London Fringe 2018: ADHD Project – A Story About a Brain that Touches the Heart

By Jay Menard

The ADHD Project is a wonderfully told story of Carlyn Rhamey’s life with ADHD. It’s a story that’s filled with warmth, humour, a touch of sadness, and hefty dose of uplifting messaging that combines to have you fall in love with the story and the storyteller alike.

It’s hard not to like Rhamey. She’s vibrant, engaging, and fills the room with the force of her personality and joy. She punctuates many lines with a wonderfully expressive face and body language — which makes her moments of sadness and melancholy all the more jarring. Her story is crafted in such a way that we feel her highs and lows, and are not mere spectators, but partners in her quest to understand who she is, how her brain works, and where she fits in a society that’s all too quick to put people with ADHD in a box. Continue reading

London Fringe 2018: Gamer Boy – a Seriously Funny Production

By Jay Menard,

What happens when you’re chasing a dream, but can’t let anyone know you’re running after it? In Gamer Boy Patrick Avery-Kenny answers that question in hilarious fashion — and also discusses what comes next once that race is run.

Gamer Boy is a story of Avery-Kenny’s dreams to be a professional gamer, centred around when a 13-year-old Avery-Kenny earned his way into a Halo gaming competition, then had to concoct a plan and deceive his parents to travel on his own to the 2006 Free-for-All Tournament in Dallas, Texas. Continue reading

London Fringe 2018: Cleaning Up – A Well-Polished Show that You Shouldn’t Sweep Under the Rug

By Jay Menard

Cleaning Up is ostensibly a story about people who deal with what others “leave” behind, but this charming and hilarious show is, at its roots, about the wonderful (and sometimes not-so-wonderful, yet still memorable) moments and people that we take with us along the way.

There is so much to love about this show. From the delightfully endearing and conversational nature of playwright and lead Tammy Vink, to the wonderfully entertaining, wink-and-a-nod-melodrama of Sookie Mei, to the charming versatility of Dinah Watts (who embodied several ancillary roles and went from bratty to tender with aplomb), the three main actresses weave together a story that is exceptionally paced, light-hearted, and eminently relatable. Continue reading

London Fringe 2018: HOUSE – An On-the-Ball Performance of Verbal Surrealism

By Jay Menard,

Daniel MacIvor’s HOUSE, as performed by Jon Paterson, is a show that is at once extremely compact and incredibly expansive. It is a show that both is perfectly confined by TAP Centre for Creativity stage, but demands a release of its boundless energy. It’s exhausting, uplifting, depressing, and enervating — all at once.

The show can be described as a manic ballet of verbal surrealism that all takes place within a two-square-foot area. Paterson rarely strays from his simple chair in the middle of the stage. A single white spotlight illuminates him and, even in his brief forays breaking the fourth wall, the audience is drawn into the intimacy of the performance. Continue reading

The Real (Estate) Issue for Injection Site Wasn’t Location or NIMBYism

By Jay Menard

This past week, we saw a lot debate around the preferred location of a safe injection site that revolved around location, city building, convenience, and time, but that failed to address the primary need — that of the users who need support and resources.

Add to that facile Tweets, misinformation, and unrealistic timeframes for pseudo-public participation, and you had an environment that was custom-built to encourage failure.

The debate about a location for the safe injection site shouldn’t have been about NIMBYism. But, in many cases, that’s what it devolved into. For those who are quick to cast aspersions on-line, it’s an easier narrative. It’s also a false one — and the fact of the matter is that location is only at the surface of the challenge.

We need to ensure we look at the facts, not just a map, to deliver the best solution for those who need it most. Continue reading

Accessibility in Elections: Where Were You When Barriers were Built, Maintained?

By Jay Menard

Accessibility is a great buzz word. And having people with disabilities on stage with you or featured on your campaign literature sure makes for a good photo op. But far too often, a commitment to accessibility extends beyond nothing more than tokenism — and if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re missing out on a tremendous opportunity to develop a plan that addresses everyone’s needs.

Today I had the honour of representing the Accessibility Advisory Committee at the Candidate Information Session for the 2018 Municipal Election. My topic was “Running an Accessible and Engaging Campaign.”

Much of the presentation was prepared in a document called “Count Us In: Removing Barriers to Political Participation,” which focused on how to interact and engage with people with disabilities during campaigning. But I firmly believe the majority of the work needs to be done well before you hit the campaign trail. The presentation focused on the campaign, after the fact, but if you’re going to truly embrace accessibility, that inclusion should be undertaken right from the start when you’re developing your platform.

If you were in this room talking with me, that’s a start. But I’m going to ask another question: “Where were you?” Continue reading

Trying to Influence without Disclosure? That’s Disingenuous, Cowardly Behaviour

By Jay Menard

Even though the official campaign doesn’t start until May 1st, it’s painfully obvious that election — and anti-election — season is in high gear. So do you have your secret message decoder ring on? Because it looks like, once again, we’re going to be faced with people who don’t believe that transparency includes expressing biases or conflicts.

Earlier this week, there was a comment in a Facebook chat, likely noticed by few, but it was so important and indicative of the need we should have for transparency. And it reminded me of an outstanding request, which I’ll talk about shortly.

London councillor Phil Squire called out a commenter during a discussion on the validity of a poll — basically stating that the commenter should disclose that he is working on a campaign. The commenter did identify as supporting a candidate in the future later that day. As we head into both a municipal and provincial election, that type of disclosure is vital.

Continue reading