Ring Around the World Players presents… “Get A Real Job!” – A Play About Working in Call Centres

More and more, call centres are seen as the answer to unemployment in many of our Northern communities. Telemarketing now employs more people in Sudbury than Inco does. It seemed important to explore the implications for workers, who are mainly women. This project was a partnership between Myths and Mirrors and Local 2020 of the Steelworkers Union.

With a core group of telemarketers from Sudbury’s only unionized call centre, we developed a survey questionnaire that was delivered to workers throughout the industry, focusing on both unionized and non-unionized workplaces. The results of the surveys confirmed the experiences of members of the core group and after months of discussion and improvisation they shaped their stories into an interactive play that incorporates satire, monologues, songs and a rousing pro-union storyline. The participants, who had never acted before, rehearsed extensively and the result was a dynamic and powerful play that has been received with standing ovations throughout Canada.

The troupe call themselves the ‘Ring Around the World Players’ and dedicated ‘Get a Real Job’ to “all of the workers of the ‘new economy’ who continue to struggle for bread and roses. In particular, to all the telemarketers who have been promised a real job, only to find abuse, insecurity, low wages and injustice. The struggle continues.”

This theatre piece was documented on video and can be shared by emailing Laurie at myths@vianet.ca.

Bread and Roses
Our lives shall not be sweated
From birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies;
Bread and roses, bread and roses.
– James Openheim, 1911

Please feel free to view the  ‘Ring around the World Players presents… “Get A Real Job!” – A Play About Working in Call Centres’ photographs here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mythsandmirrors/sets/72157615698585059/

It Takes an Entire Community to Raise A Child

In 2003, years after the opening of Better Beginnings, Better Futures, the community center approached Myths and Mirrors to spend time with those involved within all of their grassroots programming, help connect a reflecting sense of how the community feels about their programs and evaluation from the people that use the programs to revisit the original vision that came from the immediate needs of the Donovan and Flour Mill community years earlier to re-evaluate their work based on the evolution of community needs since it’s conception. Included in the groups discussion that led the children’s permanent outdoor mural artwork that can be seen around the welcoming entrance at the Morin Street hub were: health, food and nutrition, childcare and development, cultural diversity, environmental awareness, community development, social needs and support, education, and parenting.

Children, pre-teens and families participating in the wonderful resources available to the community, along with staff and neighbours surrounding each site helped the groups with their collective dialogue, designs and vibrant reflecting creations.

Each piece of the mural was created at a different Better Beginnings site before they were pieced together and installed at the main Morin Street hub door entrance. These children and parents of the programs led the creative artworks at all sites including: the Early Bird Breakfast Programs, After School Programs, Peaceful Playground Programs, Pre-Teens Programs, and L’arc-en-ciel Mom and Tots Program at St. Gabriel’s, St. Joseph’s, O’Connor Park, Queen Elizabeth II, St. David’s, Landsdowne, All Peoples Church, and Traveling Road Show at Fournier Garden’s.

This children’s mural took approximately four months to complete with the participation of over 400 residents and is proudly displayed at the warm welcoming entrance of the Better Beginnings, Better Futures community center main hub, the heart of the grassroots non-profit. Its powerful presence recites the fact that ‘it takes a community to raise a child’ and the work reflects the dreams of the children and families in the programs and participating surrounding community.

Please feel free to view the community photographs from the project here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mythsandmirrors/sets/72157617367566608/

And photographs of some of the creative things we have done together here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mythsandmirrors/sets/72157617371720352/

Awakening our Longings: Art, Culture and Diversity

In 2003, the conception of the Longings mural began led by the need and interest of youth in our community and interest from the downtown Sudbury’s Metro Center in creating a central diverse place in the downtown core to increase public awareness of local culturally diverse groups of artists, explore their be/longings and connect residents to the Sudbury Farmer’s Market. Lead by artists Tanya Ball, Allison Reed, Ander Reszczynski, and Jamie Rhiness with community partners and a core group of young diverse residents, the groups decided to look further into the collective community project expanding into the larger community of local artists and youth who were interested in sharing a collective vision the re-creation of the central public space with a public permanent artwork that reflecting our community’s voices and needs. Early in the community consultation and discussion processes, the groups had decided that art, culture and diversity were important in our community, and that this would be the theme that they would engage the local public with. Through collective brainstorming, creative surveying and creative group building exercises, the group connected their thoughts, words and ideas into images that reflected their be/longings for a world of truth, beauty and justice. The idea brought about a lot of interest in the community, leaving us optimistic with the six-month long creation that many local residents later participated in naming “Artisan’s Laneway.”

Designed and created by a core group of over 75 generous young residents, the mural was dedicated to “all of those who struggle to creatively express their longings for a world of beauty, truth and justice. May their work awaken these longings in all of us.” Please feel free to view the community photographs from the ‘Awakening our Longings: Art, Culture and Diversity’ project here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mythsandmirrors/sets/72157615696278199/

Be/Longing Photography Project

In 2003, the Belonging photography project brought together a diverse group of multicultural, inter-generational group of local residents together to explore and reflect on what it means to belong and longed for. Cameras were donated by local residents from all over the Greater Sudbury area over the course of three months while developing the project concept, then opened public invitation to include a large group of local photographers to play with and examine them. Once sifted through, the cameras were handed out to the diverse group of participating residents with interest in sharing snapshots of their lives throughout a period of 8 months for the project. After extensive dialogue, hundreds of black and white photographs were collected with the core group of 25 covering two large full-length walls. The results were 36 mounted 24×12-inch black and white photographs reflecting the participants’ be/longings in their unique and socially diverse lives.

A public exhibit opened the group’s raw perspectives and beautifully expressive photography that was displayed at Black Cat II, a local downtown bookstore, and was open to the pubic for the summer of 2004. Community feedback told us that this project captured a breathtaking consciousness into social inclusion for all of us. Please feel free to view a few of the young peoples’ ‘Be/Longings’ community photographs from the project here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mythsandmirrors/sets/72157617278322075/

Youth-led Bookworks
In the fall of 2003, a young group of theatre artists were invited to perform alongside an inspiring group of young Torontonian women traveling with their performance art called, “Pretty, Porky, and Pissed Off!,” a feminist-based performance art. The groups of young women performed together at Laurentian’s Thornloe University Theatre bringing out just over one hundred residents to enjoy a full house and participate in dialogue around the issues expressed in the multi-disciplinary expressive performances about women’s day to day lives and raise public awareness.

The young local women involved with the show, inspired by the opportunities and participation taken on, decided to continue with a birthing of youth-led public organized meetings, creative workshops, and a youth-led 4-part series bookworks that reflected their collective dialogue and creation together about issues that matter to them. The group felt it was important to talk about their identities, develop together through the process of popular education, exercise democratic ways of working together respectfully, equally and inclusively. Some of the issues that mattered to them were: body image, self-esteem, confidence-building, exchanging opportunities for facilitation and building skills together, using circular models to express peoples’ voices, thoughts and experiences, explore, learn about and expand on diverse political issues, continually learn from each other and collectively organize ways in which they could publicly engage others in the community about issues they faced as teens. The group brought together a core group of more than 40 regular participants to meet weekly over a two-year period of time. Within the first two months the group had established concrete themes and goals, were writing and creating collective artworks and completed four youth-led homemade looking bookworks of 50-60 page per collective work by the end of their second year together. The group distributed more than 4000 copies at organized public shows.

“Thick from cover to cover, the group of ‘do-it-yourself’ rebelliously challenging youth for youth emotionally expressive writings, visual artworks and poetry reflections are about their exploratory adventurous natures into community issues and their lives.” The dialogue and expression reflected among these young hearts from our local community that led the collective works to share with our community included articles and artworks around: public media images influencing them, perception/perspective, consumerism, a counter-culture of resistance, capitalism, anti-oppression, sexism in the labor movement & within activism, women’s roles in the economy, globalization, health, the natural and straight medical industry, gender, living in illness, self-esteem, class, status separation and privilege, transgender identity and sexuality, discrimination, queer liberation, racism, ageism, popular culture, the sex trade, environmental justice, poverty, anti-war movements, and Indigenous solidarity.

Closing the project, the group collectively identified themselves:
“We are a group of young-minded gender diverse individuals, amplifying our strengths and opinionated voices to be strengthened and heard within our lives experiences, longing for action now on issues we feel are important to talk about openly and publicly, versus living our lives while watching time go by. Our foundation of unity is aimed to share our knowledge that we have learned through our experiences together, and be open t0 learn from others through popular education, nurture democratic decision making and writing as our outlet for communication, creative dissemination and radicalize the importance of youth publication in our community as we too feel we need a space. Our interests lie within our own curiosities for each other’s life initiatives including the creation of a counter culture of resistance, challenging the status quo, creating alternative ideology and theory to share with others through our words and images we have made publicly available. We work in open dialogue, unity and solidarity with others rustling through the grassroots in our community. Our work was created to share information and open up the sharing of knowledge that has been generously given to us through our experiences. We are not here to make the public think on the same level as us or to push our ideologies onto anyone. Each of us has unique perspectives on issues and are open-minded and agree on freethinking and free living without censorship. We have created both collaborative and individually made articles although we leave them nameless, as we are not in a game for any sort of fame or glory. Our work is more about sharing what we’ve been thinking about. The content we have collectively created could change or remain the same, proving this material needs crucial attention to the questions we quandar and the explorations we have dove into and openly shared with you. We hope it begins the process of youth inclusion for creating realistic change that suits us too. We remain an openness in learning from others in respective inclusive ways, as we will continue to believe change is good.”