What Was My Backyard?

What Was My Backyard? is a co-production between Jumblies, Theatre Direct and the Community Arts Guild – an interactive musical show for young people and all ages, developed as an interactive touring school and community show. It had a work-in-progress engagements and performances at The Ground Floor and Willow Park Public School Scarborough in 2019/20, online school workshops during pandemic times, and live engagements at 2 schools and at UofT Scarborough in 2022. There will be new Toronto touring episodes of What Was My Backyard? in 2024 and onwards.

What Was My Backyard? brings awareness of the Indigenous lives and lands of what is now Toronto, and asks us to think about what was here long ago on the land where our homes, playgrounds, parks, streets and backyards now stand, what footprints are below and above the surface of our city streets, and how we can imagine paths forward.

What Was My Backyard? was sparked at a Jumblies’ Composing Community Workshop & Touching Ground Festival
with an original creative team of: Britta Johnson, Beth Helmers, Shifra Cooper, Marc Blouin and Alyssa Delbaere-Sawchuk.

Artistic & Production Team (Spring 2023):

Composers: Britta Johnson, Binaeshee-Quae Couchie-Nabigon
Director/Producer: Beth Helmers
Musical Director: Shifra Cooper
Choreographer: Animikiikwe Couchie-Waukey
Guest Writer: Sarah Gartshore
Designers: Ruth Howard, Sherry Guppy, Kay Jones
Makers: Catherine Moeller, Cindy Dzib, Sharon Tung
Stage Manager and Associate Production Manager: Olivia Zotti
Production Manager: Cadman Brooks
Lighting Designer and Technician: Keith McNair
Sound Technician: Camilo Diaz Varela
Production Assistant: Celēs Emmerson
Performers and Lead Facilitators:
Animikiikwe Couchie-Waukey, Cindy Dzib, Jesse Wabegijig, Kennedy Bomberry, Tijana Spasich
Solo Singer (Water): Nicole Joy-Fraser*
* The participation of this Artist is arranged by permission of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association under the provisions of the Dance•Opera•Theatre Policy.

Water Choir
Gather Round Singers, Jumblies’ all-abilities all-ages community choir
ASL Lyrics: Tamyka Bullen
Director: Shifra Cooper
Assistant Director: Natalie Fasheh
Manager: Ahmed Hegazy
Choir Staff (not mentioned elsewhere): Rakefet Arieli, Tasmeen Syed, Hodan Ibrahim, Mollie McGregor

Community Arts Guild Choir
Interim Director: Suzanne Maziarz
Manager: Ahmed Hegazy

U of T Scarborough Singers
Director: Patrick Murray

Musicians: Daev Clysdale (piano), Alyssa Delbaere-Sawchuk (Metis fiddle), Aine Schryer O’Gorman (fiddle), Morgan Gardener (trumpet)

ASL Interpreters: Debbie Garniss, Kimberley Johnson, Tara Everett

Funders: Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Metcalf Foundation, Government of Canada (Young Canada Works), Miziwe Biik (2020)

Previous Contributors: Adrienne Marcus Raja, Ashley Bomberry, Ceilidh Carberry, Damien Scott, Jamie Oshkabewisens, Lochlan Cox, Marc Blouin, Oshan Starreveld, Ruedi Narowski-Vesely, Victoria Freeman and many others

Thanks to: Sam, Florencia, Ruth & other Jumblies staff, Lisa Marie and Kate from Theatre Direct, Toronto Community Housing

Artistic & Production Team (Winter 2020):

Composers: Britta Johnson, Biaeshee-Quae Couchie-Nabigon
Director: Beth Helmers
Musical Director: Shifra Cooper
Choreographer: Nimikii Couchie
Guest Writer: Sarah Gartshore

Designers: Ruth Howard, Sherry Guppy
Other Designer-Makers: Oshan Starreveld, Karis Jones Pard, Jamie Oshkabewisens, Tijana Spasich, Adrienne Marcus Raja

Production Stage Manager: Ashley Bomberry
Assistant Stage Manager: Karis Jones Pard
Lighting & Technical Director: Steafan Hannigan
Prop-maker &Technician: Lochlan Cox

Dancers & Performers: Tijana Spasich, Jamie Oshkabewisens, Damien Scott, Kennedy Bomberry, Ruedi Narowski-Vesely, Lanna Moon, Oshan Starreveld, Lisa Marie DiLiberto, Zevon Ketchabaw
Musicians: Pesch Napoose (singer), Daev Clysdale (piano), Georgia Hathaway (fiddle), Zevon Ketchabaw (violin), Naomi McCarroll-Butler (clarinet), Marc Blouin (clarinet), Jamie Oshkabewisens (hand drum) , Gather Round Singers all-abilities community choir.

ASL Interpreter: Miko Zoller Frappier
Documenters: Adrienne Marcus Raja, Charles Ketchabaw, Katherine Fleitas, Bradley Trudeau
Student Production Assistant: Ceilidh Carberry (UofT)
Education & Curriculum Intern: Shifra Cooper (OISE)
Driver: Parker Dirks
Funder: Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Miziwe Biik
Thanks to: Toronto Community Housing