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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 Let us know at We can handle any out of date format.

Ad-averse? To avoid ads on YouTube, you can watch on our Vimeo channel

The Cavan Blazers 1992
The Cavan Blazers was the first show ever mounted by the 4th Line Theatre, written by Robert Winslow and staged on his family farm in Millbook, a neighouring town to Peterborough. CBC journalist Paul McGrath got wind of the production and his work resulted in the two video clips seen here: the first comes from the CBC-Toronto program Midday, the second is the shorter of two pieces produced for the national current affairs program The Journal. (For a deeper dive, you can view the longer version here.)

View the programs for the first two seasons of the Blazers here:
Season One, 1992
Season Two, 1993, together with The Moodie Traill
Read the 1981 article in the Peterborough Examiner, interviewing Robert Winslow about the play’s development as sponsored by The Magic Circus Theatre. Click here.



Bacchus at Trent University 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 In Creation 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

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