundation for supporting this project!
Another pandemic summer upon us, and once again unable to undertake our usual Fire Parade festivities, we imagined another grand community art exhibit to celebrate the island community. Dozens of community members contributed works that celebrated and recognized people, pets and long-lost items. Camp children filled the washing line of single socks, and flowers for the Rose Wilson Memorial Garden to honour the oldest Islander, an accomplished gardener, who died on July 10, eight days short of 105.
Shadowland’s youth troupe featured in the finale performance to cap off a beautiful evening of solemnity and joy. Many thanks to Shadowland’s musical director Chris Wilson, who with Jim Bish, Bruce Mackinnon and Brad, created the First and Second-line funeral processional music for our “dead” Home puppet.
Along with the community contributions, some of our exhibits were digitally interactive! Below you can watch the videos that tell the stories of these lost things, places and people.
The Home-Oji Project
In the summer of 2020, when we were all house-bound, Shadowland Theatre called on Toronto Island residents to create a 2D or 3D personification of their home. The resulting 60+ pieces of art were displayed at an outdoor exhibit/celebration on Ward's Island, commemorating 40 years since Island residents fought against eviction at the Algonquin Bridge.
Watch the video below to see how it all panned out!
Corona Goes Viral - Mummer's Play 2020
Oh, woe were we, what were we to do?
The lockdown stopped us from doing our show.
That nasty pandemic had all the clout,
And we'd already got our costumes planned out.
We had to figure a new form of play,
To keep our audience from going away.
Well, puppets are often a solution, in lieu,
So, out came the cardboard, some rods and some glue.
We’re sorry our Mummers, were 2D this year,
But we wanted to bring you our unique brand of cheer!
This ancient tradition tells something new,
So, thank you for letting us entertain you!
Three digital puppet shows that evolved from the highly acclaimed outdoor show NORfolktales at Backus Heritage Village in 2017, premiered online on November 26, 2020.
Artists Brad Harley, Ian Bell and Sally Gable worked collaboratively (and remotely during Covid-19) to craft the songs and imagery illustrating three colourful tales:
Abigail: Angel of Long Point - based on the life of Abigail Becker and her heroic efforts saving the lives of sailors off the shores of Lake Erie.
The Big Bonfire - during the War of 1812 the marauding American military were thwarted by a clever Ruse de Guerre at the Backhouse Mill.
Dr. Troyer: Witchdoctor of Long Point - a multitalented Pennsylvanian that came to Norfolk County in 1789, one fateful night his fascination with witches took a dark turn.
Moving House, Finding Home
Home and adversity battle it out in a spectacular theatrical parade! Giant puppet, stilt walkers and music.
This socially-distant parade visited six communities in and around Neilson Park (Etobicoke), Rustic Park, Dentonia Park, Guild Park, Beverly Glen Park and Maidavale Park this August. Delighting audiences from afar, our band of merry marchers took these neighbourhoods on a journey of love and resilience in the face of adversity.