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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Shipwrecked secrets resurface at Harbourfront Centre; climb aboard the Speedy May 15-18 – #artlive

(News Release)

TORONTO, ON (April 14, 2014) – Built hastily of dry rotten wood in 1798, The HMS Speedy was doomed to sink before it set sail on Lake Ontario in 1804.

The ship'’s final voyage was enroute to Newcastle, where its occupants were to try a case against a Chippewa man accused of murdering a white fur trader.

The ship went down, the trial never happened and history was forever changed. Now, over 200 years later, Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage presents the world premiere of The Speedy, a Fresh Ground new works commission created by Toronto theatre collective UnSpun Theatre.

In 1803, a Chippewa man named Ogetonicut lost his brother Whistling Duck to the murderous hands of a white fur trader.

Governor Hunter promised Ogetonicut an immediate trial, but justice was never served. After a year of waiting, and with no trial in sight, Ogetonicut took justice into his own hands, allegedly killing the white fur trader who had killed his brother the year before.

Justice followed more swiftly this time and on October 7, 1804, twenty of the most important citizens of the day boarded The HMS Speedy at modern day Queens Quay to try a murder case against Ogetonicut in Newcastle.

At the time, many thought Newcastle would replace York as the capital of Upper Canada. York, with only 400 residents at that time, was considered unseemly due of its large constituency of criminals and sex workers. Passengers aboard The HMS Speedy carried with them six hand-written copies of the Constitution of Upper Canada.

When the ship went down, history was forever changed; justice was never served and York remained the capital of Upper Canada. Until now, this mysterious story had been largely forgotten.

The Speedy is a compelling theatre installation, created by UnSpun Theatre’s Chris Hanratty and Shira Leuchter. The show will be used to explore storytelling in a contemporary context through an integrated, participatory art installation.

Piecing together historical artifacts and stories passed down through generations, UnSpun Theatre reveals a forgotten piece of Toronto’s past and invites World Stage audiences to join in the rebuilding of our shared history.

“Fostering opportunities for the development of local artists, and their work, is a serious priority for us at World Stage,” shares Tina Rasmussen, artistic director for World Stage. “Our goal every season is to give Toronto audiences the chance to experience some of the best contemporary performance work from around the world, and Canada is part of the world. We would be doing our patrons a disservice by not inviting and supporting companies like UnSpun Theatre, every year.”

“We wanted to create an immersive piece of theatre,” shares Shira Leuchter. “There’s so much mystery surrounding the Speedy, including what caused it to sink, it was hard not to use this as the foundation of our World Stage work. We’'ve spent years researching this story, and through collaboration with our creative colleagues from the First Nations and Métis community, we'’ve been able to recreate a remarkable piece of Toronto’'s history.”

A key facet of Harbourfront Centre’s mandate is championing the creation of new artistic works, providing a forum for originality, invention and inspiration. In 2004, Harbourfront Centre launched Fresh Ground new works, its national commissioning prize. Since its inception, the programme has become a catalyst for new Canadian artistic works, including UnSpun Theatre’s The Speedy. The Speedy creative team includes Chris Hanratty, Shira Leuchter, Keith Barker, Jordi Mand and Trevor Schwellnus.
Tickets for The Speedy and other World Stage 2014 productions are available via Harbourfront Centre’s Box Office. Patrons can call 416-973-4000, visit 235 Queens Quay West and/or go online for all ticket inquiries.

For full company and performance information, including photos, videos and details surrounding World Stage Extras, please visit harbourfrontcentre.com/worldstage and connect with the season on Facebook and Twitter using @WorldStageTO #artlive.


The Speedy – Opening Night Pre-show Event Thursday, May 15, 7 p.m. –Enwave Theatre
In an effort to further understand the seemingly complex world of contemporary performance, World Stage invites ticket holders to attend an opening night artist talk and celebration with complimentary freshly brewed tea. This pre-show conversation will be hosted by a well-informed industry practitioner, who will facilitate a friendly, informal chat with patrons to help shed light on some of the ideas and approaches found within the piece. Cup, saucer and programming provided and curated by World Stage. Admission is free with the purchase of a ticket to the opening performance of The Speedy.

The Speedy – Talkshow Friday, May 16, Immediately following the performance – Enwave Theatre
UnSpun Theatre discuss their work and The Speedy with World Stage audience members through conversation facilitated by curated guest hosts. Admission is free with the purchase of a ticket to The Speedy.

Since 1986, World Stage has evolved into Canada’'s most diverse season-length international contemporary performance series. Every year, Harbourfront Centre brings innovative and groundbreaking performance leaders from both the international and local arts community to World Stage. Committed to bold curation and audience accessibility, World Stage programming continues to foster opportunities for cultural development and the artistic exchange of ideas. Following last year’s Dora Mavor Moore Award-winning season, World Stage 2014 features groundbreaking international contemporary performance works, welcoming artists and productions from Finland, Sweden, Germany, England, South Africa, United States and Canada.

Harbourfront Centre is a Canadian charity operating the 10 prime acres of Toronto’s central waterfront as a free and open public site. We celebrate the multiplicities of cultures that comprise Canada and enliven the city through the creative imaginations of artists from across the country and around the globe.


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