Jenifer Brousseau – Pinishi
Raes Calvert – BamBam
Shane Leydon – Carl, Oscar,Father, Bird Figure, Black Figure
Olivia Lucas – Destiny
Sophie Merasty – Gloria
SRO is a new play following the story of Pinishi, an Anishinabe Ikwe, Ojibway woman on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). Pinishi is trapped in an SRO (single-room-occupancy) room and is trying to find ways to escape from her circumstances, both physically and spiritually. Her life changes when BamBam, her sweetheart, receives money from a car accident and begins questioning their way of life. Family and friends unexpectedly find their way into her life and help her understand who she really is.
The play uses a fascinating storytelling style, both intimate and expansive creating a world that helps audiences understand the constraints of being trapped in an SRO but also that explores how Indigenous people use their traditional stories, songs, and memories to escape their confined living situation. It is a bold storytelling of a story that has a great potential for impact to all those who experience it.
Brenda Prince / Middle of the Sky – Playwright
Renae Morriseau – Director
Sophie Tang – Set Curator
Vanka Salim – Projection Designer
Melanie Thompson – Workshop Facilitator
Community Engaged Development Process
The development of this artistic work is in parallel with a multi-phase community engaged process led by Renae Morriseau with Sophie Merasty. They are working with Indigenous women with lived experience in SRO hotels and/or having been homeless or struggling to find housing. In partnership with Aboriginal Front Door Society, Lu’ma Native Housing Society, SRO Collective and Heart of the City Festival, the women are creating a series of theatrical vignettes about ‘Home.’
This Community Engaged Development process is intended to affirm the voice of the participants by creating stories together that honours their lived experience of ‘home’ – within themselves, within their community of the DTES and how their cultural worldview helps them navigate the terrain of poverty, trauma, hope and resilience.
SRO Indigenous Women’s Project Participants: Elaine Durocher, Taninli Wright, Maria Flores, Cathy Moses, Priscillia Tait, Marilyn Johnson, Marge
For the week of Oct. 31st – Nov. 6th, Urban Ink, along with other community groups, will be occupying the Interurban Gallery to facilitate a weeklong artistic exploration of Home, Homelessness and the Culture in Between.
The full schedule and descriptions of all the events for the week can be found below:
Home, Homelessness and the Culture In-Between
Thursday October 31 to Wednesday November 6
InterUrban Gallery, 1 E. Hastings, entrance on Carrall
By donation at the door
Home, Homelessness and the Culture In-Between is a week-long artistic exploration of the challenges and hopes experienced by residents of Single-Room-Occupancy hotels and the Downtown Eastside. This project, led by Renae Morriseau with Sophie Merasty, features an array of activities including visual art, facilitated discussions, ceremony, theatre, and live performances. Come and witness the heart of the DTES community and what it means to live here.
SRO, a play by Middle of the Sky (aka Brenda Prince)
Thursday October 31, 6pm; Sunday November 3, 3pm; Wednesday November 6, 6pm
The new play SRO follows the story of Pinishi, an Anishinabe Ikwe and Ojibway woman trapped in a Downtown Eastside SRO hotel and her efforts to escape from her circumstances both physically and spiritually. The play uses a fascinating storytelling style, both intimate and expansive, to create a world that helps the audience understand the constraints of being trapped in an SRO, and witness how Indigenous people use their traditional stories, songs, and memories to escape their confined living situation.
Visit the Space
Friday November 1, Saturday November 2, Wednesday November 6, 3pm – 5:30pm
Drop by the InterUrban Gallery to see the art created over the eight-month community-engaged process, including body mapping and videos from the SRO Indigenous Women’s Project.
SRO Indigenous Women’s Project
Friday November 1, 6pm; Monday November 4, 7pm
Performances and vignettes developed through an eight month community engaged art process; the participants of the SRO Indigenous Women’s Project share stories that honour their lived experience of ‘home’ – within themselves, from where they were born, and within the DTES.
Tuff City: Lessons from a determined community
Friday November 1, 8pm; Monday November 4, 8pm
To help people understand what has been happening in the Downtown Eastside overdose crisis, front line responders and harm reduction workers have created Illicit projects: installations and workshop performances to express the realities of drug users. They transform the lived experiences and direct knowledge of those most impacted by the opioid crisis into shadow stories that bring the understanding that reduces stigma towards people who use drugs. Lead artist is David Mendes.
Urban Indigenous Drum Groups on Coast Salish Territories now Known as Vancouver
Saturday November 2, 6:30pm
Singing to our Ancestors. Join the evening of traditional Indigenous songs and stories from various First Nations that have made their home on the traditional territories of the Squamish, Tseil Wahtuth, and Musqeum people. Music will be woven with discussion on protocols, cultural practices and how Indigenous settler singers and storytellers navigate their cultural practice within these lands. Facilitators: Renae Morriseau and Wes Nahanee.
Sunday November 3, 1pm
Come and hear from Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotel tenants who are organizing with their neighbours for more safety around evictions and habitability in their hotels. Moderated by Wendy Pedersen.
Red Women Rising Book Reading: DTES Women’s Centre
Tuesday November 5, 6pm
The DTES Women’s Centre shares readings and writings from the recently published seminal report Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Based on the lived experience, leadership, and expertise of Indigenous survivors, this comprehensive report is the culmination of a participatory process with 113 Indigenous women and 15 non-Indigenous women regarding the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Ceremony, music and celebration, with readings from the writers and talk back conversations.
With special thanks to PHS and the InterUrban Gallery for opening their space to this residency.