The Léa Roback Biography Project (ongoing)

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In the fall of 2023, Tara began a biography project featuring Québec social activist Léa Roback, who was Tara’s great aunt. Although Roback is well-known for her union and peace activism within Québec, she is lesser-known in English Canada and a biography of her activist life and work has not yet been written.

At a time where the geo-political moment has produced polarized views and a lack of dialogue, Tara believes Roback’s ability to cross-borders – linguistic, religious, cultural, ethnic, and class borders – to work towards social justice needs to be shared.

Tara’s progress on the Roback biography project will be shared here.

In the meantime, a 1991 documentary film about Roback’s life and activism by Québec filmmaker Sophie Bissonette titled Des Lumières dans la Grande Noirceur is available here:

The Love Booth Williamstown (March 2024)

The Love Booth_poster_web

The Love Booth began life as a play by Tara to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the delisting of homosexuality as a ‘mental disorder’ by the American Psychiatric Association.

Tara drew on original sources and used a verbatim process to write The Love Booth, which was first performed at the Toronto Pride Festival in June 2023 by her theatre company, Gailey Road Productions.

In December 2023 Tara invited Donna Jackson of Hubcap Productions to direct the work in Australia. Donna and Tara both agreed that Australian and Western Suburbs stories from local queer communities would be researched and then crafted into a new version of The Love Booth. The Love Booth, Williamstown was performed on March 8 and 9 2024 at the Williamstown Town Hall in Williamstown, which is a Western suburb of Melbourne.

 

To read The Love Booth, Williamstown program.

Arts-based Research Conference April 2024

On April 18, 2024, Tara curated and hosted a one-day arts-based research at the University of Toronto featuring poetry, graphic stories, drawings and photographs, textiles, sound, documentary film, a podcast series, a novel and an audio-book and an opening talk by writer and animated filmmaker Karleen Pendleton Jiménez from Trent University. The conference was a Jackman Humanities Institute Marquee Event.

The 60 Years of Queer and Trans Activism and Care Project

The 60 Years of Queer and Trans Activism and Care Project involved developing a research course which provided undergraduate students with an opportunity to conduct archival research on six decades of queer, trans, Black, Indigenous,
and People of Colour (QTBIPOC) activism and care that have challenged heteronormativity, cisnormativity, and racism in Canada.

While there are many ways to share the findings of archival
research, we chose to teach our students how to create dramatic verbatim monologues as the arts-based research method of verbatim theatre required students to use the words of activists themselves to explain why a particular moment of activism and care was needed.
Students attended three different workshops during the full-year course from September 2022 to March 2023: a workshop in conducting archival research, a workshop about centring themselves and their communities in their research, and a workshop in verbatim monologue writing.

To read a reflective essay about the what the students learned from the project, click here:

Citation: Goldstein, Tara, and Jenny Salisbury. 2024. The 60 Years of Queer and Trans Activism and Care Project: Learning to Conduct Archival
Research and Write Dramatic Verbatim Monologues. Arts 13: 62.

The Love Booth and Six Companion Plays (2021-2023)

The Love Booth and Six Companion Plays is an archival arts-based research project about seven moments of activism and care in the early LGBTQ liberation movement that challenged cishetero-normativity  and racism.

The title play, The Love Booth, dramatizes a moment of queer activism at the American Psychological Association (APA) conference in 1972 where queer activists organized an academic panel called “Psychiatry: Friend or Foe to Homosexuals”. The panel featured Dr. H. Anonymous, a closeted gay psychiatrist who participated in disguise, wearing an oversized tuxedo, a wig, and a mask. 

Using a voice-distorting microphone, Dr. H. Anonymous gave a blistering speech about the destructive effects of homosexuality being labelled a sickness by the field of psychiatry.   

This moment of queer activism resulted in the APA taking homosexuality off the list of mental disorders in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, changing the lives of countless people who no longer felt they needed to be cured of the feelings they had for the people they loved.  

The 50th anniversary of the APA’s 1973 removal of homosexuality from the DSM is coming up in 2023, and Tara is planning to stage the performance project as part of the Toronto Pride Festival in June 2023.

Image credit: benjamin lee hicks

LGBTQ Families Speak Out (2014-2020)

This arts-based testimonial research project (2014-2020) features video and audio interviews with 37 LGBTQ families from across Ontario about their experiences in public schools.  The interviews have edited and curated into 300 video excerpts under a variety of themes and tags and are available at lgbtqfamiliesspeakout.ca  The interviews have also been shared in the form of a verbatim theatre piece called Out at School which is also available at the LGBTQ Families Speak Out website.

Image credit: benjamin lee hicks

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