Heart of the City Festival: Shadow play on Canada’s prison system offers healing through storytelling

Incarcerated: Truth in Shadows poster shows someone sitting in front of a fire with a dark blue sky overhead and a full moon.
An image from 'Full Circle' written and performed by Martha Kahnapace, one of the three shadow plays from 'Incarcerated: Truth in Shadows.' Photo courtesy of Illicit Projects.
James Mainguy - CFRO - VancouverBC | 19-11-2021
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Among the highlights of this year’s Heart of the City Festival was the shadow play, 'Incarcerated: Truth in Shadows—three personal stories about Canada’s prison system.

The stories came from a writing and storytelling workshop organized and facilitated by Megaphone Magazine’s Speakers Bureau. Among the facilitators of the eight-week workshop was Kelsey Timler, a PhD candidate at the UBC School of Nursing’s Critical Research In Health and Healthcare Inequities.

“For a few years, [the] speaker's bureau has been offering writing workshops for folks in the Downtown Eastside, specific to drug use and related stigma, and has this really beautiful format of peer-led writing workshops that are trauma-informed. There's a lot of time spent making sure that people feel safe, that they know that they have control over what part of their many stories they want to share," Timler says.

The selected stories were then handed to David Mendes and his theatre group, Illicit Productions.

“David and his team did a very wonderful job of taking...the already written words of these three people and then amplifying them and creating a bit of a world to escape into visually.”

A video of Incarcerated: Truth In Shadows has been archived on the Heart of the City Festival website.

Listen to CFRO's interview with Kelsey below: