"We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” Howard Zinn
"This river I step in, is not the river I stand in." Queen St. Viaduct over the Don River
a place for transformation
We live in a time that has seen unprecedented technological, political and environmental change. As citizens and artists, it is easy to feel alienated or overwhelmed as we attempt to process the often seismic shifts which are occurring. The word change itself has become a kind of buzzword, and rendered somewhat meaningless by whatever politician or ad company wants to offer the illusion of improving on the past. And yet, it remains an important word to us because we perceive a changing world and we genuinely long to make changes ourselves.
For us, this project represents an exciting fusion of form and content. It speaks to the prevailing winds of change in a way that is honest, engaging and personal. With Change Room we want to create a space that is participatory and democratic, that allows truths to be told artistically, as a form of resistance, dissent, or simply self-expression. With this project, we are embracing the grass roots power of a simple exchange between performer and audience. We want this to be a project that challenges us to question, and perhaps change, the way we see, feel, think, and make choices. And we want participants to reconsider the role of theatre in their lives and communities.
Our initial call to artists for our Fringe AlleyPlays version of Change Room was as follows:
Each piece should be between 5 -10 minutes. Each piece in some way needs to include the phsycial act of changing something you are wearing—which should be incorporated artistically into the piece. It could be a hat, or a ring, a shirt, a shoe, there are many possibilities that could relate to your piece. In the Change Room there will be a mirror and a hook for you to place your item on, if needed.
From spoken word and storytelling, to movement pieces and musical works, comedy and cabaret, twenty-five performers explored an amazing array of theatrical styles to tackle subjects such as gender, racism, mental health, mid-life crisis, identity, the environment, and more in ways that were alternately hilarious, harrowing, or uplifting. Change Room was presented eight times during the Fringe, with six different artists performing each night. All performances were free and audience members could watch one, or all six or anything in between. Along with the performances, on many evenings random passersby were invited into the Change Room to take part in a group discussion on a question related to change.
Bolstered by the enthusiastic response from performers and audience alike, we began to envision how we might adapt a new version of Change Room for other places in the city, making this singular theatrical experience accessible to wider audiences. As before, we will be looking to engage a diverse range of artists, presenting pieces that are both personal and political, addressing both local and universal themes and issues. Artists would be given similar parameters to the first time round, though we would be offering more rehearsals in the space as well as feedback to the performers, and artistic direction for the event.
Change Room as it continues will offer audiences a fantastic range of performances and discussions, but this time in community settings, expanding the reach of theatre in an exciting way!