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 diggerburtt@gmail.com.

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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Feast of Flags — Being our biggest selves, together

With a few weeks of summer ahead of us, we’re gearing up to get back into our ongoing workshops at PARC. But before we get back to our regularly scheduled programming, we’d like to share a few dispatches from our summer activities, starting with our incredibly successful and beautiful Feast of Flags on June 21.

Michelle sews up a patch for our bag lanterns

Michelle sews up a patch for our bag lanterns

Anne stitches the binding of "John Blank's Bags"

Anne stitches the binding of “John Blank’s Bags”

A bound book!

A bound book!

In the days preceding the Feast of Flags, the Making Room team worked long, hard, and normally happily. As we handbound books, decorated flags and drums, stitched together patches and bags and practiced singing, we were prepared for the big weekend ahead of us.

As the PARC drop-in opened at 11am on the 21st, the building was already abuzz with the chatter and excitement that always precedes an event at PARC, be it a party or a parade. We were coming off of Friday’s solstice happenings (the seasonal solstices have been PARC’s biggest and grandest occasion for many years), which filled the drop-in with massive collage-making, bobbing for apples and story sharing, so PARC members, staff, and guests alike were in an excellent mood. Thus we prepared our flags, drums, fabulous hats and intricate bag lanterns for the great promenade down to Budapest Park for our celebration.

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A little film!

We have been talking a lot about rituals lately at Making Room, and the role that community arts can have in creating new rituals that make sense in the communities where they have been created.

So we were happy to have ritual studies scholar Ron Grimes join us on our Feast of Flags. We were even more happy that he made this little movie about our adventure: http://vimeo.com/ronaldlgrimes/feastofflags
If you want to learn more about the exciting things Ron is up to, visit his website at: http://ronaldlgrimes.twohornedbull.ca/


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Join Us! Feast of Flags, June 21

postcard03flatMaking Room Community Arts presents

Feast of Flags

A parade, party and book launch Saturday, June 21

Come to PARC (1499 Queen St W) early to make instruments, costumes and more. The drop-in opens at 11:00am.

The parade leaves PARC at 2:30pm and heads to the water at Budapest Park for our big celebration. Expect hats, flags, drums, singing!

Once we arrive at the waterfront, we will be enjoying music from the Making Room Choir, a performance by the PARC drumming group, the launch of our book, “John Blank’s Bags,” and delicious food.

Dress code: Your BIGGEST self!

Find the Facebook event here.

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