Celebrating 20 years of affecting personal & social transformation in and through the arts
2023 is Stage Left's 20th Anniversary! As an indie arts company that has had to exist on the margins of the professional arts sector, we're super proud to still be going strong and making so much impact with too few resources!
Building Back Better
We've come out of the Covid crisis thriving, by returning to our roots as a Centre for the Theatre of the Oppressed. This renewed focus on artist-community collaboration has enabled us to reforge super solid relationships with some potent change makers in arts and non-arts sectors. Together, we are working toward these goals:
1. Truth & Reconciliation: Advance TRC Calls 18-24 (health-focused), by innovating Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) into an holistic engagement modality, as artists-in-residence to the Indigenous, Local & Global Health Office (ILGHO);
2. National: Decolonize western notions of "disability", by expanding the disability arts domain's focus from "disability" to "disablement" and from "access" to "practice", through continued collaboration with the ILGHO, our DDMAAC network activity, an original production and a practice-focused disability theatre symposium; and
3. Regional: Forge intergenerational knowledge exchange among the equity-seeking, through the promotion of (a) early examples of counter-cultural production in Calgary's arts sector and of (b) political pluralism as a potent pathway to systemic social justice.
Putting counter-culturalism centre stage
1. Closet Freaks: A highly original QueerCrip Production
We're cripping the body politic, by stripping away layers of disabling oppression in this co-pro with Alan Shain and Karine Rathle; premiering at Step Right Up! A Practice-Focused Disability Theatre Symposium. Visit the website.
2. Step Right Up: A Practice-Focused Disability Theatre Symposium
We're putting aesthetic non-normativity back in the Disability Arts domain's limelight. Because "access" is just a condition for Disability Arts, not the goal. Besides: Why try to fit in when you were born to stand out? Visit the website.
3. The Art of Change
Holliston Logan, our Digital Impact Coordinator, is hard at work on our 20th Anniversary Celebration Campaign. Through The Art of Change, we're promoting the personal & social transformation that our vibrant practice has continually effected – over two decades and counting! The project has three parts:
3.1 Then & Now Podcasts
- Decolonizing Disability, w/ Drs. Lindsay Crowshoe & Pamela Roach, Holliston Logan and Michele Decottignies
- eValuating Diversity, w/ AJA Louden, Leo Gonzales, Hollyiston Logan and Michele Decottignies
- Staging Aesthetic Representation, w/ Caleb Marshall and Michele Decottignies
- The Whole Story, w/ Dr. Lindsay Crowshoe, Charlene Hellson and Michele Decottignies
Holliston is also building this intergenerational knowledge exchange platform, to celebrate a long history of diversity in Calgary's arts sector, through digital profiles of examples of counter-cultural artistic production that was produced locally, between 1980 and 2010.
3.3 Stage Left Wikis
Rebecca Burton is hard at work on a Stage Left Wikipedia page (that's actually 12 pages long!). She's also adding our (long invisiblized) contributions to disability arts to a few related Wiki pages and our Popular Theatre practice impacts to several open sources databases - like The Pledge Project and the Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia.
Amplifying artist-community collaboration
1. Urban Interventions
We use Invisible Theatre to put critical social issues on the public policy radar in these pop-up social justice encounters – because, as Harvey Milk once said, "politics is theatre".
2. The KIT Podcast
Our AD is part of a team producing podcasts on Indigenous coping strategies during Covid, called Keeping It Together: Stories of Staying Connected During Covid. Visit the website.
3. Arts in Indigenous Health
3.1 Interrupting Toxic Stress
We're supporting the ILGHO to develop a Knowledge Exchange Platform in Public Health, by (a) using artist-community collaboration to disrupt the impacts of Toxic Stress on Indigenous Youth and (b) hosting a Legislative Theatre Assembly.
3.2 Changing health systems
We're innovating Forum Theatre into Faculty Development and Continued Medical Education activities, through an embodied apprenticeship that fills in the gaps between learning and doing in public health equity.
3.3 Supporting Patients
We're collaborating with rural and urban patients to develop Forum theatre advocacy tools, that disrupt racism in ER Triage Protocols, Family Medicine and Diabetes Management.
3.4 Training health providers
We're super happy to be collaborating with Dr. Janet de Groot on adapting Forum Theatre into an Indigenous Mental Health teaching tool for Psychiatry Residents; and with Dr. Whalen-Brown to use Forum Theatre as cultural competency training in Family Medicine.
It's our honour to be immersing the Cumming School of Medicine's yr 3 clerkship students in Community Engaged Learning workshops.
1. The Radical Love Coalition
Several grassroots community organizers from within our CCEDA network have come together into this social justice cohort. We're using street art to organize around common cause, across our disparate social identities, and promoting political pluralism as a potent pathway to systemic change.
2. Global Citizens: Peer-to-Peer Practice Exchange
As a global Centre for the Theatre of the Oppressed, we engage in solidarity with, share tricks of the trade among and apprentice diverse jokers from around the world.
Andrea Brose, our General manager, is guiding us through a process of creating a bottom-up model of governance and operations, for grassroots, artist-driven orgs like ours. Through a collaborative process of decolonizing and equalizing arts sector Bylaws, Policies and Procedures and the Intellectual Property Rights of founding Artistic Directors, we're co-creating a more equitable model of operations for ourselves, and the indie ad hoc collectives that we provide PD supports to via our CCEDA Network (and DDMAAC too).
Expanding our team:
Since 2023 is the busiest year we've ever put in during our 20 years of operations, we've (very happily) added many new people to our collaborating team (all of whom are listed on our people page). Welcome to: Andrea Brose, Holliston Jennifer Logan, Rebecca Burton, Karine Rathle, Megan Sampson, Isabella Reis, Corrie Goddoy-Contois, Sam Workman, and RJ Peters. We're excited for so many more of you to come still this year!
What an awesome 20 years it's been.