Baking Bread and Breaking Barriers in Hintonburg


A new theatre and community building project is rising out of the kitchen at the Parkdale Food Centre in Hintonburg under the guidance of THUNK!theatre. This Neighbourhood Arts 150 project entitled bread school is a series of five workshops that invite participants to take part in a group a bread making lesson.

bread school is an extension of our performance bread, which we presented a few years ago at Undercurrents,” explains Geoff McBridde, co-founder of THUNK! Theatre. “I had just started making my own bread I found it to be a kind of transformative process. Karen Balcome and I wanted to find a way to theatrically make bread and involve the audience. Bread itself has a lot of different ties to religion and myth, and the sharing of food figures prominently stories across cultures, so it seemed like a good fit.”

While THUNK!’s original performance centred around the narrative of a brother and sister leaving the neighbourhood and sharing recipes with their neighbours, bread school is unscripted. This performance is about audience participation; the participants become the characters and help write a human recipe of each workshop.

“For each bread making lesson we look at the recipe and the workshop leader, then create a recipe outline around a theme for the day, such as change and transformation. While the bread is baking, the group fills in the ingredients or actions based on their lives and experience in the workshop. The human recipe becomes a living document of the people who took part bread school and will be put on display during the second part of the project, a remounting of bread as The Happening from May 3rd to 5th.”

During these workshop participants don’t only learn to make bread but get the opportunity to connect with members of the community. Each workshop is capped at 12 participants, half of whom are Parkdale Food Centre neighbours and four from the community at large. The collective learning and then creation of the human recipe helps bring these different groups of people together.

Working with Parkdale Food Centre for Neighbourhood Arts 150 has turned out to be a perfect match for THUNK! because the values of the performance are very much in line with those of the organisation.

“We’re learning a lot hanging out at the Parkdale Food Centre. They are really passionate about giving people the resources to eat well and teaching them how to prepare their own food. The community members who use the centre area incredibly curious and they want to learn the skills. It is a really productive partnership because we are learning from and helping each other.”

Throughout the project, THUNK! participants will make a variety of breads with bread makers of diverse backgrounds and bread making levels. In the first two workshops, participants made sourdough with Jo-Ann Laverty from Cake Lab Ottawa, and Feteer Meshaltet with Hala Goname from Ottawa Egyptian Kitchen. Two of the workshops will be led by neighbours of the Parkdale Food Centre, one from Sudan and the other from Afghanistan, who want to develop their leadership skills, and in a third Pam from Bread by Us will show participants how to make sprouted rye bread.

Want to take part in THUNK!theatre’s bread school at the Parkdale Food Centre? Click here to register on Eventbrite (spaces are limited).

Find a Neighbourhood Arts 150 project near you!


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