I have made it back to the beloved cube to start processing some of the research from NFLD. I realize I have yet to write with any depth about L'Anse Aux Meadow, or the Trinity Pageant. For now I have to be content with having updated my Canada map! I now have pins in Newfoundland....and only one province left. Nunavut, I wonder when we will meet? And don't think I have forgotten about you, Yukon, and Northwest Territories.
I have been driving for 6-8 hours a day, every second day, for a couple of weeks now and all that time in the car gives me time to think (especially since every day I am not driving I am visiting a heritage site). With every kilometre I drive I can feel my research ideas shifting. I can feel my project changing - not drastically - just kind of listing to one side, or slowing turning a corner. I haven't had time to sit down and properly consider these shifts and in truth I likely won't have time until my summer research trips are over and done with in mid-August. In order to keep track here is a list:
- Do I need to track visitor/audience experience or are the interpreters/animators a better focus?
- The authentic experience/inauthentic site idea is really starting to feel more important the more sites I visit.
- War commemoration as heritage performance programming (War of 1812, and now WW1).
- A comment from a Parks Canada administrator that the 'real-ness' or authenticity of the site includes the way it is being used now. That its historical life is not static but ongoing - the act of visiting adds to the history and heritage of the site and that is why it is important now. (Hmmm does this make the visitor performance more important again? Or can this remain animator/interpreter focussed?)
As I said I am not sure I understand any of these shifts but I think it is important to acknowledge that they are happening.
I took a detour to Dildo on my way to St. John's yesterday afternoon. I was too close to pass it up. And I am glad I went. Not only for the Dildo sign photo-ops but because of how pretty it is. Imagine an East Coast fishing village in your head and that is what Dildo looks like! More pictures in the image gallery.
This morning it was 9 degrees. And the rain was horizontal. And the walk up the hill was unpleasant. And the Tower was closed for renovation. And the animators are not working this summer. And my tripod broke. But isn't the view pretty?
For anyone who knows me, even just a little bit, this post's title will be totally unbelievable, for to say I dislike Phil Collins* would be a gross understatement. And that I would voluntarily download and listen to music Phil Collins had anything to do with would be impossible to believe. However, these same people would be not be shocked to hear who convinced me to do it. The beloved Ian Hoare. A simple explanation - he was my music teacher from Grade 4-OAC. The better explanation is that we met, immediately became friends, and have been near and dear for almost 30 years. And in addition to teaching me to play all the lower brass instruments I credit him for teaching me critical thinking skills. Every Friday we had 'directed listening' to which one student would bring a song for us to discuss. The framework was this:
1. No talking while music is playing
2. Play the song. Now play it again.
3. Have an opinion which you must back it up with evidence from the piece.
Pretty good, eh. I still listen to new songs like this (and so do many of his other former students).
Anyway, back to Phil. Ian knows I hate him and he knows why and he gets it. But. But. But. The last time we had dinner he suggested I try and because Ian has been recommending music to me since the dawn of time and has never been wrong and because I had a 6 hour drive ahead of me from St Anthony's to Cornerbrook, NFLD I took his recommendation. Now let's be clear here this is NOT solo Phil. Ian recommended Trick of the Tail, Genesis's first post-Gabriel** release. Here is what I think:
I didn't hate it. The album's sweeping, symphonic vibe was perfect for a long drive by a grey, churning sea, I'll say that for Ol'Phil. There were moments of this record that I really, really liked. There is a lovely church-y organ bit at the end of "Squonk" and the bass-y horns in the middle of "Mad Man Moon" give a nice weight to the fluttery piano and flute (ugh) passage. It was the title track that was by far my favourite. I liked it's jauntiness and its mystical beastie lyrics (Does anyone else hear St. Pepper's era Beatles here? Just me?) However, there are things about this record that make me cringe - the synth-y organ-y trills, percussion parts that are in different time signatures, or sound like they are, flutes (what was with the flutes in the 70s? Can we lay all the blame at Jethro Tull's feet or what?), and well, Phil Collin's voice. I just don't like it. At all.
My download was a 2007 re-issue and it included at 15 minute interview with the remaining members of the band and this was helpful for many reasons. They are clearly talented, thoughtful musicians and this album was very important to the band's survival post- Gabriel (they all call him 'Pete' which is so....weird) Their explanation of how each song was build and who contributed, the process of auditioning singers, and then ultimately choosing Phil Collins gave me a better appreciation for what I had listened to (twice).
So I will say, yes, I can listen to some of Phil Collin's work. I can respect it and even like parts of it. However, I still can't even with 80s Phil - "Invisible Touch" remains the soundtrack to hell and "Sussidio" is THE. WORST. (We will not speak of 90s era Genesis. Ever.)
I have decided that the soundtrack to tomorrow's drive to St. John's will be Selling England by the Pound because I do love me some Peter Gabriel theatrics.
*Please see This American Life Ep. 339 'The Break Up' Act 1 for why I can no longer dislike Phil as a person but must reserve my ire only for his music.
**It should be noted here that I am a Peter Gabriel fan - big time Peter Gabriel fan. There is one CD in my car, his 1992 album US. If could only listen to one record ever again it would be this one. Ian knows this. It might even be his fault.
Yesterday I was in a recreated Viking village and this man was the demonstrating blacksmithing and telling tall viking tales.
This morning I stood behind him while he ordered a double-double and a bagel. It was very disorienting.
On July 15th & 16th I stalked (with permission) the Confederate Players in Charlottetown, P.E.I. The players were formed in 1989 as part of the 125th celebration of the Charlottetown Conference and they have been running as a summer programme ever since. They have fallen under the supervision of several different bodies over the years but are currently affiliated with the Confederation Centre. Province House in the downtown is where the Players can be found doing three types of interpretive work. They perform several scripted vignettes as historical characters (such as John. A Macdonald, George-Etienne Cartier, etc), and mingle with tourists around Province House, Victorian Row and along Great George Street, also in character. Additionally, they give several tours a day in period dress but as themselves. These tours include information about historical areas of the downtown, the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, and the replica of the chamber in Province House in which the Charlottetown Conference took place. This replica has been build because the whole of Province House will be under renovation for the next 3-5 years.
The Confederation Players interest me for several reasons. They are not Parks Canada interpreters although Province House is a Parks Canada site and has its own (non-costumed) interpreters onsite who can also talk to tourists about the history of Province House and Confederation Centre. Similarly, although they are under the Confederation Centre umbrella they operate largely independently of the Centre's theatre programming. What does this mean for them, and for the historical narrative(s) they animate? If they are not Parks Canada how does their training differ? How much or how little autonomy do they have from the Confederation Centre? What exactly does 'sharing resources' mean?
Also, this replica space! This replica space! It seems like this project will have me looking at a lot of inauthentic spaces offering authentic experiences.
Oddly there hasn't been much pie happening on my trip but I found some today and I am going to give it 🍁🍁🍁/5. The pie was from Coffee in the Cove just outside L'Anse aux Meadow National Historic Site in Newfoundland. The only pie on offer was Partridge Berry* which looked like blueberry. I was hoping it would be like my favourite pie - Saskatoon (which is named for the Saskatoon berry not the capital of Saskatchewan). It was a bit like that - kinna blueberry-ish but a bit perfume-y. The crust was pretty good and it came with whipped cream. Also, the scenery was lovely.
*I later found out the Partridge Berry is the regional name for Lingonberry so there you go....
I made it to L'Anse aux Meadow, NFLD today after some serious travel. Taking the overnight ferry from North Sydney, Cape Breton to Port aux Basque, Newfoundland and then driving directly north to St. Anthony's is not for the faint of heart and I do not recommend it. It did give me lot of time to contemplate my research in PEI but I did not have the energy to write any of it down. So, stay tuned.
On August 8th I will be participating in the Battle of Fort William in Thunder Bay and I need a musket. I didn't think this would be difficult. I have a friend with a stage fighting armoury. I ticked off the box for "bring my own musket" fired off an email to my armoury buddy....and was asked what kind of musket I needed. French? English? Metis combo? Oh dear. All the information I have been given about the event has emphasized it's commitment to authenticity. I will be in an barrack rebuild, I will be eating historically accurate food, in a replica uniform so I do not want to be the nerd rolling up to the party with the wrong musket thereby jeopardizing the realism of the battle. And yet, as a woman I would have NEVER been a solider. And whatsmore...the 1812 fighting did not come north to Fort William. This programme was developed to commemorate the war's 200th anniversary and when it proved popular was added to the yearly schedule. Will my inaccurate musket really be an obstacle?
If you have been in the car for 8 hours and there are dinosaurs in the MacDonald's parking lot you really have no choice but to let your sister take this kind of picture. Also, there were many, many, children ignoring the notice and "grimper sur les dinosaur"!
As I drive across the country this summer I am going to eat and rate pies. Mostly for my own amusement. The rating system will be out of 5 🍁. I hope to have a pie rating two or three times a month.
First up, apple pie from the Big Apple in Colborne, Ontario. This roadside attraction is one of the landmarks between Toronto and Kingston so I have driven by it a lot, however, I have only been twice. The first time was nearly 20 years ago when I was going to check out Queen's for the first time. I remember it being busy, smelling like pie and having a conveyer belt/factory situation going on. The second time was last week on my way to Ottawa for the SSHRC Congress at U of Ottawa. I had two friends in the car. One, from Ottawa had never been but had heard about it. The other, American had been warned he would be taking part if he wanted a ride to Ottawa.
The building has lost the factory vibe and the pie was not on conveyer belts or being served by anyone. It was in a plexiglass cupboard and there was a microwave if we wanted to heat it up. The whole building has been barfed on by kitchy, 'old-timey' souvenirs and had a food court with burgers and pizza in one corner. We all agreed this didn't bode well. And we were right. We tried the classic apple and the maple apple. We were not impressed. It was the crust. It was flavourless, and crumbly and a bit like cardboard. The filling wasn't super either and had a suspiciously gelatinous coating. The maple was actually better...but not much. Overall we decided on 🍁.5/5. We did get to take silly pictures of the apple and look at some goats...so not all was lost.
In anticipation of my first CATR paper presentation I am working in my cube even on the weekends. Dr. Tyson is good company.
I am testing this with Bill. I am typing.