Grand Re:Opening Festival Videos

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Grand Re:Opening Festival

FILMED EVENTS STREAMING FROM NOVEMBER 18 at 5:00PM THROUGH January 3, 2022

Festival Director: Megan Watson
With original work curated and created by: Alexandra Kane, Mark Uhre, Richard Gracious, Summer Bressette

What happens when four London artists are handed the keys to the newly-renovated Grand Theatre for the purpose of creating and staging bold new work?

An exclusive theatrical experience, which extends beyond the parameters of the stage and unapologetically plunges headfirst into the arena of the mind.

Over the course of 16 dates, four local artists make use of various spaces throughout the Grand – utilizing both lobby and stage environments. The result? Four unique and provocative experiences, each hosted by a different artist, playing on-rotation from October 13 through November 6, 2021.

Due to the crowd-gathering limitations of COVID-19, a filmed presentation will be available in November 2021 (free of charge), so that all can enjoy these bold and unique offerings.

“We have these beautiful, newly renovated spaces–clean and open canvasses–and so we’ve invited these four local artists to ‘come and play in our sandbox!’ Come and make art. Come and celebrate with us. We’re delighted to be working with them and seeing how they’ll fill the Grand with their brilliance.” - Megan Watson

 

Alexandra Kane | Finding Black Joy

Spriet Stage

Alexandra Kane

What is Black Joy?

How can there possibly be such a thing as Black joy, when racism, specifically anti-Black racism, exists in systems and people? How do we find peace and joy when there is so much stacked against us? As the world uncovers systemic oppression and violence and what that means to Black people, we are invited to take a critical look at our own selves and how we have helped shaped these experiences for others.

Lead activist for Black Lives Matter London, Founding member of Black London Network, and artist Alexandra Kane has curated a truth-telling piece in Finding Black Joy. Using song, text, and multimedia to shine a light on the raw truth and consequences of anti-Black racism, Alexandra presents racism in an unavoidable way and defines the strength, resilience, peace, and love that is Black Joy.

The Auburn Stage and main lobby will set the tone for this powerful evening of racial truth and honest discourse. Interactive film installation, A Grave and A Mirror will unfold on the Auburn Stage, and a spoken word poetry reading by 19 year-old Nigerian-Canadian slam poet and author, Fauzia Agbonhin will transpire in the main lobby. Audiences will then move to the Spriet Stage, where Kane and a troupe of performers will dynamically stage pre-existing music and original text in Finding Black Joy. The evening will close with an intimate speak easy and Q & A period with host artist, Alexandra Kane.

 

Mark Uhre | Seeds of Self

Auburn Stage

Mark Uhre

Do you remember who you were before you grew up? Do you recall the passions you held and the moments that you would give anything to experience once more – or, perhaps, to never remember again? If you could reach back in time, and hold the hand of the child you once were, what would you tell them?

In his coming-of-age memory play, Seeds of Self, accomplished actor, singer, dancer, and visual artist Mark Uhre will take audiences on an intimate, personal journey that will explore Uhre’s experience growing up, as a young gay boy in London, Ontario. Uhre’s play will lead audiences on an emotive and colourful passage – navigating themes of oppression and exclusion as well as unbridled joy and self-love. Connecting to the seasons and nature throughout his journey, audiences will experience the Auburn theatre magically transforming. Uhre shares his story through movement, text, and art-making, combined with thrilling original music composed by Wayne Gwillim, and paired with songs from the ‘golden age.’

Gathering at the Auburn Stage, audiences will begin their experience with Uhre’s original play, Seeds of Self. They will then continue their journey to the Spriet Stage for an immersive artistic encounter, combined with live music by singer songwriter, Noelle Francis. Like flowers from a garden, the evening will come to a close in an array of colour in The Drewlo Lounge, where a documentary presentation and a visual arts gallery will encourage further reflection, conversation and self-discovery.

 

Richard Gracious | One Year

Spriet Stage

Richard Gracious

“I think you’re on mute.”
“What do you mean you are out of toilet paper?”
“Don’t forget your hand sanitizer!”
“It’s time to pivot.”
“These are unprecedented times…”
“Have we flattened the curve yet?”

In March 2020, life – as many knew it – came to a dramatic halt. Barred within our homes by the wide and rapid spread of COVID-19, individuals across the globe found themselves facing uncertainty, fear, and FOMO* like never before. Fifteen months later, as hope and new life emerges, local singer, songwriter, and band frontman, Richard Gracious begins developing an original performative concept album, entitled One Year.

Showcasing Gracious’s unique musical style that combines acoustic, full-out rock and roll and everything in between, the album is centred on reflections from the past 15 months, including: the feelings and emotions many of us have gone through; questions around if and how much we have changed as a society; and the transitions many of us have made (and will continue to make) as we collectively navigate our emergence from the pandemic.

More than your typical concert experience, One Year will take audiences on a shared musical journey that will open with the debut of Gracious’s album. A delight for all the senses, theatrical elements, such as puppetry and dance, will accompany this melodious celebration of life. Audiences will then be invited to flow to the Auburn Stage, to take in more of London’s local live music scene. The evening’s final notes will play in the Drewlo Lounge, with an intimate performance by local singer and songwriter, Misha Bower. 

Dust off the melancholy of the pandemic! Release the pent-up energy of isolation! And, experience music in new and unexpected ways as Richard Gracious guides you through a raucous, rock-and-roll catharsis.

*Fear of Missing Out

 

Summer Bressette | Love Song for the Thunderbirds

Auburn Stage

Summer Bressette

Intergenerational storytelling has been paramount in the understanding of our history and in maintaining connections to our ancestors. Whether through spoken word, dance, or song, the art of storytelling permeates across cultures and often serves as a guiding light for one’s personal morals, values, and understanding. But, what if these words were stolen? What if the very language that helped to form our existence was torn from us?

In her poignant play Love Song for the Thunderbirds, Summer Bressette confronts these questions, while embracing themes of resilience, love, kinship, transformation, and emergence. A proud Anishinaabe storyteller, curator, and teacher, Bressette employs elements of magical realism to tell the story of Jackrabbit, Nokomis, and Thunderbird in her loosely autobiographical play. Set in contemporary time, Bressette has reimagined a lullaby sung to her by her grandmother, who learned the song from her great-grandmother, a residential school survivor. The play centres on the ‘rule’ that children were forbidden to sing while at residential school, and consequently many words and stories have vanished. In a mission to find what has been lost, Jackrabbit is tasked with the imperative mission of finding the words to their Grandmother’s lullaby. Through Jackrabbit’s journey, audiences will come to understand the interconnectedness of the human experience and the power in understanding one’s own unique gifts.

Love Song for the Thunderbirds transpires at the Auburn Stage, where audiences will follow the journey of Jackrabbit in Bressette’s deeply personal piece. Afterwards, audiences will follow the sounds of traditional drumming to the Spriet Stage, where they will have the opportunity to listen to music by the Eagle Flight Singers, comprised of Gordon Sands, Vydel Sands, and Liam Sands. Hoop dancer, River White will also appear on the Spriet Stage with the Eagle Flight Singers. The experience will culminate in a live performance by the Red Skye Sisters and spoken word poetry by Awasis.

 

Estimated length of experience: 2 hours

Season Sponsor

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Video Production Sponsor

Canada Life logo

With the Support of

London Community Foundation logo

Special thanks to Horizon Solutions
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Location

471 Richmond St.

London, ON N6A 3E4