Monday, September 10, 2007

a little catching up

HOwdy folKS!

Well - i have a wee bit of catching up to do - things have been flying feirce and ferocious, and only in the best possible ways.

alleyjaunt was a GAS!! Not only did we all have a really great time - not only were our hosts super-wonderful, with four great kids who helped us set up - not only did the folks who came to visit us seem to have a good experience - we were awarded the MOST FUN award by the Children's Choice awards!!!
What a treat. We received a trophy made of mostly of chocolate, wax and pipe cleaners, which we positioned in a place of honour in our garage. We'll put up some photos, as soon as the kooks distribute them.


Then after that, Leah Houston and Cardboard heart's very own Junior Assistant Imaginaut noah Kenneally put together a kick-butt community arts project out in Etobicoke. Called Lantern Garden, It was an outdoor art project for kids and families in a little parkette that is in the middle of the Toronto Community Housing Neighbourhood known as Mabelle. Noah and Leah have been working there with Jumblies Theatre for the past few years and put this great little project together with the help of Jumblies and the Lawrence Family Foundation.

We made lanterns, drew pictures, planted herbs and flowers, drew on rocks, repaired and decorated one of the park benches, repainted the wading pool, told stories, did some sidewalk chalk art, ate snacks and generally had a good time. Here are some pictures from that.

Leah took this photo - Qadar, Osama, Farrah and noah putting the bench back together.

Leah also took this photo - this is the wading pool, freshly repainted by us and the kids.

Noah took this photo - the lantern festival, a celebration of our project - almost 150 folks showed up! We lit the lanterns we'd made, ate cookies and drank lemonade together.

OK! So that's caught up now! Stay tuned for more wild and crazy stories, y'all!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

come one, come all to ALLEYJAUNT!!

OK, folks at home, hope you're all well.

ALLEYJAUNT is fast approaching and i wanted to let you all know how much fun it's going to be.

The answer is: LOADS!!!!

check this out - click on it to view it in all it's gigantic splendour :

The Lab is going to be positioned in Garage #24, in the alleyway between Montrose and Crawford. We wanglers will be offering two make-yer-own-box-that-tells-stories workshops a day and a chance for all folks to perform their toy theatres, either on our daily performance parade or in our garage/workshop/theatrespace.

It's going to be fun. It's going to be great. We'll be there from 11pm - 6pm Saturday and Sunday, having fun and making art with anyone who wants to. Remember, IT"S NOT JUST FOR KIDS! Come along and tell some of your own stories, glue things together, have a ball.

We like you. Hope to see you soon!
For more info on Alleyjaunt go to the website -

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Hey there folks at home

Next thing the Lab will be doing, (other than learning how to relax) is the wonderful fantabulous Alleyjaunt, the garage and alley art festival that happens in the alleyways surrounding Trinity-Bellwoods park.
Over the weekend of August 11th and 12th, from 11 am to 6pm, folks'll be able to come and check out the newest incarnation of GLIMPSES OF EXTRAORDINARY LIVES, an ongoing community engaged toy theatre project. You may remember the project from last year's Art Crawl, or from the RED Cabaret - GLIMPSES has been running for almost four years now and is still going strong!
We'll be offering workshops in how to make your own toy theatre and show, and we'll also have a parade every evening to show off our creations and there's even rumour that there'll be nightly puppet shows!
Participating Imagination Re-calibrators and janitors of the collective unconcious will be:
Sir Joel Brubacher
The Lady Lisa Pijuan-Nomura
Dr. Doctor Professor/Philosopher leah houston
The Learned Mister Sean Frey.
Of course, noah kenneally, Assistant Imagination Chiropodist and masseur-of-the-unconcious, will be on hand as well as on foot.
Check this blog for more detailed info soon, and the delightful AlleyJaunt website at

photo by Melanie Gordon
Alleyjaunt logo by Alleyjaunters

Thursday, May 31, 2007

in my language

the world is an absolutely amazing place.
so hard to understand and different and complicated, way more complicated, beautiful and heart-wrenching than we can begin to imagine.
my brilliant housemate shelly, who is a talented dancer and choreographer and who also has worked and makes art with people in the disabilities community, showed me this wonderful film posted on YOUTUBE.
Go here and get ready to have your mind and heart opened wider -
A M Baggs lights up the world with her perspective.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

photos of bridge of one hair

a very nice person, a friend of one of the adult choir members, posted a bunch of photos of the show on her flickr site, including this one of Somali superstar Faduma N'kruma.
to see the rest of the photos, go to the flickr site, and do a search for 'bridge of one hair'. there are also a couple up there by Trevor Schwellnus, our genius technical director.
The show was an incredible experience, and an avalanche of details to coordinate. Now we're winding down - will post news of the Lab's coming activities soon.
best - enjoy the springtime!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

bridge of one hair

Hi folks -

So, i said a while ago that i'd tell you about the production/installation that i'm working on with Jumblies Theatre. It's called Bridge of One Hair, and will be happening down at Harbourfront Center for the Arts April 25th-29th.

Coming out of Jumblies' long-term residency in the Mabelle community in Central Etobicoke, the theatre production braids together different strands of story. A Gaelic fairytale of a brave young girl, the inspiring life-story of a famous Somali poet, and the buried history of the land that Mabelle stands on itself are woven together to make a tapestry-like theatre experience. Involving folks from the community of all ages, professional artists, actors and musicians, an original musical score, puppetry, movement and two choirs, the performance aspect of Bridge of One Hair is an experimental community arts piece taking place outside it's home community.
The installation aspect will be exhibiting the work that Jumblies has been doing with the community members for the past three years. It will provide backstory and context for the project as a whole, as well as giving folks a glimpse of the wonderful work that Mabelle residents have been creating.

For more info, or tickets to the show, you all can go look at Harbourfront's website -

or the Jumblies website -

It's going to be something, so come on over and check it out. This is what i've been working so hard on, with a wonderful team of artists and an amazing group of people who live in the neighbourhood. I always learn so much on productions like this - it's incredible.

Monday, March 19, 2007

lily yeh and the village of arts and humanities

These busy days of production time - about which i'll be telling you all soon - i'm finding myself looking for sustaining bits of inspiration. Lily Yeh's work is a source of that good kind of imagination juice for me. Here is a photo of one mural in the Village of Arts and Humanities, a community arts project/center/revolution in North Philidelphia. I will DEFINITELY be talking more soon about the Village too.
Happy days! Even if the snow is coming down again.
To do research on your own, google 'Lily Yeh' or 'the Village of Arts and Humanities'.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

wouldja look at that

hey folks -
found some amazing pictures of the desert on the internet - the sonoran and mohave desert, and the canyons in utah and arizona. this one was taken by a man named Klaus Lux and you can find them here -

Sunday, February 25, 2007

jeanette winterson and the tree of meaning

Busy busy blog day here at the Lab - after a bit of a dry spell too.

Well...the genius has struck again.

Please please read this amazing article written by Jeanette Winterson for the Times Book Review,about a book called The Tree of Meaning by Robert Bringhurst. The book is about the necessity of story, it's relevance to culture and the danger culture is in; and the article talks about the importance of art and how capitalism INTERRUPTS our lives constantly. The book sounds great - the article is brilliant.

Wow, is she ever smart.

Here's the article e-ddress -
Please read it. It's good.

The tree image was found at -

new Speak coming up

The next speak is Monday, March 5th at It's Not a Deli on Queen West. Last time we had a lovely little blast in the raging snowstorm - a bunch of folks showed up, troopers that they are and we had a really good time.
The fabulous line up this installment consists of - Evalyn Parry, Jeffrey Canton and Marianne Apostolides!

SPEAK at It's Not A Deli
986 Queen Street West (at Ossington)
Time: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Admission: $5 to $10


Dear everyone -

As you may know, the audio division of the Lab - THE INFLAMMABLES - will be provoking nostalgia and cluppering their way through a few songs at the most marvelous upcoming RED - A Night of Live Performance. Taking place at Lula Lounge, located at 1585 Dundas St. W. between Brock and Dufferin, the evening of WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28th - doors open at 7pm things get rolling at 8pm $12 at the door.

Hopefully, you already know that this RED is a special FUNDRAISING Night of Live Performance - doing it's best to raise a little cashola for the upcoming RED FESTIVAL, also known as Lisa is a Little Crazy. The Festival will feature 120 artists from all over the place, over 4 days. Yikes.

THE INFLAMMABLES are a loose and kooky wangle of musicians and non-musicians who delight in making music and non-music and good times. The audio division of Cardboard heart Imagination Laboratory, they experiment with musical storytelling, time-travel using song and toy instruments, and occasionally lip-syncing their way into your hearts. This time around THE INFLAMMABLES are Joel Brubacher, Lisa DiLiberto, and noah kenneally - and always the incredible Andrea Peneycad, with us in spirit.


flaming ukulele INFLAMMABLES image made by nk at the Lab

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

an exhibit of glimpses


For those of you in Toronto - the Lab has an exhibit of toy theatres from the wildly successful ongoing community-engaged project 'Glimpses of EXTRAORDINARY Lives' up at Alternative Grounds, a fair trade coffee shop on Roncesvalles.
If you're in town, wander on by and say hi to the fantastic team of folks behind the counter, and then check out the show on the back walls. The Lab is sharing the galleryspace for the month of February with the talented Elisha MacMillan - a cumulative and collaborative show.
Go take a gander and get caffeinated, or i recommend the Soy Rooibos Chai Latte!

Alternative Grounds can be found at
333 Roncesvalles Ave. (south of Howard Park)
easy to get to (if you're in Toronto) by taking the 504 streetcar from Dundas west Station


photo by Melanie Gordon, toy theatre by nk and Leah Houston at the Lab

Monday, February 5, 2007

A lot of things in the air

Hey all, if there are any -

Working working working, and the sun rises and sets and our lives carry on and the lives of others swirl around us and intertwine and launch off into new directions...i am overwhelmed by the constantness of everything, by the extreme juggling act my daily living has become.

I'm learning how to co-ordinate larger projects with Jumblies Theatre these days - doing my best to learn how to bring people together at the right times and help all involved towards a common, not-yet-visible goal - and at the same time trying to forge time to have my own small secret life on the interior. How to split my conciousness between these things, the large many-directioned collective and the sort-of small and personal quiet? A question, and another question --- these days it's always asking questions.

Like, how come we so easily disregard our old people?
And, does recycling really happen?
And, if so many of our stories follow along similar twists and turns, why is it so hard to listen to each other?


This just in from one of the wellsprings of inspiration in my life, Jeanette Winterson -

"For the first time ever, I have momentarily given way to despair. I look at my geo-thermal heating system, and my eco-bulbs, and my recycling, and my half a bag of rubbish per week, and all the trees and hedging I’ve planted – not just now but over the years, and I feel like I’ve done nothing – or rather the something that I have done is nothing.

But I know I can’t think like that. No matter how little, no matter how pointless it seems it has to be done, because as well as the direct impact, there is something harder to quantify, which is a spirit of change. And that only happens when more and more of us believe that our efforts are worth the effort.

If one more person says to me ‘Ah but China… meaning so what’s the point of anything we do, I will stuff their smug, knowing despondent face in a bucket of low-fat yoghurt.

HOW WE LIVE MAKES A DIFFERENCE. If we fall victim to the ideology of apathy we go straight down into that Dante circle of Hell reserved for those ‘who wilfully live in sadness.’ The sad shake of the head, the worldly-wise shrug of the shoulders, what can we do? Answer – everything we can do, big and small, and bring up the kids to do better. There might still be time. I believe in second chances and miracles, whatever the weather, whatever the science. Oh God, give it a go. Who is to say for sure that it’s too late?"

Go see her website if you like -

I must keep on, juggling like crazy and curving inward around that small quiet dark i keep lit by my little candle, both at the same time - and continue believing how we live makes a difference, in the face of it all.

Is that my revolution now?
Maybe, and keeping asking questions.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

the history of oil

Hey all y'all, if there are actually any of you looking at this...
My dad told me about this great and informative film on the Google video site - Robert Newman's The History of Oil is very smart and fun to watch, even if it's content is appalling and scary.

copy this whole string into your address window (or whatever it's called) to watch it -

and then go visit

A very worthwhile call to get up and think.
There is hope - as Mr. Newman says - it's going to take a lot of work and a lot of change, but we just might be able to do it.
Watch it, and if you have any great ideas, let us all know.

speak revamped! come one come all!

SPEAK - An evening of visual and verbal storytelling
Curated by Lisa Pijuan-Nomura, Noah Kenneally and Ann McDougall
Speak is a new storytelling series that happens the first Monday of every month at our new home at It's Not A Deli in the Queen West Neighbourhood.
Each evening will feature three tellers of contrasting styles and will include an open story jam where audience members are welcome to share their stories.

2007 Winter/Spring Dates
February 5
March 5
April 2
May 7

It's Not A Deli
986 Queen Street West (at Ossington)
Time: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Admission: $5 to $10

We are always looking for more tellers!
If you want any more info please do contact us at

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

toy theatre parade at Art Crawl 2006

This is Joel, Leah and i wandering through the crowds at the Queen West Art Crawl last summer. The Puppet Project we did there consisted of two mobile parade galleries/performances and a stationary Toy Theatre Gallery. We had quite a few participants, ranging in ages from their early 40's down to 3 years old.

photo by Melanie Gordon

the VIVA! conference in Mexico

In December i participated in a conference that was ending a three year project linking community artists and popular educators across the Americas. I wrote this chunk of words as a record of the thing, and as a way to explain to my grandmothers what the heck i was doing.


December 14th to the 22nd, I went down to San Cristobal de las Casas, a town in the state of Chiapas in Mexico, to attend a conference on community arts and popular education in the Americas. I was part of a Canadian delegation, representing the company that I’ve been working with on and off for the past five years, Jumblies Theatre.
It was a really amazing and rewarding experience. I was in Mexico for only eight days, but we managed to pack a lot into those days! We flew into Mexico City on the first day, and spent the evening wandering around, catching a small glimpse of the largest city in the world. We got to see Diego Rivera’s murals in the Ministry of Education building – 3 floors of continuous murals encircling 2 beautiful courtyards. The architecture was so beautiful too: because of earthquakes things don’t get built much above 4 stories, so the city is low but sprawling. It fills entirely an enormous valley with mountains on all sides. And it’s wall-to-wall city!
That night we slept in a hostel and the next day gathered all together – almost 30 folks from all over Latin America, Canada and the States. Then we got into 2 big 15-passenger vans and drove for 13 hours across a quarter of the country of Mexico to get to Chiapas. We passed through 3 different states – Puebla, Veracruz and a good part of Chiapas itself – and very late at night arrived in San Cristobal, where we had dinner before heading to the Universidad de la Tierra, an indigenous university on the outskirts of town.

The university is a place for the indigenous communities can go be educated without having to give up their languages or customs, and is very self-sufficient and extremely rustic. No running water, the electricity goes off at 11pm and is supplied by a noisy generator, and hot shower-water was heated by generous students who woke up before dawn to light fires to supply a small trickle. Most of the time I opted for cold showers, in gratitude and guilt-- and was also grateful for the hard beds and plain nourishing food – it was a taste of how a lot of folks in this world live, and getting a sense first-hand is unbelievably valuable. I’ve lived rustic before, but this was something else entirely.
The next day, my third in Mexico, we all went into town to have a little exploration time, after an orientation meeting about the conference. The whole conference was bilingual – both in English and Spanish. We had two translators and fancy radio receiver equipment and each had our own headset, so if someone was speaking Spanish the translator would transmit in English and vice-versa. My Spanish wasn’t very good to begin with, but rapidly got better out of necessity. My Spanish-speaking friends and the friends I made at the conference helped immensely.

The next day the conference started in earnest.

We met morning, noon, and night – while we ate and right before going to sleep. We disagreed with each other about some things, and did our best to do it gently, and agreed about other things. We gave presentations about our different projects, had discussions about what the heck community arts and popular education are anyways (the debate is still raging, I have to say, we didn’t come up with any unified definitions or theories, but did have some important conversations). We watched videos, participated in workshops, and tried our best to build bridges across gaps between our disciplines and cultural differences.It was a lot of work, and I came away feeling very rich, and enriched. It was a very open and critical environment, where we were very happy to offer constructive feedback about other people’s projects and receive some about our own. I came back even more excited to listen to people and make art together with them, and to learn more about power structures and how to operate in healthy ways inside them, and also how to build healthier ones. I’m excited to try to apply what I learned to my work.

The conference made me feel like I have so much more to learn, which I think is a really healthy attitude. I came back with more questions about how I work and how the projects I work with do things, and a couple of useful tricks up my sleeve. I need to learn more about power structures, all different kinds – within organizations, interactions between people, and in communities – and learn how to make healthier ones. Keep asking questions is a new motto of mine.
We ended the conference deciding to decentralize the organizing body of the project that had brought us together, and to become a network across the Americas. Pretty fantastic – our next meeting will be in Nicaragua in 2008.
A lot of people had stomach problems on the trip, but mine didn’t start until I got home! We had a long trip back to Mexico City and then parted ways. After such an intense time together we’re trying to stay in touch with each other with the VIVA! Website and working together in ways and workshops.

Photo by Nancy Zuniga of Universidad del la Tierra's view of San Christobal

Sunday, January 14, 2007

here we go

The Lab is a mutli-disciplinary company that does a lot of things - conducts research using art processes, engages communities in art projects, ropes in various talented individuals to perform and partake in wild and wacky events and explorations, and ventures off into its own smaller individual art wanderings. I think i want to use this as a place to document all the things the we're up to here - and let people know what's coming up in terms of participatory projects, shows and opportunities for engagement.

More to come!

image by nk at the Lab