The Four Horsemen: A History Lesson

We are thrilled to have The Four Horsemen Project opening this week here at The Cultch! This production was a huge success during the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival  in 2008 and has since been on tour in Dublin, Berlin and  across Canada. Since the production is based on the poetry of Toronto’s original Four Horsemen, we thought it might be interesting to give you a bit of history and insight into the poets and their work to get you excited about the show.

“There’s no precedent for a show like this… brilliantly coutured performers…inventive animation… Be prepared to add your laughter and applause to the sounds in this thrilling, one-of-a-kind show” – Now Magazine

The original Four Horsemen, Rafael Barreto-Rivera, Paul Dutton, Steve McCaffery, and bpNichol were a spoken word performance group during the 1970s avant-garde poetry era. All four of the Horsemen published individual work as well as worked in a collaborative group. For many years there was limited access to the sound recordings that were available, as much of it disappeared with bpNichol when he passed away in 1988. This is what Kate Alton and Ross Manson (Volcano Productions) discovered when they attempted to do some research in preparation for The Four Horsemen Project. Now, many recordings are accessible online through the help and support of Ellie Nichol and the remaining Horsemen.

bpNichol was originally from Vancouver, BC and was most well-known as a writer from Jim Henson’s children’s TV show, Fraggle Rock. In his lifetime he wrote and published a variety of work and collaborated with many different artists, not limited to the Four Horsemen. Nichol considered sound poetry to be his way to express emotion. The notion is that a poem is far more than words on a page, but a manifestation of one’s entire being. This is one of the primary goals set by The Four Horsemen Project, and in realizing this the audience becomes aware of the nature of language, rather than content.

Photo by Itai Erdal

Photo by Itai Erdal

Poetry encompasses sound, breath and the human body and these artists breathe life into this nearly-forgotten work. The Four Horsemen Project runs from October 28 – November 2. Tickets are available online or through the box office at 604.251.1363.