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Welcome to the 3rd edition of our newsletter! The Bodies In Translation (BIT) project is about partnerships, activism, art, technology, and access to life. Our newsletter, Found in Translation, provides a springboard for BIT collaborations and highlights some of the amazing work that we have underway.


This image shows the hallway of a storage facility in which there are several locker doors.
This video documents the Roll-a-thon tour of Artspin's 2019 installation exhibition, Holding Patterns, that took place on October 11, 2018. The Roll-a-thon tour led mobility device users through the maze of a storage facility to discover 20 artists and organizations animating storage lockers with site-responsive and multidisciplinary programming. The Roll-a-thon was co-presented by Art Spin and Access Visual Art in partnership with Tangled Art + Disability, Creative Users Projects, Akimbo, and Bodies in Translation.


A photo of Em Glasspool performing in Wreck Wee Em. They have short dark hair and a bewildered expression. Em is wearing orange and white checked overalls and kneeling on a rug, which is part of the set that looks like a living room.
A photo of Em Glasspool performing in Wreck Wee Em, above. They have short dark hair and a bewildered expression. Em is wearing orange and white checked overalls and kneeling on a rug, which is part of the staged set that looks like a living room. Photo by Andy Carroll, from the dress rehearsal performance of Wreck Wee Em.

Em Glasspool is the founder of mysterious entity theatre in Peterborough, Onatrio. Mysterious entity's aim is to foster positive social change through the creation and production of theatre. BIT is proud to have Em Glasspool as a collaborator. Kayla Besse interviewed Em about their newest play, Wreck Wee Em, which explores Glasspool’s own personal experiences with mental illness, trauma and addiction. Read on to learn about its successes and challenges, and about it being the first Relaxed Performance ever staged in Peterborough.

Kayla Besse: How did you first find out about Bodies in Translation?

Em Glasspool: I found out about Bodies in Translation through a friend and colleague of mysterious entity theatre, Nadine Changfoot, [who is also an Associate professor of Political Studies at Trent University, a BIT co-investigator and a member of the BIT leadership team]. Nadine reached out to mysterious entity and we had some input on the grant applications for funds for some of BIT’s work – as a creative community partner engaged in disability art - mainly due to our creative work surrounding mental health.

KB: With Wreck Wee Em, you wrote, directed, and acted in the first Relaxed Performance in Peterborough, ON. Can you talk a bit about that experience, and its reception?

EG: Slight amendment here – I did not direct the piece – Linda Kash did, and was instrumental in helping me to shape it as I continued re-writes, and months of rehearsals with her, honing the performance. Linda was a huge part of making the piece a success. In over 18 years of my company, mysterious entity, being in existence, I have directed all of our work, about 6 shows per year, save 2 projects: A Shakespeare production, and Wreck Wee Em. So, it seems relevant to mention this.

Doing the first Relaxed production was a huge honour, and something that I hope creates a snowball effect in Peterborough. I know there are a few other companies and colleagues poised and ready to follow suit. The audience as well, was hungry and eager for the experience, and it was our best crowd, a sold-out show, and a lengthy standing ovation. People stuck around for a long time after for the informal Q&A, demonstrating a thirst for this kind of activity in our region.

KB: What are some of the successes and challenges of staging a Relaxed Performance?

EG: I particularly enjoyed the coming together of diverse community constituencies that seemed to be aided by offering a Relaxed Performance. Also–straight up–I am the performer here of a intensely physical, personal, exhausting 1 hour and 5 minute monologue/performance piece. When the audience was given the freedom of Relaxed Performance–  Nadine Changfoot introduced the show, and encouraged the audience to move, sound, and offer alternative forms of appreciation–I sat backstage as a nervous, anxious actor (with mental illness), and was relived beyond words to hear Nadine speak to the generalized anxiety that fills theatre spaces, for performers and audiences alike.

KB: In what ways does mysterious entity theatre challenge the conventions of more traditional theatres?

EG: Mysterious entity is a company of theatre artists based in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Our aim is to foster positive social change through the creation and production of theatre.

Mysterious entity represents theatre as empowerment, innovation & exploration, communities in creative exchange, complexity and diversity, theatre as communal experience, making change by connecting audiences and artists, and dis*ability arts.

KB: What does disability art mean to you?           
EG: A huge question. I am a theatre artist who deals with severe mental illness and addiction. Also, I am a theatre artist. Sometimes, often times really, my work deals with these themes, but not always. Although -  can I ever really separate my life experience from my created original work?  Dis*ability art to me – I keep creating art – sometimes, in the face of almost impossible adversity. Artists make art. Add to that dis*ability. Then, instead of seeing this as an impediment, celebrate the additional powerful message disability artists and art have to send. 

KB: What’s something you wish more people understood about disability arts?

EG: For me, dis*ability arts are about the ARTISTS, and reminds people that WE make art too! In the saddest world of people [merely] conforming to accessibility requirements – let them not forget. Many Producers (and of course, I am one), strive to make their particular event “accessible;" “put in a ramp” kind of measures. Many people will struggle with, and have a harder time understanding, that “accessibility” has a much more far reaching range. 

KB: What do you think are the most important future actions for accessible arts practice?

EG: Well, we all know, no? Outreach, education, art. Sessions, workshops, all of it. This is such an important issue – not one that has anything to do with “ put in a ramp and be done with it. “ 

You can follow mysterious entity on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


This is a photo of Vanessa Dion Fletcher, bending over a book on a table, translating English words using her Delaware dictionary. 
This is a photo of Vanessa Dion Fletcher, bending over a book on a table, translating English words using her Delaware dictionary. Photo by Michelle Peek Photography, courtesy of Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology & Access to Life, Re•Vision: The Centre for Art & Social Justice at the University of Guelph. 

From January 24-27th 2019, disabled artists, activists, and scholars came from near and far to gather in Toronto, Ontario for the second Cripping The Arts, a multi-disciplinary symposium that celebrated the diversity and vitality of disability arts. 

In “On The Complexity of Cripping the Arts,” Christiana Myers writes, "to 'crip' the arts is to embrace the ways that disability can disrupt the status quo and lead with difference. By 'cripping,' or subverting... exclusionary or patronizing tropes related to disability can be dismantled, allowing access and inclusion to be standardized, terminology to be reclaimed, artists and audiences to be empowered and proper representation to be achieved."

Bodies in Translation was a proud supporting partner of Cripping the Arts and many BIT team members were both organizing partners and featured presenters. The first day explored “Trajectories in Access” and Carla Rice, Andrea LaMarre, and Kayla Besse presented BIT's report on Relaxed Performance training in Canadian theatre in partnership with the British Council Canada. Relaxed performance is an approach to theatre that welcomes arts patrons who may have been historically excluded from theatre spaces because of physical or sensory needs and “lets bodies be bodies.”

Lindsay Fisher, Artistic Producer of BIT but in this case presenting on behalf of her disability arts-based organization and cultural connector, Creative Users Projects, hosted a workshop and talk about the Accessing the Arts Initiative, which aims to enhance the artistic experience of disability artists, curators and arts professionals and increase the discoverability of accessible arts in Canada.

BIT co-investigators and Big Picture Committee leads Nadine Changfoot, Professor of Political Studies at Trent University, and Michael Orsini, Professor of Political Studies at University of Ottawa, spoke on the Representation panel which explored how arts culture reviews contribute to the cultivation of Deaf, disability, and Mad art. 

Vanessa Dion Fletcher, artist and BIT’s 2018 Artist-in-Residence, connected her

Potawatomi and Lenape ancestry with her learning disability present Finding Language: A Word Scavenger Hunt. Dion Fletcher’s performance illustrated the complexities of translating both language and the body by moving around the room, finding words in the space, translating English words using her Delaware dictionary, and sharing her interpretation of the word's meaning. She invited the audience to do their own meaning making with words in the room by taking notes on quill decorated note cards.

Other BIT collaborators and partners were representing as well: Sean Lee, Artistic Director at Tangled Art + Disability presented on the "Leadership" panel, which discussed the need for disabled leadership in the Deaf & Disability Arts sector. Dolleen Manning, Anishinaabe scholar and artist,  Elwood Jimmy from the Thunderchild First Nation, artist, cultural producer and Program Coordinator for Musagetes, and Mona and Sky Stonefish, Anishinaabe (Bear Clan), Knowledge Keepers, artists and collaborators with Bodies in Translation, also presented on this panel which engaged Black and Indigenous artists in dialogue about the intersections of disability, race and Indigeneity. 

Alex Bulmer, writer, director, performer, and BIT Artist-in-Residence hosted the "Crip Shorts," cabaret. She revved up the energy of the room and right hooked us all with her alter-ego, "Blind Rage" - a Blind boxer. 

Both the Cripping The Arts Access Guide and the Program provided an excellent model of what accessible event planning can look like when done comprehensively. The Access Guide included a visual story that provided photos and text to help participants familiarize themselves with the space, presenters, and program in advance, offered explanations of accessibility resources that would be in use, suggestions for creating an ideological safer space, and a glossary of key terms in plain language.

Watch all three days of programming with captions on the Cripping the Arts 2019 Live Stream

Read Canadian Art Magazine's recap of the symposium by Christiana Myers in full: "On The Complexity of Cripping the Arts." 

Phantom, stills & vibrations is an immersive installation by Lara Kramer (Oji-Cree). This short documentary captures the installation, performance, as well as an interview with the artist. The installation creates an intimacy with Lac Seul, ON and confronts the brutal and complex relationships between Indigenous peoples and Settler society. For this performance and sound installation, created in collaboration with Stefan Petersen, Kramer draws the spectator into the former Pelican Lake Indian Residential School, where three generations of Kramer's family attended.

Lara Kramer was the 2017-18 Trent University Ashley Fellow Artist In Residence. The two-week residency saw Kramer present Phantom, stills and vibrations at Artspace as well as a series of free workshops, teachings and lectures that were open to all members of the public in partnership with Bodies in Translation. This video was produced for BIT by Anthroscope Media. 
A photo of Kayla, with her hands in her coat pockets and smiling. She is walking on a forest trail in autumn. She has long brunette hair and tortoise-shell glasses.
A photo of Kayla, with her hands in her coat pockets and smiling. She is walking on a forest trail in autumn. She has long brunette hair and tortoise-shell glasses.
We have recently bid adieu to Andrea LaMarre and welcomed Kayla Besse as the Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator for the Re•Vision Centre and for BIT. Kayla completed her MA in English Literature with a focus on disability studies and finds working with Re•Vision and BIT to be a dream space in which to apply her skills and to continue learning. In addition to more traditional knowledge mobilization activities, Kayla also collaborates on research, most recently on Relaxed Performance, and Digital Storytelling workshop facilitation. Welcome Kayla!

We are excited to be expanding our reach on social media platforms and in other contexts, continually questioning what it means to generate knowledge mobilization practices which are dynamic, accessible, and interactive. Our hope for increased knowledge mobilization is to facilitate greater links between academics and artists working in the same fields, who may not otherwise be aware of each other's work.

Please share your research, news, and events with us, tag, and follow us! We're on Twitter @BITpartnership, Instagram @bodiesintranslation, and Facebook @BITpartnership. The BIT website is always in process, so keep checking back there for updates as well.

Bodies in Translation's Guiding Principles are now on the BIT website in both a written document and a stunning graphic poster created by Guelph-based artist Devon Kerslake. These illustrate the principles that ground all BIT partnerships and projects: leading with difference, enacting radical reciprocity, manifesting accessibility, and working in decolonizing and intersectional ways. The principles are responsive, evolving, and collaborative so we welcome your feedback! A full video animation of the principles will be released in late Spring. 

Tune in to the BIT Vimeo Channel Watch some of our creative outputs, documentary work, interviews and select talks and lectures. We encourage you to program these videos into your talks and lectures, and to use this content in your research. 

Outliers on Tour at Tangled Art + Disability brings the outsiders in. This multisensorial show invites Disability-identified artists from across Ontario to consider how the city has been built and constructed as a concept by those on the periphery. Exhibition dates: March 8 – April 19. Film Screening and Artist Talk with Michael Keshane in partnership with Images Festival: April 17, 12PM-1:30PM. 

Jeff Thomas wins the #GGArts Award! Big congratulations to Jeff Thomas, BIT collaborator, who recently won the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. Jeff is a self-taught photo-based artist, writer, public speaker, and curator who has partnered with BIT on a solo exhibition. [[let's clear this announcement re solo show before we include]. 

The Doctor is Out! Congrats to Andrea LaMarre
Congrats to Andrea LaMarre on successfully defending her PhD, and for her new position as lecturer in critical health psychology! Andrea will be at Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand, starting in October 2019. We thank you for everything, we miss you already and we wish you continued success. 

Creative Users Projects is awarded The CCA Digital Strategy Fund! The Canada Council for the Arts Digital Strategy grant will support Creative User's Accessing the Arts Initiative from April 2019 to September 2020. It will enhance public access to disability arts and increase the discoverability of accessibility in the arts in Canada. Congratulations to the Creative Users team on this prestigious award. Subscribe to their newsletter for updates.

Tenure-Track Job Posting in Trent's Gender & Women's Studies Program. Deadline May 5th. Full details here.

Limited-Term Faculty Posting in Ryerson's School of Disability Studies. Deadline May 10. Full details here

Thank you to Em Glasspool and mysterious entity theatre, Art Spin and the Roll-a-thon partners: Access Visual Art, Akimbo, Creative Users Projects and Tangled Arts +Disability, Erin MacIndoe Sproule and Anthroscope Media, and Lara Kramer, Nadine Changfoot and to BIT's 2018 Artist in Residence, Vanessa Dion Fletcher.
The Cripping the Arts program, which has a bright yellow cover and black text that says "Changing how we create and experience arts and culture"
Thank you to Cripping the Arts 2019 and the organizing partners:
British Council, 
Creative Users Project,
Ryerson University
Tangled Art + Disability

[Image description:
The Cripping the Arts program, which has a bright yellow cover and black text that says "Changing how we create and experience arts and culture." Image credit: Michelle Peek Photography]

About This Newsletter

Found in Translation is a newsletter for, by, and about the Bodies in Translation partnership grant. Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life is a research project that creates collaborative partnerships between artists, arts organizations, activists, scholars, and educators. We cultivate activist art produced by disabled, d/Deaf, fat, Mad, and E/elder people with the goal of expanding understandings of vitality and advancing social justice. Bodies in Translation has its home at Re·Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice at the University of Guelph. It is co-led by Dr. Carla Rice at the University of Guelph and Dr. Eliza Chandler at Ryerson University.

A Note About Accessibility

We recognize that accessibility is a dynamic process. If you find any part of this newsletter to be inaccessible to you or if you have any suggestions for how we might make Found in Translation more accessible in content, language, tone, style, etc., we would love feedback. Please email Kayla Besse at


This newsletter is written by Kayla Besse and edited by Kayla Besse and Tracy Tidgwell.

Kayla Besse is the Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator for Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life. She holds an MA in English literature from the University of Guelph. She has a particular expertise in literary and (pop-)cultural representations of disability, and her writing privileges the work of disabled people in order to reconsider reclamations of power through life writing, feminist theory, and advocacy. She is currently writing about the implementation of Relaxed Performance in Canadian theatre spaces.
Tracy Tidgwell is the Research Project Manager for Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life at Re•Vision: The Centre for Art & Social Justice at the University of Guelph. She is a community organizer and researcher, activist, and cultural producer working in the folds of Toronto's queer arts communities over the past many years in performance, video, analog photography, and writing. Her interests include process, connection, creativity, the fat queer body, and freedom for all beings. 
The content of this newsletter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-Sharealike license. This means that others may build on or alter content when it is re-shared. The content must be only used for non-commercial purposes and the original work must be attributed to the BIT Found in Translation newsletter. Users must also license the new work under the same license. For more information about Creative Commons licensing, please visit: Content that is shared here but created by others (for example, found on external links) may be subject to different licensing.
This research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
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