Couple keeps Canada’s Main Streets alive in The Tale of a Town

Lisa Marie DiLiberto and Charles Ketchabaw get to heart of what makes communities special with touring stage show.

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Lisa Marie DiLiberto and her husband Charles Ketchabaw gather information and recollections about main streets and downtowns across Canada for their Tale of a Town theatre series. (TINA LIETTE)

In 2008, Lisa Marie DiLiberto had an idea: to make a theatre production celebrating Canadian main streets and downtowns. This came to her while touring across Canada, but she decided to make the new production about the neighbourhood she was then living in: Parkdale.

Among the team that she brought together was Charles Ketchabaw, a theatre technician with a background in radio. The production they made, The Tale of a Town, gathered oral histories from people living in Parkdale and presented them in a storefront theatre, using a combination of live actors and recorded media.

Nearly a decade, 124 towns, 3,259 interviews, 157 performances, one marriage and two kids later, DiLiberto and Ketchabaw are bringing The Tale of a Town — Canada to Theatre Passe Muraille next week, as part of a nationwide tour that visits Milton, St. Catharines, Kingston and Burlington early next year.

To say the The Tale of a Town struck a nerve with Canadians is clearly an understatement. After making a number of Tales around Ontario, in 2014 the pair turned it into a national project and have since made shows about and for every province and territory in the country. They’ve raised over half a million dollars in government and foundation support and employed 119 artists along the way.

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