the morning I died I flew over the tabaco fields…
A multimedia ethnographic performance project based on the morning I died I flew over the tobacco fields…, a short story written by Lynn Hutchinson Lee—a multimedia artist/writer, daughter of a Canadian mother and Romanichal (English Romani) father, living and working in Toronto. the morning I died I flew over the tobacco fields… is inspired by the life of Lynn’s father’s sister and takes place during the latter part of the Depression. Lynn’s aunt climbs onto a roof being tarred by her father and brothers and is enchanted by the sight of two swans on a pond owned by the wealthy tobacco farmer for whom her family works. She is hired as a paid companion for a farmer’s wife, Missus Quince, and is assigned the task of preparing food for the swans. Over the years, Lynn’s aunt finds comfort in her visions of the two swans on the pond who often ‘visit’ her at night, and eventually becomes a healer of birds. The performance blurs the lines between documentary and fiction, and uses film, photography, spoken/written word, and multi-media installation to tell the story of family, identity and absence.
View Part 1 – Developing the story from Rajat Nayyar on Vimeo.
Direction: Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston and Shawn Kazubowski-Houston
Dramaturgy: Lynn Hutchinson Lee
Assistant Direction: Becky Gold
Audiovisual Ethnographer: Rajat Nayyar
Ethnographic Photographer: Amadeusz Kazubowski-Houston
Costume Design: Marta Shpak
Performers: Leanne Hoffman, Sadie Wells Liddy
Co-sponsored by Centre for Imaginative Ethnography and Sensorium – Centre for Digital Arts and Technology
Performance Date: March 26-27, 2021
Becky Gold – co-editor, field notes blog
Becky is a community arts facilitator, artist support worker, and emerging scholar currently pursuing her PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies at York University. She holds a BA Honours in Drama and English from Queen’s University and a MA in Theatre Studies from the University of British Columbia. Becky’s research interests include: disability theatre, interdependence and care politics in performance, performance ethnography, and imagining futures of disability through performance. This upcoming year, Becky will be facilitating a musical theatre program as well as a speakers bureau for neurodiverse self-advocates in Toronto.
Leanne Hoffman – performer
Leanne is an actor and writer based in Toronto, Canada. Originally from Medicine Hat Alberta, she moved to Toronto to attend the theatre program at York University. After completing the acting conservatory program, she currently resides in the city to share in the multitude of opportunities Toronto provides. You can catch Leanne indoors on a rainy day, rereading old favorite books, or listening to music her parents had hoped she’d grow out of
Lynn Hutchinson Lee – playwright, co-director
Lynn is a multimedia artist from Toronto, Canada and is a co-founder of Red Tree and chirikli collectives. Her work has been exhibited in Canada and Latin America. chirikli’s sound installation Canada Without Shadows was exhibited at Call the Witness, Second Roma Pavilion, Venice Biennale; BAK, Utrecht, Netherlands; and National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest, Romania. Five Songs for Daddy, Lynn’s spoken word piece from Canada Without Shadows, was installed at the Art Gallery of York University’s Audio Out, Toronto. Her selected writing is included in The Food of My People (forthcoming, edited by Ursula Pflug and Candas Jane Dorsey, Exile Editions); CLI-FI: Canadian Tales of Climate Change(edited by Bruce Meyer, Exile Editions); Romani Women in Canada: Spectrum of the Blue Water (Inanna Publications); Romani Folio (Drunken Boat International Journal of Literature and the Arts), and other publications.
Amadeusz Kazubowski-Houston – ethnographic photographer
Amadeusz Kazubowski-Houston is an environmental researcher, activist, musician, and a licensed glider pilot. His research interests include classical and jazz performance, old and forgotten instruments, nature conservation, animal rights, and environmental and ethnographic photography. He is currently a student in the BA Honours in Environmental Studies at York University and past President of York University’s Les Nubas Association. He is a graduate of the Taylor Performance Academy at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music where he studied piano under Professors James Anagnoson, Lee Wang and Marina Geringas. He was the 2012 Canadian Music Competition’s National Grand Prize winner, and has performed widely in Canada, the US and Poland, including performances with the TSO, the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, and the CMC Orchestra under the baton of Uri Mayer.
Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston – co-director, lead ethnographer
Magdalena is an anthropologist, performance theorist, theatre director and playwright. She is Associate Professor of Theatre, and has graduate appointments in Theatre & Performance Studies and Social Anthropology at York University. Her research interests include performance ethnography, ethnographic storytelling, ethnographic (non)fiction, multimodal ethnography, physical and political theatre and performance. She has collaborated on imaginative ethnography projects with Romani people and Nazi-Holocaust survivors in Poland and Canada, and residents from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Her book, Staging Strife (2010), was awarded the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry Outstanding Qualitative Book Award and the Canadian Association for Theatre Research Ann Saddlemyer Book Prize (2011). Her article, “quiet Theatre: The Radical Politics of Silence,” was awarded the Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR) 2019 Richard Plant Prize, granted annually to the best English-language article on a Canadian theatre or performance topic. She is a Co-Curator of the Centre for Imaginative Ethnography (CIE).
Shawn Kazubowski-Houston – co-editor, acting coach
Shawn is a thespian, theatre director, playwright, photographer, editor and poet. He has worked as ethnographer and co-artistic director (Teatr Korzenie) on various projects in Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Poland. Shawn is also a registrar’s assistant at Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto.
Rajat Nayyar – co-editor, audiovisual ethnographer and filmmaker
Rajat is a visual anthropologist and a PhD student at the Department of Theatre, York University. His research interests are: everyday forms of resistance, verbal performative traditions, community archives, fiction and performance as a practice in producing collaborative audio-visual ethnography. Rajat is the founder of Espírito Kashi, a media project working on finding new embodied and critical ways of engaging with Intangible Heritage of rural India. His recent film, Kashi Labh, on the social aesthetics of dying in Kashi, India’s holy city, continues to reach newer audiences, conferences, film festivals, as well as private institutions.
Marta Shpak – performer
Marta is a singer, songwriter and actress. She is an Honoured Artist of Ukraine whose international performances showcase its culture. Marta holds a Master’s Degree in Choreography from the National Academy of Leading Staff of Culture and Art of Ukraine. She has worked as a main soloist for State Ensemble of Song and Dance for the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine and recorded five musical albums with genres including folk, electro and pop. Marta has also worked as a choreographer and performer for children’s folk-ethnographic group Malenki Boiky, and is currently pursuing an MA in Theatre and Performance Studies at York University.
Sadie Wells Liddy – performer
Sadie is a full-time mover and shaker. When Sadie is not moving and shaking, she is studying at York University pursuing an undergraduate degree in both Devised Theatre and Law & Society. Sadie’s most recent work includes assistant stage managing for Shakespeare in Action’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as performing in York University’s most recent production of Vagina Monologues.