Report Back on our First International Event: Toronto, Sins Invalid and Disability Justice
By Leroy MooreCommunity Relations Director and Performer of Sins Invalid
Mid-month this March in Toronto, at the invitation of the University of Toronto, Sins Invalid performed live at The Art Gallery of Ontario and led a disability justice workshop as part of New College Disability Studies Week, sponsored by New College, University of Toronto and Ryerson University's School of Disability Studies.
Event coordinators and audience members alike agreed that having Sins in Toronto was a "long time coming." This transnational collaboration took lots of labor on and off stage. Local SF Bay Area Sins performers got to know the real community and krip culture of Toronto thanks to Loree Erickson and roommates opening their accessible home to us. Although Patty Berne, the Sins Artistic Director, could not travel with us, her awesome vision down to the details of prop setup was with us the whole way. We were ready to make her proud by delivering a kick ass performance.And we did: our Toronto tour was out of this world!In the classroom: the disability justice workshop brought in over 60 participants with a diverse mix of disability studies students, professors, and community organizers. Co-facilitated by Patty Berne via video and Sins performer Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha in the flesh, the workshop lead into some mind-opening concepts linking disability justice, praxis, movement building, race, class, and queerness.On stage for a sold-out show: Sins’s first performance outside the country attracted 300 attendees (sadly, with 100 turned away at the door). In the words of one audience member:
“Sins presented a reclaiming, revaluing and liberation of our whole selves that went beyond anything I have seen before. The performance welcomed, loved and complicated that which is considered taboo, monstrous, the unspeakable, part of ourselves that we may have hardly even known about. Thank you for brilliance and thank you for sharing it with us.”
All of the above could not have happened without this multifaceted collaboration:University of Toronto Planning Committee members: Anne Mcguire, Izzy Mackenzie, Ella Chandler, Loree Erickson and Lenny O.Sins Invalid Director: Patty BerneTour and Stage Manager: Ralph DickinsonPerformers: Alex Cafarelli, Maria Palacios, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, and myselfAdditional Artists: Aurora Levins Morales, Todd HermanLocal Participants: Performance Artists Masti Khor and the Compass youth groupOrganizations and Universities: Equity Studies Program (New College); Ryerson School of Disability Studies; Griffin Center; Art Gallery of Ontario; Students for Barrier-Free Access (UT); RyeAccess; Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies (UT); Department of Sociology and Equity Studies (OISE); Ontario Rainbow Alliance for the Deaf (ORAD); Equity Studies Student Union (UT); Mark S. Bonham Center for Sexual Diversity Studies & R3 collective.