Naivelt Project

Camp Naivelt is the eighty-year-old, still-existing summer home of a secular, Jewish, socialist community; a remnant of cottage country captured by suburban sprawl on the Credit River in Brampton; a haven for idealists, artists and activists: a community swaying between deterioration and renewal, whose future is direly threatened by economic and urban forces.

Ruth Howard, Jumblies Theatre and the community undertook a project spanning 3 summers to celebrate Naivelt’s history and support its survival.

The Commune Reenactment: Cups for All (2008)

What was it like in the early days of the Russian Revolution really to believe – despite great deprivations – that a new “younger” world was possible, that Utopia was just around the corner and that you were part of making it happen? For one week in July 2008, at Camp Naivelt, under the guidance of Jumblies artists, 27 teens and children entered into a live-in scenario of a 1920’s Russian work commune for orphaned or dislocated children, in order to explore these questions. The story they inhabited came from the memoirs of Manya Lipshitz, an early Naivelt member, which includes excerpts from an over-eighty-year-old handwritten journal, chronicling the two-and-a-half years she spent in the Twelfth Children’s Work Commune before migrating to Canada. The commune re-enactment experience inspired the subsequent production of Oy di velt vet vern yinger – oh the world will grow younger.

Oy Di Velt Vet Vern Yinger: Oh the World Will Grow Younger (2008)

This work-in progress performance was driven by recorded and live music and soundscape, with simultaneous installations using dance, song, visual arts, object theatre, projections, sewing and 3 Naivelt cottage installations.

Artistic Team: Ruth Howard, Noah Kenneally, Sean Frey*, Lisa Marie DiLiberto, Martin van de Ven, Michelle Silagy, Sybil Goldstein, Michaela Otto, Maggie Hutcheson, Liz Rucker, Michael Burtt, Leah Houston, along with an able crew of Naivelt teenagers and community members of all ages, and based on the research of Ester Reiter and the memoirs of Manya Lipshitz, Avram Himelstein and other oral histories from the community.
* a Metcalf Intern

Funders: Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Metcalf Foundation, United People’s Jewish Order

Oy Di Velt Vet Vern Yinger: Mayworks Remount (2009)

For the 2009 Mayworks Festival of Workers’ Arts, we re-configured this piece, complicating the voices and perspectives, with an interactive room that allowed the audience to argue, reminisce, feed their views and utopian images back into the next performance, in which they could also perform in a finale lantern parade. To this end we performed the piece 24 times in a row in 2 days.

Artists: Ruth Howard, Martin van de Ven, Lisa Marie Di Liberto, Sean Frey, Michelle Silagy, Noah Kenneally, Magi Oman, Maggie Hutcheson, Leah Houston, Keith McNair.

Performed in the Sanctuary Theatre at Davenport Perth Neighbourhood Centre.