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Jon Hedderwick


The Theatre on King  (171 King St, Peterborough)

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January 17 – 20, 2024 @ 8:00 PM
January 21, 2024 @ 2 PM

Director/Dramaturg: Kate Story

Bubie’s Tapes Show Program

Tickets are sold on a sliding PWYC scale from $5 to $25.

IN PERSON TICKETS ARE SOLD OUT – we apologise for the disappointment! Following the in person run an online presentation of Bubie’s Tapes will be available beginning on January 22nd, 2024 at 2:00pm. All Bubie’s Tapes in person ticket holders will be given free access to the online show. Please click here to purchase online only tickets

*Sliding scale pricing is offered to make our tickets accessible and affordable for everyone. All tickets are general admission*

You can also reserve tickets by email or phone (no credit card required). Please email your request to or call 705-745-1788.

While preparing a pot of matzo ball soup, Jon recounts personal and family experiences from the Russian Revolution, through the Holocaust and beyond, as told by his great grandmother, Bubie Sarah, in cassette tape recordings she left behind. Bubie’s Tapes is told through the lens of what a father would tell his daughter, a conceit that gives this work gentleness while approaching these difficult topics.

Through the use of storytelling, recorded audio, projected images, and food, the show explores the lasting impact of antisemitism on the Jewish diaspora, as a father tells his daughter the sometimes funny, sometimes traumatic story of his Bubie’s forced migration to Canada during the pogroms in Eastern Europe that emerged in the aftermath of World War I. Audiences hear Sarah’s recordings during the performance, and following will be invited to share the soup that her great grandson has been preparing.

Through Sarah’s stories, Bubie’s Tapes reveals much about the ongoing history and impact of antisemitism in Canada and around the world. The piece also explores the current rise in antisemitism alongside Islamophobia, and the ways that charges of antisemitism have been mobilized to forestall criticism of the State of Israel.

Artist’s Statement:

When I first began working on the script for Bubie’s Tapes – as an artist in residence at the Precarious3 Festival, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic – what I wanted to do was share a nearly-lost-to-history story about my family, and the unlikely way in which I became aware of these events. I could not have imagined then that the work would become so tragically timely. As I now prepare to bring it to the stage, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are on the rise. At the same time, charges of anti-Semitism are being used by some to shut down legitimate criticism of the war crimes committed by the Israeli government in response to the terrorist attack committed by Hamas on October 7th, 2023: this being the latest episode in a 75-year cycle of violence.

As I write this, I’m trying to imagine what I would tell my child about the world in which she lives – just as in Bubie’s Tapes I imagine what I might tell her about her history, and the millennium of violence and hatred experienced by Jewish people in Europe and beyond. I cannot tell you what it felt like to be a Jewish person having to contemplate, for the first time, the use of the word genocide to describe the actions of a government that claims it is acting in the name of all Jewish people, myself included. For me, being the inheritor of a history steeped in genocide and ethnic cleansing means it is intolerable to see fear and grief weaponized, used to dehumanize, and as a justification for anyone committing the kinds of atrocities that my family survived, no matter the circumstances. It is with this in mind that I continue to call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the siege of Gaza.

I long for a world in which there is no hatred, and in which there is a just and lasting peace. No play can promise to bring this, though I believe it is the job of the artist to imagine the world better than it is. With Bubie’s Tapes, this is what I have endeavoured to do.

Director’s Note:

When the lights come up, theatre can feel like magic. It certainly does for me: I have chosen to dedicate years of my life to sitting in the dark while people shape enchantment with only their bodies, voices, bits of clothing, light and shadow.

But it isn’t magic, not really. It takes a lot of support and hard work and faith to make a theatre show.

Jon started workshopping this piece in a residency with Trent Radio, inspired by audio tapes left behind by his great grandmother. He unpacked the personal and political history revealed by her stories – the tumultuous, often appalling events of the time – and also his own emotional responses to the material. Then in 2021 Jon and I started working on this piece as part of Precarious3 Festival. Plagued – literally – the festival had to be postponed no less than 3 times; we finally delivered it as an artist-in-residency program. Jon came in with a wonderful scaffold of a semi-improvised script, ideas for a sophisticated set of
projections, and a strong vision. And soup!

Public Energy provided more support in 2023, and so we were able to further workshop the piece. As we were beginning to organize ourselves for this phase, an armed conflict erupted between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militant groups. The ways in which history impacted Jon’s Bubie Sarah suddenly came into sharp relief, right here in the present. We had to allow the show to change. There was no way to proceed with integrity unless we did. Jon’s courage, care, and compassion have characterized every moment of the work. None of us are free unless every one of us is free. It has been an honour and a great learning for me to be a part of this process.

Somehow – yes, magically – it doesn’t bend under the weight of historical and present atrocities. It’s imbued with delight! Every time we’ve worked on Bubie’s Tapes I walk out feeling warm, full of love, and full of hope.

Kate Story, dramaturge/director

Artist’s Bio:

Jon Hedderwick is a spoken word poet, playwright and performance artist of mixed Ashkenazi Jewish and Scottish heritage based in Nogojiwanong/C.K.A. Peterborough, Ontario. Jon is the Artistic Director for the Peterborough Poetry Slam Collective, one half of the spoken word performing duo WordCraft, and a co-creator of the Take-out Poetry Project. He is the author of five chapbooks of poetry, and two one-person plays. He has performed poetry across Canada, and his work has been featured at national and provincial poetry and storytelling festivals and conferences.





All shows in the run of Bubie’s Tapes will be presented as relaxed performances.

Thank You!

Public Energy gratefully acknowledges the generous support of our 2023-24 Season Funders and Sponsors.

Season Sponsors & Funders

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Accessibility Sponsor

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