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The Burlington Shebang: Community Translations

Recorded, Edited, and sometimes Written by Trevor Copp

June 10, 2015


A. 6 Attempts to Describe the Burlington Shebang


1. This is what Hamlet, Carmen, and Swan Lake were before they were Hamlet, Carmen, and Swan Lake: play. Just play.


2. We are getting ready for nothing. Like, if everyone arrives and we are in the room and the appointed time begins and then nothing happens at all: we are ready for that. Or, if something happens – we are ready for that as well. We becoming ecstatically unprepared.


3. The training focuses on creating the space necessary for the spontaneous to interact meaningfully with the prepared. So much creativity depends on a wellspring of aliveness: whether it is the liveness of an actor working with 400 year old text, a musician with music, and poet with language, a dancer with choreography. Our immediacy, our presence is what re-infects the pre-existing anew. A business person with a business plan. A person in the morning. How much life can we cram into these forms, these moulds? Will they hold? How much can we dispense with them?


4. The Shebang is this city’s last stand attempt to grow up and become a City.


5. I was asked once if ‘the Whole Shebang’ was some kind of a sex based project: ’hole’, ‘she’ and ‘bang’. I said ’no’. Then I wondered if I spoke too soon.


6. It’s the Justice League of America where ‘Justice’ is actually ‘Art’ and ‘America’ is actually ‘Burlington’. We even have the shiny outfits.


B. Burlington Slam Poet Champion Dan Murray’s Fantastic ‘Dear Burlington’ Slam Poem as Performed at the June 2015 Burlington Shebang


Dear Burlington


You’ve been on fire for a while, and you don’t seem to have noticed.


And maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t look like it’s going out.


Point in fact, it’s spreading.


And before fear tugs the hairs on your neck skyward and your feet carry you home, take a moment to consider just what that fire could do if it were harnessed.


Flames are licking the sky like the final flick of an exhausted brush, like the wild arc of a dancer’s arm, there is heat radiating the artistic spirit into the sky above. Your citizens are reflecting the sun.


And now is your chance.


Now is your chance to shape this city like furnace walls and make those lights across the lake blink in blindness.


I am no great inferno.


Just a single glowing ember with enough pig-headed arrogance to speak for every other member of this bed of coals – We came together. We found each other, and we’re drawing our kin to the blaze – we are pouring the fuel pumping through our hearts onto this kumbaya campfire to set off a nuclear beacon of souls.


We are the arts in your city.


We are the turbocharged snapshots of blood mixing in paint, of film developing in sweat, of tears cracking voices telling their own brand of truth. We are the standing ovation in living room sewing circles. We are the booming theatrical laughter and wailing electric guitars responding to anyone suggesting that the arts are only a “big city thing”


Suburban does not mean substandard.


And we are so much larger in spirit than any skyscraper.


So long as we have the fuel to burn, we are as tall as the heavens and beyond. Unless you want to tell us that this universe isn’t run on fire.


You are standing in a city of molten gold, and the brighter the beacon gets, the more will be drawn to it, but take the initiative, have the courage to help us heat our home before we spread to other cities.


This is not some passing fancy, we are not confused kids with hobbies.


We are human beings of all ages, of all disciplines, and we rely on art for survival.


That fuel is our life’s blood, and we will seek it out like prison hounds on the hunt for runaway opportunities.


You pour the gas, and we’ll supply the rest.


But believe us when we say that we will not be extinguished by apathy, or the turning of blind eyes.


Because we will make it too bright for you to sleep at night if we must.


We will echo like the dome of sunrise above possibility’s horizon until someone wakes up and says good morning to tomorrow.


You can’t sleep forever, dreaming of daylight like some madman’s fantasy.


Sooner or later, without light, without warmth, you will shrivel and die.


So maybe it’s time we all extend our arms and admit that we need each other if we want to keep growing.


And when the children of our children look across land and sea and ask why those cities seem so dim, we can tell them it’s because we finally had the courage to make the kind of light we’ve always been capable of.


C. Recollections from the team


Tomy: I love getting lost in the process. I keep leaving the session feeling lighter.


Liz: [coming from exercises done without audience] We just did the performance. It’s extravagant to get to treat ourselves that way. It’ll be hard to imagine when there is other people.


Bridget: getting used to the levels of participation.


Kune: letting the energy flow through.


Shannon: She had a nightmare that she came on the wrong day.  She felt the difference that we had cameras here today [videographer was present]. She invited a guest in order to introduce her to Burlington and this is how she is doing it. The virtue of these people in a space doing stuff is enough. “I feel like everyone will get their no money’s worth.”


Thom: [participant/rtheatre technician] everyday I’m in the process of mapping out a show. This is a totally unfamiliar experience and I’m enjoying it. I don’t want to be doing something when I shouldn’t


Lisa E: Everyone needs to burn their couch. That’s what needs to happen. I wish today was our show. When I have no expectations are the best moments. When I fully dissolve. 


Andrea: Being alive and playing is everything. 


Lisa P: As long as we continue to play hard we’ll be awesome. As long as I seek out what infatuates me.


D. Recollections from myself


We are tired, out here in the blank of the map between the big city spots where things happen and the little village spots where things happen. Things never seemed to happen here. We don’t pick here. We married into here. We moved here. We found ourselves here. We love it here, when we love it here, because loving a place is something that we do. But it’s a love that often goes out and when it comes back again, if it comes back again, it’s like worn out soap: smaller than we remember and doesn’t quite hold its shape as well.  We are tired soap.


So we come together. My favourite is when we lose time. That’s during the warm up – the part where we stretch our muscles and then march into the cave where we remember that we used to seaweed. Before the flood and word ‘flood’. It’s a sidestep from our bread and butter days that leads to whole other rooms and Andrea has a map. 


We leave each time full of what usually spend the week giving away. Some of us make other people lighter, and so on this one day we get to float. The bright-makers glow. The hummers vibrate. The clock breakers hear their own quiet. We each of us get to have our own ocean sent back to us, wider than we remember it, and smelling like ourselves again.


And, coming from a little town where we are mostly asleep most of the time, this little break from it all is important. It makes all the difference to me. 


E. Projects Inspired by the Shebang



Shebang and the Shebang process was rather out of my comfort zone — but the Shebang experience has encouraged me to seek out other opportunities in the creative realm, like performance art and alternatives to regular theatre or musical endeavours, etc. As well, it has inspired me to dust off a germ of an idea for a musical monologue performance piece I had a few years ago but then set aside. So I don’t yet have any fully formed projects per se that were influenced by Shebang, but it did influence me nonetheless, and inspire me to revisit some projects and seek out new forms of expression.



Shebang has inspired and supported my growth as an artist and directly inspired the one woman short play Oracle in July 2014, two songwriting projects and several new poems. Additionally, I have met other artists whose work has influenced mine and who have become friends and colleagues beyond Shebang. I would easily say Shebang has influenced all my art since I became involved with the project.

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