Hamilton Fringe

A 12-day unjuried theatre festival that happens every summer in downtown Hamilton

A Language For Dogs

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014

Written by Denyse Terry

For Sale: Hamilton.

A new and ingenious play is coming to the festival this year and it sounds like a very good time indeed. There are realtors. There is a tour. There is some Hamilton history and drama, along with some  loss and change. Above all, there is inventiveness.

A Language For Dogs at Hamilton Fringe Festival 2014

A Language For Dogs at Hamilton Fringe Festival 2014


Meeting recently with York University students Chelsea Haraburda- (performer, designer and director) Hayley Pace (designer/photographer/singer/performer) and Bessie Cheng (performer and deviser) I got a tease of a story about how new theatre company Outrun The Mill plans on selling our fair city.

Haraburda, Cheng and Ryan Percival (actor/devisor) play realtors who are actually selling space. The space they are peddling is the real life Hawk & Sparrow, a vintage clothing store at 126 James St. N. “And by selling that, we are actually selling the city.” says Haraburda. The collective, inspired by, “the contradictory relationship of Hamilton’s emergence as an artistic hub and the city’s Torontophobia, is experimental and physical; sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes very very serious.

Background: Chelsea Haraburda, Ryan Percival Foregrownd Bessie Cheng,

Background: Chelsea Haraburda, Ryan Percival Foregrownd Bessie Cheng,

Percival plays a realtor from Toronto who is desperately trying to take advantage of the popularity of Hamilton while pretentiously holding his nose.  The issue of  gentrification comes up with Pace playing a ‘typical Hamiltonian’ who becomes displaced and who hopes, through her character, to engender compassion instead of disdain. “Change is hard on everybody. If someone gets displaced – I hope we show compassion and see them as people who need help.”

Characters appear from different time periods. There’s the 1940’s, with Haraburda playing an agent who sees Hamilton through rose colored glasses and is brimming with hope for Hamilton’s potential. Cheng’s agent/character lives in the modern day and is also full of hope but for very different reasons.

A unique element of the play is that it starts by taking its audience members on a tour. Beginning at the Citadel Theatre (28 Rebecca St.) ‘Tour Guides’ will arrive to divide the group and take you on one of four distinct tours. You all end up back at the Hawk & Sparrow and that’s when the action really begins.

This is 60 minutes of physical and devised theatre folks. What is devised theatre you may ask? Good question.

Devised theatre basically starts off as improv. The script develops collaboratively and by the time the show is ready to be staged and seen it is fully developed and fixed. With Aaron Jan as dramaturge ( Drafts, Best of Hamilton Fringe 2012) and Lucy Powis as stage manager & Asst dramaturge (2013 Fringe, A Little Too Close To Home) we are all in for a treat here.

Hayley Pace, Displaced Citizen, A Language For Dogs

Hayley Pace, Displaced Citizen, A Language For Dogs

A treat that has had a lot of Hamilton thought put into it. The play’s name, A Language For Dogs, has an appropriately tail-wagging connection, “We are trying to speak to Hamilton literally as man’s best friend. The issues we cover all reflect Hamiltonians so people who aren’t necessarily into theatre will enjoy the play because at the end of the day, it’s about their city, their home.” says Haraburda.

Heading into the experience that is A Language For Dogs, keep in mind that the four tours from Citadel Theatre to Hawk & Sparrow that set the stage are all unique to each area. Can you expect something different if you go more than once? “Yes, absolutely,” they all beam. And at $10 a ticket, why not? – I’m sold.

Play: A Language For Dogs

Company: Outrun The Mill


Details: Written and Directed by: the Collective

Location: Meet at Citadel, with a walking tour to Hawk & Sparrow

Show Times: Thurs July 17, 8PM; Fri July 18, 8PM; Sat July 19 8PM, Sun July 20, 8PM; Thurs July 24, 8PM; Fri July 25, 8PM; Sat July 26, 8PM; Sun July 27, two shows: 2PM & 8PM

Warning: Mature Content & Language

AND HERE YOU GO: it’s time to play WTH? or Where The Hell in Hamilton is this? Win two tickets to A Language For Dogs if you can correctly name the location of the picture below. Email [email protected] The winner will be announced Monday June 16!


Where The Heck in Hamilton is this?

Where The Heck in Hamilton is this?