Tag Archives: Arts

Social change and transformation through theatre, music, painting and other arts.

The Harp and Healing


We just learned that Rita Costanzi will be giving another concert at Hesperus this Sunday, March 4 at 4pm.  (Program here.)  Not only is Rita a remarkable musician – she is always challenging the boundaries of her art , exploring modalities of theatre, healing and personal transformation.

Of particular interest to Hesperus friends is her loving interest in healing and palliative care.  She has collected some related material on her web page: Harp and Healing.

If you’re free Sunday afternoon, I encourage you to come and experience Rita and the harp in person!



Bringing Theatre To Life

profile_alexkarolyi_mainI met Alex Karolyi several years ago, and was really inspired by her energy and enthusiasm.  Her mission of bringing theatre into everyday settings is so relevant and needed!

Her group has produced several programs at Hesperus Village (where I live,) and each time, folks discover new horizons in their lives.  In other words, we’re not just having a good time at an event, but discovering new possibilities for the future.

At the first edition of the Conversation Cafe last month, Alex interviewed Peter Dennis and Mary Warkentin (with her dog.) We often hear older people interviewing younger people, and it’s really refreshing to have it the other way around.  We do have alot to learn from each other!

Oh, and by the way, Alex will have me in the hotseat this Sunday February 11, along with a female guest… Click the link below to register, and to find the dates for future Conversation Cafes:


I Am Entangled!

doll-7-2-1Overheard last evening at the opening of Constructed Identities:

Separated from ourselves tied together by discarded bits and pieces…This is a gallery with tragedy and joy…Disability is just part of being human – it’s not an adjustment.  Sighted people are afraid of what they can’t imagine…Be in your body and emotions in whatever way makes you comfortable…

How refreshing to be in a roomful of (very diverse) people surrounded by these entangling sculptures!  I also look forward to spending some time in the gallery when it’s a little quieter.  (The exhibit runs until July 6.)

Reel Abilities – Understanding Media In New Ways


Marshall McLuhan wrote Understanding Media in 1964, and 52 years later, we are still struggling to understand. Media literacy is a wicked oxymoron – a contradiction in terms.  I often feel baffled, confused, and even overwhelmed.

What happens when my identity is constructed by disconnected random events?  I felt this way yesterday when I visited the Constructed Identities exhibit at the Tangled Arts Gallery.

What happens when I make choices freely, and guide my life accordingly?  I am learning that people with visible or defined disabilities make great teachers.  For this reason, I am looking forward to the upcoming ReelAbilities Film Festival – understanding media in new ways.

Here are links to trailers for the featured films:

Endless Abilities

A Whole Lott More


The Way He Looks

The Interviewer

Deaf Jam

The Rainbow Kid



Touch Of The Light



Constructing Identities in Mental Health Week


Constructed Identities, an exhibit of new works by Persimmon Blackbridge, opens Wednesday at the new Tangled Arts Gallery in Toronto.  I attended an artist’s talk and preview last evening, and was moved by the experience.  She gives a compelling counter-narrative to many of the messages circulating during Mental Health Week, and the exhibit deserves wider attention.

Readers of this blog will understand why I think the subject of Constructed Identities is so relevant. We so often affix labels to people – often without their consent – and then expect them to conform to our standards of socially-defined sanity.  Rather than helping to heal people, we constrict them. How is it possible for folks to give meaning and direction to their lives, when their very identities are imposed on them from outside?

I am grateful when people with defined disabilities come forward and express themselves, as Persimmon has done.  She helps to wake the rest of us up.  Everyone has disabilities, and it’s the undefined ones – hidden, ignored and denied – that do the most damage.

The opening reception of Constructed Identities is on Wednesday, May 4th, 7-9pm at 401 Richmond St. West.  Maybe I’ll see you there.


The Palantir: Losing Sight Of J.R.R. Tolkien

pippin-palantirThe Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies were beautifully produced and set new standards for cinematic art.  I recently watched them again (on a small screen!) and thoroughly enjoyed  the experience.

Having said that, there are many aspects of Jackson’s treatment of the story  that are not supported by the Tolkien text.  And to some extent, this is fine.  Of course it’s necessary to make adjustments when translating a book into a movie.  However, it’s  unfortunate when key elements of Tolkien’s ethos get distorted, or lost altogether.  Some examples:

  • The omission of Tom Bombadil.  These scenes are critical for understanding  the resilience and ingenuity of the hobbits as they face the subsequent challenges of the quest.
  • Protracted battle scenes.  In the book, the battle for Helm’s Deep is a short episode (13 pages or 3% of the text) while in the movie, it seems to go on forever.
  • Hobbits as (anti-) heroes.  In the book, the hobbits influence others through a kind of moral persuasion, but they aren’t actually expected to DO much.  In the movies, Jackson makes them heroes.  (e,g. Pippin drawing Treebeard into the conflict.)
  • The Palantir, the Seeing Stone, that which looks far away.  In the book, Pippin’s experience of the Palantir is a warning, a test for Gandalf, who quickly gives it to Aragorn for safekeeping.  In the movie, Gandalf uses it to learn Sauron’s intentions, which really seems like something that Saruman would do!

Are we losing sight of Tolkien’s message? Reading the books again I am struck by the gentle quality of the text.  The magic deeds are understated, with none of the flashy devices featured in the movies.  Of course there is violence in the book, but the majority of the text is devoted to describing the web of activities – physical and transcendent – that made it possible to penetrate the darkness and transform it.

Conclusion:  if you want to see like Tolkien, you have to read his books.

Barrie gets the WEAVE

ttg31_318x412The World Wide Weave is a travelling fabric art exhibit with contributions from Camphill communities around the world.  (The image on the left is from Vietnam; click here to see a wide selection of other images.) The Weave has been enthusiastically received by audiences across Europe, and arrives at the Collier St. United Church in Barrie on April 7th.  It runs until April 22.  I encourage you to come – it’s a once in-a-lifetime  opportunity!  While you’re  in Barrie, be sure to visit the Camphill Store. (More information)

As well as being a beautiful exhibit in its own right,  the Weave is also a demonstration of the power of social art.  When a group of people with diverse backgrounds collaborates on a piece of textile art, they are not just weaving physical threads – they are renewing, strengthening and re-shaping the fabric of community life.  I believe this exhibit will be inspiring for many!