May we present to you our amazing artistic collaborators for:
The Tale of a Town - Huntsville!
Artistic Director of Suitcase In Point
(sister company to FIXT POINT!)
Artistic Producer of Suitcase in Point
The show was a true success!!! See for yourself….....
And how did it all happen? With a little help from our friends, of course…
Tina Turley, the Janis Joplin of the north played guitar in our show to help us bring back the bar era of the Empire Hotel! Doug Banwell, David Kaye’s best friend sounded a sweet saxophone in silhouette. Our newest friends Zsiporah and Michael Moon, who we met on the day they moved to Hunstville last week, graced the audience with Harp and song in the prologue. Our colleague Tony Mara who was cottaging in the area stepped in to play my hilarious husband. Jay Cheel, Kevin McMahon and Kristina McLaughlin of Primitive Entertainment were there to capture us on film. The Christmas Tyme store lent us lights. The Great Vine lent us lamps. The Rotary Club dug out bathtubs from storage and even lent us the coveted Rotary wheel and bell. The Huntsville Festival for the Arts found us chairs and ladders every other little thing we needed. The EXTRAORDINARY Dan Watson, Artistic Director of Edge of the Woods Theatre, put together a MAGICAL Nuit Blanche North for us to take part in. And last but not least, the people of Huntsville inspired us with their tales. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU EVERYONE! Another exciting memory was made, about how we brought stories to life on that bright night in Huntsville in July…
The Tale of a Town – Hunstville was produced by FIXT POINT, and created by Lisa Marie DiLiberto and Charles Ketchabaw in collaboration with theatre artists Rob Feetham, Deanna Jones, Adam Paolozza and Annie Wilson.
This exciting site-specific theatre and media project was made possible through generous support from The Ontario Arts Council, The Huntsville Festival of the Arts, Chapman’s Ice Cream, The Walrus Magazine and The Hive Strategic Marketing.
Listen Here for our radio show we crafted with some of these stories:
A Walk Down Main Street – Huntsville Edition
And stay tuned, the tale continues… Next stop – LONDON TOWN!
It’s difficult to say how it all happened. But it did! From all of the interviews, together we selected stories, and sound bytes and scenarios and created four tales to tell at Nuit Blanche North. We crafted and cringed and created and collected and carried each other through. We set up lights and sound, put up projections and pictures, we sang and we danced, we laughed and we cried (but mostly laughed), and all we could hope for, was that on Saturday July 14, the people of Huntsville would be proud of what we made from what they gave… We were so busy making our show, we didn't take too many pics, but here's a fun glimpse of our pre-show set up. Check us out lighting up the night before unit blanche north!
We started the day with a fascinating interview with Martha Watson and her friend Kate. Martha told us the tale of the clock tower that once was part of Union Station in Toronto and came to Huntsville via her father’s crafty ways! Now, there’s a show piece if I ever heard one! And Kate, a very good friend of Dave Kaye, told us more about the tragic plight of this local town hero.
Another Kate, a documentary filmmaker based in Toronto but originally from Huntsville, arrived later that day to stay with us for the week and document our process. The awesome Kate Hemming, back home to work with us! Kate dug right in as Charles and I got prepped for the week of intense creation ahead. Paper went up on walls, notebooks were bought, interview clips divided, and schedules firmed up. We stayed late, wanting everything to be ready for our artists arrival in the storefront so they could get right down to business, or should I say, get right up to play…
We found the trophy!
Rich at Algonquin Outfitters told us the history of the legendary business that reaches us into the wilderness. Rich warmed us with his thermal sleeping bag smile and we were so happy to be on a trip with him into memory lane on the corner of Main Street in Huntsville.
Then we marched off to Hugh McKenzie’s house – former mayor of Huntsville, radio station owner, board director and all time jolly man. It was a thrill hearing his side of all the stories, getting a picture of Main Street when Eaton’s and Wardell’s was still at number 77.
more ice cream. more stories. more fun ahead – tomorrow the other four artists arrive!!!!
8:15AM call in segment for CBC’s sweet ONTARIO MORNING! Featured this week, Gus the SIGN GUY and Rudi the ROCK MAN, or so we call these two fantastic artists. Both of these guys have made the main street of Huntsville more beautiful.
Then Charles went to Toronto to pick up the equipment we will need next week for the show – speakers, headphones, projectors, piles of cables, a few lights and some select items from my costume trunk.
And I stayed in the went off to be on a show with Suzzanne Riverin on the awesome Hunter’s Bay, then interviewed the one and only show stopping Bill Sibeon who has not only owned Al’s Taxi in town for over 30 years, but is also celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary tomorrow! Oh Bill’s voice! I only heard his speaking one, but I can only imagine how he sounded in all the Rotarian musicals he starred in! Anyone have any of these on tape?!
When Charles got back, we unloaded the jeep and had a beer. Pub on the Docs. “There’s always time for a quick one!”
Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known.. smashing pumpkins. But really, being positive is the way to go. (just wanted to put in that tidbit… our new 90’s mantra) This day we had a spot on the ubercool Hunter’s Bay Radio show with James Caroll! Jeff Carter! Inspiring and incredible - what they have going there….
Check them out HERE!!!
Next we worked spoke to a few more store owners. First, Wooden Penny at her rustically elegant store...
Then Bob at Christmas Tyme who is jingling bells all year round...
And finally Manny and his Ma and Pa who brought real Italian cooking to Main street in Huntsville.
“$1000 for an ice cream, or a story about Main Street.”
Today we heard about when Main Street became a ski track!
WHAT DID WE GET WRONG SO FAR?!?
WE NEED YOUR MEMORY!
SEND YOUR STORIES IN!!
BY PHONE: 1-855-CAN-TALE
OR GO TO OUR TELL US YOUR TALE PAGE HERE
At 9am we met up with the incredible Helena – President of the Huntsville Festival of the Arts / General Manager of the Huntsville Business Improvement Association / Set Designer for The Tale of a Town – Huntsville (she doesn’t know that part yet… we are just letting it happen bit by bit… ). Helena traced the letters onto the window, I filled them in, and Charles time lapsed the whole thing. Check out this link to see how fast it all happened….
Later that morning Chris from What’s Up! Muskoka met up with us for an interview and we let him in on some top secret show plans for Nuit Blanche North. Then we took a walk with Gus from Hilltop Signs and were amazed by his craftsmanship and all he knew about all the businesses on Main Street whose signs he had created – and there were many… Actually, Gus calls the Main Street of Huntsville his showroom!
Here’s a pic of him in front of the very first sign he made on Main Street, years ago… Next, I went to take in some music at the Trinity Church played by our next interviewee Doug Banwell whose band was performing as part of the music at noon series. I was pleased to take a moment of down time in this acoustically astonishing atmosphere. When we interviewed Doug, we found out just how close of a friend he was to the late David Kaye – the final owner of the infamous Empire Hotel.
Apparently Joni Mitchell wrote this song about the place:
Then our storymobile battery died. A few hours later, it was fixed because of a super nice man from an autoshop who drove here from Bracebridge and fixed it. He wouldn’t take a penny. Not even an ice cream!
And so – we leave you today with that.
A breakfast meeting on our way back from Alquonquin Park to plan the days ahead. On the agenda: look up and phone all those people who we were told we just HAVE TO interview…. refine our interview questions based on our the story leads we’ve gathered so far…. pick up some ice cream to fill our freezer…. and pack up our gear and supplies to MOVE INTO OUR POP UP STOREFRONT!!! at 54 Main Street East, right in the heart of downtown Hunstville. Here is the “before” picture of this awesome space with a great vibe. We say this, while our heart goes out to all of the businesses who have been there before, and all of those yet to come. Our stay here will be short and… super duper awesome.
And here it all begins to come together… as the stories find their place in space and time. Brown paper will soon line every wall. And we will throw ideas against it… some will fall, and some will stick. And all along the voices of all the people we have interviewed will resonate through the room as we try to find a way to tell The Tale of a Town here in Huntsville.
We headed down to River Mill Park bright and very early to scope out a sight for our storymobile and find power to plug in our freezer alongside it. Thanks to the awesome Canada Day crew here in Huntsville, it was easy as ice cream. Before we did anything, we filled up at the Rotary Pancake Breakfast. YUM! Then the band began, followed by the citizenship ceremony where over 20 people were welcomed as new Canadian citizens.
After the music and hubbub died down, we opened our storymobile for business. We spotted someone with a Bathtub Derby embroidered golf shirt, so we knew we had to talk to him! He led us to the Bathtub Derby exhibition at the docs where two boats were tested out by the next generation of competitors for the big come back of the contest in next summer!
It was our lucky day because we also met Rudi the Rock Man this afternoon, Manny from That Little Place by the Lights, Cathy from The Great Vine, Bob from Christmas Thyme and Chris Occhiuzzi from What’s Up Muskoka!
However, the most exciting and inspiring story traders on Canada Day were the kids. Here are some pics of the brave souls that came into our storymobile and told us some tales about this magnetic town!
A hot day came to a cool close at the Legion Branch 232 where we heard some more true stories about the downtown while enjoying a DELICIOUS roast beef dinner – our compliments to the chefs!
Exhausted and full, we headed back to our cottage by the lake, packed up and headed out of town – all the way to Burk’s Falls on Sunday night and Alquonquin Park on Monday July 2 to celebrate our one and only first year Anniversary – that’s right folks, we’re not only a couple of story sleuths, we’re also a couple in love!
Day three began bright and early - by 8am we were in Helena’s office in the chamber of commerce to call into CBC Ontario morning. The bathtub derby revival was the story of the week. Take a listen to the CBC podcast and check out the photo of this legendary even from the past that Helena just happened to have on hand! CBC Ontario Morning - June 29th
At 9am we met the mayor of Huntsville outside the town hall for an interview. We took a walk down main street while he shared his knowledge of the town with us in an appropriately jovial and excited way, the mayor explained some of the recent developments, plans for the empty lot where the empire hotel had been and we had a few chance encounters on the street, notably when the mayor unknowingly greeted a couple who had just closed the deal on their new home in Huntsville. In our excitement we didn’t get a photo with the mayor but here’s the old town hall whose clock tower we discovered is from Union Station in Toronto:
Next we started to set up our storymobile. We hooked up the power, filled the cooler with Chapman's ice cream, and then declared ourselves open for business. One thousand dollars for an ice cream OR a story about downtown Huntsville!
All kinds of people traded us stories that afternoon, from kids to cottagers to long time residents to local business owners. We had a blast and we started to get a sense of what this town is all about.
We were happy that our storymobile was inviting to all kinds of folks. It felt accessible and easy and most of all fun.
When we ran out of ice cream, we knew we were done for the day.
We headed to bracebridge to pick up the chapman's ice cream vouchers for the week at Purolator and headed back to our spot.
That evening we went for a paddle boat ride and discussed our story gathering technique, revisited the questions we were asking and how we were posing the questions, and started to brainstorm about the Nuit Blanche North installation performance. The Empire Hotel kept coming up in our imaginations. The empty lot. Almost everyone has a story about it...
In the morning of day two we unpacked, went swimming and got our bearings then headed into town for an editorial meeting at The Forester, Huntsville’s newspaper. It was incredible to hear about the history of the newspaper owned for generations by the Rice family and it's recent handover to Metroland Media Group Ltd. Here’s an old sign we saw hanging on the wall. We met with News Editor Tamara, Mandy who is a new reporter at the paper and Tina Turley who works in production at The Forester but who is also a local legendary country musician. We talked about notable downtown people, the city's development and of course we heard more stories about the bathtub derby and the Empire Hotel. Tina even recounted times when she was a kid hanging out at the Empire while her father played there. Tina continues to perform all over Huntsville and the surrounding areas, and lucky for us she is playing next Wednesday downtown in the afternoon by the lake. Tina coined the unofficial name for the event "a twoonie for a tune" - we can't wait to hear her play!
After our meeting at The Forester, Charles took pics of every business along Main Street with his tripod. Lisa went to find the archives and local history room at the local library. And together we stopped and stared at the empty lot on the corner of main east and main west where the empire hotel had stood. We have heard it burned down several years ago, but it still feels alive in the memories of the few people we have spoken to already.
Back at our little cottage by the lake, we ate and drank and went to sleep early because tomorrow was looking like a jam-packed day.
Early morning meeting with the mayor cancelled because he penciled it in for yesterday. Who knows whose fault it was - but why lay blame....? We are seeing him Friday, and in the meantime we had breakfast at LOUIS' II DINER across the street from city hall. LOUIS' II DINER has been around since before anyone can remember. It burned down about 10 years ago and re-located across the street. LOUIS is an old Greek man and apparently a staple of Main Street. We can't wait to meet him and hear his stories. Next we head out to meet Rob, the general manager of the Huntsville festival of the arts, at holiday inn located in the heel of Huntsville’s "commerce area", a.k.a. industrial park.
We were Rob’s dates for the Rotarian luncheon. Greeted at the door by two fantastic men, we proceeded to find a table. Everyone stood up and sang O Canada! And then there were speeches and announcements and one notable event making a comeback in Huntsville this year: the bathtub derby.
After the luncheon, we meet up with Teri Souter, the town of Huntsville art, culture and heritage manager.
Teri got us up to speed on the "who's who" on main street in Huntsville and she also told us about her work with the aboriginal community, the commerce and business planning policies downtown and she also happened to be the president of the bathtub derby! We feel a story forming here... Here’s a pic of one of the many inspiring things in her super cool office.
Next we met up with Helena outside the town hall. Helena is the President of the Huntsville Festival of the Arts and General Manager of the Hunstville Business Improvement Association and this woman knows how to get sh*t done! She secured our storefront right downtown thanks to leads from Dan Watson the Nuit Blanche North artistic director and we move in on Sunday!
Helena introduced us to Cathy, a long time Huntsville resident who owns 2 stores downtown, Muskoka reflections and Intimate reflections . We arranged parking our storymobile in front of Cathy’s store on Friday and asked her not to call the bylaw officers while we are parked for longer than the 2-hour limit trading ice cream for stories! She willingly agreed and helped us arrange power from the light pole.
Back at our cottage by the lake, we formulated our story pitch for CBC Ontario Morning and sent it off to Ron the producer. Then we hit the hay. It’s taken a lot of energy to get ourselves on the road. Finally we had arrived!