OFF THE CORNER PRODUCTIONS
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Co-Directors: Donna-Michelle St. Bernard & Jiv Parasram
Playwright: Lili Robinson
Dramaturg: Joanna Garfinkel
Max: Lili Robinson
Mz. Nancy: Alisha Davidson
Samantha: Emily Jane King
The Map: Ivy Charles
Costume, Hair & Makeup Designer: CS Fergusson-Vaux
Lighting Designer: Fil Wiatrak
Set & Props Designer: Ariel Slack
Sound Designer: Todd Simmons
Choreographer: Marisa Gold
ASL Interpreters: Courage Bacchus & Hodan Youssouf
ASL Coach: Jenelle Rouse
Stage Manager: Heather Barr
Producer: Shanae Sodhi
Co-Producer: Lili Robinson
Technical Director: Cody Biles
Head Audio: Kyra Soko
Head Audio: Chris Engleman
Head Video: Kaden O’Reilly
Head Electrician: Nicole Weismiller
Videographer: Cameron Anderson
Camera Operator: Cristian Oriak
The world has changed, and so has Mx.
Everybody’s tired. Everybody’s burnt. Social media is not a substitute for connection, and it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to be in a room with other people without fear.
How to reach you when all of this is true?
Perhaps what I can offer here, as a note of some usefulness, is this:
Our histories are stored in our bodies, literally.
Our ancestors, their experiences, their survival, their resilience, their flaws and trauma—all of this is literally coded into our cells. (Resmaa Menakem is a great resource on this; thank you to Alisha Davidson for sharing his work with me.)
There are things we’ve been taught that are older than the womb.
It’s up to us what we do with what’s been taught to us.
Dismantling white supremacy (and the interlocking oppressions that accompany it) is not just systems work, it’s soul work. It requires that we grapple with the way the past literally lives inside our present bodies. This work is different for each of us and it requires both interdependence and deep self-reflection. It requires the soul-deep understanding that no one is free until everyone is free (thank you, Fannie Lou Hamer); and that when you get free, it’s up to you to free someone else (thank you, Harriet Tubman).
These days there are so many new ancestors. They are our friends and loved ones and people we’ve never met. They are here with us tonight, particularly those we choose to name.
“At a collective level, this is the invitation to practice the world we wish to see in the current landscape. Yes, resist the onslaught of oppression, but measure our success not just by what we stop, but by how many of us can feel, and say:
I am living a life I don’t regret,
A life that will resonate with my ancestors,
and with as many generations forward as I can imagine.”
(Thank you, adrienne maree brown.)
I am grateful for the presence of the ancestors we welcome into the space tonight. I am grateful to my ancestors, who have guided me here.
May what we do here tonight move us towards freedom.
May we dare to create a world of radical love.
Someone tried with all their might to make identity a dirty word, but the idea still has use for us. It matters who we are, even more so who we are trying to be. It matters who we see ourselves connected to, extending from, in relation with. Mx lets us into the vulnerable space where a need to belong is spoken aloud. Whether or not we have the courage to express it for ourselves, we can feel that need resonate. It’s okay to let uncertainty resonate. Before we can find our way, we must first see that we are lost. Through this process, it has been gratifying to collaborate with a gifted and thoughtful team, who made it safe to go to dark places. Chi Meegwetch.
–DM + JP
Progress Lab 1422
All the contributors to Mx’s Mixie Mondays series
All the contributors to Mx’s How We’ve Changed Series
And all of our GoFundMe contributors!
The Cultch staff and Digital Storytelling Team, we really couldn’t have done it without all of your hard work. Thank you for sticking to your values in such a difficult time—you’ve gifted our community with so much.
Mx would like to thank Agentic Communications for their generous sponsorship of Mx’s director Donna-Michelle St. Bernard. Agentic Communications is a firm believer in culturally sensitive work being created with the direct agency, consultation, and leadership of the communities the work involves. We are deeply grateful to Agentic for making Donna-Michelle’s involvement possible.
Mx was developed with the assistance of PTC (Playwrights Theatre Centre) as the recipient of the 2019 Fringe New Play Prize and Cultchivating the Fringe Award.
Mx received workshop support from Alley Theatre as a selected script in their Site-Specific Reading Series.
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the British Columbia Arts Council.
This play references the violent impact of colonization on historical and contemporary Black people in direct language which some may consider graphic.
This performance uses strobe.
Cameron Anderson is a professional videographer with a special focus on live performance. As a filmmaker, he has produced, shot, and edited several short documentaries and films, and is co-directing the upcoming short film Dust. He is the resident process videographer of Neworld Theatre, and the current in-house videographer of The Cultch. He has collaborated with several dozen local arts organizations, including Music on Main, Theatre Replacement, and Electric Theatre Company. He has also built promotional videos for the Vancouver Green Party, Green Party of Canada, and current BC Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau. He is a graduate of the University of Victoria, and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts, with distinction. His film training includes a diploma in Documentary Filmmaking from In Focus Film School, and a practicum with the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
Courage Bacchus—ASL Interpreter
I am Natasha Cecily Bacchus. I am an athlete and performing artist, passionate about deaf advocacy, fitness, and physical expression. Throughout my life, I have nurtured my passion for fitness, competing as a professional athlete and securing medal positions in the Deaf Olympics, Pan Am Olympics, and many other competitive sporting events. As an actress, I have participated in numerous theatre and film productions and have a strong desire to continue to grow and develop as a performing artist, expanding representation to include differently-abled persons and empowering Black Deaf women in Canada to shine on and off the stage.
Heather Barr—Stage Manager:
Heather (she/her) is a queer stage manager based on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Her recent credits include: Buffoon (apprentice–The Arts Club), The Café (ITSAZOO), Catalina La O (JKJK Productions), Double Happiness (N. Tam/R. Jacob), She Mami Wata & The PussyWitch Hunt (the frank theatre), The Troll Grandfather (Axis Theatre), Taming of the Shrew and Shakespeare in Love (apprentice–Bard on the Beach). She was the 2020 recipient of the Jessie Richardson Sam Payne Award for Most Promising Newcomer. She is a graduate of Studio 58.
Ivy Charles—The Map:
Ivy Charles was most recently seen in the Electric Company’s Reframed which is available to watch as part of the National Arts Centre’s Grand Acts Of Theatre. She graduated from Studio 58 theatre program as the COVID crisis began in April 2020. She performed in East Van Panto: Pinocchio. Ivy wrote for Sarasvati Production’s International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues. While studying at Studio 58, her play Inhale was produced as part of the Fourplay series. Ivy was the Head Coordinator of Studio 58 Diversity Committee 2019/2020 and Head Facilitator of the Committee 2018/2019. Ivy voiced The Map in Mx by Lili Robinson, winner of the Cultchivating the Fringe Award and was awarded the Hnatyshyn Developing Artists Grant (English Theatre) 2019.
Alisha Davidson—Mz. Nancy:
Alisha (she/they) is a 2nd generation Jamaican-Canadian currently residing on the unceded, ancestral lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Alisha is a graduate of Canterbury Arts High School and Studio 58. She’s co-facilitated creative drama classes with the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama and Art’s Express. In Spring 2019 she completed the Creative Character Development Through Clown intensive where she learned the fundamentals of Pochinko clown intertwined with bio-kinetic impulse training. She participated in the 2020 Director’s Lab Unit with Rumble Theatre under the mentorship of Maiko Yamamoto. Alisha’s currently working with Kinesis Dance in two research movement projects and is a poetry mentee in the 2021 cohort of The Writer’s Studio. Recent theatre credits include: Mx (2019–Fringe New Play Prize & Cultchivating the Fringe Winner), The Nomadic Tempest (2018–Caravan Stage Company), and Hacked: The Treasure of the Empire (2015–Caravan Stage Company).
CS Fergusson-Vaux—Costume Designer:
CS Fergusson-Vaux is an Ethical Artist, Theatrical Designer, Historian, and De-Colonizer. Fergie delightedly worked on costumes for Mx and Deep Into Darkness for the Vancouver Fringe. She also publishes academically. Her most recent project is a podcast on Transnational Arts and Culture in Canadian History.
Joanna Garfinkel is co-founder of Universal Limited and the co-creator, with Yoshié Bancroft, of JAPANESE PROBLEM, a site-responsive piece about the Japanese Canadian Incarceration, performed in Vancouver, at Soulpepper in Toronto, and elsewhere. Joanna co-created and directed the pedicab adventure Tour for HIVE 3 in Victoria (Theatre SKAM), and Toronto (SummerWorks), Berlin: The Last Cabaret (PuSh 2020), multi-award-winning Poly Queer Love Ballad (QAF/Theatre Passe Murailles). Nominated for: 3 Jessie Awards, winning 1; Pure Research grant from Nightswimming Theatre (Toronto); and Sydney Risk Award for directing. Upcoming: Catalina La O Presenta: Ahora Conmigo, Mx at The Cultch, and development of To the Sea. She is the Dramaturg, Creative Engagement at PTC.
Marisa Gold is an empathetic multidisciplinary artist with a passion for all things soulful. Movement as a form of expression has been her instinct since the beginning of her memory with poetry, styling, acting, singing, and choreographing not too far behind. With a BFA in Dance (SFU), certificate of completion from The Ailey School Independent Study program (NYC), and The Graham School 2017/18 Intensive (NYC), Marisa has trained in a wide variety of Modern/Contemporary dance styles. Her professional performance and choreographic experience ranges from modern/contemporary concert dance to experimental street style performance, and musical theatre productions to film and TV work. Marisa’s artistic influences are deeply rooted in the heart space of her ancestors. She feels powerful and expansive when she remembers all who have come before her in self-expression. As a writer, mover, designer, and performer, Marisa continues her poetic wandering; delving further with love into the mystery of our collective humanity.
Emily Jane King—Samantha:
Emily Jane King is incredibly excited to be a part of Mx, and is extremely grateful to the entire Mx team. She is an actor/musician and a recentish graduate of the Studio 58 Acting program, where she specialized in Voice Pedagogy as part of an extended study initiative. As well as acting, she teaches theatre for children and coaches voice. She is currently engaged as an apprentice to Alison Matthews, Head of Coaching at Bard on the Beach, and is a voice instructor with Viva Voce and Vancouver Film School. Past credits include: Sarah-Jeane in Infinity (Volcano Theatre), Samantha in Mx (PTC New Play Prize & Cultchivating the Fringe Award), The Girl in Mortified (Studio 58), Spirit of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol (Gateway Theatre), Actor in Femfest Shorts (Sarasvati). Much thanks to her friends, family, and C&T.
Jiv Parasram is a multidisciplinary artist and cultural worker of Indo-Caribbean descent (Trinidad & Tobago/Cairi). He is a founding member and Artistic Producer of the international award winning (and unfortunately titled) collective Pandemic Theatre. Jiv grew up in Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia), and spent over a decade as a freelance artist in Tk’aronto (Toronto) before moving to the Unceded Coast Salish Territories to join the team at Rumble Theatre as Artistic Director. Recent projects include: Take d Milk, Nah? (Pandemic/Rumble); And you’ll never believe what happens next… (Pressgang); Daughter (Quiptake/Theatre Centre/ Pandemic); The Sound of the Beast (Theatre Passe Muraille).
Lili Robinson (she/they) is a playwright, poet, actor, and community organizer based on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Lili is passionate about centering voices at the intersections of queerness, Blackness, socio-economic diversity, and femme identity in her work. Having completed a year as the Artistic Producing Intern at Theatre Replacement in 2019, Lili is currently the Emerging Playwright in Residence at Rumble Theatre, and recently completed the Emerging Playwrights’ Unit at the Arts Club. Projects they’ve been involved in since pandemic times include: Rumble Theatre’s online production of B by Guillermo Calderón; Theatre Replacement’s sound installation project Speaker A; and the organizing of Rest and Resilience, a series of online gatherings for Black queers. Two years ago Mx won the Fringe New Play Prize, and the play has been growing and transforming ever since. Lili is immensely grateful to everyone who has put their belief into this project from then to now. A former member of The Cultch Youth Program, it is with great delight that Lili steps onto The Cultch stage now for the first time in their professional career.
Jenelle Rouse—ASL Coach:
Jenelle Rouse (she/her/hers) leads a dual career as an educator with a doctorate in Applied Linguistics and as a visual body-movement artist. She has performed various shows since 2010 such as Talking Movement, Withered Tree, Perceptions II, Home: Body, Crossings, Hear, Feel, See, What! and Proud. Jenelle has taken on different roles (e.g. artist, facilitator, collaborator, co-researcher, writer, workshop provider, coach, and consultant) while working with a variety of Ontario arts-related projects such as Tangled Arts + Disability, Centre, VibraFusionLab, Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf’s Deaf Culture Centre, Bodies in Translation, and more. In addition, Jenelle is working on a personal project called Multi-Lens where it enables her to continue exploring and experimenting with different mediums to share stories without any reliance on words.
Todd Simmons—Sound Designer:
Todd is a Visual Artist, DJ/producer, and performer, exploring ways to curate experiences by ‘DJing’ things, people, and ideas. He has released music in a wide range of genres for Ellum, My Favourite Robot, No.19, Apersonal Music, and DoRight Music. He is an instructor at the Sarah McLachlan School of Music teaching Music production, and experimental sound design. Todd’s artistic practice—like his teaching—is guided by his belief that art is simply a form of communication as conveyed in one of his favourite quotes: “…some ideas can not be spoken or expressed through the written word. So they must be danced.” (E.I.)
Ariel Slack—Set/Props Designer:
Ariel Slack is a Jessie Award nominated, non-binary theatre artist working as a set/props designer in both film and theatre. Ariel was a part of the Fringe iteration of Mx as props/puppet maker, and is so happy to be back in the magic. A graduate of Studio 58, their recent theatre design credits include: Set, Spine (Backbone Theatre Collective); Set/Scenic Paint/Props, Cariboo Magi (Far From The Tree Productions); Set/Scenic Paint, Dancing Lessons (Naked Goddess Productions); Set, Alice in Glitterland (Geekenders); Set/Scenic Paint, Superior Donuts (Ensemble Theatre Company, Jessie Nomination); Props, Best of Enemies, Gramma, Mother of the Maid, The Cake, Jesus Freak (Pacific Theatre). Recent film credits include: Production Design, Unspoken Vows (SkyBird Productions); Production Design, The Star-Maker (Matthias Falvai); Production Design, Wytch Craft (Bewytching Productions); Art Director/Co-production design, Reptile House (House of Hiss, 5 nominations Badass 2020 Genre Film Awards including Best Production Design); Set Dec, Clout (Bad Cookie Pictures). Find Ariel’s portfolio link (and other stuff) on IG at @arielslack
Shanae Sodhi is a graduate of Studio 58 where he was one of the establishing members and Head Organizer of the school’s Student Diversity Committee, a student lead group working to strengthen marginalized groups within the theatre community by empowering students with the tools and knowledge to engage in the conversations of inclusivity around them. Shanae’s work is influenced by decolonization and intersectionality. Currently he works as Rumble Theatre’s Associate Artistic Producer, as well as being part of their FutureFacilitators Cohort, a cohort focused on equipping young artists with the tools necessary to facilitate change in their communities. Recent producing credits: Coyuntura 2020 (Canadian Latinx Theatre Artist Coallition), Selective Memory, Straight White Men (ITSAZOO Productions), Catalina La O: Ahora Conmigo (winner of the 2020 Fringe New Play Prize), and Mx (winner of 2019 Fringe New Play Prize and Cultchivating the Fringe Award).
Donna-Michelle St. Bernard—Co-Director:
Donna-Michelle St. Bernard aka Belladonna the Blest is an emcee, theatremaker, and agitator. As a director, her stagings include: Job’s Wife (Nolan), A Perfect Storm (Nolan), Oops! (Feld), Mx (Robinson), and Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers (Simamba), as well as collaborating with Cole Alvis and Nikki Shaffeulah on the direction of Lilies (Bouchard). DM is currently the Emcee in Residence at Theatre Passe Muraille, Associate Artist at lemonTree Creations, Artistic Director of New Harlem Productions, coordinator of the AD HOC Assembly, and of Nightwood Theatre’s Write From the Hip play development program. She’s so cool.
Fil Wiatrak—Lighting Designer:
Having been away from the production side of theatre for nearly a year, Fil is thrilled to be returning as the lighting designer for Mx. Based in Vancouver, Fil studied design at Studio 58 before quickly joining the technical rosters of theatres throughout the city. In 2020, they became the Technical Manager with the GITD. This is the second time they have designed for a full-length production. Shout-out to their wonderful roommate and the brilliant mind who wrote this show!
Hodan Youssouf—ASL Interpreter:
Born in Somalia, Hodan Youssouf has been deaf since childhood. She immigrated to Canada in 1989 after a passage in France as a refugee with her brothers and sisters. Youssouf is now very active in the deaf community in Montreal. Working as an aid to deaf students at Gadbois Elementary School since 2010, she also collaborates with Cinéall, an organization that strives to find innovative communications solutions between the deaf and hearing communities. Youssouf is a socially engaged poet and actress and has been involved in a slew of projects over the years, both in Quebec and abroad. Youssouf does research on deaf music, and she interpreted Aphrodite in the video clip La Part du Diable by Bernard Adamus. She is passionate about theatre, and also works as a film actress. She has worked on various theatre projects including: the ASL adaptation of Romeo and Juliet (Toronto), La Traversée (a bilingual LSQ/French play by Voyageurs Immobiles cie), The Tempest (Citadel Theatre, Edmonton), collaborated on the illumiNations Bible translation project (Philadelphia), and helped train performers for the signed musical Black Drum (Soulpepper Theater, Toronto). She partnered with Inside Out Theatre and Deaf Spectrum to provide two weeks of improv workshops for deaf artists from all over Canada, was a poet in the Festival Phenomena (Montréal), and volunteered with Deaf IBPOC actors for a ZOOM production of CATS. She has a dream that one day, Deaf people will receive the access that they need and have equality with hearing people.
BlackChat is a series of social salons that originated in the summer of 2016. Curated by intergenerational co-conspirators !Kona and Morgan, BlackChat has dedicated its work to healing Black communities in the Lower Mainland through family reunion styled gatherings. Operating out of pocket, and out of home, BlackChat is entirely self-funded.
Other streams of BlackChat programming include BlackAttack field trips to arts and culture events, and BlackChat the Podcast which goes live in the Spring of 2020, and will be available on all major podcast streaming services! For updates and ways to contribute, visit patreon.com/blackchat
Join us after the show on Gather.Town—where you can hangout with the Mx team and other audience members in our digital re-creation of The Cultch (created by The Cultch’s Digital Storytelling Team).
Unlike a Zoom hangout, Gather.Town lets you choose who you want to talk with at any moment, join spontaneous smaller group conversations as you approach new people, and freely explore at your own pace—if you look hard enough, you’ll even see the original ads that inspired the show—it’s like being in The Cultch lobby, just online!
How it works (it’s easy and fun, we promise!):
- After the performance, exit full screen and press the “Post-show hangout” button to join us.
- Gather.Town only works on Chrome and Firefox
- No account or email needed, you just need to type in your name
- Be sure to allow access to your webcam so you can see your fellow Gather.Towners.
- Use the chat function in the bottom left hand corner of the screen to converse with your fellow Gather.Town participants at any point during your visit.
- Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move around and explore
- You can converse with anyone who is near you on the map, so be sure to approach new people.
- Press X to interact with any glowing objects
- Press G (become a ghost!) to pass through people if you’re stuck
- And most importantly, press Z to dance and celebrate
To join, click the Post-show Gathering button at the top of the page.
Beneath layers of identity, can blood equal belonging?
What of our culture lives within us, and how much is determined by our upbringing? If a part of your identity has never been nurtured, do attempts to rekindle it amount to appropriation?
Seeking answers to these questions, our gender-questioning and mixed-race protagonist, Max, meets the famed Mz Nancy, our host for the night. Witty and glamorous, Nancy seems to have an answer for everything… but, as Max discovers, things are never black and white.
This boundary-pushing, bouffon-inspired work explores what it means to be mixed-race and Black in the world today. Using bold risks, sharp comedy, and African mythology, Mx cracks open struggles of identity and belonging through the lens of a character stuck in the in-between.
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts