Joy of Lambton House on MCT and the Inter-Gen project.

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Lambton House is a registered charitable organization created twenty-five years ago interested in the local history, and saving the Lambton House site, which is the last remaining original historical building in the area. Historically the site was closely tied to the economies of the Humber River, the mill trade along the river, and is deeply rooted in the Aboriginal and European histories. The City of York gave Heritage York permission to acquire the Lambton House property for the purpose of running

Lambton House is a registered charitable organization created twenty-five years ago interested in the local history, and saving the Lambton House site, which is the last remaining original historical building in the area. Historically the site was closely tied to the economies of the Humber River, the mill trade along the river, and is deeply rooted in the Aboriginal and European histories. The City of York gave Heritage York permission to acquire the Lambton House property for the purpose of running programming.

In the 2011 City of Toronto Neighbourhood Profiles, Social Profile #1 for Lambton Baby Point, we can see the breakdown of people’s ages in the community. 56.8% being ages 25-64; 20.7% being children ages 0-14; 11.4% being seniors ages 65+; and 11.2% being youth ages 15-24. From this data we can see that the two groups in Lambton Baby Point with the same percentage of representation are youth and seniors. These two groups are the very participants that we hope to connect, work with, and foster more meaningful relationships with across the generational gap. Mixed Company Theatre and Lambton House are in their second year of a three-year Inter-Generational Project that will engage youth and older adults in workshops to share life stories; bridging the generational gap through the learning and understanding of each other’s perspectives. These workshops will culminate in the development and performance of community plays showcasing the stories of our inter-generational community members and participants.

A few years ago Mixed Company Theatre (MCT) toured their show Old Age Ain’t for Sissies and had a performance at the Lambton House. The show was sold out and the community gave it rave reviews. It used a unique style of theatre that engaged the audience regarding the issues raised in the show. More people became aware of the Lambton House, both as an organization and as a site thanks to the MCT show. Previously few people within the community or in nearby communities were aware of the rich history and location of Heritage York – Lambton House.old age

After Old Age Ain’t for Sissies, the Lambton House organization reached out to MCT to discuss further avenues of working together. This led to the development of the Inter-Generational Project. Lambton House has been trying to better connect to the diverse communities in their geographic area, especially those living in the social housing that surrounds the organization. Members of Lambton House are interested in representing the ethnic diversity and interests of residents in their community.

Over the years there has been difficulty getting residents of the community engaged with the programming at Lambton House. The organization has also found it challenging to interest younger audiences in the history of the site. The organization is keen on adapting their programming to cater to the contemporary issues that impact the residents they are trying to reach. This is why the three year partnerships with MCT to increase inter-generational bonds is so important.

In 2015, one year into the Inter-Gen Project, MCT and Lambton House had their first workshop and began developing a show exploring ways for seniors to connect with youth. In the second workshop that year, UrbanArts (another Inter-Gen Project partner) connected with Lambton to work on House, a show that their community was developing. Interestingly enough UrbanArts was focusing on how youth could better connect with seniors. UrbanArts was using public transit as the lens through which they explored the need for youth to be more respectful and empathetic of seniors. This has been the most common place of interactions between the generations on a daily basis. Inter-Gen participants from Lambton House were invited by UrbanArts to collaborate in workshops with Mount Dennis participants.

Members of Lambton House are very vocal about the fact that they do not see their organization as a seniors’ organization, but as an organization deeply interested in preserving the Aboriginal histories, issues, and culture of the heritage site.

Joy believes MCT has really made a difference in helping Lambton House develop their programming. They have helped them better interpret the heritage site history, while connecting to the contemporary audiences and interests of their neighbouring communities. The social goals and values of MCT really resonate with her. She has known the MCT playwright, director, actor, and facilitator, Rex Deverell for over forty years, and trusts that if he has worked with MCT for such a long time then it was worth having Lambton House as a partner for the Inter-Gen Project.

Lambton_House_PlaqueOver the five years that she has worked with and been a member of Lambton House, she has seen the organization slowly make more conscious efforts to accommodate the interests of their community and become more open to younger residents. She started gardening on the Lambton House property and invited neighbours to connect with the organization through sharing in gardening activities. Some students even approached them to fulfill their mandatory community service hours for school where they helped with gardening among other volunteer work with the organization.

She does not know what 2016 holds for the Inter-Gen Project but would encourage a stronger focus on the vast knowledge and teachings learned from the Aboriginal forefathers of the land upon which Lambton House is built. She is interested in exploring and honoring all the ways that Aboriginal peoples have helped Anglo-Europeans to settle on the land, including all the contributions to health, farming, hunting, and survival skills that they contributed.

Get to Know Us! MCT’s International Theatre and Facilitation Intern

Lambert has been shadowing the MCT staff for a few weeks, and participating in many aspects of our InterGEN project, including our recent video shoot and a series of workshops for seniors and youth.

We hope that at the end of his stay in Canada, Lambert will be fully prepared to take what he’s learned at MCT, combine it with his years of experience in theatre, and begin to create the positive change he desires.

1. Tell us about yourself.

I’m a 31-year-old actor from France. I was born in a little city in the middle of France called Boussac. I originally was studying law, but then decided to go to Paris to pursue theatre. I was especially interested in physical theatre, and learned about divised theatre in school (also called collaborative creation: a form of theatre where the script originates from improvisation by a group of people, rather than a playwright). I was a founding member of two theatre companies, and helped to create a number of productions.
I’ve been feeling distanced from the real world, so this year I decided to train as a dramatic arts facilitator at Sorbonne. Theatre, for me, is a medium through which I can speak out about the ills of a society. Theatre can’t change society, but it can open people’s minds and alter their perspective. I don’t practice theatre to change the world, but to be in touch with people.

2. How has your experience with MCT been so far?

I’ve been getting to know MCT for a little while now, and I feel really comfortable with this team. Everyone is really friendly, and I’ve felt welcomed since my first day. For the moment, I am observing how MCT works, and learning about the organization’s methodologies.
In MCT’s InteGEN workshop sessions with groups of Chinese seniors, I have been helping to plan the activities, and I’ve also helped document the sessions with a sound recorder. The shared stories I record will assist our playwright, Diana Tso, in creating the script for our upcoming InterGEN play.

3. What do you hope to gain from being an intern at MCT?

During this internship, I hope to learn how to facilitate and create workshops that explore social and personal issues. I’ve been interested in Forum Theatre for a long time – I remember reading Theatre of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal maybe seven years ago, and thinking: “That’s probably one of the best ways to do theatre if you want to change something in this society.” So, when I found MCT and understood the kind of theatre they practice, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with them, and learn from them.

4. What exactly drew you to MCT?

MCT practices theatre on a human scale. Many theatre companies speak about the place of humanity in the world, but they forget about humans. The work that MCT does brings them close to people, and makes them heavily involved in creating opportunities for social change. I recognized myself in the way MCT uses theatre. They are really curious about giving a voice to societal issues such as racism, harassment, or miscommunication. In the case of the InterGEN project, it’s miscommunication between generations, but that applies to so many situations. MCT lives inside the identified issues; they work with and learn from people, and don’t presume to know what the issues are.

5. Where do you see yourself in the next few years?

That’s a difficult question. I think I really want to spread my passion for theatre by working with both actors and non-actors. I want to mix socially engaged theatre and a more classic style of theatre, which is what MCT already does! I would like to work in a company where I can be a facilitator, actor, and director, and create work with diverse people such as actors, community members, dancers, visual artists, writers – the list goes on. This may seem like a lot, but I need to dream big.

6. Can you tell us three words you would use to describe yourself?

-Questioning: I question everything, all the time, especially myself.
-Curious: I wonder about everything.
-Dreamer: Sometimes I’m here, and sometimes I’m not… But don’t call me flighty!

Response to Half Full

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The premiere season of our school tour Half Full was a blast! We loved having the opportunity to bring this important discussion of mental health and dealing with anxiety to over 25 schools within the GTA and across Ontario, reaching between 7000 and 8000 students in our extended, month-long run. Response from students, teachers, and school administrators was overwhelmingly positive across the board. We would like to highlight some of the great messages we received on social media congratulating our talented actors on their performance and thanking our wonderful facilitator for her leadership of a discussion without stigma.

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Get to Know Us! MCT’s Ambitious, Theatre-Loving Intern

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Travis interned with Mixed Company Theatre from the end of February to mid-May. He’s thrilled with how much he was able to learn during his internship, and intends to continue to turn to MCT for advice as he develops independent projects.

We’re glad we got to know Travis, and loved his enthusiasm for his work. We hope you enjoy his story of inspiration and aspirations as much as we do.

1. Tell us about yourself.

I’m a 23 year old theatre student from York University. I was born in Toronto, but my parents are Jamaican. Singing is one of my favourite hobbies. I’m actually in a gospel group called United. Singing is a big part of me, and if I wasn’t in theatre, I’d probably be pursuing a career in music. My goal in life is to release at least two projects. Right now, I’ve started to write my own play.

2. How has your experience with MCT been so far?

I haven’t been at MCT for very long, but it’s been an enriching experience. The staff are eager to teach me what I want to learn, which I think is the coolest part. It’s not just a job where you’re told what to do. It’s really an educational experience.

3. What do you intend to gain from being an intern at MCT?

I’d like to get more experience working at a theatre company, and gain transferrable skills for my own company, which I’m planning to start soon. I also want to establish a really long working relationship with MCT.

4. What exactly drew you to MCT?

I learned about Forum Theatre and MCT over the summer. I wanted to figure out the kind of programs I’d like to implement with my own company, and a friend suggested that I check out MCT. I looked at their website and saw that they were offering internship opportunities. I was interested, so I reached out to Kristin, the Artistic Projects Manager, and now here I am.

5. Can you tell us more about the company you’re starting?

Right now the company is called Get It Together. It’s a working title, but the idea behind it is that as an at-risk youth, you’re always being told to “get it together,” but nobody has ever told you how to do that. So what I want to do is give youth the opportunity to do just that – learn how to develop the life skills that allow them to “get it together.” The life skills that will enable them to make a change in their own communities. This is something that I’ve wanted to do since high school, but I didn’t have the resources or knowledge to start at that point. I only started planning the launch of my company in May of 2015.

6. What inspired you?

I was inspired by my experiences in theatre and experiences in high school. During high school we had the opportunity to participate in the Sears Ontario Drama Festival. Our student troupe was able to share our story with audiences during the competition, and made it all the way to the regional round. It was great! It changed our perspective, the way we saw ourselves. I want to help others have that experience.

7. Finally, what do you like about theatre?

I love being able to go on stage and be a totally different person. You can grab people’s attention and convey a message without directly speaking to them – creatively addressing an issue. There’s also the feeling of camaraderie. Working in theatre is like being on a sports team, except without all of the competition. All sorts of people come together to create one collective piece. I think it’s also important to create art with meaning. Creating art for art’s sake is fine, but I think it’s great if your work of art can mean something to someone. I want to make a difference.