Bubie’s Tapes

Bubie’s Tapes

January 17-21
Presented by Public Energy

While preparing a pot of matzo ball soup for his daughter, Jon Hedderwick recounts personal and family experiences from the Russian Revolution, through the Holocaust and beyond, as told by his Bubie Sarah in cassette tape recordings she left behind. Through these stories, Bubie’s Tapes reveals much about the history and ongoing impacts of antisemitism in Canada and around the world. The piece also explores the current rise in antisemitism alongside Islamophobia, and the ways that charges of antisemitism have been mobilized to forestall criticism of the State of Israel.

Artist’s Statement:
When I first began working on the script for Bubie’s Tapes – as an artist in residence at the Precarious3 Festival, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic – what I wanted to do was share a nearly-lost-to-history story about my family, and the unlikely way in which I became aware of these events. I could not have imagined then that the work would become so tragically timely. As I now prepare to bring it to the stage, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are on the rise. At the same time, charges of anti-Semitism are being used by some to shut down legitimate criticism of the war crimes committed by the Israeli government in response to the terrorist attack committed by Hamas on October 7th, 2023: this being the latest episode in a 75-year cycle of violence.

As I write this, I’m trying to imagine what I would tell my child about the world in which she lives – just as in Bubie’s Tapes I imagine what I might tell her about her history, and the millennium of violence and hatred experienced by Jewish people in Europe and beyond. I cannot tell you what it felt like to be a Jewish person having to contemplate, for the first time, the use of the word genocide to describe the actions of a government that claims it is acting in the name of all Jewish people, myself included. For me, being the inheritor of a history steeped in genocide and ethnic cleansing means it is intolerable to see fear and grief weaponized, used to dehumanize, and as a justification for anyone committing the kinds of atrocities that my family survived, no matter the circumstances. It is with this in mind that I continue to call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the siege of Gaza.

I long for a world in which there is no hatred, and in which there is a just and lasting peace. No play can promise to bring this, though I believe it is the job of the artist to imagine the world better than it is. With Bubie’s Tapes, this is what I have endeavoured to do.