theatre

TURTLE CREEK – writing, recording and a surprise wedding

How lucky we were that there was a cancellation at Turtle Creek Lodge on Manitoulin Island!  We drove straight from Markdale to Tobermory, drove onto a ferry boat, took a gorgeous cruise north to the spirit island, and found our way to this secluded paradise on the biggest lake on the biggest island on a freshwater lake in the world! It was in this mystical place that we wrote and recorded our first few editions of our podcast series: A Walk Down Main Street.  To check out the series in its entirety, go to our soundcloud page and take a stroll around! 

One very touching thing that happened while we were at Turtle Creek – a couple got married down at the water!  A bagpiper announced the surprise celebration and we joined in for the ceremonies.  Later that night the couple treated the lodgers to a fireworks show and we watched from our cabin as we worked the night away…

A thank you to Jack and Joyce who made our stay so, so nice.  I don’t want to advertise how amazing and gorgeous and beautiful their place is for fear that it will be all booked up for next summer when we want to go back… But that would be just too selfish, so here it is (but keep it under wraps!) http://www.manitoulin-island.com/turtlecreek/

Before we left we checked in with Points North on CBC Radio, to let the north know we were on our way to Little Current, then onto Sudbury.  CBC.ca | Points North | Storymobile lets people trade stories for ice cream.

And zoom! we were off again to search out some more stories in this province of towns and trees…

LONDON DAY TEN – organizing chaos and dr. lendt

Today we tried to organize the many interviews we have taken in, and make a plan for the week to come.  How will we listen to over 70 hours of tape before we leave London next week?!  And the interviewing isn’t over yet!  London has so many downtown stories, and as always - there are so many sides to each story.  But alas, that is where creativity comes to play, and artful decisions will rule the day, as we make something beautiful from what the people say….  That rhymes, non?! In the midst of the organizing of tracks and tapes and papers and plans, I skipped off to meet with Dr. Barbara Lendt who had an office in downtown for many years where she delivered babies and promoted health.  Barbara painted a picture of downtown from the perspective of a Torontonian who came over 30 years ago, just for a short time, but was drawn in.  Above and beyond the insight this interview provided, I loved hearing Barbara’s love for the downtown store Novak’s – that’s one for the story map for sure!

 

The weekend has come.  And my friend Jo from London, England is getting off the via rail train tonight to visit us here in London Ontario!!  I can’t wait to show the downtown off and take her out Londonlicious!  (I wonder if Jo will feel more at home here with The Covent Garden Market and the forks of the Thames nearby…)

LONDON DAY EIGHT – a grand downtown day!

8:30am ghost stories at The Grand!  This theatre is a lively place with some super smart women at the helm.  We were thrilled to talk The Tale of a Town with them and hear their spin on what is turning around downtown. Here they are – Susan, Andrea and Deb – the leaders of the pack!

Next, we took off to the marked.  HOLY MOLY THIS MARKET IS SOOOOO COOL!  I can’t believe we haven’t been inside yet and Charles literally had to drag me out later.  While inside, we met with the unofficial mayor of the market, Ian Greasley - owner of BLOOMERS in the Market.  Ian is a man who knows how to tell a story.  The best one was about when the rolled up sleeves of his leather jacket caused a dozen glasses to break at Birks Jewelry in the 70’s.  The manager came over and told the long haired, misfit seeming young man, not to worry about it – “these things happen”… and that is why Ian, to this day, has never held anyone up in his store for breakage.  But Ian told us that once you've heard the story, you don’t get off the hook so easily if you break something...  so we were still careful weaving through his delicate goods on our way out.

Next, we rushed over to City Hall to meet Judy Bryant, the city councilor for downtown London.  She took us up onto the top floor where we could overlook the entire city.  Judy does lots of her thinking and planning from up here, she told us.  She sees more density and high-rise buildings in the future.  Here’s the view of downtown from above today: 

The afternoon took us to The Sentimentalist where we met with rad Miranda in her vintage clothing shop.  Miranda gave us the goods on the punk scene, the new wave styles and the Brunswick, or “The 'Wick”, as it was called to those who frequented it.  We heard about the sadness that surrounded the tearing down of the Talbot block and other indie cornerstones of downtown.  It was a real treat to talk to Miranda, and it was really difficult not to buy everything in this wicked shop…

Later, we had our long awaited tour with the one and only Kathy McLauglin.  She took us on an in-depth walk through downtown pointing out almost every building to tell us its story - the dreams of the business owners, the desires of the landlords, the history, the architecture, the revitalization plans…   While walking with Kathy we felt somewhat like celebrities, because she knew so many people along the way – and always introduced our project and us.  It is so key to us to have people like Kathy ready and willing to make space and time for artists and new ideas…. And we highly recommend her tour.  You’ll never see the downtown the same way again!

And, if that’s not enough – as I type this, Charles is out with Doug Allen – a former owner of a downtown theatre and a known storyteller.  Hearing Doug's rendition of certain key events that we are following from the past will certainly be a treat because I hear Doug has a few great tales to tell about downtown London…  I look forward to listening to this interview when we start logging all of this material next week!!

A demain!!!!

LONDON DAY SEVEN - one by one...

We had so many interviews jammed in today that Charles and I had to split up.  And for those of you who know the two of us, you have probably noticed we do almost EVERYTHING together.  In fact, I'll let you in on a little secret - we're married too!  So put that in your pipe and smoke it, while you read on... Well, to be honest, the day got off to a slow start with an early morning interview scheduled at the tatoo parlour which did not happen because no one was there yet!  In retrospect, it probably was not the most ideal time to schedule an appointment with a tatoo parlour - but we'll try to catch up with them later...

Next, Charles went off to see the all knowing Mary Brae, a long time Londoner who bought and sold many properties downtown, and I went off solo to an INCREDBLE visit at My Sister's Place.  The women at this drop-in centre awaited me and they were full of nostalgic stories about downtown and opinions on what could be done to improve the city.  I was lucky to get a tour around this beautiful restored heritage house that they call home, and find out about the wealth of programming in this truly welcome, inclusive and positive space which some women told me saved their lives.  I promised to return with ice cream.  And I shall!!

Here I am interviewing one woman who told me that The Forest City has become the Butt City because of all the cigarettes on the streets.  She is lobbying to see this change and she also imagines a future where people on the streets will be more friendly and accepting to everyone who passes by - regardless of social economic class or colour.   I like the way she thinks...

While I trotted back from this glorious place, Charles was interviewing Long Phun at the amazing Tamarine and then we both headed to meet JOEeph KOOLafski, a.k.a., Mike Smith.  He told us about the good ole’ days downtown, and tales of the buildings, the businesses and the bureaucracy.  We LOVED hearing about the character of JOE KOOL who sometimes makes an appearance in his leisure suit.  Costumes, alter-egos and public displays of goofery – now THAT is something we can dream around for our show!  Thanks Mike / Joe!

Here he is in front of his wall of memories…

LONDON DAY SIX – just another magic monday!

Just going into HERO’s downtown is magical – full of fantasy and fun this is THE comic shop to stop into.  Meeting the owner Bram takes all that to another level.  We were interested to hear his story of slowly working his way up in the comic world, from employee to building and business owner, he told us about the alternative shopping scene in London and why the downtown in any city is the place to get great records, comics, books and art.  Bram also spoke to us about students who shut down Dundas and Richmond in protest and it sounds like it was a sight to see!  

ANYONE GOT PICS OF THIS PROTEST??  SEND THEM INTO US!

http://www.thetaleofatown.com/tell-us-your-tale/

Today we got the storymobile parked right out front of the Downtown London office.  I was on the megaphone and Charles set up the equipment.  We heard from ALLLLL kinds of people who had differing views about downtown and what it means to them.  Ice cream was traded and stories were recorded.  We truly cannot wait to listen closely to what everyone had to say.  It is in the layering of contrasting views with the points of connection that will allow The Tale of LONDON Town to resonate with everyone who comes to celebrate downtown with us when our show takes the stage of the streets next year! Stay posted for more details….

LONDON DAY TWO – more talk on tape…

Hey there!  Today was full of interviews, which are proving to be indispensable in providing us with a base from which to launch our questions that we will ask the public from our story mobile on street level. Today we spoke to Kathy Novackas, the extraordinary founder of the London Fringe among a list of other grassroots initiatives.  Kathy told us of the movers and shakers in the arts community downtown and the venues and theatres that pop up around town.  She recounted her own memories of visiting Kingsmills and Roland Hill Shoe Store as a child where her mom would buy her oversized clothing for the year ahead, that she would have to grow between her next annual visit to London Ontario from London England where she spent her childhood.

Next we met with Michael Gibson, who has had an art gallery downtown since 1984, and in its current location on Carling Street since 1997.  Michael wowed us with stories of the 80’s and 90’s on the scene and then how it felt to be part of the circle of people who held hands around the entire Talbot block to protest bulldozing it to build the John Labatt Centre.  When asked about the stigma of downtown London, Michael brought our attention to his flower basket and the two benches he had the city put in across the street from his gallery.  He wishes everyone would follow suit, knowing all the businesses have a vested interest in the improvement of downtown, but what he says is that not everyone agrees with the best way to make it happen…

GIBSON GALLERY

Finally, we had a quick visit with Natalie Boot of Renaissance Massage Therapy and Spa Ltd.  Natalie’s business is inside the Citi Plaza, which used to be the grandiose Galleria Mall.   The Galleria Mall used to house Eaton’s, The Bay, The Gap, Eddie Bauer, and Ralph Lauren, to name a few.  Those stores are long gone, and now there is a beautiful public library, among other smaller stores and services and empty spaces.  We are curious about this enormous structure right smack downtown.  There’s a story there, we are sure of it, and perhaps it will help shed some light on just what happened over the past few decades downtown….

As we walked back into the downtown office a gift awaited us… Felicia, who was visiting London from Vancouver regaled us with her stories of waitressing at the Mascot, and a Casino bar on Dundas Street, and her one day of working at the lunch counter at Kresge’s where the lights were bright outside the building and flickered on and off all day!

ANYONE ELSE REMEMBER THIS?!  SEND US YOUR MEMORIES OF DOWNTOWN LONDON!

CALL 1-855-CAN-TALE  or email us at INFO@FIXTPOINT.COM and add your story to the collective community memory!

LONDON DAY ONE – good days sunshine!

Bright and early to the Downtown London office, on the corner of Dundas and Richmond, we were greeted by Kathy McLaughlin and Lisa Thomas, the most positive, cheerful, savvy women we could hope to collaborate with!  We moved into the office,  started booking interviews, making calls, and then went off to a fantastic lunch where we joined with another incredible Downtown London associate – Vicki Smith, to celebrate the birthday of their intern Sarah.  Over lunch we were fascinated to hear a base of stories from downtown; what used to be here, what is new, who we should talk to, who we were already scheduled to talk to (yes – these ladies have things organized!).  I was furiously note taking to try and take it all in.  London is no small town.  And at this first lunch, I got a hunch, that there are many many many stories in the living memory of this downtown waiting to be remembered…

The afternoon took us to the London Arts Council and London Heritage Council to meet with Andrea and Andrea. We heard about the vibrant community of artists downtown, and the history of some of the oldest buildings, the bulldozed buildings, the heyday of London visual artists in the 70’s, the selling of the London Free Press by the Blackburns, music venues like Notes and Call the Office, the food rotating in the old Albert’s Diner, City Lights, Mark Emery, and a great little anecdote about hiding in the fur coats in Simpsons department store.  We cannot wait to listen through that interview to mine all the little story gems.  One thing that struck us was hearing about a perceived stigma that surrounds the downtown.  Apparently, downtown London is unsafe, undesirable and unclean according to the gospel of the suburbs.  Bad press, or true?   One thing is certain – we are here to get to the bottom of this urban myth….

ARRIVING IN LONDON TOWN!

We arrived in London town in the evening. Walked around downtown. Not too many people around. Diners, boutiques, haircuts, pawn shops, restaurants, record stores, McDonalds, a library, beautiful old buildings, parking lots where buildings must have been before. A new place to dig. When the sun comes up we will see the light on downtown London. What will we see?!

Check out our article in the London Free Press HERE!

or read all about it below....

Seeking stories of downtown

JULY 16, 2012 CORE: A Toronto production company adds London to its list for its Tale of the Town By: KATE DUBINSKI, The London Free Press

Remember going to the movies in the underground Smuggler's Alley? How about shopping at the Simpson's department store, or visiting the monkey at the old Covent Garden Market?

Your downtown memories will become the foundation for a unique theatre experience coming to London.  

Members of Fixt Point, a Toronto production company, will set up in downtown London starting Thursday, gathering stories about the city's downtown.

They'll be here for two weeks, listening to and recording tales that they'll turn into a theatre and documentary project using the anecdotes and audio footage.

Eventually, they'll come back to London to put on an interactive performance -- a Tale of a Town -- in an empty storefront.

The exact show will be dictated by the stories Londoners tell.

"We know stories about pioneers and settlers, but one of our beliefs is that we should celebrate our recent past more," said Charles Ketchabaw, theatre director for Fixt Point.

"The stories should be in the living memory of people."

A story-mobile -- basically a trailer -- will be set up in various locations downtown from 2 to 4 p.m. daily for the next two weeks, starting Thursday.

People can come in and tell their stories with Ketchabaw and artistic director Lisa Marie DiLiberto. For those who can't make it downtown, a hotline has been set up.

"It's a multi-layered, site-specific documentary project," Ketchabaw said.

The production company will eventually use archives, props, costumes and artists for its performance.

Similar projects have been performed and are ongoing in Toronto, St. Catharines and Huntsville. Ketchabaw also is working on a Tale of a Town in Kampala, Uganda.

"We want people from all walks of life to share their stories," he said. "Everyone's story is equally important. We want to inspire change, to bring people back downtown, to celebrate the entrepreneurs, the owners, the people who live there, the eyes and ears of the place."

Cities, especially city cores, have larger-than-life characters and places that deserve to be highlighted, Ketchabaw said.

The production company has partnered with Downtown London.

"We want to honour the heritage on which our downtown was built," said Kathy McLaughlin, program co-ordinator at Downtown London.

"This is an interesting mix of creativity and technology. We love our past in London but maybe we don't celebrate our present enough."

HUNTSVILLE DAYS THIRTEEN to SIXTEEN – a blur.

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!

HUNTSVILLE DAY ELEVEN - ready, set…

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… 

HUNTSVILLE DAY TEN – on and on and on

  We found the reining champ of the bathtub derby!

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!!!!

HUNTSVILLE DAY EIGHT - wood, bells, pasta, and skis

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.

 

 

Then off to the streets of Huntsville to get trading.  Revised questions:  now following leads about David Kaye, Bathtub Derby, Silver Ambassadors, Rudi the Rock Man, and whether the town should go condos or affordable housing…

“$1000 for an ice cream, or a story about Main Street.”

Today we heard about when Main Street became a ski track!

WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER?

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

HUNTSVILLE DAY SEVEN – best laid plans

 

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.

 

HUNTSVILLE DAY TWO

7 - EMPTY EMPIRE LOT

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.

HUNTSVILLE DAY ONE

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!

AND WE'RE OFF!

A long day packing.  Night after the Dora awards in downtown Toronto.  Charles drives early in the morning to Chapman's to pick up the decked out storymobile. Lisa sleeps in and then posts Dora pics on Facebook. Charles goes out to buy a freezer for the ice cream.  Lisa has a chat with her mom and then begins to pack.

We get on the road by 8:30pm

Before we get on the highway, we stop for a quick photo shoot with Tony & Danielle of little blue lemon photography.  They set up lights, call us to action and click us into gear before we finally leave town.  Their photos are beyond awesome.

...And as we drive away we feel ourselves slowly start to unwind.  We arrive at 3am at our cottage by the lake

 

 

FIXT POINT HITS THE ROAD!!!!

  ... And we're off!!!  THE TALE OF A TOWN X ONTARIO TOUR has just begun.   This summer FIXT POINT is hitting the road to trade ice cream for stories about downtown's and their Main Street tales.  Which people will we meet?   What stories will we find? What will we create?

THANKS to our supporters who have helped us get on our way.  Without you there would be no way.  Wait - that's united way.  But I’m talking about our way - across Ontario this summer.  You have fuelled us with ingenuity and creative spirit.  And you are with us on this adventure!

A HUGE SHOUT OUT TO:

CHAPMAN'S ICE CREAM THE HIVE ONTARIO ARTS COUNCIL THE WALRUS CBC ONTARIO MORNING HUNTSVILLE FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS DOWNTOWN LONDON

STOP ONE: HUNSTVILLE!

FIXT POINT will be in town June 26 to July 15!

While we are here, you can find us doing one of the following things: * Trading Chapman's ice cream for stories about downtown in our storymobile! * Sharing some of the gathered stories CBC Ontario Morning every Friday and Monday! * Listening to interviews, editing interviews and mapping stories online! * Creating a site-specific theatre installation for NUIT BLANCHE NORTH on July 14 in  downtown Huntsville!

SEE YOU ON MAIN STREET!!

Watch here for updates and if you'd like to learn more about the tour, where we are going, our supporters and how you can drop us line with your Main Street story visit HERE

Radio FIXT POINT x CBC

we are oh so very excited to present our first feature length radio documentary Small Time Stories from The Tale of a Town Queen West on CBC Radio 1 at 7am on January 2nd.Host Lisa Marie DiLiberto and storytellers Treasa Levasseur and Charles Ketchabaw present some of the fascinating stories that we discovered during the creation process of The Tale of a Town – Queen West.