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Odyssey Theatre

Odyssey Theatre: Spreading Roots Music, Movement, Mask: A song for the trees

The next phase of creating Spreading Roots involved community workshops to incorporate music and dance into the performance, as well as introducing the use of mask. Inspired by the stories about trees that she had collected from the neighbourhoods that she had visited, as well as her own experiences living and travelling in different parts of the world, South African-born Jacqui du Toit wrote the lyrics for Tree of Life. She wanted the song to be simultaneously local and global:

A home for creatures of forest,
A nest for the birds of the air
Small bushes to mighty sequoias
Earth’s living things to share

What would we see?
How could we breathe?
Where would we be without trees?

The task for composer and music educator Venessa Lachance was to take this paean to trees and set it to music that is uplifting and celebratory, while both satisfying for an accomplished singer and simple enough for a novice. Based on the reception the song has received from workshop participants, it’s fair to say that she succeeded!

Workshop participants ranged from local children to members of seniors choirs to community conservation volunteers. Venessa’s recording of her composition, with its catchy melody, was immediately engaging with the participants.

 The timbers we must depend on,
The branches, the roots and the leaves,
Anchor the ground that we stand on,
Give us the air that we breathe.

What would we see?
How could we be?
How could we breathe without trees?

 Venessa, in turn, has drawn great inspiration from the volunteer performers “It is always a great pleasure to work with people from the community; it makes me see our region in different ways and make me love it more and more.”

When no more stands of maple,
Of oak, of pine may live,
Will clearcut lands be able,
The gift of life to give?

What would we see?
How could we be?
How could we live without trees?

How indeed?



Odyssey Theatre

Odyssey Theatre: Spreading Roots Sharing Stories: Our favourite trees

When storyteller/writer/actor Jacqui du Toit first went into the communities that would be hosting Odyssey Theatre’s Neighbourhood Arts 150 project, Spreading Roots , to collect stories about trees, she found some hesitation and confusion at first. “Stories about trees? What do you mean?” Trees are an essential part of our communities, and our environment would be bereft and desolate without them, but perhaps we don’t always actively think about how we relate to them individually.

odyssey 1 found that as the groups that she gathered with really started to think about the trees around them, that many beautiful memories and stories began to emerge. One man related that, as a child, he had a favourite tree that he would regularly go to, and he would whisper his secrets to that tree. The tree became his confidant and repository of his innermost thoughts. He grew up and went away and didn’t think about his tree until many years later when, as an adult returning to his boyhood home, he sought out his old friend.  Sadly, he found that the tree had been cut down. This has inspired him to become active within his community to protect his neighbourhood’s trees.

Spreading Roots blog 1 photo Sharing stories in CarlingtonThere were many such stories from the communities that Jacqui visited, from Greely, Stittsville,  Carlington, Westboro, Strathcona Heights, Carson’s Road and Orleans, and in creating a script for Spreading Roots she sought to weave different stories from each neighbourhood into the performance text.

House of Paint

Spotlight on Broken English

House of PainT had the pleasure of booking Broken English for both of the #NBArts150 HoP in the Hood events, an up and coming group, Broken English is a group of young newcomers to Canada who are honing their talents through the mentorship of YOCISO’s hip hop program.


The program is facilitated by Sergio Guerra, who has been known to credit music as an integral part of his own integration upon coming to Canada in his youth.

Broken English debuted their music at Westfest this summer, with the Jasmine Creascent HoP in tha Hood Community Arts Festival the very next day.

Named Broken English as a nod to the group’s members’ various cultural backgrounds and native languages, these young artists are on a trajectory to stardom.
(photo courtesy of Vanessa Rivera)

  • House of PainT, Summer 2017
Beth McCubbin

Sharing a Meal and Then a Second Workshop

Sharing a meal with the participants in the workshops is such a brilliant idea. All of us were hungry at noon and ate heartily. The afternoon workshop participants were able to snack on food as needed, this being especially beneficial to the children who ate everything in sight!

Two people were signed up for the afternoon workshop; neither of them came…but by 1:30 there were a large number of people who had gathered! Ages ranged from a 3-year-old to a couple of elder grandmothers. I didn’t bring enough rolling mats with me as I expected lower numbers so had to quickly improvise…it all worked out fantastically. All enjoyed the film; actually we watched it twice as 5 more people showed up late. All of them were happy to carve their tiles, some adding colour with the under-glazes others wishing to leave them unglazed. The youngest boy just wanted to paint with the under-glazes so I was able to provide him with two previously cut and dried tiles.

At the beginning of the workshop I always describe how the intent of the project is to create a community mural where each of the tiles made by each participant will hang together to create one big artwork. Everyone is usually very pleased with this idea, and when asked all wish for the final mural to be hung in a very accessible and public place where all peoples are welcome. The young boy who painted two tiles, also agreed with this; but at the end of the workshop came up to me and asked very seriously if I could at least hang his tiles at the bottom of the mural so that he could see them very easily when he went to visit them hanging in the mural. Yes, of course I can!

8.1another beautiful flower image, such an interesting design!
8.2one of the little boys painted tiles; a desert island with a single palm tree, surrounded by water
8.3one of the elder’s tiles; seemingly simple but a very powerful design
8.5this tile was filled with symbolism according to its maker; each of the images in the tile represent different members in her family. A lot of who were also at the workshop making tiles
8.6this tile tells a story about a never-ending river and the paths which are made by those who travel along and across it
8.7a tile made by a young teen, when asked by her mother whether that was a bear paw in the center, she replied that she didn’t know, I liked that answer very much
8.8this tile was made by an older teen boy who prior to the workshop beginning had described to me his favorite art form was making mosaics out of little pieces of glass…this is his clay/glass mosaic
8.9this tile was made an another elder in the group, she wanted very much to represent the textures found in nature…I think she did an excellent job and made this tile seem so soft
8.10this is the second painted tile from the young boy; all the members in his family



  • Beth McCubbin, September 20, 2017
Beth McCubbin

First Morning at Minwaashin Lodge!

Two mothers and three children. One boy maybe 9 and two little girls, 5. The little girls liked the video (as did the others) and even asked to watch it again! Success = Not a boring video that only clay nuts would appreciate.

All of them were eager to carve and paint their tiles…the boy used paper to design his and the two little girls just jumped right in! All of the finished tiles are so beautiful and meaningful to each participant! One of the little girls asked me quite earnestly if I was Native, I said no, that I was mostly Scottish, she seemed happy with that answer.

7.1dried and under-glazed tile, still yet to be coated with a clear glaze and fired


7.2dried and under-glazed tile, still yet to be coated in a clear glaze and fired


7.3               the very carefully crafted young boy’s tile, Tawodi, dried and under-glazed


7.4by using the technique of pointillism, making an image out of dots, or in this case pinholes, this tile looks so much like it has been beaded!!


7.5 this tile is also beautifully highlighted with the use of little dots. Little did I know how popular the use of flower imagery was going to be; so nice that the natural world is constantly represented in these tiles!

– Beth McCubbin, September 20, 2017

Claudia Salguero

Cross-Culture Communication

Cross-cultural communication is a field of study that looks at how people from differing cultural backgrounds communicate, in similar and different ways among themselves, and how they endeavor to communicate across cultures”.


 And this exactly what I have witnessed through the creation of “Canadian Pride, Harmony in Cultures” community mural for our Hunt Club – Riverside Community Centre.

20170711_143237.jpgMembers of my diverse neighbourhood, (all genders and ages 14 and up) originally from, or with ancestry from countries like Peru, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Congo, Ghana, Poland, Britain, Syria, Mexico, Holland, Lithuania, Quebec, France, Lebanon, Venezuela, Hungary, China, Sudan, Scotia, Ukraine, Egypt, Germany, Russia, Ireland, Sweden and Turkey, have been part of the creation of this mural.

20170711_144950.jpgSince mid-April when we had our first three brainstorm sessions until now, we have had 31 community art sessions. With the exception of three teen girls that came along with a friend, we are new to each other and this has been a gift for each of us and for the community: interesting conversations, new friends, cultural and generational exchanges and collaboration moments.  I can’t be happier or more thankful!


I love people, making new friends and learning form the different cultures around. People participating in community projects definitely love people too and for all of us these thirty-one sessions together, creating art pieces that represent our countries of origin, have been a fun growing experience.


Among all the pieces of the mural there is one that represents Aboriginal Canadian Cultures from Ocean to Ocean (Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic) and their relationship with Mother Nature. This piece has brought another gift to all of us: the opportunity to learn from, share with and meet aboriginal artists and members of the different Indigenous communities.

21246169_10159369596280271_4163725837992617175_oI have approached Aboriginal institutions like Wabano, The Inuit Children’s Centre, the Kabeshinan Minitig Pavilion at Victoria Island and met some amazing aboriginal artists. They have been all very kind and generous and are pleased with the fact that we are asking for their guidance.

IMG_20170824_075420I had the privilege to be invited by Indigenous Artist Doreen Stevens, to help in painting a Tipi (as a cultural exchange) for the eight annual World vintage rugby event at Kitiganzibi First Nation reserve in Maniwaki. This Tipi, representing their Anishinaabe clans, was created for a cultural exchange with Maori IWI Elders, people of Aoeara from New Zealand. Doreen was the artist doing the tour of the clans to the Maori Elders attending the rugby event.

During my visit I met kind artists who taught me about their culture and guided me in choosing a common image to represent the Algonquin culture and all the cultures that inhabit the lands from the centre of the country to the East Coast in my mural.

I got to paint an Eagle for the Tipi! The leader of the Bird Clan that represents the spiritualism for the people and guide their vision, the bird that brings the prayers to the creator, the knowledge keeper… What a privilege and wonderful experience…!


IMG_20170823_123205I met also with a group of Inuit youth and with Ruth Kadlutsiak an Elder quilt maker at the Inuit Children’s Centre and we talked about the best image to represent them. One of the very special things about this meeting was the presence of Alice and Brian, a Chinese couple, resident of Hunt Club – Riverside, who has been a very important part of our mural painting team and who spent 15 years living up North.  Between Ruth’s knowledge and wisdom, the suggestions of the Inuit youth and Brian and Alice’s vision our meeting was a success and we got to define the image to represent the Inuit Culture in our mural.

21125678_10159363262350271_506995915800443348_oInquiring about West Coast culture I have had the pleasure to speak with Bill Montgomery and Vincent Kicknosway, two exceptional and knowledgeable artists.  We haven’t met yet but the exchange has been very educational and generous.


21167910_10159369617830271_3031037953340098029_oNext week, Algonquin artist Doreen Stevens and her daughter Charlotte, Inuit artists Ruth, Sailym and Jasmine, and possibly Bill Montgomery or Vincent Kicknosway West Coast artists will join us to paint the Aboriginal piece of our mural!


If somebody asks about the importance of Art in Cross-cultural communication and community building, this would be a beautiful example.

A tribute to Claudia Salguero.
The Mural Painting Community Project is analogous to the United Nations. The function is the same, a group of very different people get together to do something worthwhile. The reason for our success is, we checked our egos and indifferences at the door. If the leaders of the world would follow our example, the protection of this planet and world peace could be achieved.

I have to pay tribute to our very artistic, talented and warm hearted  facilitator Claudia Salguero who held our hands and lead us all the way.

Claudia, I will not be surprised if someone at the UN sees this tribute, they would be knocking at your door to give you a portfolio to be in charge of world peace.
Alice Wong

Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 12.00.10 AM


Community Partners

Our Neighbourhood Arts 150 project, bread and bread school, would not be possible without the invaluable collaboration of our community partners.

Parkdale Food Centre

In the words of Parkdale Food Centre Executive Director Karen Secord “THUNK!theatre’s bread workshops brought together people of different backgrounds to experience something that is a common thread in all cultures – bread and belonging. “

Karen Secord 2“Bread and belonging” could be the motto of Parkdale itself. The Food Centre’s mandate is to feed people and they make no judgments about who might be considered ‘hungry’ on any given day. Even more than that, the staff and volunteers create a warm space where people are made to feel welcome.

When we reached out to Parkdale about this project, they were interested in a partnership right away. At our first meeting with the staff in person, we understood quickly that they are fiercely loyal to the community they serve and insist that anyone who walks through their door understands their philosophy, ethics and the challenges that people who live in poverty in Ottawa face.

With their trust, we were able to connect to new Canadians with rich knowledge and skills as bakers, community members, parents and storytellers. We were also able to connect to their vast network of passionate bakers and cooks in the food community – business owners who understand the importance of food security for Ottawa’s citizens and of sharing their knowledge and resources with their neighbours.

The staff, cooks, dishwashers, volunteers and neighbours of the Food Centre became our co-creators on this project, shaping the tone and content of our workshops and enriching the experiences we facilitated with their unique passions and experiences.

The Happening

We connected with The Happening festival through Brenda Dunn, an energetic and hard-working artist who, as she accurately describes ‘makes things, and makes things happen’. As artists who live or do much of our work in the Wellington West community, we had always been drawn to this festival and it’s celebration of the local spirit. As Events Director with the Happening, Brenda was able to help us shape a performance model that would fit with our company and the festival’s goals. All the ingredients seemed to come together to remount our show bread, which we already knew had meaning for the Wellington West community from our previous appearance at the undercurrents festival at GCTC, and expand this meaning to a new audience through a partnership with the Parkdale Food Centre.

It was a pleasure to work with the strong women behind The Happening – Summer and Mary Beth are passionately community-minded and believe in supporting local artists in the neighbourhood they call home. Their commitment to this spirit has paid off, as we saw many engaged community members come out to our bread performances on a series of rain-soaked May days. Children, parents, and seniors; young professionals and entrepreneurs; new Canadians and second generation immigrants;  artists, foodies and theatre-goers all gathered in the warmth of the Parkdale kitchen to learn to make bread – or teach us a thing or two.

Our partnership with The Happening allowed us to take the intimate community building that happened in our workshops and expand it to a wider public. Audience members for bread at The Happening were able to view the Human Recipes created in our workshops and go home with not only their own freshly made loaf of bread, but also a recipe and a story from one of our bread school bakers.

We look forward to co-creating with new partners in the Bayshore Park community for the second part of our project. Stay tuned for more info!

  • THUNK!theatre, August 2017
House of Paint

Celebrate and Elevate / HoP in the Hood at Britannia Woods

On the last weekend of July, House of Paint in partnership with the Britannia Woods Community House Band with support from AOE Arts Council hosted its second HoP in the Hood as part of the Neighbourhood Arts 150 Project.

hop1HoP in the Hood was created as a way to bring a little bit of the House of PainT festival into different communities of the city. With an average age of 23 years, Britannia Woods is one of the youngest areas in the city. The event brought together the community to participate in, celebrate and elevate urban arts and culture through painting, dancing, and sharing experiences.

hop5The idea of creating a mural was something the community had been hoping to do for some time but did not have the capacity to deliver on until this partnership was formalized.  Mohamed Sofa, Executive Director of Britannia Woods Community House shared that approximately 70 individuals, both young and old, participated in the design and painting of a large mural completed over two days. The mural project was also an opportunity for participants to learn from established Ottawa muralists Mique Michelle and Alexandre Aimée.

hop3In addition to the mural, community members were able to participate in a dance workshop, a spoken word workshop led by Ottawa Poet Laureate Jamaal Rogers. Performances were held by members of local hip hop act Missing Linx as well as Britannia Woods’ own OTTR (On Track to Royalty). The members of OTTR have honed their writing and beat making skills over the past year through MASC another Neighbourhood Arts 150 supported project.

hop4For the five members of OTTR, who are all teenagers, it was a great opportunity to perform in front of friends and family. “The community was very supportive” said OTTR member Mathew Augustin, “they want to hear more from us.” Their plan is to write more songs says Taj Morrison.

hop6 “With an average age of 23 years old, Britannia Woods Community House is one of the younger areas in Ottawa. Sharing a positive message with kids through hip hop is something that will stick with them.”

hop2Link to video:


Théâtre Belvédère

Des chiffres, des statistiques et… des nouilles de piscine !?

Donc des chiffres et des statistiques pour faire un spectacle. C’est bien beau tout ça, mais, ces données, on les représente comment sur la scène ? Pour appuyer le côté ludique de nos statistiques, nous avons décidé de les illustrer en utilisant nul autre objet que… des nouilles de piscine… Au grand plaisir de nos adolescents-acteurs ! (Qui ont du rester bien concentrés tout au long des répétitions pour que le plateau ne se transforme pas en champ de bataille de nouilles de piscine car, oui, la tentation est forte !). L’idée nous a tellement inspirées que nous avons décoré notre scène entière de nouilles, habillé nos comédiennes avec des nouilles, couvert tous nos accessoires de nouilles et cet objet est ainsi devenu notre seul accessoire scénique !


QUARTIER(S) : morceaux d’avenir nous a donc permis de faire naître de la théâtralité de deux matériau improbables : les statistiques et les nouilles de piscines !

En parlant de statistiques, nous vous offrons aujourd’hui un second TOP 6 des données « hautement scientifiques » recueillies grâce au questionnaire distribué à 150 résidentes et résidents d’Orléans et de Cumberland dans le cadre du projet !!! Bonne découverte !

  1. La majorité des répondants ont identifié leur maison ou les parcs comme leur lieu préféré dans leur quartier. Or, le centre commercial et les centres sportifs ont été identifiés comme les lieux les plus fréquentés. Cela pourrait dire que les résidents d’Orléans et de Cumberland ne passent pas la majorité de leur temps dans les endroits qu’ils préfèrent.
  2. Selon les signes astrologiques des répondants, Les Orléanais/Orléanaises/ Cumbernois/Cumbernoises sont nés en majorité l’été (à 36,6 %). Conclusion : Cela peut vouloir dire qu’à Orléans et Cumberland, les bébés sont conçus en plus grand nombre entre septembre et décembre, ou que les bébés aiment le soleil, ou qu’ils ont peur du froid, ou….
  3. 48,7 % des répondants affirment être impliqués bénévolement dans leur quartier, avec une moyenne de 12 heures de bénévolat par mois. Conclusion : Cela pourrait vouloir dire que la population d’Orléans et de Cumberland entière investit jusqu’à 1 286 208 heures par année dans le bénévolat !
  4. Le lait et le pain sont les produits les plus souvent achetés à l’épicerie par nos répondants. Conclusion : Cela pourrait vouloir dire que les régions d’Orléans et de Cumberland ont été épargnées et ne sont pas affectées par le problème répandu d’intolérance au lactose et au gluten !!!?
  5. Les répondants ont identifiés toute une gamme de mots qui décrivent, selon eux, le mieux leur quartier. Conclusion : la multiplicité de réponses fait très certainement état la richesse et de la diversité de ces quartiers ! Les voici dans le graphique ci-dessous.


  1. 81,6 % des résidents affirment préférer la douche au bain. Conclusion : il y a très certainement plusieurs baignoires sous-utilisées dans les maisons unifamiliales d’Orléans et de Cumberland.

Alors…Vous reconnaissez-vous dans ce portrait ?







Théâtre Belvédère

Statistiques parfaitement imparfaites Portrait des quartier(s) d’Orléans et de Cumberland

Que ce soit à travers des recensements ou autres formes de sondages, les chiffres et les statistiques sont souvent utilisés pour dresser un portrait global d’une population et pour sonder les tendances dominantes dans une région ou un temps donnés. Les statistiques sont généralement des données quantitatives qui font office de « preuves tangibles » et concrètes.

Mais qu’arrive-t-il lorsque deux artistes qui n’ont rien de mathématiciennes ou de scientifiques mettent sur pied un questionnaire de leur cru, sondent 150 résidents d’Orléans et de Cumberland de tous les âges et horizons au sujet de leur quartier, pour ensuite s’approprier cette matière « hautement scientifique » pour la création d’un spectacle ?

Si les deux complices ont pris très au sérieux le mandat de dresser un portrait sous forme théâtrale des quartiers d’Orléans et de Cumberland, elles ont eu envie de le faire en s’amusant avec les chiffres et les statistiques. Envie de faire parler les chiffres… tout en les prenant avec un grain de sel ! Les deux acolytes se sont ainsi permis quelques extrapolations libres au moment de l’analyse pour faire naître un univers de fiction déluré, inspiré des données réelles recueillies.

Et que révèlent les statistiques ? Voici un Top 6 des données « hautement scientifiques » recueillies.

  1. 42 % des répondants ont affirmé habiter Orléans ou Cumberland depuis les années 2000. Conclusion : Cela pourrait vouloir dire que la population de ces quartiers a drastiquement augmenté au tournant du siècle.
  2. 10 % des résidents affirment habiter leur quartier depuis toujours. Conclusion : Cela pourrait vouloir dire qu’il y a parmi les résidents d’Orléans et de Cumberland… des éternels !
  3. 59,9 % des répondants affirment habiter des maisons unifamiliales. Conclusion : Cela veut très certainement dire que la densité de population est beaucoup plus basse qu’au centre-ville. Cela pourrait également vouloir dire que moins d’individus se partagent plus d’oxygène !
  4. 40,86% des répondants trouvent que le VERT est la couleur qui représente mieux leur quartier. Conclusion : cela pourrait vouloir dire qu’ils sont de fiers franco-ontariens, des amateurs de la nature et de la verdure ou encore tout simplement qu’ils aiment le gazon, ou les kiwi ou…
  5. 60 % des répondants ont affirmé avoir un animal de compagnie. Conclusion : Cela pourrait vouloir dire que qu’il faut bien regarder où l’on met les pieds lorsque l’on s’y déplace à pied ! Nous remarquons également la grande créativité des résidents, si on en juge aux prénoms donnés à leurs petites bêtes. Voici quelques exemples : les chiens Riesling et Tyra Barks, les chats Cinnamon Boots, Voltaire, Pepsi et Coke, l’oiseau Disney ou le lézard… George McPedro !
  6. 60,9 % des répondants ont identifié les activités sportives et les sorties culturelles comme loisirs favoris. Conclusion : Cela pourrait vouloir dire que les résidents d’Orléans et de Cumberland sont très actifs, tout autant sur le plan physique, qu’intellectuel.

Restez à l’affût : nous vous en révélons davantage dans notre prochaine entrée de blogue !