Suitcases was inspired by the 400+ patient suitcases unearthed upon the closing of the Willard Asylum in 1995. The patients, in residence at Willard between 1910-1960, remain largely unnamed. The reasons for their placement at Willard, unknown. But, their suitcases and contents allow us a glimpse into their lives, and the lives of all individuals suffering in silence from psychological and emotional illness. Further to this, incarceration in asylums during the period was not limited to these conditions. Many others, deemed "undesirable" also found themselves in these institutions.
Suitcases examines "otherness" in our society, then and now. It is a love letter to anyone who has suffered in silence, and faced the consequences of stereotyping, judgement, social isolation, secrecy or fear. It is a tribute to anyone who has been persecuted for being different. And finally, it is an expression of how hauntingly turbulent our secret lives may be, but also, of the unexpected community which can emerge when individuals find their tribe.
Directed by Rosanna Saracino
Choreographed by Linda Garneau