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Study Guide: London Road

BY: Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork

DIRECTED BY: Jackie Maxwell
A Canadian Stage production

Production Sponsor:

January 19 February 9, 2014

Overview and Classroom Activities

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Study Guide: London Road

A letter to teachers and students:

Education is a vital part of what we do at Canadian Stage. We are committed to sharing material with
our audiences that will challenge, enrich and deepen their perspectives through the presentation of
stories that utilize innovative artistic tools and explore diverse perspectives. London Road is a model
example for both its content and form.

In London Road, playwright Alecky Blythe, an authority in verbatim theatre, pushes the technique of
translating interviews into performance through collaboration with Tony award winning composer
Adam Cork. This piece is based on interviews that she conducted in Ipswich, UK beginning in December
2006 just after the bodies of five prostitutes were recovered, but before any arrests had been made.
Blythe continued to visit the normally quaint town as the case unfolded and carefully recorded her
conversations with its citizens. How the community recovered from this dark time and the
(mis)portrayal of their village in the media is at the heart of this unique verbatim musical. Their
communitys actions, establishing a Neighbourhood Watch committee and creating an annual London
Road in Bloom gardening competition made significant improvements in how the residents felt about
their community and impacted how they were perceived by outsiders.

Although the circumstances surrounding London Road are grim, the moral is bright. This production will
inspire an appreciation for the potential of community and the power of reputations, relevant to
students contributions within their own schools, neighbourhoods and cities. This Canadian premiere,
directed by the Shaw Festivals artistic director Jackie Maxwell, will feature some of Canadas favourite
performers: Sean Arbuckle, Damien Atkins, Ben Carlson, Michelle Fisk, Deborah Hay, George Masswohl,
Julain Molnar, Glynnis Ranney, Fiona Reid and Shawn Wright.

London Road is certain to evoke enlightening conversations in any classroom about local and civic
engagement, the impact of media as well as new forms of story-telling. This guide explores background
context relevant to both Ipswich, where the play occurs, as well as from a Canadian perspective. I
encourage you to consider utilizing this document, our Professional Exploration Day for Educators with a
focus on Verbatim Theatre (Saturday, January 18, 2014) and in-school workshop offerings in partnership
with No.9 (www.no9.ca) to most effectively utilize a trip to London Road as a teaching tool in your

Please contact me at my digits below to further discuss our opportunities. See you at the theatre!


Erin Schachter, Education & Audience Development Manager

416.367.8243 x280


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In 2006, the bodies of five female sex workers were discovered in the town of Ipswich, England. A
resulting media frenzy descended upon the residents of the town, especially upon London Road, where
the killer lived. These tragic events brought unwanted international attention to the usually
unremarkable town. Afflicted by the trauma of the murdered women and marred by the medias focus
on prostitution in their community, the people of London Road decided to take back their reputation in
a creative way. The Neighbourhood Watch organized an annual gardening competition, dubbed
London Road in Bloom, in an effort to not only beautify the town, but to also generate a sense of
shared ownership and belonging within the community.

This is a story of rebirth after tragedy, and of people coming together to create a new identity and sow
the seeds of communal living.

Character List
Helen and Tim:
- Husband and wife who belong to the Neighbourhood Watch committee. Jan has been a
resident of London Road for 26 years and works part-time personal support worker for the

Helen and Gordon:

- A married couple, both retired teachers. Helen is the Secretary of the Neighbourhood Watch,
while Gordon makes regular appearances at Neighbourhood Watch social events as the lead
guitarist of his band, The Git Band.

- As the Neighbourhood Watch Events Organizer and an avid gardener, Julie initiated the London
Road in Bloom competition. She moved to London Road 20 years earlier from her hometown
in rural Essex.

Ron and Rosemary:

- Husband and wife who moved to Peckham for their retirement and have lived in London Road
for 10 years. Ron is the Chairman of the Neighbourhood Watch.

June and Terry:

- A mature couple who met each other late in life. Until being laid off, Terry worked as a building
site plant operator, while June worked at the John Player Cigarette factory in Ipswich.

- Until a recent move, Alfie resided in London Road for 20 years. For three consecutive years, he
held the title of Best Overall Garden in the London Road in Bloom competition.

- A long time resident of London Road and professional window cleaner. Dodge belongs to the
Neighbourhood Watch committee and hosts the annual London Road in Bloom competition in
his backyard.


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Other Characters:



Historical/Social Background
Ipswich is located in Suffolk County in eastern England. Census records from the 19th century report that
the town of Ipswich was largely supported by the services and manufacturing industries. The sector
employing the most people at that time (and is still the case today) was that of services, a category
which covers a broad range of occupations including domestic servitude, shop keepers, government
workers, and financial services. Manufacturing has consistently followed the services sector as the
second largest employer of the local population (GB Historical GIS).

British road classifications are divided into motorways (restricted to motorized traffic, like Canadas
highways), A- class roads (which range from major to minor routes and can be used by all forms of
traffic, e.g. motorized and pedestrian), and B- class roads (which are typically minor country roads).
London Road joins up with the A1214, a major route spanning 14 kilometres of Suffolk County running
east-west and passes through Central Ipswich, connecting Martlesham (east of Ipswich) to Copdock
(west of Ipswich). The portion of London Road where London Road takes place is in a residential area in
the neighbourhood of Ipswich Central, east of a TOTSO (turn off to stay on) junction where the A1214
turns north off of London Road onto Yarmouth Road.

As of May 2013, the crime rate in Ipswich was below Englands national average (Police Crime Map).
The crime rate of an area is calculated as a ratio, which is expressed as crimes committed for every
1,000 of the population per year. Ipswich has seen a decline in the rate of crime for five consecutive
years and is now at the lowest point it has been in a decade (Suffolk Constabulary). The British Crime


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Survey reported that incidents of anti-social behaviour, under which murder is categorized, have fallen
by 8.3%.

Works Cited

Crime map and stats for Suffolk constabulary. Police Crime Map. N.p., 5 May 2013. Web. 3 July 2013.

GB Historical GIS. Standardized Industry Data. Industry Statistics, Ipswich district. A Vision of Britain
through Time. Web. 2 July 2013.

Summary of performance. Crime Comparator, Suffolk Constabulary. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 July 2013.


It has been called the oldest profession in the world. In pre-Confederation Canada, vagrancy laws
were enacted in an effort to keep the streets free from undesirables. A vagrant is defined as
someone who supports themselves financially by gaming or crime and does not have a lawful profession
(Criminal Code, s 179). Prostitutes and individuals who owned or frequented brothels were considered
vagrants and, as such, were liable to prosecution. When the criminal code was established in 1892,
focus began to shift towards protecting women and children and criminalizing exploitative activity. Laws
were expanded so that men living off of the earnings of prostitutes could be convicted. Despite these
protective intensions, more women than men were convicted of vagrancy and offences associated with
prostitution (Shaver).

Prostitution itself has technically never been illegal in Canada. However, the Canadian government
views the exploitation of prostitution for gain or profit as an illegal activity. Accordingly, actions such as
owning, frequenting, or transporting a person to a bawdy house, and procuring, soliciting, or
communicating with someone for the purpose of prostitution are considered illegal and condemnable

The first internationally acknowledged effort to eliminate prostitution came about after World War II in
1949 with the United Nations (UN) Convention for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons and Exploitation
of the Prostitution of Others. The Convention argued that prostitution itself should be a criminal
offence. Since it deals in human trafficking, that prostitutes are victims, and that prostitution should be
illegal, even between consenting adults. Since prostitution itself was legal in Canada, the Canadian
government did not ratify the convention (Barnett 2).

In 1982, Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against
Women (CEDAW). The Convention obligated all signatories to take all appropriate measures to prevent
the exploitation and the prostitution of women, and committed all signing countries to submit a country
report every four years to an appointed committee. The report outlines what the country has done and
what it plans to do to eliminate the exploitation of prostitution within its borders (Barnett 2).

In 2000, prostitution was included in the definition of human trafficking at the UN Convention Against
Transnational Organized Crime. This marked the first time that prostitution was recognized as a form of


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exploitation, human trafficking, and violence against women and children by an international
organization. As a result, the UN determined prostitution as a criminal offence. Canada ratified the
Conventions accompanying Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially
Women and Children in 2002 (Barnett 4).


In 1999, Sweden adopted a method of handling prostitution that falls into the category of abolitionism
that has become known as The Swedish Model. The abolitionist perspective on prostitution is that
prostitutes themselves should be free from criminalization. Rather, the individuals who exploit sex
workers or coerce them into prostitution should be criminalized. The ultimate goal is to abolish the
practice of prostitution and until that occurs, to protect prostitutes from the harm they face in their
work (Shaver).

New Zealand became the first country to decriminalize prostitution and its associated offences
(including soliciting, procuring prostitutes over the age over 18, and living on the avails of prostitution)
in 2003 with its Prostitution Reform Act. Decriminalization views sex work as a choice and argues that
prostitution can be regulated without criminal law enforcement. They argue that this will help reduce
stigma by recognizing sex work as legitimate work, allow those individuals who wish to leave the
profession to do so, and also enable the abusers of sex workers to be prosecuted (Shaver).

Various sex worker advocacy groups and some feminists have petitioned parliament for the adoption of
the Swedish Model and to decriminalize prostitution in Canada. Most researchers who study the subject
also argue that prostitution should be decriminalized. However, the Canadian view, as held by the
current Conservative government, is to criminalize prostitution. The Conservative government rejected
recommendations to reform its stance on the issue in 2006.

Works Cited

Barnett, Laura. Prostitution in Canada: International Obligations, Federal Law, and Provincial and
Municipal Jurisdiction, PRB 03-03-E, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, Library of
Parliament, Ottawa, 14 February 2008.

Criminal Code. RSC 1985, c C-46, s 179. Web.

Shaver, Frances M. Prostitution. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Dominion Institute, 2012.
29 June 2012. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com


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Theatrical Context
About the Playwright: Alecky Blythe
Blythe originally trained as an actress at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London, England.
Finding herself out of work, Blythe decided to create her own acting opportunity by writing a play. She
attended a verbatim theatre technique workshop called Drama Without Paper at the Actors Centre in
London, England, led by theatre director Mark Wing Davey. Fascinated by the genre, Blythe founded the
theatre company Recorded Delivery in 2003. The term recorded delivery has since become
synonymous with the verbatim theatre technique. (See Critical Exploration section on Verbatim Theatre
for more about Blythe.)

About the Composer: Adam Cork

Cork has worked as a composer in theatre, film, and television for many years. He has been nominated
for several Tony Awards, and received one in 2010 for his music and score for RED. Cork has been twice
nominated for an Olivier Award, including a nomination in 2011 for London Road (Best New Musical),
and won in 2010 for King Lear. He has also been nominated for four Drama Desk Awards:Frost/Nixon
(2006), Macbeth (2007), ENRON (2010), and RED (2010).

Study Links
Here are some curriculum connection points and sample discussion questions. These questions may be
used to prompt conversations in your classroom.

The citizens of Ipswich felt very disconnected from one another after their community endured a
traumatic experience.
How did the people of Ipswich rebuild their sense of community?
In what ways did the citizens of London Road engage politically (London Road in Bloom
Competition, community meetings, interacting with county councillors and local police, creating
a neighbourhood watch committee)?
Consider the three strands of citizenship: informed, purposeful, and active and evaluate how
each of these categories are applicable to the actions of the townspeople in London Road.

London Road is a verbatim musical. This means that the script is devised of actual conversations had by
real people and then set to a score designed to reflect their rhythms of speech.
What are the steps you would expect to follow to create a piece of verbatim theatre? (refer to
Classroom Activities section for one step-by-step approach)
How does London Road communicate ideas about issues in society through theatre? Is it
How did the verbatim aspect of London Road contribute to understanding various social issues?


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How has Adam Cork, the composer of London Road, used various musical elements (pitch melody,
harmony and tonality; duration beat, metre, rhythm, and tempo; dynamics and other expressive
controls; timbre; texture and form) to develop each character? For example, which characters sing in
staccato phrases and which characters sing melodically? Why do you think this is? What might it say
about their personalities?

London Road is based on a true story that was covered by media outlets internationally. How do you
think various media outlets contributed to the worldwide reputation of Ipswich following the murders
(Newspaper articles, television coverage, social media)? Present students with various news documents
that followed the Ipswich story and encourage the use of critical analysis to decipher how language,
tone, and point of view worked to influence the interpretation of messages in the text. Compare and
contrast articles; do they all have the same message? Are there any biases? Do you think the community
of Ipswich had to work even harder to rebuild their reputation because of medias coverage?

How do you think primary agents of socialization (e.g., family, peers) and secondary agents of
socialization (e.g., media, religion) may have had an effect on the citizens of Ipswichs views on their
town after the murders? Is it possible that these people and institutions shaped individual and group
behaviours in Ipswich? How might the social structure of the town change?

How might one research the sociological effects of the murders that inspired London Road in Bloom
using various sociological research methods (surveys, case studies, observations, analysis, focus
groups)? Which method do you think would be most effective in discovering high quality ethnographical

How do you think the citizens of Ipswich exercised their democratic rights in order to make sound
political decisions as a community following the murders? How might the community come together to
prevent future crime and prostitution in their neighbourhood (lobbying, demonstrations, petitions,
public consultation on proposed changes in law, parent councils, neighbourhood associations) ? What
might be some barriers to participate in community movements (language, homelessness, ethnicity,

Urban Studies
Taking into account the location and population of Ipswich, Suffolk, England describe how social,
political, cultural, environmental, and economic factors, patterns, and processes may have influenced
the towns identity before the murders, after the murders, before the implementation of the gardening
competition, and after the gardening competition was started?. How might the changing perspectives of
citizens within the community play a role in conflicts over urban issues, and cultural and economic
change? Are these conflicts affected by variables from outside of the community? Which?

In London Road, the character Julie, along with other members of the neighbourhood committee, works
very hard to re-build a positive community through engaging citizens in a gardening competition. What
are some ways in which Julie may have used interpersonal skills to create a constructive environment


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(maintaining optimism, recovering from mistakes, overcoming fears, achieving goals, accepting positive
reinforcement from others)? Assess the strengths and weaknesses in her and other characters
communication strategies. Identify positive leadership qualities in Julie and discuss how these qualities
contributed to the overall rebuilding of London Road. Repeat this analysis for other characters.

Critical Exploration
What is verbatim theatre? It is the technique of recording the words of real people, or using recorded
conversations (for example, the transcripts of official inquiries), and editing them into a dramatic
narrative. In some cases, such as with Blythes earlier work, the lines are then fed to actors through ear
phones during both the rehearsal process and the live performances. This ensures that the actors are
speaking the lines as close to the way in which they were spoken by the interviewed individuals as


The origins of the genre of verbatim theatre can be traced to the American actress and playwright Anna
Deavere Smith who in 1991 began interviewing people in the neighbourhood of Crown Heights in
Brooklyn, New York, during the Crown Heights Riots. Crown Heights is historically a racially diverse
neighbourhood, prominently populated by West Indians, African-Americans, and Orthodox Jews. The
Crown Heights Riot began when a child of Guyanese immigrants was accidently struck and killed by a
well-known Hasidic rabbi in an automobile accident. The accident was the breaking point of mounting
tensions between the black and Jewish communities and led to a three-day riot. One Orthodox Jewish
man was killed; a non-Jewish man, apparently mistaken by rioters as Jewish, was also killed.

Smith conducted interviews with members of both the black and Jewish communities during the riots.
This documentation ultimately led to the creation of the play Fires in the Mirror. The play is a collection
of 29 monologues spoken by different characters, each expressing their opinions about the riot.Fires in
the Mirror was first performed by Smith in a one-woman show to high acclaim, winning her a Drama
Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show. Smith repeated this process during the L.A. Riots
surrounding the trial and death of Rodney King. The outcome was a second one-woman play called
Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, that earned Smith a second Drama Desk Award.


As a verbatim play purports to replicate the real words of real people, the playwright implies that this
narrative offers truth to its spectators. The very name verbatim theatre infers that the genre is an
accurate and authentic representation of real life; nothing has been fictionalized. The audience,
therefore, expects that the play is a source of information. In this sense, the role of the playwright
oscillates between dramatist and journalist, and there is a heightened expectation for accurate


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representation. For the playwright to balance treating sensitive material respectfully and to be taken
seriously as a dramatist, he or she must abide by some sort of ethical code and be accountable to the
interviewees, their colleagues, and the audience.


Originally trained as an actress, Alecky Blythe found herself out of work. In 2002, she decided to attend
a workshop at the Actors Centre in London, called Drama Without Paper, led by director Mark Wing-
Davey. Fascinated by the technique, Blythe founded her theatre company, Recorded Delivery, the
following year.

Before London Road, Blythe was adamant that the actors in her productions did not learn their lines.
She believed that by not learning lines, the actors are forced to actively listen: this leaves almost no
time to consider how they will deliver them. The performances that result tend to be unselfconscious
and incredibly free, she writes in Will Hammond and Dan Steards authoritative text, Verbatim,
Verbatim: Contemporary Documentary Theatre (81).

Blythes first play, Come Out Eli, about the 15 day siege at Christmas in Hackney, London, established a
kind of formula that she chose to stick to for most of her future plays. Blythe was not interested in the
gunman or the siege itself, but rather the reactions of the people in the community, and how a major
event like it can unite people regardless of their age, race, class, or creed. Blythe believes that the
drama she creates offers a sort of platform for the average person to talk about his or her life and
experiences. They can speak openly about their opinions, thoughts, and beliefs, without being
censored. This, of course, is the promise of verbatim theatre, which relies on the notion of a self-
imposed ethical code that the dramatist must adhere to.


Blythe cites several challenges related to the creation and production of verbatim theatre:


Orthodox verbatim theatre technique dictates that the actor must replicate the speech and speaking
patterns of the interviewee exactly. In the early days of Blythes company, Recorded Delivery, this
meant that the actors were required to wear headphones. From an audience perspective, headphones
were visually intrusive and distracting from the performances. Also, the actors must be in synch with
each other in order for the performance to flow smoothly. In the beginning, with limited technology at
hand, this could only be achieved by having all the actors press play on their mini-discs at exactly the
same time. Actors who had dialogue together had to be plugged in to the same machine, which
resulting in wires strewn across the stage. Aside from a safety hazard, this was no doubt also visually
disruptive for the audience. The solution lay in better technology, and with the availability of better
quality and more easily concealable equipment, productions became visually tidier and the
synchronicity issue disappeared.


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Blythe wanted to ensure that audiences understood the process of recorded delivery, and how it
differed from the creation of other forms of theatre. She found it challenging to convey the method and
the fact that the lines performed by the actors on stage are the actual words of interviewees. She found
a solution by audibly playing the actual recordings of the interviews as the actors delivered their lines for
the first few minutes of the play. Slowly, the recordings would fade away, leaving the actors to perform.
In a meta-theatrical way, this technique drew attention to the fact that the audience was watching
actors, but that the lines they spoke were extracted word for word from real conversations with real


Blythe discovered that the one-on-one interviews left her with little material to create dialogue, and she
did not want her plays to become a series of monologues, one after the other. She worried that the
monologues would get tired after a while, and was interested in capturing interaction between people.
Blythe found that there were a few ways of overcoming this obstacle. Her preference was to be present
at the time of the event, such as the siege or during the murder investigation in Ipswich. Being in and
among the action allowed Blythe to record her interviews with the public while the event was
happening and reactions were candid, rather than after it had passed. Her interviewees spoke in the
present tense, not in the past, and she could capture everything before her interviewees had time to
process the event and form their own sort of narrative. For this reason, it is important for Blythe to be
on scene as much as possible. When she could not be on scene, she would sometimes ask the
interviewees to record themselves in her absence.


Another challenge with verbatim theatre is ensuring that an individual who is being interviewed acts
naturally and does not begin to alter themselves to control how they will be portrayed. Interviewees
might self-censor their speech, or speak differently or more formally, to create an image they want
others to be impressed by. These interviews can lack the emotional colour, a trait that makes
verbatim theatre interesting. Blythe found that she could overcome this obstacle by distracting the
interviewees from the fact that they were being recorded. She might conduct the interview while the
interviewee is doing a task or (in the case of the siege), have their attention focussed on another event.
Conducting her interviews at these moments helps to ensure that the interviewee is speaking naturally,
without any affectation, and is responding honestly to the events and to the interview.

Works Cited

Hammond, Will and Dan Steward, eds. Verbatim, Verbatim: Contemporary Documentary Theatre.
London: Oberon, 2008. Print.


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We just wanna see an end to it and London Road getting back to being London Road instead of
being known for someone where the murderer lived (Julie, London Road, 72)

Collective trauma refers to a psychologically distressing event shared by a group of people including
certain demographic groups and even entire societies or nations. The ensuing trauma may cause the
group to reflect upon itself and may lead to a shift in beliefs or actions, particularly after large scale
traumatic events, such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack. The definition of cultural trauma perhaps
phrases this notion of collective trauma the best: the foundations of an established collective identity
are shaken by a traumatic occurrence and are in need of re-narration (Eyerman 106).

The residents of London Road experienced multiple traumas: 1) the discovery of the five murdered
women near their homes, 2) the arrest and later conviction of their neighbour, Steve Wright, who was
responsible for the murders, and 3) the media inaccurately branding their community as a red-light
district. After these events, especially the wrongful media portrayal of their neighbourhood, the
residents of London Road felt compelled to reclaim their community. As the success of the London
Road in Bloom competition demonstrates, and the subsequent hit of the musical London Road
supports, traumas *can+ be conducive to, or productive of (renewed), collective identities (Eyerman
106). The residents efforts to beautify their community empowered them to overcome the traumas
they experienced and create a new identity for themselves.

As McLarens study (explored in Media section) concluded, a community with a bad reputation can
negatively impact the way residents and non-residents feel about living and commuting in the area (and
by extension for residents, how they feel about themselves). The London Road in Bloom competition
brought the community together in a proactive way and changed how they perceived their lives and
their homes. As Julie says in London Road, if you make *your+ house look nice and feel good about
where youre living youll enjoy life a hell of a lot *better+ (Blythe 8).

London Road is one example of a blighted community that has empowered itself to overcome a poor
reputation and social problems. Such opportunities allow for a community to rebuild itself visually,
structurally, and sociologically. The Heidelberg Street neighbourhood in Detroit is another example of a
community that has rebounded. The Heidelberg project was created as an outlet for creativity and
artistic expression, employment, and re-connection among residents in a formerly at-risk


The Heidelberg Project began in 1986 by artist Tyree Guyton as a response to the crime-ridden and
impoverished conditions of Heidelberg Street, situated in the McDougall-Hunt neighbourhood where he
grew up. McDougall-Hunt is located on the East Side of Detroit and is known to be one of the most
economically challenged communities in the United States. 90% of the population lives below the


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poverty line. Roughly 42% of residents have not attained a high school diploma or equivalent level of
education (McDougall-Hunt Neighbourhood).

Joined by his grandfather, Sam Mackey, and some neighbourhood children, Guyton began transforming
vacant houses within two blocks of Heidelberg Street using paint, recycled materials, and found objects.
The result was a living, outdoor art environment with residents living among the vacant homes-come-art
installations. According to the Heidelberg Project website, the art project is symbolic of how
communities in Detroit have become discarded (Heidelberg History). The art is primarily created by
Guyton, but also features the works of other professional artists as well as local children.

The Heidelberg Project has faced controversy and challenges throughout its history. The nature of the
art has raised debate: is it art or is it junk? Twice the organization suffered partial demolition. In
1991, Coleman Young (then Detroit mayor), ordered the destruction of four of the Heidelberg Projects
houses. In 1998, the Heidelberg Project was in danger of a second demolition, despite having received
over 275,000 tourists annually at the site (making it the third most popular tourist destination in
Detroit). The organization filed for and received a restraining order against the City of Detroit, yet in
1999 the restraining order was lifted and a second demolition took place. Since the 2000s, the
organization has been supported by the City of Detroit and numerous other cultural and developmental
bodies across the United States and abroad. It has received countless nominations, awards, and grants
to further its mission and develop tourist facilities (Timeline).

Guyton has received international attention and praise for his efforts to transform the community of
McDougall-Hunt. The ultimate goal of the Heidelberg Project is to transform the two blocks currently in
use into a Funky Artistic Cultural Village focused on community development and arts education
(F.A.Q.s). Since beginning the project in 1986, fewer serious crimes have been reported in Heidelberg
Street. Residents now have a sense of pride in their neighbourhood. The project enables members of
the community to walk outdoors, reflect, and discuss their unique environment with each other and
with international visitors.


In April 2007, five months after the bodies of the five murdered sex workers were recovered, the
Ipswich Prostitution Strategy was launched. Politicians and members of the community agreed it was
time to eradicate street prostitution. A multi-agency group called the Make A Change team was
established to prevent at-risk youth from entering into prostitution and to support individuals who were
already actively navigating journeys out of the trade. The goal of the strategy has never been to
criminalize sex workers, but to punish kerb crawlers and target the demand for prostitution. The five
goals of the strategy were:

To identify problem areas in the town and direct enforcement of the strategy in those areas


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To help children and adults find their way out of the system of prostitution and sexual
To cut the demand for sexual services and to find and take legal action against individuals who
control and profit from coercing others into sexual exploitation
To prevent children and adults from entering into prostitution and to reduce the risk of human
trafficking in and out of Suffolk county
To raise awareness in the community of the negative impacts of sexual exploitation and to
demonstrate that the community plays an active role in solving the problem (Suffolk City Council

As of August 2013, the Ipswich Prostitution Strategy has prevented 222 teenagers from entering into the
sex trade and has assisted 196 adults, the majority of whom are now living independently (Gornall). The
strategy has received national acclaim for its cost-effectiveness and for dramatically reducing street


Eyerman, Ron. Collective Identity and Cultural Trauma. Encyclopedia [sic] of Philosophy and Social
Sciences. SAGE Publications, Inc., 29 May 2013. SAGE Knowledge. Web. 29 Aug. 2013.

F.A.Q.'s. The Heidelberg Project : Who We Are : F.A.Q.'s. Heidelberg.org, 2012. Web. 3 Aug. 2013.

Gornall, Naomi. Ipswich: Towns nationally-recognised prostitution strategy save [sic] 222 teenagers
from the sex trade. East Anglian Daily Times. 12 August 2013. n.p. Web. 27 Aug. 2013.

Heidelberg History. The Heidelberg Project. Heidelberg.org, n.d. Web. 3 Aug. 2013.

McDougall-Hunt Neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan (MI), 48207 Detailed Profile." City-data.com.

Advameg, Inc., 2013. Web. 3 Aug. 2013.

Suffolk County Council. Suffolk Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation Strategy. Suffolk: Suffolk City
Council, 2011. Web.

Timeline. Heidelberg Project Timeline of Events. Heidelberg.org, 2012. Web. 3 Aug. 2013.


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We got a lot of bad press when it was all goin on sayin London Road was a prostitute area and so
forth like that and we jus got absolutely cheesed off with it as a community its not nice being
labelled. Julie in London Road, (Blythe 16)


December 2006 was an upsetting time for the residents of London Road. Not only were they distraught
and frightened by the murders of the five sex workers in Ipswich, but they also felt that the media
misrepresented their community. A reporter for British news programme 5 News stated that murderer
Steve Wrights home was located in London Road in the heart of the towns red-light district (Blythe
63). Although the murdered women were found in the nearby vicinity and sex workers did frequent the
area, the residents lives existed outside of the realm of crime and prostitution and did not feel this label
reflected them or their neighbourhood. A recent study on the health and well-being of individuals
based on the reputation of their community crucially noted that social identities of places are reflected
in and projected by the media (McLaren et. al. 194, emphasis added). It seems that the
misrepresentation of news stories by mass communication outlets for their own agendas occurs more
frequently than we are initially made aware of.


Agenda-setting theory argues that there is a direct correlation between the frequency with which the
media reports on a certain issue (e.g. violent crime or prostitution) and the level of importance that the
public assigns to that issue. Hundreds of studies have been published since the 1980s showing that the
media tells the public both what to think about and what to think (Weiss 32). Cultivation theory claims
that television has become the primary source of information and socialization in our society.
Cultivation theorists speculate that television programming presents a homogeneous world with a high
rate of violence, stereotypical gender roles, and under-represents the elderly. Studies have shown that
people who frequently view television believe the world is a more violent place than infrequent
television viewers . The term mean world syndrome refers to the belief that the world is a dangerous
place, and this perception is derived from frequently watching excessively violent television programs
(Shanahan 254).

Some residents of London Road worried that their street was becoming the target of this kind of
agenda-setting, or held up as an example of the proliferation of a mean world by the media. As
Stephanie in London Road says:

The news and the press just hype it all up ya know. Cos its Suffolk, nothing ever happened in
Suffolk. If it happened in London no one would care. Cos everyone gets stabbed in London
every day. (Blythe 12)


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Why all the hype from the news and the press? In journalism, the newsworthiness of a story is
determined by news values (essentially, the criteria by which a story is evaluated). In crime reporting,


Consider the amount of violent crime reported by the media. The treatment and attention given to
violent crime would lead the average person to believe that the rate is on the rise. In fact, the rate of
reported serious crime is declining in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, the reported crime rate
peaked in 1991 and has since followed a downward trend. The year 2012 marked the lowest reported
crime rate in Canada since 1972, and among Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) Toronto has the
lowest crime rate of all at 7%. (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/130725/dq130725b-
news values include: drama and action, immediacy, violence, celebrities, and sex (Greer 26). The
murder of the five Ipswich sex workers contains all of these news values perhaps with the exception of
celebrity. Arguably, murderer Steve Wright attained a kind of celebrity status (although infamy may
be a more appropriate word) when the media dubbed him The Suffolk Strangler in the tradition of the
Jack the Ripper epithet. Likewise, the setting of the story (the town of Ipswich and Suffolk County)
and the address of the killer (London Road) became imbued with these same news values in the mind of
the public through media emphasis on the location as a red-light district.



Crime stories are also evaluated based on their potential for visual impact. The rapidity with which
information technology has advanced in recent decades has enabled crime stories to be produced as
media events (Greer 29). In our modern age of information, we are drawn to stories that are graphic in
nature. For example, the media showed photographs of all the Ipswich murder victims and their killer.
They could create maps showing the geographical area of where bodies were found, and could take
video footage of the street outside Number 79, Steve Wrights home.

The residents of London Road experienced the media swarm first-hand. Ron, the Chairman of the
Neighbourhood Watch, said by seven oclock the press were here. They were stuck in front gardens
with cameras and God knows what . *They+ were intrusive. They were a damn nuisance. We had I
think four perhaps five *reporters+ knock on the door (Blythe 28). In our Western culture where
seeing is believing, visual content humanizes news stories (Greer 31).

Beyond the emotional trauma of the murders and the ensuing investigation, the media
(mis)representation of London Road as a red-light district had the potential to cause more harm to its
residents than injured feelings. According to a study on the health and well-being of individuals based
on the reputation of their community,


P a g e | 16

*The+ knowledge that an area has a poor reputation may lead residents to invest less in their
neighbourhood and to treat their residence there as transient, and it may lead non-residents to
avoid driving or walking through that neighbourhood, to avoid using its services, or to speak
negatively about it. (McLaren et. al. 194)

The murders and following media coverage actually caused a number of these effects, which is evident
in the testimonies of London Road residents in the play. Pedestrian traffic in the area changed, as noted
by June: I mean *my daughter+ wont even come down now will she walk? *.+ Sh said Im not
walking up there (Blythe 46). Other residents considered leaving the area, like Helen, the Secretary of
the Neighbourhood Watch: When they boarded the house up, thats when I really didnt like it. Were
actually were thinking about moving werent we (Blythe 47). A bad reputation on a national or even
international level could have had negative economic effects, too. Fortunately, the residents of London
Road were not so easily put off their chosen home.


Blythe, Adam Cork and Alecky. London Road. London: Nick Hern Books, 2011. Print.

Greer, Chris. Chapter 2: News Media, Victims and Crime. Victims, Crime and Society. Eds. Pamela
Davies, Peter Francis and Chris Greer. London: SAGE Publications Ltd., 2007. SAGE Knowledge.
Web. 27 August 2013.

McLaren, Rosemary Perry, Lesley Carruthers, Penelope Hawe, and Lindsay. Introducing a means of
quantifying community reputation: the print media as a data source. Health and Place 2005:
187-194. Web. 27 August 2013.

Perreault, Samuel. Police-reported crime statistics, 2012. Juristat. 85-002-X. Statistics Canada, 25 July
2013. 27 August 2013

Shanahan, James. Cultivation Theory Encyclopedia [sic] of Communication Theory. London: SAGE
Publications Ltd., 2007. SAGE Knowledge. Web. 27 August 2013.

Weiss, David. Agenda-Setting Theory Encyclopedia [sic] of Communication Theory. London: SAGE
Publications Ltd., 2007. SAGE Knowledge. Web. 27 August 2013.


P a g e | 17

Classroom Activities
Mapping Your School
Geographic and Civics Context (CGC1D & CHV2O)

Curriculum Connection Points:

Geographic Foundations: Space and Systems. When geographers study the earths surface, they work
with spatial measurements such as elevation, distance, area, direction, and scale, as well as with
complex ideas such as place, region, distribution, and pattern. Geography also includes the study of
physical, economic, cultural, and political systems. By learning about the structure, evolution, and
interaction of these systems, students gain insight into the interconnectedness of the physical and
human worlds.

Human-Environment Interactions. People are an integral part of the natural environment. The natural
environment affects peoples lives in many fundamental ways, and people in turn affect the
environment through their policies and activities. A similar relationship exists between people and their
urban, cultural, and economic environments. Students need to understand these relationships in order
to analyse the human consequences of natural events and the effects of human decisions on the
environment. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/secondary/canworld910curr.pdf

Purposeful Citizenship. It is important that students understand the role of the citizen, and the personal
values and perspectives that guide citizen thinking and actions. Students need to reflect upon their
personal sense of civic identity, moral purpose, and legal responsibility and to compare their views
with those of others. They should examine important civic questions and consider the challenges of
governing communities in which contrasting values, multiple perspectives, and differing purposes


Plays Context

In the play London Road, the characters, who are the residents of a small town in London, describe and
cope with the events unfolding around them, the unwanted media attention their community is being
bombarded with, and then eventually their attempts to rebuild and restore their community.

Sample Lead in Activity

Show the students the web video Chapter 4: Mapping Power to the People from web-video series The
Geospatial Revolution Project. http://geospatialrevolution.psu.edu/


P a g e | 18

Classroom Activity:


Large pieces of chart paper

Different coloured markers or pencil crayons

For this activity put the students into groups of four:

1. Give each group two large pieces of chart paper. In their groups have the students draw a map
of their school on one of the pieces of chart paper. They might need to draw 2-3 maps of their
school in order to represent the different floors of the building.
Having the students draw the map of their school allows them to see what parts of the building
they are familiar with and what parts they are not. They also will begin to understand how
space can be a catalyst to positive and negative feelings and thought. Through this they begin to
see how their understanding of space is predominately correlated with their memories and
experiences of it.

Mapping Activity:

1. Pose the following questions and instructions:

Where are the noisiest/quietest areas of the school? Colour the noisy areas in blue and the
quite areas in yellow.
What areas do you avoid? You could be avoiding these areas for a multiple of reasons.
State the reason you avoid them and colour them purple.
What are your favorite spots of the school? Again state the reason why these places are
your favorite spots and colour them green.
2. Have each group member create a line of the paths they take each day throughout the school.
You can put each members line in a different colour. Identify the spots do the paths cross
through the most, blue, red, yellow?
3. Have each group draw your school in the center of the second piece of chart paper. It doesnt
have to be as large this time because now we are focusing on the neighborhood surrounding it.
4. Each member of the group should now draw the path they take to school. You might have to
draw in the major roads, bike paths, houses, malls and buildings in order to do this properly.
Again each person of the group should use a different colour when doing this, preferably the
same colour as the one you used for the school map.
5. On this chart paper map:
Now shade in the areas of your community that you enjoy and hang out at. Shade these in
green just like you did with your school map.
What areas of your community do you avoid? Again you could be avoiding these areas for a
multiple of reasons. State the reasons why you avoid them and colour them in purple
What areas do your parents ask you to avoid. Colour these areas in red. Again they could be
asking you to avoid these areas for a multiple of reasons as well. State the reasons why.


P a g e | 19

These questions may be used to prompt conversations in your classroom after the mapping activity:

1. How does space affect us?

2. What goes into making a neighborhood safe and not safe?
3. What makes a healthy community in your eyes? What five things must be present for it to be
considered that in your mind?
4. What makes your school and community unique? List five places, buildings/architecture or
neighborhoods in your community that you think make it what it is.
5. Does your community encourage modes of transportation that are better for the environment?
How do you get to school each day?
6. Have the students brainstorm all of the things they dont like about their community. These
issues can be about anything: the lack of parks, bike paths, and good stores, and restaurants,
places to play soccer or basketball.
7. Do you think you can provide a solution to this problem in your community? If so how?
8. Could you go about fixing this issue on your own or would you need help and by whom?
9. If you could live in any part of the GTA where would you live? Why? List five services that this
neighborhood has that make it great in your opinion.

Presentation: Problem, Cause, Solution

1. Now the students might be looking at their school and community in a different light. They
might be starting to question why certain areas are comfortable & safe while others are
uncomfortable and dangerous. What makes these areas different? Is it the building, the
proximity to something, the design of the area, the people that hang out there or maybe
something else? Have the students present their map to the class. This might create a discussion
as to what areas are commonly held in the same regard by the class and why that is so.
2. Have the groups look at all of the red and purple areas on both maps. Have each group pick an
issue about these places. Once they have decided on an issue have them put together a
proposal as to how they can try and change these spaces. In their presentations they should
clearly state the Problem, Cause and Solution to their specific issue.


Examine different neighborhoods in Toronto

Dundas Square
Eaton Centre
Kensington Market
Regent Park

Queen West


P a g e | 20

Urban Field Trip

Have the students interview business owners/pedestrian they see on the street in different
neighborhoods across Toronto. You can have the students studying the same neighborhood or you can
have them looking at different ones. They should develop their own questions to be asked beforehand.
These questions should be diverse enough that they look at all aspects of the neighborhood.

Another option would be to do a walking tour of the neighborhoods surrounding the school.

Have the students input the data they accumulated during their mapping activity on GIS software such
as ArcView.

Bansky: Better Out Than In

Geographic and Civics Context (CGC1D & CHV2O)

Curriculum Connection Points:

Global Connections. Geography requires that students assume a global perspective on events and
processes in any part of the world. Geographers study the special characteristics of different parts of the
world and the connections between them. They consider issues that affect local communities and those
that affect the whole world. Since the worlds economies are becoming increasingly interconnected, and
the flow of people, products, money, information, and ideas around the world is accelerating, a global
perspective is particularly important for todays students.

Active Citizenship. Students need to learn basic civic literacy skills and have opportunities to apply those
skills meaningfully by participating actively in the civic affairs of their community. Civic literacy skills
include skills in the areas of research and inquiry, critical and creative thinking, decision making, conflict
resolution, and collaboration. Full participatory citizenship requires an understanding of practices used
in civic affairs to influence public decision making.

Background Information

Popular street graffiti artist Bansky, recently set up a website that displays his daily installations of art
and stenciled graffiti in New York City. Banskys artwork consists of a stencil and sometimes a slogan.
His graffiti art is very thought provoking and challenge many of the social issues of the day. He is able to
reach the masses with his work because it is on display on many of the walls of the most famous cities
around the world. Recently he has focused his work in New York City and has set up a web-diary of his
daily installations.

Bansky, like the writers of the play London Road, is trying to change the world he lives in, in his own way.
These creative medians, the theatre and art, are sometimes very affective in bringing attention to an


P a g e | 21

issue. When people see them they are forced to think about the issue that normally they would be just
too busy to think about and just ignore. Sometimes a few people will make a change to help solve it and
then that can even grow even more, into a movement in a positive direction.

(An alternative artists you might want to use for this activity could be Ai Weiwei with his installation
Forever Bicycle at Nuite Blanche and his exhibit at the AGO)

With this in mind the students will design their own art-installations or graffiti in a visual piece.

Sample Lead in Activity

1. Have the students look at Banskys website http://www.banksyny.com/ and have them try and
infer the political themes each installation is satirically critiquing. Some of his common themes
are capitalism, hypocrisy, animal rights and consumerism.

Classroom Activity

1. What are the social issues found in Toronto that you wish to bring attention to? Pick one to do,
and create your own graffiti art-installation of it.
2. Your task will be to create a graffiti stencil that will provoke conversation about your social
issue. Your graffiti has to fit on 8x11 piece of paper. In creating your image think of some of the
characters involved in your issue. A social issue cannot just be blamed on one person or a small
group of people make sure that when you are designing your installation you are reaching the
masses. Also be sure to make your graffiti satirical in nature as to not offend; in jest things are
easier to digest.

Pre-Show Activities

The Ripple Effects

In the National Theatres interview of Alecky Blythe, she mentions not being interested in the eye of
the storm. Moreover, Blythe focuses on the ripple effects of a story.

1. In the spirit of this quote and very much in line with the world of London Road, present the class
with a few copies of your local newspaper, or perhaps different publications, if that option is
available to you.
2. Divide the class into smaller working groups and have them seek out strong stories with a rich
conflict; this can be local, national or international.
3. As a class, share the various groups findings and challenge the class to settle on the two
strongest examples of stories that have rich conflict and the potential for ripple effects. It
would be valuable if one were local in its focus and the other international.


P a g e | 22

4. Divide the class into two and assign each group one of the final selections. These groups
represent two Verbatim Theatre companies.
5. Each group should read through the article again this time identifying all the
characters/stakeholders in this conflict. If technology is available, additional research around
this story would lead to greater depth of analysis. In addition to the key stakeholders, challenge
the students to imagine the secondary and tertiary rungs of characters affected by this storm.

As a group they now have the challenge to research and fictionalize responses from characters around
this topic in the hopes of creating a short verbatim exploration of the ripple effects this conflict has

6. Discuss the various kinds of scenes (monologue, duologue, group scene, chorus/ritual, and any
others you would like to address) and how they can make sense within a verbatim structure.
Create this vignettes in these groups (students may break off into sub-groups for this task).
7. Have the two casts build, rehearse, and share their pieces.

After experiencing this exercise, some of the following questions might be a valuable guide to address in
your critiques/critical analysis sessions:

Is a verbatim play a true play? Would you call Alecky Blythe a playwright?
How would you feel if your words were taken and used in a verbatim play?
What kinds of permissions do you think a verbatim artist must consider before
preparing to engage in a verbatim project
Why do you believe Blythe likes to look to the ripple effects, as opposed to the eye of
the storm?
What storms exist in your day to day lives that you could take on with a verbatim

Cadence and Rhythm

Recorded Delivery is a Verbatim Theatre Company founded by Alecky Blythe, and one of their signature
methods for play creation involves no scripts, no memorization and a reliance on earphones to repeat
the audio recording of the subject into the ears of the actor. This promotes alliance between the actors
delivery of the material and, what Blythe describes in her introductory notes of London Road as, ...the
cadence and rhythms of the original speech patterns.

Note: With cellphones prevalent within classrooms, this activity will require students to have access to a
device that can record sound on, so if your classroom has a no cell-phone rule, perhaps an exception
can be made in an attempt to give your students a true verbatim theatre experience.


P a g e | 23

1. In partners, have the students interview each other. The list of questions can be as simple or
complex as you feel will be fruitful with your group however, the questions should be relevant
to the students and allow for them to showcase a perspective or opinion. Example lines of
questioning could include: their ideal job, their favorite summer memory, the neighbourhood
they connect to most in Toronto, an album that has changed how they see the world around
them...etc. Have students record interviews done in pairs. The goal is to generate at least 3
minutes of usable material from their partner.
2. Discuss the concepts of rhythm and cadence. How do these elements define character?
Consider how one can try-on a different person by trying to respectfully adopt their speech
3. Have students transcribe their partners responses, with a focus on being true to every
component of speech (pronunciation, pace, pauses, emphasis, repetition, accent,
4. Using this verbatim transcription, challenge students to visually map how they see the cadence
and rhythm of this character. Ultimately, each student should create a legend that guides
another to successfully recreate their partners character.
5. Using this map/legend and the recorded/transcribed interview, students should have sufficient
material to compile a monologue.
6. After significant rehearsal and repetition, have the students share their new monologues with
their subject for feedback and input. Following additional rehearsal, share these pieces with the

Auto Tune your Campus News

Songify the News (also known as Auto Tune the News, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songify_the_News), is a group
that has popularized the sampling of news media interviews. There are several apps available that take
chunks of text and add a rhythm behind it, resulting in what is a short song. This could serve as a fun
introductory activity to what a verbatim musical could be.

1. Have the students interview each other on an aspect of student life at your school and let the
apps do their magic.

Extension: Repeat the Auto Tune exercise as an exemplar and then challenge the students to go through
the same process without the app. This will lead to discussions on rhythm in speech, repetition for
emphasis, building towards a climax, what can be a verse/chorus when looking at interviews. As a small
group the kids could assemble a vocal collage based on their own campus news that is Auto-tuned and
essentially a Verbatim Musical.


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Post-Show Activities
Verba-home Theatre
Inspired by London Road, guide students in a process of creating a verbatim and/or devised theme

1. Discuss questions that are specifically of interest to your students. In particular, it is important
to identify a topic or theme that would be worth exploring in their various communities. These
questions can be very specific (eg How does your family spend the Family Day Weekend?) or
open ended (eg Is technology making our world better or worse?). It is essential that the
interviewers (aka: the students) see relevance in the question.
2. Challenge students to take this question around to a variety of members in their communities,
individually or in small groups. Encourage them to seek out people of different backgrounds
including culture, age, etc. These interviews can be video recorded, audio recorded, or simply
recorded by pen and paper.
3. From this research, the challenge will be to create a verbatim and/or devised theme study from
the responses they have. It might even help to use the structure of a Multi-Genre Performance
(http://www.nationalforensics.org/journal/vol9no2-4.pdf) to help raise the stakes of the
students work.


P a g e | 25

This Study Guide was created and compiled by:

Erin Schachter, Education & Audience Development Manager

Shannon Charnock, Education Intern
Brendon Allen, Canadian Stage Educator Advisor
Alicia Roberge, Canadian Stage Educator Advisor

Educator Outreach Program Sponsor:

Canadian Stage Educator Advisory Committee, 2013.2014

Please feel free to contact me or an Advisor from your own board to discuss productions and
further education opportunities at Canadian Stage.

Erin Schachter eschachter@canadianstage.com

Alicia Roberge Marc Garneau, TDSB alicia.roberge@tdsb.on.ca

Brendon Allen The Bishop Strachan School, CIS ballen@bss.on.ca
Christine Jackson TDSB
Janet ONeill TDSB
Jennifer Burak Victoria Park CI, TDSB Jennifer.burak@tdsb.on.ca
Julian Richings Arts Education Consultant
Kristen Beach York Humber, TDSB Kristen.beach@tdsb.on.ca
Laurence Siegel Arts Education Consultant ljsiegel@sympatico.ca
Melissa Farmer Branksome Hall, CIS mfarmer@branksome.on.ca
Michael Limerick Monarch Park, TDSB Michael.limerick@tdsb.on.ca
Sally Spofforth Marc Garneau, TDSB Sally.spofforth@tdsb.on.ca