Precarious Artists

Photo: Andy Carroll

Jenn Cole (Mixed Ancestry Algonquin Anishinaabe) is a performer, and Associate Artistic Director at Nozhem First Peoples Performance Space. She has performed in dance, film and installation work in Nogojiwanong, Minneapolis, Washington DC, and Toronto. Select performances include: (2020) She’ll Sing Them Home, dance road trip film/artistic ceremony with Cara Mumford; Necessary Gestures winter garden movement film with Cara Mumford, William Kingfisher, Bennett Bedoukian, Kerry Beebee; Jiimaan Alternating Currents;  Enewendewin Artspace; Traplines Small Dance for Small Spaces Festival; (2018) Dumoine River Art for Wilderness Residency CPAWS-ON; Listening to Kashtin with my Mom Gatherings book launch, Imperial Pub, Toronto and Unnsettling Activisms book launch. Jenn is also a mother and an Indigenous Feminist Performance scholar in Gender and Social Justice Studies at Trent University. 

Swim! A Glimpse

Jenn Cole speaks about Swim!

Born and raised in Jamaica, Niambi Leigh spent formative years in Peterborough, Ontario. Her spoken word poetry explores the intersectionality between race, self-worth and mental illnesses. A key member of the Peterborough Poetry Slam Team as well as a two-time individual Grand Slam Champion, Niambi’s work is lyrical, deeply felt, and rooted in storytelling. Her work reminds you that even the act of breathing is an expression of strength. Currently based out of Halifax, Niambi has always been a creative and passionate force of nature, expressing her many talents through poetry, jewellery-making, and Tarot readings. When Niambi is not busy doing kickass things for her community, you can probably catch her by a waterfall, singing too loudly on the bus, or talking to plants more than she does to people.

Brad Brackenridge has been a performer and designer in theatre and film for almost 30 years. Founder of The Nervous System, a puppet-based theatre company, Brad has created and produced Komachi on the Shrine (TTOK with composer Kathleen Adamson, 2018); Festivus Rattus Rattus 2035 (Precarious: Peterborough ArtsWORK Festival 2017); Life Comes to Resemble Unimaginative Literature: Or, the Moment of my Death (A Certain Place: The Bernie Martin Festival 2016); VERTEP (Emergency 2015); Murmuratio (Erring, 2014); Terror and Erebus (Artsweek 2013 and remounted in the Otonabee in 2014 and as a solo show at The Theatre on King in 2015); and two separate installations for Luminato. The Encampment, a large-scale public participatory art installation celebrating the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 (coordinated by artists Thom Sokoloski and Jenny-Anne McCowan).

Brad has also created puppets for diverse theatrical productions including Wilde Tales (Shaw Festival); Lady With a Lap Dog (Spiel Players); and Berlin Blues (4th Line Theatre).  “And there is a marauding buffalo (a puppet manned by three people) that is one of the single most hilarious things I’ve ever seen on the stage.” (Paula Citron, The Globe and Mail July 19, 2011). 

Brad has studied with the Old Trout Puppet Company, Puppetmongers Powell, and Bernd Ogrodnik. As an actor, he has appeared in diverse film and theatre gigs, including New Stages, The Theatre on King, Dusk Dances, 4th Line Theatre, Canadian Stage; R. Murray Schaefer, and Planet Twelve Productions, among many others. He has also mentored emerging artists in puppetry. Brad is the recipient of the 2018 Peterborough Arts Award for Outstanding Mid-Career Artist.

Justin Million is a print and digital media poet, performance artist, founder of the Show and Tell Poetry Series, a co-founder and poetry editor at bird, buried press, and is the author of EJECTA: The Uncollected KEYBOARDS! Poems (Apt. 9 Press). A two-time Peterborough Arts Awards nominee for Outstanding Emerging Artist and Outstanding Mid-Career Artist in 2018 and 2019 respectively, Million has also been an artist-in-residence at Evans Contemporary art gallery and the Precarious Festival in Peterborough, Ontario, and with SYNAPSE magazine in Toronto. Million was awarded OAC Recommender Grants in 2017 and 2018, has been published in countless literary journals such as Bywords, word and colour, and Poetry Is Dead, and has published 17 chapbooks with various Canadian small press imprints. He lives and writes in his hometown of Peterborough, Ontario.

Elisha May Rubacha lives and writes in Peterborough, ON. She was a finalist for Peterborough’s Outstanding Emerging Artist Award (2018), and shortlisted for the PRISM International Creative Non-fiction Contest (2016). While completing her degree in English Literature at Trent University (2009-2013), she won both the Sylvia Cherney Scholarship and the first Barbara Rooke Travel Prize. Rubacha has received OAC Recommender grants for work in poetry three years in a row. Her chapbook “too much nothing” was published by Apt. 9 Press (2018), and her first stage play, “Waiting for Real Jobs” was produced during the Precarious Festival (2019). Her play-in-progress has been selected for Public Energy’s Alternating Currents mentorship program twice (2017 and 2019). She is the founder, editor, and designer of bird, buried press, which has published 20 books of fiction and poetry since 2016. She also sits on the board of the Electric City Culture Council (EC3).

Victoria Ward is a rural based painter and writer. In the 1990s Ward was a professional playwright in Toronto and worked with some of the most innovative companies in Canada; DNA Theatre, Crow’s Theatre, Buddies in Bad Times and Autumn Leaf Performance. She was part of a sketch comedy troupe that toured across Canada, has produced and written two one person theatre works and written a libretto for an opera.  She is now primarily a painter and has had over 40 art exhibitions across Canada and the UK.  Along with her partner painter Gary Blundell, Ward has created community/art projects in Cobalt, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Orillia, Minden, Norfolk County and Toronto and exhibited at most regional galleries in Ontario.  Ward’s work is in private collections in Canada, the US, India and Ireland.  

garbageface (aka karol orzechowski) is a musician, writer, and sound installation artist based in Peterborough, Ontario. Through over a decade of projects and community-building activities, he has built a body of work that explores subjects both deeply personal and political. Since 2009, he has put out more than a dozen releases, ranging from ambient, digital-only field recording EPs to conceptual rap LPs about Eastern European folklore. In that time, he’s also toured the U.S. and Canada numerous times, clocking over 335 shows at present. 

Mithila Ballal is a trained Bharathanatyam dancer since the age of 4 She has had the opportunity to learn various dance forms from multiple teachers and Gurus. She has performed on various platforms across India, USA and Canada. She has also won various awards for her performances. Her passion and love for dance led her to pursue her Masters in Dance/Movement Therapy and Mental Health Counselling at Lesley University, Cambridge, USA.  

She began teaching dance to children when she was in India and then continued to teach and choreograph dances in USA. She moved to Canada in 2013. In 2014, she began teaching dance, both Bharathanatyam and Bollywood to children and adults. In February 2019, she named her dance school- “Ukti-  Centre for Movement and Arts”. 

She is currently a board member of Public Energy. She is part of a creative artist residency, Common Collective Thread which would be showcased around Fall 2020- Spring 2021. Apart from being a dance instructor, she is also a Registered Psychotherapist and Dance/Movement Therapist. Mithila works with various populations with mental health issues- autism, trauma, anxiety, depression, grief. 

As a psychotherapist, it has been wonderful to reach out to so many different community resources in Peterborough and provide therapy. It has been a challenge to work as a dance/movement therapist sometimes due to the judgement that comes around the word ‘dance’. It has been important for her as a therapist to break it down to simple terms that “breathing is movement”. 

Jon Hedderwick is a poet, spoken word artist, organizer and educator of mixed Ashkenazi Jewish and Scottish heritage, living in the territory of the Michi Saagiig Anishinabek in Nogojiwanong – Peterborough, Ontario. Jon performs, organizes, and mentors emerging poets as the current Artistic Director for the Peterborough Poetry Slam Collective. He is one half of the spoken word duo WordCraft, as well as being one the co-creators and lead artists of the Take-out Poetry Project. His poetry has been featured at poetry slam and spoken word series across Canada, as well as at The Words Aloud Poetry Festival, the Storytellers of Canada National Conference, the Saskatoon Poetic Arts Festival and the Precarious Festival, where he was artist in Residence at Trent Radio. He was the producer and host of the show Blank Pages, Pens and Stages at Trent Radio between 2018 and 2020 and was the lead producer on the documentary Pushback. He has also produced a series of cinepoems, an EP entitled “The Whisper Sessions”(2019), and four chapbooks of Poetry. Jon is currently workshopping his first full-length, one-person play entitled “Enkidu.” 

Hilary Wear is a theatre artist and a Métis woman. Hilary writes and performs site -specific Clown turns; stages text and/or movement-based pieces; collaborates in co-creations and devising; and works for others as an actor. Hilary facilitates inter-generational cooperative games groups focused on fun and Anishinaabemowin. Hilary is an accredited Therapeutic Clown(s) for paediatric & geriatric healthcare clients, hoping to also go into prisons… for a few hours a week. Hilary has spent the Covid seasons creating employment and working to eradicate the invasive species that have colonized the Michi Saagig Anishinaabeg territory lands for which she shares responsibility, in Peterborough County.

Sarah McNeilly (working with Hilary Wear during Precarious3) is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works on the traditional and Treaty territory of the Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg and Chippewa Nations (collectively known as the Williams Treaties First Nations) in Nogojiwanong, renamed Peterborough by European settlers. 

Primarily a performer (i.e.: an actor, dancer, and musician) and highly attuned to processes; Sarah blurs the lines between theory and practice, between the arts and theoretical cultural analyses, by incorporating a hybrid research-creation form of artistic practice.

Sarah has studied dance, scene study, butoh, and Commedia dell’Arte with a wide range of mentors and teachers.  She was a writer and performer for Peterborough sketch comedy troupe, LLAADS; she has written and performed a full-length stand-up comedy show to critical acclaim; and, she has performed lead roles with 4th Line Theatre, The Theatre on King, The Motley Collective, Arbor Theatre, and Mysterious Entity, among others.  Sarah has created and co-created original work for Artsweek, Erring, and Emergency, among other festivals and venues.  She is founder and co-writer of Haikusday, a weekly two-hour-long live radio show spoken only in Haiku, on Trent Radio. As a musician, Sarah has co-written and performed songs with two bands; she has twice played at Toronto’s renowned annual music festival North By North East (NXNE).