From Press Release:
Directed by Jennifer Tarver and performed by actor, writer and knitter Kirk Dunn, The Knitting Pilgrim is a multidisciplinary one-person theatrical experience that uses storytelling, image projection and a one-of-a-kind textile installation called Stitched Glass. The show, which premiered at the Aga Khan Museum’s Auditorium in May, 2019, comes to the Toronto Fringe Festival, performing 10 shows at Bloor Street United Church, Toronto, between July 3-14, 2019, and continues its tour around Ontario thereafter. It tells a story of a journey that you need to experience.
Created by actor, writer and knitter Kirk Dunn, Stitched Glass is a triptych of large hand-knitted tapestries, designed in the style of stained-glass windows, which looks at the commonalities and conflicts amongst the Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The textile masterwork was supported by a Chalmers Foundation grant through the Ontario Arts Council in 2003, and took Kirk 15 years to complete. There is no other knitting project like it in the world.
Kirk and seasoned writer Claire Ross Dunn co-wrote The Knitting Pilgrim, which uses the Stitched Glass tapestries – over 90 pounds of knitting – as its set. The play recounts Kirk’s artistic and spiritual journey of hand-knitting the giant project, and his hope to contribute to the vital conversation about xenophobia, dealing with internal and external strife, and fear of the other.
“The hope behind Stitched Glass has always been to create conversation,” says Kirk, who sought out Christian, Muslim and Jewish consultants to help him research and design the artwork and, more personally, to learn about the feelings and experiences of others. “A conversation between all people – believers and non-believers – who find themselves in conflict. How can we better understand and empathize with each other? Everyone has a unique background, point of view, and experience, and at the same time, many experiences are universal. Focusing on what knits us together, rather than what pulls us apart, is a place to start.”
Kirk Dunn’s stage credits include Billy Bishop Goes to War (Ergo Arts Theatre, Carousel); Merlin and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (YPT); Dads! The Musical (Charlottetown, Stirling, Drayton); Romeo and Juliet (Ford Centre); More Munsch (The Grand); The War Show, A Flea in Her Ear, Don’t Dress for Dinner, and The Affections of May (Drayton). Kirk has been knitting since 1988, and designing since 1995. In 1998, he apprenticed with Kaffe Fassett in England and has since been covered in The Toronto Star, Vogue Knitting, Family Circle Knitting, Maclean’s Magazine, the National Post and CBC Radio. Filmmakers Ian Daffern and Omar Majeed are making a documentary about Kirk and his work.
Director Jennifer Tarver, most recently Artistic Director of Necessary Angel Theatre Company between 2013 and 2019, has directed for Soulpepper Theatre, The Tarragon Theatre, Canadian Stage Company, Nightwood Theatre, and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. During five seasons at Stratford, her work included Waiting For Godot, The Homecoming, Krapp’s Last Tape, Zastrozzi and King of Thieves. Jennifer’s recent work in the US includes Krapp’s Last Tape in Chicago, and Hedda Gabler in Connecticut. Jennifer was also Associate Director at The Theatre Centre in Toronto from 2004-2012.
The Knitting Pilgrim was workshopped by Ergo Arts Theatre in 2018. Established in 1992 by Artistic Director Anna Pappas, Ergo Arts Theatre strives to promote creative thought, innovative expression and empathy through the performing arts. Its goal is to make the art of theatre accessible to all – to be a part of a collective artistic experience that enhances the way people think, live and communicate.
During the Toronto Fringe, the play will be seen at Bloor Street United Church, Toronto (times/dates below). The show is touring Ontario, with 40+ stops at The Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa Fringe Festivals, many places of faith, Theatre Kingston, and Blyth Festival. Knitting is encouraged during the show if audience members are so inclined (#BYOK) – with Kirk planning to use the audience’s knitting in a forthcoming mystery project.
Stitched Glass was supported by the Ontario Arts Council through the Chalmers Foundation. The Knitting Pilgrim was supported by the Toronto Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Note: ASL performance during Toronto Fringe is July 9 at 7pm.