Review: The Memory in the Mud (Words in Motion)

Take a walk on history’s theatrical side with Words in Motion at Toronto’s Evergreen Brickworks.

Memory in the Mud (Words in Motion) is a blend of narrative, tour, history, and geology lesson. This walking performance takes audience members through parts of the environmentally-focused community centre, Evergreen Brickworks.

Even if you don’t have a car, it is a short but bumpy shuttle ride (free of charge) from Broadview Station, with a few other TTC buses stopping nearby. Plan your timing carefully and you won’t be stuck in the sun too long.

I would recommend going on a day that isn’t super hot (as part of the tour does take place outside). Get there early or plan to stay late, and take the chance to explore the grounds and visit their special exhibits.

You start the show in the Young Welcome Centre, a cool, very industrial feeling space. Educational tidbits line the wall such as photos of the region, a model of the layers of rock from the various historical periods, and other informative displays. This site has one of the richest cultural and geological histories of any site in Canada, and you can learn much from just walking around.

The show is composed of a series of vignettes mediated by a character known simply as “Memory.” She travels with you from the mid to late 1800s all the way through the mid-twentieth century, drawing the characters out of the walls to share their stories and experiences. Through her, you learn to ‘hear’ the memories that the bricks have to share.

This is a fantastic show for families: the material is educational but presented in a way that is fun and informative. It is a much more effective way to run a tour than a recitation of facts. The cast also interacted with the children, asking them questions and encouraging their enthusiasm.

The best thing about this show is adults can have fun too, in fact both the kids and the adults seemed to really enjoy the show. The cast stuck around afterwards for a Q&A session – and fielded some impressive history questions while clad in multiple layers with long-sleeves in the sun.

The concept of the memories that are buried within the walls (if these walls could talk), and literally in the clay or mud is an interesting one, as much of Toronto and world history was built using bricks developed here, and much evidence of our geological history comes from the earth and the rock in the area.

Although our memories are limited and finite, what survives us is not quite infinite, but much closer than we will ever get. According to the CIA World Factbook, the average life expectancy in Canada is 81.48 years; bricks can last 1000 years. The Earth’s memories belong to all of us – so long as we know how to find them.


Memory in the Mud is playing at Evergreen Brickworks (550 Bayview Ave)until September 30, 2012.
– Shows run Wednesdays and Sundays (times vary by date)
– Ticket prices range from $15 for adults and $10 for children. All performances on Saturday September 29 and Sunday September 30 are free as a part of Toronto Culture Days.
– Tickets are available online, or at the door