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Step into ‘The Cave,’ Online Through the Cultch

Experience this apocalyptic cabaret about the climate crisis, by celebrated Canadian creators, from anywhere in Canada.

The Cultch 18 Jan 2021 | TheTyee.ca

Artists have been increasingly using their voice to grapple with the intensifying urgency facing all of us in the climate crisis.

And a new production by Vancouver’s the Cultch shows that even a pandemic and a ban on public performances isn’t going to silence those voices.

The Cave is a pre-filmed cabaret event that deftly addresses that crisis by using songs and narration from the perspective of animals trying to escape a forest fire as they take refuge in a cave and become unlikely companions.

Created by celebrated Canadian artists John Millard, Tomson Highway and Martha Ross, The Cave is billed as “an apocalyptic cabaret about the climate crisis.”

Highway, a renowned playwright and lyricist for The Cave, says his approach was shaped by his personal experience of the surging forest fires that now plague our country.

“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,” Highway says.

“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 [in 2016], 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.”

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Andrea Koziol in The Cave. Photo by Jeremy Marasigan.

The show’s creators, from Toronto theatre company J Mar Electric, hope that people will join them for the livestream presentations and that the show will spark important conversations about the plight of the animals.

The Cave plunges audiences into a new world. A forest fire is raging and eight animals — Bear, Moose, Beaver, Skunk, Snake, Wolf, Crow and Fox — flee for their lives and take shelter in Bear’s cave. This is where we meet them.

The Cave’s atmosphere is half forest dwelling, half cabaret nightclub. Ontario performers Alex Samaras, Derek Kwan, Neema Bickersteth and Andrea Koziol take on the roles of the animals, telling their tales through 17 songs in Cree and English.

Accompanying them is a band of six, led by the composer, John Millard, who acts as the MC of the cabaret, leading the audience through the spectacle.

This production of The Cave was originally performed and recorded at the world renowned Luminato Festival in 2019.

851px version of NeemaBickerstethTheCave.jpg
Neema Bickersteth in The Cave. Photo by Jeremy Marasigan.

The Cultch will broadcast the recording of the performance in three showings from Jan. 22 to 24.

Since its inception in 2018, the creators of The Cave hoped it would be shared as widely as possible and looked beyond a physical audience. It started its life with a residency and webcast performance at Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto.

When it was part of Luminato in June 2019, an integral element was the livestream broadcast that connected viewers watching all over the country. That effort was supported by several partners including the Banff Centre, the National Arts Centre, Rumble Productions in Vancouver and Nakai Theatre in Whitehorse.

With live performances on hold and touring impossible, the Cultch is seizing this opportunity to raise awareness in Greater Vancouver and everywhere viewers wish to tune in from.

More information and tickets available here.  [Tyee]

Read more: Film, Environment

This article is part of a Tyee Presents initiative. Tyee Presents is the special sponsored content section within The Tyee where we highlight contests, events and other initiatives that are either put on by us or by our select partners. The Tyee does not and cannot vouch for or endorse products advertised on The Tyee. We choose our partners carefully and consciously, to fit with The Tyee’s reputation as B.C.’s Home for News, Culture and Solutions. Learn more about Tyee Presents here.

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