Next week, Delinquent Theatre opens the emotional world premiere of Never the Last, as part of the SeeMore Theatre Series at Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex.
Inspired by the life story of Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté, an enormously innovative early twentieth century composer, the drama follows her 10-year marriage with the celebrated expressionist painter Walter Gramatté. Set to a live score of Eckhardt-Gramatté’s solo violin works, the multimedia presentation blends movement and text to tell a heartbreaking tale of adventure, poverty, and strife.
“As a strongly female-driven theatre company, it is vital for us to honour and share the stories of innovative women artists who blazed the trails before us. Especially those whose art has been forgotten or obscured due to discrimination based on gender and class,” says Christine Quintana, Co-Artistic Director with Delinquent Theatre and co-creator of Never the Last. “Eckhardt-Gramatté’s determination, adversity, and triumph in the face of tragedy is profoundly inspiring to us. In telling her story and lauding her rarely performed — but undeniably brilliant — body of work, we are honoured to share a narrative that pushes against society’s limitations for women — especially those in leadership positions — and rejects status quo.”
Created by acclaimed playwright and actor Christine Quintana and violinist Molly MacKinnon, Never the Last was conceived out of MacKinnon’s curiosity with Eckhardt-Gramatté. During her research, MacKinnon discovered that many of Eckhardt-Gramatté’s innovative and experimental works were nearly lost in her male-dominated field before her immigration to Canada in 1950. MacKinnon approached Quintana with a vision to create Never the Last and help bring this gifted female composer’s tremendous life and legacy to the forefront.
Directed by award-winning Laura McLean and choreographed by Kayla Dunbar (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Arts Club Theatre Company), Never the Last is a music / theatre hybrid expressed through Eckhardt-Gramatté’s 10 solo violin caprices — poetic expressions of her visceral and dramatic relationship with her husband, expressionist painter Gramatté.
Performed by MacKinnon, Quintana, and Anton Lipovetsky, the love story unfolds in Berlin, 1919, where violin prodigy and composer Sophie-Carmen meets Walter, a German painter and war veteran in poor health. Sparks fly and their resulting love affair spans 10 years, four cities, and numerous artistic successes and failures, all underscored by MacKinnon performing Eckhardt-Gramatté’s violin compositions. Fusing a classical music performance, movement, and text, Never the Last is an artistic expression of the enormities of loss and the complexities of love.
Following Gramatté’s death in 1929, Eckhardt-Gramatté later remarried art historian Ferdinand Eckhardt and eventually immigrated to Winnipeg in 1953. The musician’s legacy and work is preserved through the work of the Eckhardt-Gramatté Foundation in Winnipeg which provided the background biological information, recordings and documents that helped form Never the Last.
Delinquent Theatre’s Never the Last, runs April 9–20, 2019, as part of the SeeMore Theatre Series at Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex, 823 Seymour Street. For more information visit delinquenttheatre.com