Mermaid Spring is an interdisciplinary music theatre concert, co-created by Barbara Adler and Kyla Gardiner, featuring original compositions by Peggy Lee, Leah Abramson and Alicia Hansen arranged by bassist and composer James Meger. Visual artist Heather Cameron is our resident textiles mentor for the project.
Mermaid Spring is loosely inspired by Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida – a real-life natural attraction where, since 1947, women have donned mermaid tails to perform underwater spectaculars for tourists. The story follows two professional mermaids and an ambitious developer, as they try to revive the flagging mermaid show. When a stage effect damages the clearwater spring where they perform, they must find a way to ‘stay with the trouble’ and repair their relationships with each other and the spring.
Mermaids illustrate the close relationship between nature and society – connecting humans and animals. They’re a potent symbol for feminists, trans people and body activists, a symbol of leisure and a frequent image in campaigns for water conservation. ‘Mermaids at work’ call us to defend the land and waters that nourish us, with all the messiness and joy of our hybrid identities.
Presented by Lulu Performing Arts, Mermaid Spring will premiere on Gabriola Island in 2026, inside the AWSS installation environment.
“Mending work builds on what’s left behind. It’s not replacing, or remaking, or cutting apart and putting back together, instead it is the slow work that makes things better. It conjures an unhurried recovery or change. In textiles, the act of mending wear-and-tear, thinning cloth or accidental damage builds on what already exists, anchoring threads and yarn into the robust healthy fabric and filling in the holes or reinforcing the areas that are weak.” (On Mending, Celia Pym, 2022)
Mermaid Spring has been in development since 2018, by The Public Swoon, a collaboration between Kyla Gardiner and Barbara Adler. We gratefully acknowledge the development support from the Canada Council for the Arts, B.C. Arts Council, Hamber Foundation, Playwrights Theatre Centre and SFU School for the Contemporary Arts.