The Flock

In the hours before sunset, the flock searches for their final roost. Towering, mischievous and raucous, their flight through the streets can’t be missed. Created by Megan Stewart, Ian McFarlane & Laura Stinson in association with The River Clyde Pageant, for the 2020 edition of Art in the Open.

This project received funding support from the Canada Council’s Digital Originals Initiative and was featured on CBC Arts.

The Flock was an adaptation of a processional performance/community parade I co-created in 2011 with Jamie Shannon & Harmony Wagner, called The March of the Crows, for the first edition of the Art in the Open. 2020 was going to be the 10th anniversary of this project, which has since become a celebrated & beloved part of each year’s Art in the Open. The March is usually attended by hundreds of people of all ages who dress up as crows and march together through the city streets for one night at the end of summer.

The pandemic and restrictions around gathering in PEI fortunately did not cancel the project or Art in the Open, but it did force Ian, Laura and I to adapt our original vision. We were unable to involve members of the public, or present mask and puppet making workshops as we had originally planned. We scaled back our participant numbers and worked with a small ensemble of collaborators. Ian and Laura led the creation of a giant crow puppet with a 24-foot wingspan, made from willow branches, bamboo, wire and fabric. We named her Lucinda. I led costume design and directed our ensemble of Pageant stiltwalkers. Our puppet apprentice Becca Griffin created crow hand puppets, and we all worked together to train an ensemble of puppeteers to manipulate the large and small puppets. 

We kept much of our work secret, and we could not publicize the parade route on the day of the event to keep people from gathering in crowds. So, it felt a little more spontaneous and guerrilla-style, and we definitely surprised and delighted audiences who were in the right place at the right time to see our procession.

Photos by Ann Winslow. Video documentary by Millefiore Clarkes.