The Cultch continues to deliver performances to audiences despite pandemic restrictions. This January 22 – 24, it presents J Mar Electric’s The Cave, conceived by Martha Ross, John Millard, and Tomson Highway.
The Cave, is part forest dwelling, part nightclub. Once the stage is set, MC, John Millard, readies his band and the cabaret unfolds. Join a group of animals fleeing from a vicious forest fire who seek refuge in Bear’s cave. Waiting out the inferno, they reflect on their lives, their lost garden, and their impending doom. These unlikely and singed bedfellows share their stories and take comfort in their newfound community while the fire encroaches. The forest dwelling characters of Bear, Moose, Beaver, Skunk, Snake, Wolf, Crow, and Fox are transformed into cabaret acts by performers: Alex Samaras, Derek Kwan, Neema Bickersteth, and Andrea Koziol. With a collection of songs in Cree and English—music by John Millard, lyrics by Tomson Highway, and book by Martha Ross—The Cave is an interspecies song-cycle told with song and narration through the perspective of animals, who bring this unique nightclub to life.
Over the past few years, Cultch Executive Director, Heather Redfern, has become increasingly interested in how theatre can join the important conversations facing us with the realities of our current climate crisis. Alongside discussion with the board of directors, The Cultch staff, the Youth Program, and the community, she also began to seek out work that can bring light to the plight of our planet, and lead conversations of transformation. Work like The Cave is an important starting place for these exchanges. Sometimes funny and sometimes tragic, it stimulates discussion about our planet’s precarious survival. “I was born and raised in the completely natural environment, specifically in Manitoba where it meets Nunavut and Saskatchewan. It was completely safe, and a blissful experience to live in that ‘garden’. And a true garden it was,” renowned playwright, Tomson Highway, lyricist of The Cave, reflects. “Now, a half-century later, it is no longer safe to live up there. The reason? Forest fires. Hundreds of them every summer. In Fort McMurray’s fire some 2,000 people lost their homes. How many animals lost theirs? The destruction was, and is, gargantuan. That is to say, the current state of global warming is THEIR eviction from the garden. And it is ours.”
The Cave creators intended that the work be shared as widely as possible, reaching communities and cities all over the world. It started its life in 2018, with a residency at Soulpepper Theatre, and a webcast performance, and when it was part of Luminato in June 2019, an integral element was the livestream broadcast. This pre-recording from the 2019 Luminato Festival, will be streamed live for The Cultch audience, January 22-24, 2021 to help spread the message from the animals of The Cave.
Tickets to view The Cave is part of the Cultch Subscription Box 4 – the Music Box, and can be purchased separately at thecultch.com