September 30 & October 1, 2016
7:00pm // 67 Elm Street
BrokeDownTown was a mixed-media installation & performance phantasmagoria that brought together a team of creators across disciplines, and took an audience on an adventure inspired by the ghosts and approaching spectre of downtown Sudbury.
Staged in a seldom-seen historic space overlooking the heart of downtown, BrokeDownTown tells the fictional story of department store impresario, Nathan Nickelman, who limps into town with nothing but the cold, hard lump of a dream. He makes his fortune but loses everything in the flames. As buildings tumble around him, the ghosts of his past return to keep him company in his abandoned department store, for one fast, flickering night.
Told through sound, image, object, text and performance, BrokeDownTown is inspired by the boom, bust and revival of downtown cores everywhere. Department stores, in their heyday, were palatial spaces, invoking the fantasy lives of customers, daring us to dream. Now, shopping is an itch we scratch online and in "big box" stores on the outskirts.
On September 30 and October 1, 2016, over 250 audience members were invited into a relic of Sudbury's past: 67 Elm Street, also known as the Silverman Building. From humble beginnings as a shack on the main drag selling miners clothing, Silverman's Department Store would eventually rise three storeys into the haze, enveloping 45,000 square feet of hardwood, oak banister, terracotta, wrought iron, and steel door. Shoppers wandered the aisles, dreaming of better things, flying to the sky in an elevator operated by a white-gloved attendant and then hitting the pavement of Elm Street, with turquoise paper wrapped packages tucked safely under their arms. It was "The Greatest Store in Northern Ontario." Selfridges, Harrods, Macy's; Silverman's was here. And then, one day, it was gone.
67 Elm Street is now home to Querney's Office Plus, itself a mainstay and family business in the heart of downtown. Large-scale renovations undertaken by the Querney family in recent years have restored much of the beauty and preserved the history of the century-old building.
BrokeDownTown offered the chance to see a part of this history in a sulphury bell jar, while asking us to question our very notion of community, as we move forward into a downtown that is ours to keep.
This project is supported by the Ontario Arts Council, Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, the City of Greater Sudbury and Querney's Office Plus.
Daniel Aubin: Poetry / Performance
Dan Bédard: Sound Design / Composition
Jorge Cueto: Photography / Image
Marc Donato: Music / Composition
Jenny Hazelton: Performance / Design
Matthew Heiti: Text / Performance
France Huot: Performance / Support
Patrick Ryan: Fabrication / Design
Dani Taillefer: Illustration / Image
photographs by: Jorge Cueto