by Alex Bulmer, Tristan R. Whiston, Anna Camilleri, Katie Yealland, and Becky Gold
An interdependent, multi-disciplinary experience
Blind artist Alex Bulmer takes the arm of people in her new neighbourhood. Together, they walk, listen, and share life stories — an architecture of place emerges. Experience their journeys through these multi-sensory moving-portraits that consider the past, illuminate the present, and evoke possible futures.
Recent MITYA presentation – June 14 – July 27, 2021
Originally created in 2018 as a live, interactive, performance installation, May I Take Your Arm? was re-imagined in 2021 into a 7-part multidisciplinary follow-at-home experience. A purpose built website acted as a navigation map for audiences to experience the work in their own homes, in their own time and pace. This latest iteration of May I Take Your Arm is a Theatre Passe Muraille & Red Dress Productions co-production with the support of Common Boots Theatre.
Co-Creator & Performer: Alex Bulmer
Co-Creator, Sound Editor/Dramaturge: Tristan R. Whiston
Co-Creator, Environment Designer/Maker: Anna Camilleri
Co-Creator & Live Video Animation: Katie Yealland
Creative Access Support & Audio Description: Becky Gold
Sound Consultant & Field Recording: Charles Ketchabaw
Website Design: Wy Joung Kou
If we walk together, does the way we ‘see’ our neighbourhood change?
In 2018 I moved back to Toronto, after living in the UK for 15 years. While away, I’d become completely blind. Instead of a return to familiar landscapes and buildings, I came back to a void – endless space. Without sight, new territory has no here versus there no this versus that.
“May I take your arm?” – a question I asked several people living in my new Toronto neighborhood, in an attempt to understand where in the world I had landed – to turn space into place into home.
If I walk with you, If you pin a memory to this bench or that building, if we share a stroll down this hill or through that playground, and assemblage of place emerges through a geography of story.
May I Take Your Arm? (Not Yet) is a collection of arms, voices, images and textures gathered over the past three years, many during a time when being with you has not been possible, not live in performance or with your arm in my hand.
Walking with others has been a way to tell myself “here I am.” I wonder if now, for more of us, walking together reminds us “here we are.”
– Alex Bulmer, Co-Creator & Performer
May I Take Your Arm is about interdependence, relationships between people, our relationship to the St. James Town and Cabbagetown neighbourhoods, and the land upon which these neighbourhoods are settled.
Artist Team Biographical Notes
Named one of the most influential disabled artists by UK’s Power Magazine, Alex Bulmer has over 30 years professional experience across theatre, television, film, radio, and education. Alex is dedicated to inclusive collaborative art practice, fuelled by a curiosity of the improbable and deeply informed by her experience of becoming blind. She is activated by obstacles, well exposed to the absurd, and embraces the disciplines of generosity, listening, time, and uncertainty within her artistic and personal life. Alex is Artistic Director of Common Boots Theatre, co-founder and artistic director of Cripping The Stage with The British Council, and the lead curator of CoMotion Festival 2022, an international disability arts festival produced by Harbourfront Centre.
Tristan R. Whiston
Tristan R. Whiston is a Toronto-based theatre director, dramaturge, writer, performer, audio and community artist. He has written and directed five audio documentaries for CBC, including Middle C, which won the 2007 Premios Ondas Award for International Radio. Tristan’s film pINCO Triangle was honoured with three 2018 Queer North Awards, including Best Canadian Film. He is co-artistic director of Red Dress Productions.
Anna Camilleri has been working with performance, image, and text for 25 years. Her inquiries span socially engaged practices, narrative, materiality, and the public imaginary. Her books have been recognized with distinctions from the LAMBDA Literary Foundation, the Association of Independent Publishers, the American Library of Congress, and are part of the University of Toronto’s Fisher Rare Books Library Queer Canadian Literature Collection. She is co-artistic director of Red Dress Productions.
For 20 years, Katie Yealland has worked in the commercial film industry primarily as a grip (film technician), and since 2010, Katie has worked with Red Dress Productions in various roles including community artist, live video animation, and production lead.
Becky Gold is an accessible drama instructor, creative enabler, and PhD candidate in Theatre and Performance Studies at York University. Her research explores disability-driven and inter-abled artistic practice, with a focus on interdependence, relation-building, care, and access-intimacy in the creation process. For the past three years, Becky has worked with Alex Bulmer on a variety of artistic projects as a support worker and collaborator. This work has and continues to influence her approaches to audio description and access aesthetics.
Wy Joung Kou
Wy Joung Kou is a queer, chronically ill, multi-disciplinary artist. Their body of work spans mosaic, poetry, sound, movement, performance, video, and installation. Grounded in a disability justice framework centering accessibility, community and interdependence, their artistic practice is interwoven with personal narratives of grief, care, and intimacy. They are a member of Raging Asian Womxn Taiko Drummers, the inaugural winner of a JRG Grant for Artists with Disabilities (2018), and an ILGBT Artist Residency alum.
Charles Ketchabaw is the Managing Director of FIXT POINT Arts & Media and Co-creator / Producer of The Tale of a Town – Canada, a national project which has brought him all across the country conducting interviews, recording sound and designing interactive audio performances. May I Take Your Arm x Theatre Passe Muraille makes Charles smile. Two incredible forces combining for good.
View photos from this performance on Flickr
- Theatre Passe Muraille 20.21 season. Online, June -July 2021
- MITYA Premiere Pilot (produced and presented by RDP). Cahoots Theatre, Toronto ON, September 2018
- Festival of Original Theatre (FOOT) 2019: Equity & Diversity in Performance. Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance, Toronto ON, February 2019
- FOLDA Festival of Live Digital Art 2019. Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, Kingston ON, June 2019
- Arts Club Theatre Company and Bard of the Beach Shakespeare Festival: Theatre and Accessibility in a Digital World Symposium.BMO Theatre Centre, Vancouver BC, October 2019
- FOLDA Festival of Live Digital Art 2020 LIVESTREAM. June 2020
Funders: Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, National Arts Centre English Theatre (The Collaborations)