A Walking Bridge Time Tunnel

Category: community 640

Solo Chicken Productions issue a call for artists and community groups to take part in a unique Canada 150 event.

Matt Carter

Fredericton’s Solo Chicken Productions have announced The Bridge Project, an ambitious community based initiative that will see the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge transformed into a multi-media pavilion exploring Canada’s history from 1867 to 2017.  Planned to take place September 8, 2017, this one evening event aims to create “a living time tunnel through which the audience will walk, descending or ascending through our collective history”.

The project will be first of its kind for Fredericton. The former train bridge-turned-pedestrian walkway has been a major artery for walkers, joggers and cyclists for the past twenty years connecting both sides of the city. As part of both the Sentier NB Trail system and the Trans Canada Trail, the original structure dates back to 1887 making the stage for this project nearly as old as the country it will celebrate.

“If you enter the bridge on the south side you’ll be walking from the present to the past and if you enter the bridge on the Northside you will be moving from the past to the present,” said Solo Chicken Productions’ Lisa Anne Ross. “This little gem of an idea was Ryan Griffith’s and we thought it made perfect use of the architecture of the bridge as a long thin conduit through which the audience can pass.  But like true artists, we aren’t binding ourselves too closely to the notion of ‘timeline’.  There will be some projects that span decades or are more focused on a theme or an experience.  Basically we are open to supporting each artist and community group’s vision of how to interrogate and explore history and we’ll place that vision somewhere on the timeline.”

The Bridge Project’s key artistic team – Solo Chicken Productions’ Lisa Anne Ross, playwright Ryan Griffith and Woloastoqiyik artist Natalie Sappier – will work collaboratively to draw on key moments in history and explore diverse perspectives that reflect the ever-changing cultural makeup of our region told through music, film, theatre, dance, visual art, performance art and poetry.

“We felt that it was essential to have a small artistic team that could help us to envision some key moments on the timeline and to ensure that we kept it from being a singular vision,” said Ross. “We asked Ryan [Griffith] to be a part of the project because he is a gifted playwright and is able to tease engaging narrative out of everything.  His input has been vital in terms of guiding us to shape a loose narrative that can be almost like stepping stones over the bridge.  Little key moments that will provide a little thread for the audience to follow.  

“Natalie [Sappier] brings a whole other set of skills as a multi-disciplinary Wolastoqiyik artist who approaches her work not only through a cultural lens but through a prism of dance, theatre, music and art,” said Ross. “Plus her name sake is ‘water spirit’ so who better to have on a project that spans the mighty Wolastoq River.”

Solo Chicken Productions are currently seeking proposals from artists and community groups from a variety of genres including dance, theatre, music, visual art, craft, circus and film to perform or install works as part of the project.

Professional artist projects already planned for the time tunnel include Danielle Hogan’s tapestry tribute to Sandra Lovelace of Tobique First Nation. Lovelace, a graduate of St. Thomas University became the first Aboriginal woman appointed to the Senate; Fredericton artist Sylvette Fortin plans to create a collection of tiny beavers commemorating the year 1975 when the beaver became Canada’s national animal; Next Folding Theatre Company together with Theatre St. Thomas will perform original work by Ryan Griffith that will examine the intersection between Wolostoqiyik, Francophone and English culture and Natalie Sappier will create an original performance art piece by paying homage to the Wolastoq.

Other projects include a theatre piece by the Multi-Cultural Association of Fredericton’s teen girls group examining the question ‘what is culture?’, an art installation by the New Brunswick Queer Heritage Initiative, a dance performance piece by the Indo-Canadian Cultural Association and a banned book exhibit by the Fredericton Public Library.

“We are really excited about offering a Canada 150 event that not only offers space to celebrate and explore our history but space to interrogate and revision it,” said Ross. “Our history and the very formation of our country is fraught with political and social issues.  A history that includes systemic racism, homophobia and sexism and probably most pertinent to Fredericton, the unfolding of that history has taken place on the traditional unceded territory of the Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq peoples.  There is much to learn from our past and we hope that this coming together of artists will act a catalyst for conversations about how to use our past to shape our future.”

Information on how to submit proposals can be found by visiting www.solochickenproductions.com . Participating professional artists will receive an honorarium for their work and all participating community groups will receive facilitation support and artistic guidance from the project’s artistic team.

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