Thank you! What’s next?

Teresa Harris by Christopher NobleCollage by Christopher Noble

Flyer and collage by Christopher Noble.

Reflections, March 2017

“Penn Kemp is a visionary. The subtle nuances presented in The Triumph of Teresa Harris see the audience not only viewing Teresa’s journey but seeing Teresa breaking down the barriers for women everywhere. The music creates an aura that surrounds the actors as they traverse with Teresa through her years. Kudos to Penn for brilliant work with a strong message for everyone. Continue to break down the barriers!”
Brenda Elliot, Executive Director, Eldon House

“A brilliant show! Completely sold out!” Palace Theatre, http://www.palacetheatre.ca/shows-and-events/2016/9/8/the-triumph-of-teresa-harris

 “Thank you for trusting me with your baby. I am so glad that we met and I look forward to our next project— whatever that may be. ‘I’d do it all over again, any time.’Your kindred spirit,” Diane Haggerty, Director

“On behalf of Eldon House, many, many thanks for bringing Teresa’s amazing story to the stage. It has been wonderful collaborating with you. And, playing Teresa, as her fine journey ends, will always be a special memory for me. Congratulations on a fabulous sold-out run! You are the seed for all that has grown in support of Teresa! Look forward to more adventure…We are forever indebted to you and your creativity.”
Maureen Spencer Golovchenko, Past Chair of the Eldon House Board

“It was a wonderful production! You are such a gifted writer! The production brought Teresa Harris to life showing her relevance as an important woman of her time. You entertained the audience with humour, current events (our Slave Chapel) and a living history lesson. Entertaining from start to finish. Thank you. I am looking forward to the next chapter in the life of the Harris family and Eldon House!”
Jennifer Jolliffe, Chair of the Eldon House Board

“In London Ontario, we all know Eldon House and Harris Park, and many of us know Amelia Harris from her War of 1812 exploits and the extensive diaries that she left behind about 19th-century London. Now poet-playwright Penn Kemp wants to throw some light onto Amelia’s youngest daughter Teresa, who left her sheltered life at Eldon House and travelled as far as the mountains of Tibet. Penn’s Teresa thinks that she is breaking away, but for the rest of her life, she is challenged by her mother’s influence and her colonial upbringing. She sets off as the wife of a rich, older man who promises her adventure. After he dies, she marries an exotic big-game hunter who reports back to the British Royal Society about what is going on beyond the outposts of the Empire. Slowly, they break out of the colonial mindset, learning new ways of thinking and new ways of relating to people of other races and animals of other species.
It’s a rich story, rooted in local history and geography, and I’m glad to see a poet like Penn Kemp bring it out into the open!” Jeff Culbert

“I am still pondering your gift, The Triumph  of Teresa Harris, and remain deeply moved by your quick-witted portrayal of this amazing woman who was one of London’s own. Her spirited, highly intelligent and determined nature, brought to life on the Palace stage by your poetic, descriptive script and the voices of talented intergenerational actors,is representative of a significant chapter of London’s history.
Canada’s 150th birthday is truly being celebrated through your clever storytelling which brings to life the Harris family in Victorian times, and the beauty and strength of the natural world both here and the far reaching parts of the world to which Teresa travelled. Community collaboration was exemplified by Eldon House and the Palace Theatre crew and talented cast.
This production would be of great benefit to students of all ages. It brings our history to life and, with the availability of your carefully penned script, there are numerous theatrical and educational opportunities. May the powers that be allow for it to be viewed by as many as possible on theatre stages, in school auditoriums and perhaps on film, for I definitely see this as a potential reality. Tremendous possibilities await, dear Penn. With heartfelt appreciation,” Ardath Finnbogason Hill

The Triumph of Teresa Harris brings to life a fascinating London ON heroine whose adventures and accomplishments will be of interest and importance to Canadians, as we celebrate our 150th anniversary. The play illuminates the mind and soul of a woman whose vision exceeds the confines of her society, and also reminds us of our deep connection to landscapes and cultures that precede the settling of our country, by centuries. Penn Kemp has reclaimed a significant figure from our history, sharing Teresa with us in compelling and delightful ways.” Susannah Joyce

“Penn Kemp’s new play introduces a gutsy heroine, Teresa Harris, who chafes at the restrictions of a 19th century gentlewoman in London, Ontario and follows her dream to explore the exotic world of India and Tibet by ship, on foot, by litter, and on camel. This play is enriched by its double perspective— a vibrant cast of characters from Eldon house present the colonial past in full historical authenticity but these events are framed in a broader perspective that includes London’s indigenous heritage, Tecumseh, fugitive slaves who escaped to the Chatham and London area, and more. The play’s rhythm that circles out from home to the exotic East and back home again is replicated in the musical accompaniment— a violin for the home experience in Canada and an oud for the outward journeys.” Catherine Ross

“I really enjoyed the [March 4th] event too. The story, the music, and your performance blended together so well!” “Congratulations! I truly enjoyed the performance. I particularly enjoyed the performances of young Teresa and middle Teresa. Both did such a fine job! The writing was wonderful too. I loved how you pulled together so many threads and connected it to the present. I also appreciate how you did not hide Teresa’s faults of her time – racism, classism. This is an important part of the story.” Julie Ryan

“Congratulations on  the play!  Entertaining and enlightening about the British Empire and the role of women during the time of Teresa’s life. Well done!” Olha Nowosad

“Wonderful show. Well done to the large cast and crew and of course, the playwright!  And the musicians! The play would be great in the schools as a perspective on the sesquicentennial , and even performed for the schools — more funding needed!!”
Mary McDonald

I enjoyed the show so much. It brought Teresa to life and the whole Harris family for me. I was impressed with how much work had gone into this production. Having read some of the Eldon House diaries I was able to imagine their life even more, thank you.” Sheila Curnoe

“I loved seeing The Triumph of Teresa Harris yesterday, to a sold-out house no less.  I found it to be quite touching, and it was wonderful to see these fascinating people from a bygone age come to life.  From an acting perspective Maya Gupta as the Second Teresa was excellent.  My sincere congratulations.” Jennifer Wenn

“I knew nothing of her exploits and so found it educational as well.” Bernie Koenig

“I loved going ‘into the visionary dreamscape’ of TRIUMPH OF TERESA HARRIS and hope to continue on!” Chris Noble

“‘Write what should not be forgotten.’ Isabel Allende. Thank you so much for writing this beautiful play and giving us the opportunity to help share Teresa’s story.” Bridget Corbett

“You are such an artist and a true inspiration to us all! Thank you for bringing Teresa to life!” Karina Redick

“Thank you for your magical words,” Jan Sims

“Thank you, Penn. It was a delight to bring your story to life. You are a true artist.”
Maya Gupta

“Thank you so much for making this possible for us! I am so happy I got the chance to bring Teresa to life!” Jordyn Taylor

“‘Write what should not be forgotten,’ Isabel Allende. Thank you so much for writing this beautiful play and giving us the opportunity to help share Teresa’s story.” Bridget Corbett

………………………………………………

Reflections, December 2016

Dear CEL students,

I was very impressed by your accomplishments and keen enthusiasm for the project. The blog, the CD design and the poster are all tributes to your talents. You were a delight to work with. I am grateful for all you had to offer! It was a real pleasure to mentor you on the realities of being a writer/editor/producer. We all learned a lot, with mutual respect and regard all round! Thanks again for the opportunity!

See you at the performance of THE TRIUMPH OF TERESA HARRIS!
Penn
http://www.pennkemp.wordpress.com

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Categories: A Performance and Tea, Eldon House, Photography, Press, theatre, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A Last Reflection by Rachel

Interview:

http://www.hercampus.com/school/western-ontario/penn-kemp-poet-playwright-novelist

The interview I am working on is progressing well. I have decided to construct two separate interviews. The first will be geared more towards getting to know Penn as a person, and the other will be focused on the actual details of the play. I have also decided to incorporate a creative aspect in the interview. I am planning to showcase props and such, and perhaps have Penn participate in a trivia game during the interview as an entertainment segment. I have not finalized my decision for that part of the project yet, but I don’t think that a spontaneous portion would hurt anyone.

Our class trips to the Museum of Ontario and Archaeology and the London museum gave me insight on thoughts that resonated with the play: The Triumph of Teresa Harris. Firstly, I think that we remain to find art relevant in today’s culture because of it’s ability to adapt to society. The same piece of art that served a meaning in the eighteen hundred could now exist in the year 2016 with a different meaning. For instance, even though Teresa’s story is a story of the past, we are still analyzing her life, but that’s only because we find substance in the information. Her abilities to escape the ordinary constraints of woman in her time is an achievement that is timeless. Because she is one of the only that has accomplished such, her experience is valuable, and thus remains relevant to us perpetually within our quickly evolving society. This made me think about the archeological sites that we had seen when we visited the museum. Similar to the timelessness in Teresa’s achievements, artifacts will always capture a time that could never be re-created for the obvious reason that we are not able to travel backwards in time. The only evidence to prove that something has ever existed in a particular time is via the discovery of artifacts. In the context of art, we are able to identify what is important by their existence in society.  If they hold no substance or purpose, then they would have automatically been removed and forgotten.

Moreover, it is interesting because the play is written in a time frame that takes place over 7 decades. We saw a lot of art at the London museum that incorporated collaging. The images and texts of the art were frequently set in a chaotic manner, but once you step back, it reveals a greater picture within itself. It reminded me of the life of Teresa Harris. If we focus on her overcoming those barriers and obstacles as opposed to the societal constraints of her time, we as the audience are able to realize a bigger picture. She is not only a survivor, but a breakthrough individual that has change the future for many women. Her life is like a collage in a sense where her struggles ended up resulting in a greater outcome—victory.

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A Look at our CD template

Here is the front and back of the CD booklet we designed for Penn. She has been working with the musicians!

 

cd-booklet-revised7-1cd-booklet-revised7

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A Few Thoughts as the End of Our Journey Nears….

By Alex

We are nearing the end of our time with Penn – and the time has gone by so fast. Looking back, it is hard to believe we only met Penn a few months ago.

As for the project, now we are just tying up some loose ends and finishing the work we started.

Email has proved to be the biggest help to our communication. Since everyone has such busy schedules it is very helpful to email Penn when we are not able to meet up. I’ve come to really admire the others in our group; Charlotte, Rachel and Diego have really made this experience an enjoyable one and I’ve really found that each person has brought something unique to the table. In a world full were everyone seems to be so isolated it is nice to get to collaborate with others, to share ideas and work on something tangible. This experience has forced me to get out of my comfort zone, physically, and creatively I feel inspired to put myself “out there” more and more with each day.

For someone like myself who is still trying to figure everything out, it is has been a really big help to work with someone like Penn. Of course Penn, is a talented writer and artist in the community. As a person, she has an amazing sense of self. In fact, along the journey of this course I have gotten the chance to meet or see many others with the same presence in the literary community and it is aspirational to me. Penn is someone who knows who she is as a person and a writer, and in a way so does the character of Teresa Harris in Penn’s play. Both of these women have traits I would like to be able to carry myself one day.

I think the biggest challenge I had this term with the project so far is time, and managing the time I had. One thing I think I could have improved on would be to spend less time on figuring things out – how to set up the blog or using the software and more time actually working on the projects themselves. Of course, it was a necessary step and now I have learned many new things that I otherwise wouldn’t have known.

In the last few days of the course I would like to finish up changes with the CD and continue to post a few more things on our blog to really express our journey. Our final task will be to combine all of our efforts and present them to the class. I am looking forward to hearing what the other groups did this term and also sharing our work with them. I feel I will learn a lot through other’s experiences and creativity, as well as the opportunity to introduce the class to the fascinating life of Teresa Harris!

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Some Thoughts by Charlotte

Everything is coming together at this point: our collaborative blog is up and running, our promotional poster is complete. The process has been a fun one; I have enjoyed getting to know my group mates. Each of us has brought something different to the table and it has been fun to work together. The blog and the poster was an opportunity to bring our individual experiences of the project together into something collaborative. We have all been working with Penn suited to our own interests and the blog allowed us to come together and share that with one another. We were able to start a conversation about the local history of the Harris family, connecting with each other and the community on a common ground. I am meeting with Penn in the next couple of weeks for some more one-on-one work. She invited me to edit her work on the Triumph of Teresa Harris play. I am excited about this opportunity for a couple of reasons:

1) I welcome any editing experience I can get my hands on; 2) I am used to editing my own work or that of my close peers, so I am excited for the challenge of editing the work of an experienced writer; and 3) Penn’s trust in my ability makes me feel like more than just a student. I think it is easy not to take students seriously.

As a student myself, I do not think of the work that I am doing as anything real. I write essay after essay but I do not see the returnd beyond a grade. It is a means to an end. With Penn, however, I am doing work that has meaning and purpose. It makes me forget that I am only a twenty-year-old student. I am a contributing member to something bigger than my classwork and that is something I can really appreciate and cherish about this experience. For now, the group is working individually on their assignments. I completed mine earlier in the semester so I have been relatively un-busy as far as CEL. I am looking forward to meeting with Penn again soon and continuing our work together. I have genuinely enjoyed becoming a part of her work and am proud of what my group and I have accomplished thus far.

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A Reflection by Diego

Now that we are past the midpoint of the course we have a sense of our individual responsibilities and understanding of what each person should work to accomplish.

For myself, I know that my biggest task is working with Penn and Rachel to publish one or two interviews before the release of the Triumph of Teresa Harris.

We’ve been helping each other and keeping each other updated, and as a group we have finished designing a flyer or handout that can given out to publicize the play and hopefully help build interest at Western and London as well. In a way, the interviews that Rachel and I are looking to accomplish are methods of publicity as well. Interviewing Penn, we are able to present who she is as a writer and also her views on her play and provide a discussion around the work that we are helping in our own small way to produce.

I have been able to see that plays are collaborative productions by working on this project and by working with the group so far. I’ve seen that although the play could not succeed without Penn sitting down and writing the work, there is a collaborative process. There are people with backgrounds in stage design, in sound production, as well as acting. In the case of this play in particular, I think that the actors will come at least in part from the community. This would make the project really community theatre – something written about this community in that it deals with the history of London, and will be produced by the local community because Penn Kemp is from here, some of the actors will be from here and really the spirit of the project is in London – it could not be more central than the grounds of Eldon House at the forks of the Thames River.

I have been considering how I will go about making the stage prop that I signed myself up for. The instruction that Penn gave to us as was that she wanted a representation of Eldon House, “a house on a stick”. My design for such a prop would be a sketch of Eldon House drawn onto a blank piece of white or yellow cardboard, made to resemble a faded sketch on an old page. This could then be held aloft with something resembling a broom handle by a person in the background at different times in the play. I realize that my design of such a stage prop is not very sophisticated, but I think that my true goal is to help Penn develop an idea of what a the final prop might look like, or give an idea for something completely different. I think that designing such an object is important because it would be a part of the overall stage design. My prop in particular might contribute to an element of symbolism, although what that symbolism might be I would have to discuss with Penn to make sure that it is consistent with her vision of the play. In my view, I see this as Eldon House being on a precarious position, like an old relic besieged by a modern city on all sides. These ideas I would have to discuss further with Penn.

One further way in which the play is collaborative is in the way that it makes use of different media and forms of art. This really ties in with our course overall because we’ve gone into the city to look at different projects and cultural institutions, and we’ve looked at different forms of art and expression as well. Going to the Eldon House was fantastic for my group because my group is working so closely with Penn and her work on the Harris family and Teresa Harris in particular. But going to Museum London, where we saw different paintings and were able to learn about visual art and its history in London, or even going to the Archeology Museum of Ontario and trying to look at history from a different point of view is all interrelated with our project in a way. Having worked with Penn, we’ve seen that she is a writer, but she’s discussed with us how she likes to present her work through music as wel. As part of her project she will be releasing a track list to accompany the release of her play, and all of the CDs that Pendas Productions makes incorporate visual design in the CD cover art, and the design of the CD in general is a kind of aesthetic effort in itself. In short, I’ve seen that expression does not have to be limited to a medium, which I think Penn herself would agree with. I’ve also learned that literature, as all art, has roots in history and geography, and can associate itself with other art.

Steps for myself going forward, I will work to get our interview out and published, and I will contact different publications around campus, such as Western News and Alumni Gazette. At these publications it would be fantastic if we could have even a brief news excerpt published noting that Penn’s play will be opening in March, to hopefully get the word out.

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A Reflection by Charlotte

I was welcomed back to Penn Kemp’s house shortly after our first visit. It was an individual session with just her and myself on a Sunday afternoon. I wanted to get my individual work with her completed early as I had a very busy semester ahead of me – she appreciated this. We spent several hours filling out grant applications for Ontario Arts Council Writers’ Reserve recommendations for a novel about Teresa Harris. Penn noted that my “organizational skills, attention to all the details and determination to complete the work were admirable and extraordinary.” I never realized how dependent writers were on grants – I guess I just assumed they lived off the money they made through publications. I realize now this was naïve. Grant applications are tedious and require meticulous work. Penn says that they are so competitive that they look for even the smallest mistakes to dismiss the applications. I felt a lot of pressure – but also very honoured – that she would trust me with such an important task. I have always been a perfectionist and put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed – I want to make sure things are done right and am used to asking people to check my work before finalizing. Penn did not see this necessary. She trusted my final say, even had me seal the envelopes myself. Two afternoons together and she had already filled me with a confidence in myself and the work I am doing. After these first few sessions I can easily say that Penn Kemp has become more than just a community partner to me. Her kindness and gentle spirit made me feel more than welcome in her home, with art and stories plastered all over the walls. She has become an inspiration to me: living proof that success is not always measured by the amount of money you make – or how you make it. If spending an afternoon writing countless grant applications that are not guaranteed for an uncertain amount of money is how your dreams become realized then at least the effort is there. If I have learned one thing from Penn, it is this: do not be passive in life. Nothing will get done if you just sit back and wait for things to happen for you. You have to pick yourself up and work towards the things you want out of life – only then will you truly succeed. This project has become more focused on learning about myself, defining my own goals and simple, raw inspiration than anything else, and I think that might be the point of CEL. It is not just so that we can help out some partners in our community, learn about local literature and write a report at the end of it all. It is about inspiration and guidance from real life experience. It is about connecting with other people, learning their stories and telling ours. It is about collaboration and community.

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Picture Perfect by Rachel

A project I have just finished for Penn was a poster for the promotion of her new and upcoming play: The Triumph of Teresa Harris. In the process of constructing this poster, I had learnt an extremely valuable lesson on the marketing of a product/service, or in this case, a play (and that was that a poster must capture the attention of others). The first draft of my poster incorporated elements that I perceived as being an accurate representation of the Victorian era. That included the pigments and designs that reflected an age where symbols, embroidered designs, and floral patterns were heavily prevalent. Penn had requested a specific photo that she wanted on the poster—while I obliged to her wishes, I wanted to make sure that the finalized product did not compose of only one photo as the entirety of the piece. The “aged” nature of the photo caused the tone of the poster to look rather bland, and with the overall goal in mind (to appeal to the vast majority of the population) I found it important to make sure that the poster was captivating. If we wanted to advertise the play to young adults in the university community, it was important that it didn’t look boring. I decided to create a gold colored theme to the entire piece. Penn’s requested photo was laced with a gold border to add that extra “pop”. The font was also chosen to closely represent the type of writing that existed during the time. I created the design of the poster with the influence of the decorations that were seen in Eldon House in mind. I think that the trip was particularly valuable to me because it gave me a sense of Teresa’s local back in her time. It gave me the inspiration that I would have otherwise been unaware of.

 

We have also continued to work on the blog that is now updated with our personal reflections. In addition, Diego and I are working alongside one another to contrast a series of interview questions for Penn. We aim to have this side project done by the end of the month. It was interesting to see the concept of defamiliarization intersect with the ways in which we experience local space through culture. For example, while working on the interviews I had recollected the ways in which Penn had designed her house. The walls of her home were filled with various arts pieces that hung in their respective frames. I found that the design technique reminded me greatly of the horns, artwork, and frames that were hung in Eldon House. The interior design in Penn’s home and Eldon House were examples of content defamiliarization. Their art was arranged in a similar fashion; which was a style that was considered unique in today’s society. The arrangements of their decorations present the space of their homes in a different perspective. It challenges us to view art in a way that is different from the norm (or what we’re used to).

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Thoughts by Rachel

These past weeks, we learned a little more about “The Triumph of Teresa Harris” that was written by Penn Kemp in collaboration with London’s historic Eldon House. The play will take place at the palace theatre and tickets will cost an affordable price of only twelve dollars. The Harris family were the first pioneers to settle in the city of London. The first occupants of the family in the Eldon house were John Harris and Amelia Harris. They had 12 children but only 10 had survived into adulthood. The youngest of all was Teresa Harris (born in 1839 and spent her childhood in London), which also happens to be the main character of this play. She was an adventurous woman in the Victorian era and became one of the greatest explorers of her time. Teresa’s first husband (John Scott) passed away during their adventure in India, but then explored Tibet with her second husband (St. George Littledale).

The play is a reflection of Teresa as she returns home to tell the audience about her amazing experiences from travelling. This play relates to the local history and community of London because it identifies the founding family of the city we know today as London. It’s important to be aware of your physical environment as well as the historical views that come along with it. I think that by working with Penn, I was able to identify with London as my local space more than I was able to before— even though I am originally from Toronto. It’s interesting to learn about the past because it reveals the changes that have evolved since then, making the city into what it is today.

The CEL project has really been a new experience for me. I think it forces you to step out of your comfort zone and engage into something new. Personally, I found that this course has allowed me to explore many interests that were hidden before. For example, the class trip to the Eldon house was a moment that I had realized how much I enjoyed learning about the past. It was really cool to visit the exact house that the Harris’ had lived in. The decorations and stories behind each artifact was not only eye-opening, but truly spectacular. One of my favorite parts of the tour was when we were in the library. The many volumes of books that were organized in its respective order made me feel like I was a visitor of the Victorian era in that moment.

 

Currently, I am working on the blog, which will be posted as an extension to Penn’s past website: https://teresaharrisdreamlife.wordpress.com. Penn has expressed that she wanted us to create an alternate tab/section for the blog. We titled it “Triumph of Teresa Harris: Reflections” and sits as a tab on the main page of the website. There, viewers would be able to follow our posts and keep up with our progress in collaboration with Penn and her upcoming play. The goal right now is to publicize the blog so that we gain traction through our viewers. By doing this, it will allow us to market to a greater amount of audience and therefore have more tickets sold. Recently, Alex and I created the tab and posted our first post on the blog. We also uploaded some of the pictures of letters (of the Harris family) from the Weldon archives. We were able to legally get a hold of them because Penn had special permission from Western. I have attached them in this document below if you’re interested.

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Triumph of Teresa Harris Poster

This is the poster for the Triumph of Teresa Harris, designed by Rachel. Check it out: poster-rach2

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