About Centre for Social Innovation
Centre for Social Innovation provides shared spaces for social innovation that offer coworking, community, and acceleration services to people who are changing the world. It is based in Toronto, Ontario.
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Oct 13, 2021
Wed., Oct. 13, 2021timer4 min. read Sherry Good tends to avoid the Toronto intersection of Queen and Spadina, where she and hundreds of others were detained by police during the G20 summit in 2010. Being kettled for several hours — surrounded by riot police and not allowed to leave — was “the most terrifying thing that’s ever happened to me in my life,” said Good, who went on to be a lead plaintiff in a class-action suit against the police. And yet Good agreed to visit that intersection earlier this month, out of interest in an innovative theatrical production in this year’s Luminato Festival. “Henry G20” is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Henry V.” It is set during the G20 and delivered as a series of podcast episodes. Spectators can listen at home or visit three sites near G20 protest hot spots, where they can read posters about what happened there and activate augmented reality experiences on their mobile phones. Good said she supports this and any other artwork that will keep the protests and police response to them alive in public memory. “We can’t forget what happened because that’s when it can happen again,” said Good. “So anybody who brings it to the fore, I’m thrilled.” Good sat down for an interview along with Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah, who plays the title character in “Henry G20.” In Shakespeare’s play, this character is the king of England; in the Luminato adaptation, she is a University of Toronto student who gets swept into leadership of the protest movement. Working on the show has been a way for Roberts-Abdullah to dive deep into the events around the G20, which happened while she was in theatre school at Humber College. “At that time, I was not really being connected to any political-minded movements or even inclinations personally,” recalled Roberts-Abdullah. “But I remember knowing that friends were coming down to participate in the protests and thinking, ‘Well, that means something,’” she said. Good’s status as a leader around the post-G20 lawsuits was also unexpected and unintentional. She participated in protests on June 26, 2010, not out of conviction around any of the issues being discussed at the summit but because protest was being discouraged: “I went out and protested because they told me I couldn’t,” she said. The next day, she was walking back from brunch with a friend and was corralled by the police as tensions mounted at Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue. “When I was in the kettle, I said, ‘I am suing their asses off,’” she recalled. After she was released later that day, she started writing to newspapers, politicians and blogs, sharing her experience. A couple of weeks later, lawyer Murray Klippenstein contacted her about being a lead plaintiff in a class action and she immediately said yes. The Toronto Police Service reached a $16.5-million settlement with the approximately 1,100 protesters and others in August 2020. Good will receive about $9,000, which she agrees is not nearly enough for what she went through, “but we took them to the point where they were going to walk away to get every penny we could,” said Good. While she is somewhat satisfied that, as part of the settlement, Toronto police acknowledged that they made mistakes in their response to the protest and agreed to avoid the technique of kettling in future, she still has a lingering feeling of lack of resolution: “There’s a part of me that wants them to be found guilty and they have not been found guilty of anything,” she said. The fact that “Henry G20” centres on the protesters brings Good some satisfaction: “I probably wouldn’t be thrilled if someone did a play based on the police experience.” Director/adapter Christine Brubaker first conceived of this project while she was participating in the Michael Langham Directors’ Workshop at the Stratford Festival in 2014. It was programmed to be part of the 2020 Luminato Festival as a live outdoor production at the Bentway, the performance space under the Gardiner Expressway. That run was cancelled due to COVID-19 and the project was reconceived in 2021 as a podcast with optional live interactive elements. Roberts-Abdullah has been involved in the project since a reading of the script at Brubaker’s Parkdale home in 2018, soon after which Brubaker offered her the title role. “I remember being told at theatre school that, as a Black woman, there was a very specific and small selection of roles that would be available to me,” said Roberts-Abdullah. “This felt like an opportunity that I had to take.” A particular highlight for Roberts-Abdullah was performing the famously stirring “Saint Crispin’s Day” speech (“Once more unto the breach, dear friends …”), though the conditions of performance were not particularly auspicious: as did all the actors, she recorded the podcast at home. “I was in my closet. I had a duvet dampening the sound along with the rest of my clothes,” she recalled. As is Good, Roberts-Abdullah is excited by the potential of this show to raise public awareness of the G20 protests and their aftermath: “The kettling and everything that took place down here was part of the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. That’s a piece of information from this play that has stuck with me from the moment I heard it in 2018,” said Roberts-Abdullah. “Art is power, art is language, art is activism … as a piece of art this play will do its job to educate people.” “Henry G20” can be accessed at HenryG20.com and on luminatofestival.com from Oct. 14 to Nov. 11. The physical sites where posters are located and augmented reality can be accessed are at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander St.), the Centre for Social Innovation Spadina (192 Spadina Ave.) and the Bentway Skate Trail (250 Fort York Blvd.). Karen Fricker is a Toronto-based theatre critic and a freelance contributor for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @KarenFricker2 SHARE:
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When was Centre for Social Innovation founded?
Centre for Social Innovation was founded in 2004.
Where is Centre for Social Innovation's headquarters?
Centre for Social Innovation's headquarters is located at 192 Spadina Avenue, Toronto.
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