Welcome to Mixed Company Theatre’s tri-annual newsletter!
In this issue you’ll learn how our NEW clowns, Morro and Jasp make Going Green curiously rewarding, how a group of youth is tackling the topic of sexual assault, and how forum theatre addresses gang violence in our new project. You’ll hear from a Community Initiative Troupe Participant and learn about our Forum Theatre Workshop that is FAST-APPROACHING! We’ve also included a FREE lesson-plan to support anti-bullying initiatives during our 2009/2010 Educational Tour. Check out our recent survey results, and if you haven’t yet, give us your feedback!
This newsletter serves as a forum for sharing. It details the work that Mixed Company Theatre performs in schools and the community, and profiles and applauds the efforts of our clients and donors. We provide supplementary resource links that will be of interest to you.
Engage, Educate, Empower – and Enjoy!
Education and Community Outreach Associate
Mixed Company Theatre
25 for 25
Some of our granting bodies, like the Ontario Arts Council, ask us to describe projects in under 25 words. In honour of our 25th Anniversary, we’re presenting this challenge to some of our staff, associate artists and you! Check out 25 for 25 throughout this newsletter! Send yours to email@example.com
HEALING THE WORLD… ONE SMILE AT A TIME
Mixed Company Theatre takes Morro and Jasp on a tour to Summer camps! Partnering with UNIT – Up Your Nose and In Your Toes Productions– our lovable and laughable clowns make issues such as the environment and bullying more accessible than ever before.
Help children understand challenges from the perspective of others through our interactive, entertaining, and age-appropriate presentations.
Morro and Jasp…Go Green!
July 27 – August 14, 2009
Jasp has decided to write a book about ‘going green’ so that she can become a famous author. Only one problem: she doesn’t really know anything about what it really means!
Her sister Morro jumps in and the two decide that they need the help of Dr. David Suzuki. A letter from him soon arrives and the duo embark on a journey to reduce their ecological footprint. Together, they make changes in their daily lives and learn that being environmentally friendly is certainly important and curiously rewarding.
Clowns Morro and Jasp turn assumptions about being green on their heads, teaching that every little bit does make a difference and delivering the ‘going green’ message like never before.
Morro and Jasp…Boo bullying!
July 27 – August 14
Pressures from home. Pressures from school. Pressures from their peers. Suddenly competing against one another, sisters Morro and Jasp, are caught in the middle of friends and foes. Pretty soon there is a full-fledged bully in action. Not wanting to point fingers and get her sister in trouble, Morro attempts to deal with Jasp’s new-found power, and with the fear and hurt she now encounters every day.
As the characters interact with the audience, children suggest their own approaches to dealing with bullies, and examine why people bully each other. Presented through clowning, children will be encouraged to stand up for themselves and for others around them.
Mixed Company will also tour Morro and Jasp to elementary schools across Ontario, as part of our Breaking the Cycle of Violence Program this Fall. For further information, to book a performance or for a complimentary preview, you can reach us at:
416-515-8080 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to hearing from you!
touring Summer 2009
Morro and jasp
July 27 – August 14, 2009 An engaging and entertaining look at being environmentally friendly
Morro and jasp
July 27 – August 14, 2009 An interactive approach to dealing with bullying
25 for 25
“Clown duo sisters Morro and Jasp …have produced their best show yet: an eco-tainment piece about environmental issues that’s both funny and informational for youngsters." – NOW Magazine, July 4 2008
FORUM THEATRE WORKSHOP
The Forum Theatre Joker Master Class (June 22 – 25, 2009)
Mixed Company’s 4-day interactive workshop is designed for people experienced in Forum Theatre who want to expand their knowledge and become Jokers, or group facilitators. Through patient, supportive, provoking actions, the Joker leads participants in developing a team and creating a Forum Theatre Play. Then, in the performance of the play, the Joker works with the spectators when they become Spect-actors – acting as the liaison between the spectator and the character or action on stage.
The workshop challenges participants to become awake, aware and alert to the internal and external manipulators of human behaviour, and master the nuances of guiding a group through hard-to-talk about issues and facilitating critical thinking and problem-solving. Scenes are quickly created and participants practice various styles of facilitation, studying themselves and others with input from the group, learning conflict resolution, audience/group management, including games and techniques to further animate and explore opinions and ideas of an audience.
DATE: Monday, June 22 – Thursday, June 25
TIME: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
LOCATION: Mixed Company Theatre, 157 Carlton St, Toronto, ON
REGISTRATION FEE: $450
what the numbers tell us
To help us make better theatre for social change, we recently asked teachers and students to complete a brief online survey about Mixed Company Theatre. Here are some of the results:
- 88% of students said that Mixed Company Theatre’s presentations are realistic
- 98% of students said Mixed Company’s presentations are effective
- 100% of teachers said Mixed Company’s presentations are realistic and effective
- 100% of teachers said they are likely to recommend Mixed Company’s presentations
- The primary factor that prevented teachers from booking Mixed Company Theatre was due to not enough funds in their budget
- 90% of teachers want us to keep them in the loop about grants or programs that may help subsidize presentations
"Excellent work! My students were engaged throughout and the work continued for two weeks following the performance."
– Drama and English Teacher, YRDSB
"Mixed Company Theatre productions have been an essential part of our mentoring program for Grade 9 and 10 students for the past three years. Their performances are always entertaining but also deliver a positive educational message in an interactive way."
“My friends and I thought the acting and message was great!”
25 for 25
We want your feedback!
|Still haven’t taken the survey? Click one of the links below to give us your input: After the Mixed Company Theatre Presentation: For Teachers After the Mixed Company Theatre Presentation: For Students What prevented you from booking Mixed Company Theatre?|
Blowing the whistle on Sexual Harassment
Youth Script Catalyzes Discussion About Harassment This Spring, a small group of West Humber Collegiate students met to learn, explore and contribute to a dramatic project under the guidance of Mixed Company Theatre. During weekly three-hour workshops, the students shared their stories, created improvisations and poems, and helped to develop Bells and Whistles, a new script to address sexual harassment in schools. Duncan McCallum, Mixed Company Theatre facilitator, and Heather Marie Annis, a Toronto-based playwright, listened and helped guide their work, gathering the information together into a cohesive and universal worst-case scenario forum theatre script, as a tool for social change.
With the support of the Toronto Arts Council and members of the North Etobicoke Revitalization Partnership, the project culminated in 5 script-readings, which were showcased to public audiences. Beginning at West Humber Collegiate and ending at North Albion Collegiate, each performance consisted of two parts, first a reading of Bells and Whistles, and second a facilitated forum with the audience, discussing their response to the play and the themes of harassment presented. With over 100 viewers, at all of the readings there arose overwhelming desire to discuss the issues that were introduced in the play, which catalyzed heated interactions.
This gave the youth an opportunity to understand another step in the creative process, helping to incite discussion about sexual harassment in schools, relationships and their representation in the media. Mixed Company Theatre is working to continue the development of this script, to better spread the message of harassment in schools.
MEET THE TEAM
"I really enjoyed the discussions and found myself questioning thing I found normal after every session."
~ Makda, participant
25 for 25
Encore for showdown
Continue the learning
A Lesson Plan for Grades 9 & 10, taken from Mixed Company Theatre’s Teaching Guides Mental Set (5 Minutes) Discuss the importance of being respectful to all members of the class. The activities require the discussion of sensitive issues, and everyone should feel safe to participate. Activity: Auto Sculpting (30 Minutes) 1) All students form a circle and face outward with their eyes closed. Announce a word or phrase associated with bullying (e.g. victim, bully, bystander etc).
2) Everyone takes their first impression of that word and shapes their body in whatever image comes to mind, realistic or abstract, whatever it means to them. Ask the students to turn into the circle and open their eyes.
3) After each word is called and the sculptures complete allow for students to discuss the following – What are the similarities/differences of the images? Pick out certain images and ask others to describe what they see. Activity: Defining Roles- Popcorn (25 Minutes) Use the images and observations of the above exercise and ask students to call out ideas, images, words that define the following:
What is a bully? What is a victim? What is a bystander? What are types of bullying?
What are some anti-bullying solutions? Introduce W.I.S.E. Strategy – Walk Away, Ignore the Bully and Inform An adult, Stay Strong- Safety in Numbers, Exercise Humour
As a class, create a definition for each of the roles. Activity: Unfinished Dialogues: Escalation vs. De-Escalation (45 Min)
1) Have students to sit in an audience formation with a partner. Ask for a pair to volunteer as student 1 and 2 for the scene.
2) Ask the volunteers to follow these unfinished dialogues until they reach a conclusion, or until the dialogue heats up. The facilitator can also add characterization to the dialogues, providing variety and building role-playing skills.
Student 1 It’s time to go.
Student 2 I don’t want to go.
Student 1 We’ll be late.
Student 2 I don’t care.
Student 1 Well, I do care, let’s go.
Student 2 Stop bugging me!
Student 1 You always do this.
Student 2 Me? You’re the one who
And so on…
4) After each skit allow students to discuss the following questions.
What was the scene about?
Where did the change begin (specifically, which line) that escalated or de-escalated the scene?
Who was the victim and who was the bully? Did these roles change? 15 Min – Conclusion: Sitting in a circle, ask each student to quickly reflect on the activities.
Which role did you relate to (bully, victim, bystander)? Do you escalate or de-escalate conflict?
How can you use what you learned to resolve conflict in your own life?
ABOUT THE SHOW
Empower your students with practical, realistic strategies to deal with bullying in their lives. If you’d like to bring Showdown to your school, described as "outstanding", "authentic" and "…one of the best educational experiences I’ve viewed in my 22-year teaching career," you won’t want to miss Mixed Company Theatre’s Fall 2009 tour, September 28 – October 30.
Call now for advance reservation! 416 515 8080 or email@example.com
An Interactive Anti-Bullying Presentation
Touring September 28 – November 7
Key Character Development principles: Respect, Caring, Integrity Version 1: Grades 6-8 Version 2: Grades 9-10
Name-calling. Exclusion. Extortion. Threats and physical violence are their weapons of choice. Siblings Drew and Ashley physically and psychologically torment their peers. Their game is to manipulate and control others through the misuse of power. Who will stop them? Will you?
Dora Award-nominated anti-bullying play for teens, Showdown is a teacher’s favorite and has played to more than 100,000 students. Exploring the issues that motivate bullying behavior, this interactive presentation aims to help students recognize the different forms bullying can take. Watch an excerpt of Showdown Preview a Presentation Book Showdown at your School
Overview and Curriculum Links
|Title: Conflict Resolution – The Bully Issue|
|Overview: Students will engage in Theatre of the Oppressed activities to express their own understanding of bullying. Through group activities students will be able to define a bully, victim and bystander and use role play to create positive resolutions in difficult situations.|
|Examples of Curriculum Links: Grade 9 and 10 Individual and Family Living:
SOV.02X – analyze strategies to develop and maintain effective relationships.
PRV.02X – demonstrate communication and conflict-resolution skills in the context of family and social relationships.
PR1.05X – demonstrate appropriate responses to harassing or abusive behaviour.
|Preparation: -Photocopy Dialogue for the Escalation and De-escalation activity.|
Keeping the Peace
Our New Anti-Gang Violence Project In the Winter 2009 Newsletter, we celebrated receipt of the Mayor’s Community Safety Award for promoting safety in neighborhoods and communities through projects that respond to violence and victimization. This award led to a partnership with the Toronto Police Services Board in an anti-gang violence project. Mixed Company has made new connections with many community organizations and is set to tour throughout many of Toronto’s neighborhoods and schools in the Greater Toronto Area this Summer.
The creation process began with meetings and workshops with different organizations which provided the research and development to be incorporated into the final script. Members at the Community Police Liaison Committee generated ideas about why youth in their neighborhood join gangs. Parents spoke of the dangers in the schools for youth, while others mentioned feelings of hopelessness in ending the cycle of gang violence. Youth from Project P.E.A.C.E presented a much different view of the situations discussed. They offered a much stronger focus on how a small event can often escalate into violence and, in extreme situations, lead to death. These youth spoke to the issue of snitching and the lack of trust they have for the police. We met with T.A.V.I.S. Police Officers who spoke about their experiences with shooting fatalities. They discussed how traumatizing it is to be called to the location of a crime and find a young person brutally murdered due to gun violence. T.A.V.I.S Officers have expressed their desire to make a meaningful connection with citizens this summer through their initiatives in many of Toronto’s neighborhoods.
This project is no easy task. There are so many serious issues entangled with the problem of gang violence and such varied opinions on those issues, finding a universal story a challenge! It’s this challenge that Mixed Company is excited about taking on! Scriptwriter, Rex Deverall, and Artistic Director, Simon Malbogat, are focused on creating an interactive presentation that forces everyone participating to critically consider the issues and to work towards finding real solutions to the problem.
Our next step is to complete the first script draft and begin rehearsals with input from the communities.
The final Forum Theatre Play will tour to schools in Spring 2010 to help break the cycle of gang violence.
Our Partners in crime prevention
The Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy, or TAVIS for short, is the plan that the Toronto Police Service is using to reduce violence and fear in neighbourhoods. The plan uses community mobilization to reduce crime and disorder, make neighbourhoods safer, and bring neighbours together to keep their neighbourhood safe.
Community Police Liaison Committees (CPLC) are made up of community volunteers and police service representatives from the local division’s geographic area. Each committee is inclusive to reflect the demographics of the local community.
The P.E.A.C.E Project involves Toronto youth, the Toronto Police Service, community agencies and schools in efforts to reduce the negative impact guns and gangs have on all our lives. Working together, youth and police have developed videos, programs and workshops that address violence. PEACE provides youth with opportunities to create positive change in their community, build healthy relationships and develop leadership skills.
the road to recovery
A Letter from BJ Morris, Community Initiative Troupe Participant and Mixed Company Theatre Volunteer "I am writing in support of Mixed Company Theatre’s work with drug prevention, youth and homeless initiatives. I have worked with Mixed Company Theatre through the Community Initiative Project, which has given me the experience in acting and to meet new people in the community.
This project kept me focused on my journey to staying clean off drugs, not only did it give me the inner strength, however it also brought my self-esteem up to where I now feel more confident about myself. Mixed Company Theatre assisted me in better focusing my outlooks on how to deal with certain situations in a more appropriate manner.
Before the project, I was already on my road to recovery; however I kept falling into the same negative patterns. Mixed Company Theatre helped me realize my potential from the moment I witnessed them at Sistering, a drop-in centre. When they came, I thought I’d give it a try, just to pass time. As the month went by I realized that there where things I did that I didn’t think I would be able to do, like; acting, administrative duties, and communicating with the public in a proper manner.
I am now volunteering at Mixed Company Theatre, and it has given me something to look forward to do and something that I also enjoy doing.
It is my hope that the City of Toronto will provide funding for Mixed Company’s youth initiatives programs."
Betty Jo Morris, Mixed Company Theatre Volunteer & Community Initiative Troupe Participant
Some tips for youth on how to avoid drug use.
25 for 25
” A great learning experience. I learned lots about the topic of homelessness and drugs that I wouldn’t have learned if I wasn’t in this group.”
-Community Initiative Participant
Above: Poster for Three Loonie Opera, the 2009 Community Initiative show, designed by Brenda Coombs, a Community Initiative Troupe Participant
the Community Initiative Project
|In 1990, Mixed Company launched the first Community Initiative Project, offering a forum and a voice for people who have experienced homelessness and street life. This collective theatre experience challenges common conceptions and misconceptions about people who live a different lifestyle. It has garnered intense media interest and has resulted in transforming experiences, for both participants and company members alike.|
The intern gets a taste of forum theatre
A response by Kendra Marr, Mixed Company Theatre’s Intern from OISE "In the fall of 2008 I was invited, as a new teacher candidate, to attend the Safe Schools Conference at OISE. I immediately signed up for the morning event titled, Masks of Manipulation: Forum Theatre Workshop. Who knew that only three weeks into teachers college, I would be given an opportunity to participate and learn about forum theatre in an educational context? This was exciting to me for one reason: I’ve always known that I wanted to teach drama in a secondary school. During my studies at the University of Waterloo, I was introduced to Augusto Boal and his Theatre of the Oppressed. I was intrigued by the function of the forum theatre and began imagining how I could use forum in my own classroom (when I eventually had one, of course).
It is now spring 2009, and my time at OISE is almost over. To complete my year of teacher education I knew I had to be part of Simon’s Mixed Company Theatre for my final internship. Mixed Company welcomed me as part of the team from day one. As an introduction, I was invited to view their final showing of What If..? at George Harvey Collegiate Secondary School in Toronto. The show was everything I expected it to be.
The grade twelve students were fairly talkative, but none-the-less engaged by the humour of the show. It is always difficult to gauge exactly how focused a student actually is, which is why the second piece of the presentation and the use of forum theatre is so important. Students were eager to voice their opinions. Many of their ideas were quite sophisticated and it was obvious that they had been engaged with the content of the production, no matter how chatty they may have been during the performance.
After having a chance to deconstruct the characters and the issues, students were invited to show the audience how they would have dealt with a specific situation within the play differently than was presented. The first student was asked to change a scene and convince a friend that he was using drugs too often. It became clear to the audience and the "Spect-actor" on stage, just how difficult it can be sometimes to have a heart to heart conversation with a friend about a serious issue. The volunteer was unable to overcome the peer pressure which sparked a short group dialogue about how difficult it can be to stick to your own values. A second volunteer was invited to change a scene in which her character was supposed to get into a car with her ‘high’ boyfriend. This brave student did not cave to the pressures of the scene and stayed calm no matter how difficult the actor became. This scene then sparked further conversation about the repercussions of driving impaired.
My teacher education has taught me the importance of having students think critically and actively engage in their own learning. Forum theatre allows for critical thinking and than forces students to act on their ideas and work through a process to find solutions, and more importantly, find new questions to ask. What If…? accomplished just that with the George Harvey students . I am thrilled to be part of Mixed Company Theatre! I know that what I am able to gain from this experience will only benefit my students in the future. Here’s to a great internship with Mixed Company!"
25 for 25
"MXCO means more than people in the office or on the board. It means the dynamic interactions between actors and audience that occur every day."
-Grant Dougans, President, MXCO Board of Directors
From Left to Right: Duncan McCallum (with Taz, the chihuahua), Daniel Booth, Kendra Marr and Ainsley Skye
A Tribute to Augusto Boal (1931-2009)
A response by Simon Malbogat, Mixed Company Theatre Artistic Director
Augusto Boal, founder of Theatre of the Oppressed and Legislative Theatre, passed away on May 2, 2009. A Nobel Peace Prize nominee, he was a theatre director, writer and politician.
"I met Augusto Boal in 1985 during a Canadian Popular Theatre Alliance Festival and learned about the Theatre of the Oppressed and its techniques. Augusto opened the idea of breaking down the fourth wall, and started me on a path of interactive theatre.
At the time I wondered how to apply these concepts to the theatre that I was involved with and found it very difficult until 1990 when I became the artistic director of Mixed Company Theatre. I quite quickly started to use forum theatre to create theatre with the community collaborating with youth, the homeless and various other sectors of society. I began to apply the fantastic concepts that Augusto talked about and showed us during the workshops sessions.
I found that it was natural to me to become a Joker and I have loved the role ever since.
Watching Augusto enjoy his relationship with his audience, or as he called them, the spect-actors, was a joy to behold. In 1991, after viewing four Mixed Company forum theatre presentations, Augusto honoured Mixed Company by inviting us to become a centre of the Theatre of the Oppressed, which we have been for the last 18 years.
I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge Augusto Boal for taking theatre back to its roots where everyone is creative and are experts within their own lives. The idea of working with a group of people and trying to come up with options, alternatives and possible solutions to problems that were presented, set me on the course of using theatre as a tool for social change and I thank Augusto.
On behalf of everyone at Mixed Company Theatre, I’d like to extend our condolences to the Boal family, and the many people whose lives have been touched by him."
Augusto Boal (1931-2009)
Simon Malbogat Artistic Director
Mixed Company Theatre
Thank you to our generous supporters! City of Toronto Public Health City of Toronto Community Investment Programs City of Toronto Homeless Initiative Fund Saint Luke’s United Church The Fleck Family Foundation
The George Lunan Foundation
The Lewfam Foundation
The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation