On October 30, the laneway behind Buddies was officially named to honour our founding Artistic Director, Sky Gilbert. Following is a speech by our current Artistic Director Brendan Healy and photos from the ceremony marking this event.
I would like to begin this by thanking Connie Langille of the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association who played in a huge role in making this happen. I want to thank our city councilor, Councillor Wong-Tam, for her ongoing support of what we do here at Buddies. I would like to thank Theresa Bailie for her help in organizing this event.
And I would like to thank everyone at the City of Toronto and our neighborhood supporters who helped make this moment a reality.
As we were preparing for this event, there was discussion about whether we should “clean up” the laneway to make it more presentable. Clearly, we didn’t. And we didn’t, not as a sign of carelessness but – actually – as a sign of respect for Sky Gilbert’s work. Graffiti on the walls of a laneway provides us with an apt metaphor for Sky’s work as an artist and as a leader: it is brazen, expressive, subversive, and beautiful. Beautiful because it disturbs and bothers. Beautiful because it is bold and insists on being seen. Beautiful because it is a cry for freedom and a shameless display of one’s existence. Beautiful because it is immediate and necessary. Beautiful because it is honest in that special way that only graffiti on a wall in a laneway can be.
Sky Gilbert’s writings bring to the forefront the people who are usually hidden. The company he founded, Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, has, for over 35 years, provided a stage for artistic and sexual misfits to loudly declare themselves without fear or repression. Sky Gilbert, the artist and the teacher, continues to inspire a whole new generation of artists to bravely step off the main street, to go explore the back alleys and laneways, and to discover all the beauty that these hidden corners contain.
By doing all this – by being a streak of graffiti on a city wall – Sky Gilbert has made Toronto a better place for us all. And so I offer my sincerest congratulations to Sky on this momentous day. It is so deeply deserved.
photos by Alejandro Santiago | alejandrosantiagophotography.com