A typo. Just a typo. No one’s fault. But nevertheless, as typos go, it is a most unfortunate one.
In the shiny new brochure for Theatre Passe Muraille’s fall season ‘Theatre Beyond Walls’, the Toronto Taxi Collective is shown, posing in front of a taxi, with beaming faces. With us, driver Khalil Talke. However, when you look at the credit line, it lists the collective, (Alex Williams, Ruth Madoc-Jones and myself) but not Khalil. In fact, a Kahlil (sp) Talke is listed as the photographer on that page and the one opposite. (Amanda Lynne Ballard was the actual photographer.) Khalil is not a photographer, that we know of. Khalil is a taxi-driver. Khalil is originally from Eritrea. Khalil has a wife and family. Khalil’s throat was slashed by a customer. Khalil almost died. Khalil’s struggle incited change and examination into the industry. Khalil is central to our piece.
As the collective began our journey into the taxis of Toronto, we were unsure of what we would find. We were drawn to the drivers because, invariably, we have had engaging, political, and insightful conversations while taking taxis.
But we wanted the drivers to take the lead. We would follow their instincts. We would talk about what they wanted to talk about. The fare in the back, the customer, holds the power. They generally dictate the course of the conversation. As artists, we wanted the drivers to drive the conversation and hence the art.
And lead us they did. They wanted to talk about the industry and the struggles they faced. They felt invisible to the city, both City Hall, and the citizens they govern. They were an invisible class. Functionaries without name or voice. We wanted to rectify that. And so, indeed, our aesthetic for the piece began to emerge. It was important to us that the taxi drivers be represented fairly and so they appear in our piece as themselves, with their own faces, and their own voices. We met many drivers, and as we got to know them, they became individuals, not documentary subjects. People, not servants. Humans, not nameless.
The text from our brochure reads, “Creators and performers Ruth Madoc-Jones, Marjorie Chan and Alex Williams shine a warm light on the human face of this often overlooked industry.” Khalil is one of these human faces, and an important part of our piece, and we’d like to recognize him as such and apologize to him for this mistake.
By Marjorie Chan (member of the Toronto Taxi Collective)