Scene: Clay & Paper Theatre's Night of Dread
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Scene: Clay & Paper Theatre’s Night of Dread

Giant puppets, masked performers, and costumed revellers hit the streets to mock our fear of Us versus Them.

WHERE: Dufferin Grove Park

WHEN: Saturday, October 25, 4 p.m.

WHAT: The 15th annual Night of Dread, organized by Clay & Paper Theatre. The theatre’s master puppet-builders and mask-makers, aided by community volunteers, constructed 120 life-sized masks and two giant masks for the event. At 4 p.m., participants gathered at Dufferin Grove Park, before parading through the streets—led by mayoral candidate Olivia Chow, Councillor Ana Bailão (Ward 18, Davenport), and the company’s founder and artistic director David Anderson—and returning to the park for an evening of music, stilt dances, fire-spinners, giant puppets, and terrifying headgear.

Since 2000, the company and the community have identified their “fear of the year”—past Night of Dread fears have included war, snakes, authority, and death. This year, the organizers explain, “with wars popping up everywhere like poisonous mushrooms, many of us are struck by the craziness of watching combatants who look just like each other engaged in deathly combat or seeing groups of protesters yelling at and blaming one another from opposite sides of the street. No explanation of events seems adequate to our understanding of why people who are so similar are able—and willing—to see each other as completely ‘other.'” The theme of this edition, then, was Them and Us, and upon the return to the park, revellers were invited “to participate in the grotesque choreographic confrontation of Them and Us, and to join with us in mocking this fear, all of our fears and death itself.”