The Public Energy Video Vault

This is where Public Energy Performing Arts puts historic videos of events that took place in the Peterborough contemporary art and performance scene from the early 1980’s onward. Every time we post a video we include a short essay about the event and the artists who took part.

Have you got some historical footage or photographs of Peterborough and area arts events – visual art events are welcome, too – that you would like to share with the world? Let us know at admin@publicenergy.ca . We can handle any out of date format.

Watch on YouTube or on Vimeo

Bacchus 1989, Trent University  April, 1989

The full story of Bacchus, Trent University’s student-run end of year music and booze fest, has yet to be written, but the 1989 edition seen here encapsulates the best and worst of this popular tradition that continues to this day under a different name – though no less provocative – Dionysus.

Erring (1996) In Creation  June, 1996

Erring (June 14 & 15, 1996), a unique site-specific event where a team of artists organized by Union Theatre were given empty rooms in a building under renovation. Union Theatre had recently been forced out of its home. Erring helped artists to continue creating and to raise money for a new space. See excerpts of the Erring creative process, from the first tours, to demolishing rooms, installing works, painting the hallways, and rehearsing the plays prior to opening night.

Flambeaux by Peter Chin  August, 1989

Peter Chin’s Flambeaux, produced by the Peterborough Festival of the Arts on August 13, 1989 in Peterborough, Ontario. Excerpts from the full-length production, filmed by Giovanni Sampagna and Claude MacIsaac.

Harry Oakman, Flying Artist, at Artspace  May, 1985

Peterborough’s Harry Oakman was an aerial photographer with an international reputation, generations of Ontario knew him for his work in the 1950s, where he was hired to photograph every beer store in the province from the air. Likely inspired by this, Hank Fisher (AKA Musician Washboard Hank) to organize an exhibition of Oakman’s life work in Artspace.

The Greatest Show, written and composed by R. Murray Schafer  August, 1988

Peterborough, Ontario. August 25 to September 3, 1988. Film clips taken from the Rhombus Media film Carnival of Shadows, directed by Barbara Willis Sweete, which was shot on location both during and after the run of The Greatest Show.

Get It Right by The Born Again Pagans  1993

The Vault takes a break from excerpting historic live recordings of Peterborough’s performance and art scene. Instead we present a 1993 music video made by a band for which we wish we had a live recording – The Born Again Pagans.

Event Horizon by Elyakim Taussig  1989

Event Horizon was a performance created by Elyakim Taussig. The work fit well into the goal Artspace had set for itself: a place for multidisciplinary artists to try new things, with enough square footage to allow big messy art the neccesary space.

The Distraction by Phillip Kummel  March, 1997

The Distraction was one in a string of plays written by Philip Kummel. Kummel’s plays either frustrated or delighted audiences, with dialogue full of puns and non sequiturs, and plot lines that were either non-existent or only made sense in the author’s mind.

Pent  May 1997

SCAG! Bone-Crushing dance work, Peterborough’s dance/theatre scene hadn’t seen anything like it before, and hasn’t since. There was a live collaboration with musicians – each dancer had his/her own guitar player with their own sound – their own made-in-Peterborough idea.

The CeeDees Live  January, 1984

The CeeDees were equally at home playing the Cameron House in Toronto or the Red Dog Tavern in Peterborough. This video shows the group serving as a kind of house band, for the hippies, students, artists and new-wavers populating the Peterborough art scene.

East City: The Soap  1988

1988. East City was a live, improvised soap opera, performed on a weekly basis in Peterborough, Ontario. It was first performed at Artspace, a multidisciplinary art centre located in Peterborough’s Market Hall. East City: The Soap later moved to the Union Theatre in Peterborough.

A Christmas Carol on stage  December, 1988

This version of the Dickens classic was staged – in typical high tech (3 slide projectors!) meets low budget (bedsheets for screens) style – by Ian McLachlan and Robert Winslow (who directed) at Artspace in the Market Hall, Peterborough, Ontario.

The Magic Circus: The Secret Prince  July, 1988

The Secret Prince was a production of The Magic Circus Theatre. The Magic Circus existed in Peterborough from 1977 to the late 1980s. It proudly called itself ‘experimental’, and identified as the professional alternative to mainstream theatre in the area.

Ad Infinitum / Circle of Fire  June, 1987

This was an environmental installation/performance work created by Jeannie McRight and  Peter Chin. McRight’s 40-foot diameter sculpture was called Ad Infinitum. Chin’s performance was Circle of Fire, a ritualistic dance that culminated in the firing of McRight’s clay objects.

Thank You!

Public Energy gratefully acknowledges the generous support of our 2019-20 Season Funders and Sponsors



The Lloyd Carr-Harris Foundation


  • Canada Council
  • Jo Pillon
  • Ontario Arts Council
  • Canadian Heritage
  • City of Peterborough
  • Kawartha Now
  • We Design
  • Hi Ho Silver