What Was My Backyard?


What Was My Backyard? is a 2020 co-production between Jumblies, Theatre Direct and the Community Arts Guild. It is an interactive musical show for all ages, which is being developed as collaborative school touring project in, with a work-in-progress performance at The Ground Floor on January 16th, and a pilot engagement at Willow Park Public School, Scarborough from January 22 to 24.

What Was My Backyard? whimsically enters into questions about the land and people of what is now Toronto.  Exploring what came before the settlers arrived: Indigenous people, villages and ways of life, waterways, salmon, mastodons and giant beavers, What Was My Backyard? asks people 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 and glimpse some answers.

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

Artistic & Production Team 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
Costumes: Oshan Starreveld
Other Designer-Makers: 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: Alma Lilia Yañez Gutierrez, Amy Van Zant, Ann Lyons, Bernadette Shuman, Bruno Santistaban, Catherine Moeller, Gehan Udayanga, Harshi Hemachandra, Herold van de Ven, Hodan Ibrahim, Janis Proctor, Jon Field, Lanna Moon, Lily Rovillos, Lisette Cogdell, Lucy Bruce, Marlene Sheehan-Carey, Margaret Bojin, Margaret Oldfield, Mario Pietrantoni, Marlee Hague, Melissa Burgess, Mina Arakawa, Renata De Rege, Risa De Rege, Sally Wellen, Sam Egan, Sam Rowlandson-O’Hara, Sandra Kanagasabai, Shelley La Hay, Sidney Ohonsi, Tamyka Bullen, Tasmeen Syed, Tiffany Ohonsi, Violet Archer, Yan Deng

ASL Interpreter: Miko
Documenters: Adrienne Marcus Raja, Charles Ketchabaw
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