Many moments make up One Small Gesture

1. group shot wednesday

Celebrations and ceremonies are at the core of what we do at Making Room. Every project of ours is made up of rituals and festivities large and small, and culminate in one great event, be it a book launch, a parade, a market, or whatever else brings together the work of a term.

This winter, we decided that instead of having one busy, elaborate, over the top celebration, that we’d instead bring as many people as possible into the process of creating such an event. To that end, we decided to create a three day pop-up celebration in the Healing Room at PARC, where we have our Sand In Water workshops. Over the course of December 10th, 11th, and 12th, dozens of individuals and groups from PARC, Edmond Place, and our larger community took part in adding their own gestures and offerings to the space.

2. group shot wednesday 2

Fittingly, we named the event One Small Gesture, hoping to evoke the way that the efforts and ideas of everyone, on whatever scale, contribute to the work we make at PARC.

Read on to learn about the many different activities, both planned and spontaneous, that joined together in  a truly magical three days. Warning — the following is a picture-heavy post! Thank you to Jess Shane, Sonja Rainey, and Gill Fraser for their photography.

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This Week! Making Room Presents One Small Gesture


Join Making Room Community Arts this week for One Small Gesture: A Three Day Pop-Up Ceremony.

Throughout the fall, members of Making Room and PARC have been experimenting with gestures and translation across artforms as a way of thinking about our personal and collective rhythms. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, these different approaches and ideas will culminate in One Small Gesture. We will be inhabiting the Healing Room, and other parts of PARC, with an evolving and living installation composed of intentional gestures from dozens of groups and individuals at PARC and Edmond Place.

One Small Gesture will kick off during the Wednesday Jam, which starts at 10am. At 12:45pm, a special, shadowy production will kick off a procession up to the transformed healing room, where we’ll share in art and music making ranging from the quiet and individual to the collaborative and elaborate.

On Thursday, we’ll enjoy a special workshop from the mindfulness group and a zentangle workshop led by Alice Rogers, followed by a special ceremony and installation from residents at Edmond Place.

On Friday, we’ll be making more gestures to add to the space in the drop-in, while yoga happens in the Healing Room. Following a special writing group session at 4pm, at 5:30pm we’ll have a light dinner and a closing ceremony, including special appearances by the Making Room Choir and the Oracle. Guests and visitors are welcome to join for all events, but are especially encouraged to come for this final gesture.

Throughout the three days, we will be adding and subtracting to the Healing Room, leaving room for quiet and relaxation as well as spontaneity and adventure— join us for both each afternoon December 10, 11, and 12!

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Engineers of the Imagination: Dispatches from John Fox and Sue Gill’s visit to Toronto

It was a wonderful week at the end of October when many of our artists and associates had the pleasure of sharing in the presentation  from John Fox and Sue Gill, as well as opportunities to speak with them and learn from them. In different fora, many ideas relevant to Making Room were discussed, including ritual-making, negotiating artistic vision in community contexts, food, archetypes, and more.

Below, find a few images from the week by Liam Coo. And, at the end,  there’s a special treat! A full video of The Tempest of Snake Island,  John and Sue’s legendary show on Toronto Island in 1981.

John and Sue presenting in the Arts4All space at Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Health Centre

John and Sue presenting in the Arts4All space at Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Health Centre

On Toronto Island

On Toronto Island

Gathering with Jumblies artists at The Ground Floor

Gathering with Jumblies artists at The Ground Floor

The Tempest on Snake Island (Part One) from Jon Michaelson on Vimeo.

The Tempest on Snake Island (Part Two) (Show) from Jon Michaelson on Vimeo.

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A Hallowed Day

What a wonderful day in the drop-in today! One long time PARC staff member told me it was his favorite day in a long time. In order to celebrate Halloween we created the longest story ever that included ghosts, cemeteries, severed hands and the celebration of Parkdale as a place where people care for one another! As well, there was dancing, cake, conversation and a good time was had by all!

jonathan at his writing booth DSC_9623 DSC_9690 DSC_9669 DSC_9655 DSC_9674

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Welcoming John Fox and Sue Gill to Toronto!

“Compared with… life-and-death disruptions of reality, theatre seems a hollow distraction…. Even the most cathartic public theatre production could not emulate… one small private ceremony. After a decade of researching many practical modes of theatrical intervention, I was asking whether most theatre work, including our own, was too generalised, unconnected and given to mainly enervating containment and gladiatorial titillation. ” 

This quote from John Fox’s Eyes on Stalks really gets at something that we at Making Room have been coming to understand in increasingly crucial and visceral ways:  that ceremony, ritual, and celebration are such powerful forms for us precisely because they are not theatre, not play-acting, but in fact something that is actually happening. This idea comes also from Ruth Howard, who attended a Rites of Passage workshop with John Fox some years ago and shared a similar thought with us.


As we delve further into our explorations of ritual as an artistic team, we have returned to the work of John Fox and Sue Gill, of the legendary celebratory theatre arts company Welfare State International, for inspiration. Thus we are delighted that Jumblie Theatre, our parent company, is inviting the pair to Toronto for a public workshop. Below, find a fascinating short documentary about their work, followed by information about the event on October 28th in Toronto.

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Falling into Autumn rhythms

We’re delighted to be back into the mix of our Friday Drop-in Workshops. Last week, we were inspired by a beautiful September day. A group of about ten of us made prints of fall leaves, pods, and pinecones in the drop-in on Friday afternoon. After we had printed them with black ink, we added some thoughts about what our Fall rhythms are.

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We’ve been thinking a lot about the way our rhythms and routines— personal, as groups, as institutions, all across many timescales— intersect and come to actually depend on eachother, changing together and constantly finding new ways to join and overlap. Here’s a little picture of some of the prints we made last week. Tomorrow we’ll take it back up, with a slightly different theme. Feel free to join us at PARC, 1499 Queen St W, at 2pm for some print-making!


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Back in action!


We’re happy to announce that Making Room will be back in action with our several weekly workshops at PARC, starting this Wednesday, September 24. While the choir has been rehearsing all summer under the direction of Shifra Cooper, we will begin our Wednesday Sand In Water workshops, and our Friday workshops in the PARC drop-in this coming week.

As with every project and every year, we begin by sitting around a table together, sharing tea and quiet, and beginning to make things. From there we divine for the many directions we may go, ready to pick up an unexpected idea or motif at any moment, but also content to sit in each other’s company without much happening at all.

Coming off of our Feast of Flags, our group will begin thinking and making things for our Long Lost Love project. This term, we’re looking forward to more direct collaboration between the Making Room Choir and the Sand in Water workshops, perhaps working with love songs, soundscapes, or rhythms.

If you’d like to visit our workshops or even lend a hand, guests are always welcome. If you’d like to join us for any of our workshops, please email

We’d also like to invite you to sign up for our new monthly newsletter! Please sign up here to receive updates of what we’re doing, invitations to events, news, and other fun tidbits.

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Making Room Artist Spotlight: Tyde

Making Room has many orbits of participants— from the core members and lead artists to the PARC members who see us from afar. PARC member, volunteer, and artist Tyde sits comfortably in the role of ally, guest, visitor, and friend. Although Tyde doesn’t participate in our weekday workshops at PARC, she happily shares her artistic gifts with us for our celebrations and is a regular guest, stopping by to check in on us and show her support.

A multimedia artist and performer originally from Montreal, Tyde has been working for over 20 years in the visual arts and over 30 years in music. She has been a PARC member and volunteer set designer for PARC special events since 1997.


Tyde’s art practice includes many beautiful hand-crafted sculptures and other 3D works, often using scrap material and metal. Tyde’s work strikes an evocative tension, wherein materials that seem familiar become transformed, reimagined. Her pieces evoke the urban natural, where bolts, screws, and wire reveal themselves in  organic shapes and personalities.

Click “Read More” to see some of Tyde’s work and find out where you can catch her in action very soon!

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Raise the lanterns: Making Room’s summer collaboration with MABELLEarts


Jonathan here, one of the lead artists for Making Room (that’s me, middle-right). As an artist, my primary medium is text, books, and zines. I’ve been lucky to expand on my passion for bookmaking and writing with the Creation Stories series, during which I’ve been lead designer for the books we’ve published. But Making Room has also given me the opportunity to explore so many other media— not just drawing and painting, but building lanterns, creating dragon scales, and way more sewing than I ever imagined. But above all, the artform that Making Room has allowed me to embrace and employ most is that of staging celebrations and ceremonies.

Throughout July, I was lucky enough to play a role in a Making Room co-production with MABELLEarts, another Jumblies Theatre offshoot. While some of the Mabelle contingent were up north working on their brilliant project After the End (check out this video essay!), we took the lead on producing their Iftar Nights series every Friday in July.

Click through to see some photos and read some reflections on this fantastic experience!

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Making Room Artist Spotlight: Mario Pietrantoni

There are many brilliant artists at PARC, across disciplines and with varying levels of prolificity and publicity. Walking through the halls of PARC, you see paintings, drawings, sculptures and other installations by members, some of which have been facilitated by Making Room and others of which haven’t been. We’d like to start showing some of these artists’ work on our website as a part of an ongoing series of artist spotlights, and this is the first!

Mario Pietrantoni, as seen in the video above, is a celebrated writer and speaker living with bipolar disorder. Mario spent much of his young life not knowing how to read and write until choosing to enter into the East End Literacy Program in order to hold onto his career in security. Having excelled in the course, Mario began workshopping his poetry there and in 1990 published From the Heart, to great acclaim.

These days, Mario frequently speaks to groups struggling with mental health, disability, and other barriers. He is a staple at the PARC writing group and a friend to all at Making Room. Here are three poems of his spectacular catalogue to give you a sense of his work.

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