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Power and Balance in DisArts: Creative Relationship Building Across Difference

Workshops by Request: Rocky Mountain Series
Photo Credits

February 10-12, 2017

This workshop was presented in partnership with Inside Out Theatre

Instructors: SYRUS MARCUS WARE & Sarah Garton Stanley

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Syrus is a visual artist, activist, curator and educator. As a visual artist, Syrus uses painting, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture. He is part of the PDA (Performance Disability Art) Collective and co-programmed Crip Your World: An Intergalactic Queer/POC Sick and Disabled Extravaganza as part of Mayworks 2014. Syrus is part of Blackness Yes! and co-produces Blockorama at Pride and other related events throughout the year. For 17 years, Syrus hosted the weekly radio segment, “Resistance on the Sound Dial” on CIUT 89.5FM. He is a prison abolitionist, is a former member of Friends of MOVE Toronto and the Prisoners’ Justice Action Project, and is one of the organizers of Toronto’s Prisoners’ Justice Day events.
Syrus was voted “Best Queer Activist” by NOW Magazine (2005) and was awarded the Steinert and Ferreiro Award for LGBT community leadership and activism (2012). In 2009, Syrus coedited the Journal of Museum Education issue Building Diversity in Museums with Gillian McIntyre. Syrus’ writings on trans health, disability studies and activism are part of curricula at City University of New York, York University, and Ryerson University. Syrus holds degrees in Art History, Visual Studies and a Masters in Sociology and Equity Studies, University of Toronto.  Syrus is a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University.

head-shot-sarah-garton-stanley-copySarah  is a Montréal original, and now lives between Ottawa and Kingston. She is the Associate Artistic Director of English Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre, the Artistic Director and co-creator of SpiderWebShow.ca and the co-director of Selfconscious Theatre in Toronto. Sarah co-founded The Baby Grand, in Kingston, co-created Women Making Scenes in Montreal, and Die in Debt Theatre in Toronto, (a company dedicated to large canvas site-specific work.) Sarah is a former AD of Buddies in Bad Times, co-helmed the Directing Program at The National Theatre School of Canada, and was the Associate Artist with both The Magnetic North Theatre Festival and Factory Theatre in Toronto. Over a 25-year award winning career, Sarah has directed work from coast to coast and most recently premiered work in Krakow, Poland. Sarah was associate director to Stan Douglas’Helen Lawrence, a live film noir project that has played in New York, Toronto, Vancouver, Munich, Edinburgh and Antwerp. Sarah trained at École Jacques Lecoq in Paris, Vancouver Film School and received her BA and MA from Queens University.


When artists work on community-engaged projects each collaborator brings entirely different sets of skills to the table. Theatre practitioners bring a broad range of experience and training; community members bring a broad range of experience and training. On the face of it this sounds like a formula for equality but is it?
Since the professional artist often instigates such projects it is common for them to take up the default position of leader/captain/god/omniscient one. Even when not explicitly stated, this assumption and consequent power dynamic is often implied.



This workshop was offered for theatre artists who identify as disabled and those who don’t, as well as community arts facilitators. Through this workshop Syrus Marcus Ware and  Sarah Garton Stanley lead the creation of a brief piece that practically and constructively addressed questions like:

How is leadership defined, earned, and understood in a community-engaged work?
How is authorship expressed?
How does the future of a disability arts collaborations inform our ways of working today?
What’s in it for you? 
Where does the power lie?

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