© Amber Williams-King

The SoT Creative Cohort is a group of artists and arts organizations who are exploring how abolition and transformative justice can impact theatre-making in process, content, form, and dissemination.

In partnership with Chromatic Theatre, Gwaandak Theatre, lemonTree creations, Rumble Theatre, TODOS Productions, and Undercurrent Creations, Stages of Transformation commissioned five artists to undertake theatrical creation processes that explore the project’s themes of abolition and transformative justice. The resident artists are Raven John, Keira Ash, Sobia Shaheen Shaikh, Kris Vanessa Teo Xin-En (张欣恩), and Ravyn Wngz.

Also with the SoT Creative Cohort are Yasmine Espert and multimedia artist Raven Davis, who are working alongside the resident artists to document and reflect on the processes of creative exploration.

Works-in-progress resulting from the Creative Cohort’s explorations were presented in association with Rumble Theatre’s Tremors Festival, from May 22 to 26, 2023.

On Native Land
by Raven John

What is our proximity to Colonization? Ink, Paper, and the space we take up.

Without the daily reminders of orange shirts, red dresses and shoes, so many people walk through their lives devoid of an understanding of their relationship to colonization.

What is our proximity to the atrocities that have been enacted, and continue to be perpetuated today? As a descendant of residential school survivors, this work by Raven John creates a rare embodied relationship, personal and physical.

Raven’s practice has always included a sharing of knowledge, history and skill. A combination of workshop and community care, there will be the option to participate in this work. No one walks away unchanged or ungifted. This work will have you walking away with a sense of self and place.

Creative team
Raven John – Creator, Performer, Survivor
Jamie King – Dramaturg, Director
Aidan Hammond – Emotional Support Person
In partnership with Rumble Theatre

by Keira Ash aka Cece A. Blossom

An exploration on shame, the transformative effect of love, and finding freedom afterward. Transformation is a burlesque piece that utilizes religious imagery to show how intergenerational shame is limiting and judgmental. Looking to the night sky for guidance, Cece is embraced by ancestral love and breaks the chains of chastity to take flight.

Creative Team
Keira Ash aka. Cece A. Blossom – Creator/Performer
Cherry Cheeks – Performance Mentor
Raven John – Set Design
In partnership with Gwaandak Theatre

Braiding Peonies
by Sobia Shaheen Shaikh

Braiding Peonies (working title) is a play-in-progress about a family who is dealing with the aftermath of racist, anti-Muslim hate in a violent encounter directed at a group of Muslim teenagers. Using transformative justice lenses, the play explores the themes of justice, protection and healing through the experience of the protagonist, Sadiqa (mother), and her 17-year-old, Samreen, as the family grapples with a crisis of trust in institutions that fail to provide meaningful resolution. The family finds support in racialized and transformative justice communities, as they begin to dream of radical and relational possibilities.

Creative Team
Sobia Shaheen Shaikh – Playwright
Santiago Guzmán – Dramaturge and Director
In partnership with TODOS Productions

feel ur feels (CRINGE LIBERATION)
by Kris Vanessa Teo Xin-En (张欣恩)

As we attempt survival in a white supremist and capitalistic society, it is so easy for us to cut ourselves off from how we are feeling, to deny ourselves pleasure, to move at high speeds, to ignore our needs, to bypass processing our lived experiences, to numb sensations that come up, to live through our days on autopilot, to hide who we are and to fast-forward anything that feels uncomfortable.

In her essay Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, Audre Lorde describes the erotic as a power that “rises from our deepest and nonrational knowledge” and “the measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings.” As someone with a lot of feelings all the time, I was deeply moved by this. It made me question when and how I tap into my strongest feelings, gut instincts, and my deepest, nonrational knowledge. It made me wonder about what the potential was if I trusted, listened and took action on these feelings a little more, a whole lot more. How would our relationships with each other evolve if we practiced this deep listening with one another? How big and wide are the possibilities of community and relationship building if we were all peering this intently into ourselves, and moving with this knowledge?

Right now, I have more questions than answers, and I might never find all the answers, and certainly not on my own. But I find comfort and awe in adrienne marie brown’s words: “Emergence notices the way small actions and connections create complex systems, patterns that become ecosystems and societies. Emergence is our inheritance as a part of this universe; it is how we change. Emergent strategy is how we intentionally change in ways that grow our capacity to embody the just and liberated worlds we long for.”

Creating feel ur feels (CRINGE LIBERATION) is a way for me to practice the small actions and connections of listening to the deep feeling and nonrational eroticism within me, and to practice with my friendos, pals and buddy buds, through conversation, stopping to notice what’s around me, in me, and to follow the curiosities that come up along the way.

Audio Pleasure Recipe Contributors
Keshia Cheesman
Filsan Dualeh
Bianca Guimarães de Manuel
Liz Hannay
Bianca Miranda
Mpoe Mogale
Isabelle Sinclair
Kiana Wu

Special thanks
Thomas Geddes – Sound Design Consultation
Tori Morrison – Projection Design Consultation
Kodie Rollan – Dramaturgical Support
Pam Tzeng – Movement Consultation + Creation
In partnership with Chromatic Theatre

by Ravyn Wngz

A movement and vocal story that follows the journey of six enslaved Africans traveling from the Mason Dixie to British North America (Canada) on the 3rd voyage through the trails. A tale of hope, collaboration, survival strategies and liberation. Signals is a love letter to abolition with a goal of inviting audiences into the ceremony that is freedom work.

lemonTree Creations
Abi Cudjoe
Rodney Diverlus
Dedra McDermott
Nickeshia Garrick
Jaz Adina Simone
Mandela Lopez
In partnership with lemonTree creations