Empowering Community Dialogue Through Oral History Performance


Elaine Carol


Empowering Community Dialogue Through Oral History Performance

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Culturally Diverse Oral History and Interdisciplinary Performance in Inner-City and Suburban Vancouver, Canada

The purpose of this presentation is to describe the work of the arts organization, MISCELLANEOUS Productions, based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Elaine Carol, Artistic Director of this community-engaged arts group, described our creative work with culturally diverse, at-risk and high risk/experiential, inner-city and suburban youth.

Elaine showed clips from e-race (play - 2005, video - 2006), exploring speed in young lives and footage of Stock Characters: The Cooking Show (play – November 2007, documentary video - 2009). This satire of the Japanese Iron Chef television program featured experiential youth and used the vehicle of the cooking competition to reveal the oral histories of young participants.

MISCELLANEOUS Productions, founded by GLBT people, people of colour and feminists in 2000 to create original performances, publications, visual art, videos and documentaries with youth and elders who find their roots on six continents including Indigenous people.

This paper examined mounting racism, gang violence and addiction in Vancouver and how we respond by bringing in our professional team to collaborate with experiential youth. Elaine described our series of theatre and diversity exercises to develop oral histories and turn them into interdisciplinary performances using art as a tool for social change.


About the Author

Elaine Carol is an artist, writer, solo performance artist and director whose work has been seen and heard internationally. She is the Artistic Director of MISCELLANEOUS Productions, now in its eighth year of production. Elaine has written, directed and produced the following live performances for MISCELLANEOUS Productions: THE REENA PROJECT / Outcasts & Angels (2001); What You Carry With You... (2003); e-race (2005 and 2006 video adaptation); and Stock Characters: The Cooking Show (2007 and 2009 documentary), a hip hop and World musical performance and documentary in collaboration with a team of professional artists and experiential youth of East Vancouver.

Her article describing the process of anti-racism and anti-violence training using art as a vehicle for social change that she has created to collaborate with community is featured in MISCELLANEOUS Magazine (2004) and available for free at www.miscellaneous-inc.org/publications.htm. Elaine is a professional artist with more than 35 years experience and her practice is interdisciplinary including: performance art, community-engaged art, video art, documentary film, experimental theatre, public art, sound art/music and lens-based art (photography, film and video). Her approach to interdisciplinary community-engaged art is considered pioneering and she believes in long-term relationships with the diverse communities she works with, especially integrated groups of at-risk, high risk/experiential and mainstream youth.

In September 2006, Elaine directed MISCELLANEOUS Productions' first video adaptation, e-race, exploring speed in young lives, distributed by Moving Images and features a culturally diverse cast of youth performer/writers aged 15 - 27 years old. She is currently working on the edit of our new documentary of the process of creating Stock Characters: The Cooking Show and working on POWER, a series of live solo, duo and trio performances with experiential youth in alternative secondary schools and youth centres in Vancouver. Elaine has more than 25 years front-line experience working with integrated groups of at-risk, high risk/experiential and mainstream youth.