Vancouver’s Hardline Productions latest work, Redpatch, is a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the contribution and sacrifice made by Canada’s First Nations, Metis and aboriginal people.
With an all Aboriginal cast, Redpatch follows the a young Métis, Woodrow or Halfblood, played by co-writer Raes Calvert, who longs to be a warrior so volunteers for the battlefields of WWI, much to his Grandmother’s chagrin. Grandmother uses traditional stories to try to convince Woodrow that he doesn’t need to fight the “White Man’s War” to be a warrior. Through flashbacks we learn of his experiences in the ‘white school’ with his best friend Jonathan. In the battlefields of France, our young soldier endures the trenches, discrimination while becoming a standout scout. The mental and physical stress takes its toll, was this how he thought being a warrior was like?
Co-writer and director Sean Harris Oliver has kept the staging simple and imaginative, incorporating both modern and traditional aboriginal movements to weave the stories together. First Nations legends form a basis for the modern stories. To make sure the stories are faithfully told, Calvert and Oliver spent many hours in libraries and travelling to remote First Nations communities, including Nootka Island, where their fictional soldier calls home. For those of us growing up on the Coast the traditional stories are familiar, and with Vimy in the headlines, the production has a depth and history that makes it feel timeless.
Now playing at Studio 16, the intimacy of the theatre, allows the audience to feel like they’re part of the action. The only drawback is the rake of the seating makes some of the low movements on the floor difficult to see from some seats.
Redpatch runs until April 16th at Studio 17 in Le Centre Cultural Francophone Vancouver on West 7th Ave. Visit hardlineproductions.ca for more information and tickets.
Audience members should be aware that the production includes the use of artificial smoke/fog, flash and strobe lighting and explosions.