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Recounting Huronia Cabaret

Posted May 24th, 2016 in events

Recounting Huronia Cabaret

“We all got hurt. We are still hurting…But survivors, we’re strong together.” Harold Dougall

The Recounting Huronia Cabaret took place this past Friday, May 20 at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. 

Throughout 2012/3 an arts and research collective slowly gathered Huronia Regional Centre (HRC) survivors and experienced artists-scholars to work alongside each other, co-imagining the shape of the project, Recounting Huronia. The collective met monthly through 2014/5 to experiment with poetry, photography, storytelling, theatre, dance, and other forms in order to capture and move beyond the experience of living at HRC. 

The cabaret arose from these workshops, providing an opportunity for an audience to learn about the lives of those who as children and youth were forcibly institutionalized. It described a past and suggested that a future can exist for those who live with difference and disability. The Recounting Huronia collective performed for friends and family, as well as experts in disability scholarship and the Toronto arts community.

The cabaret included the following highlights: 
-CarrieAnne Ford and Patricia Seth re-enacted punishments they had experienced at the hands of staff member Mrs. Green.
-Marie Slark recited a letter she had read in court when pursuing a class action lawsuit on behalf of HRC survivors.
-Barry Smith presented examples of labour he was forced to carry out while institutionalized.
-David Houston recounted his experience of running away from HRC, and his daughter Jessie Houston performed a musical number.
-An ensemble of survivors performed a dance routine to convey the experience of being trapped. 
-Harold Dougall engaged with the audience in a call-and-answer speech, and moderated a question and answer period.
-Cindy Scott shared her history of sexual violence and came out to the audience as a proud lesbian. 

Resident visual artist nancy viva davis halifax produced artifacts to represent each performer. In the picture posted, a handkerchief is embroidered with a quote from Patricia Seth: "just one tear."

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