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.

Ten Things You Need To Know About ‘Underbelly’

Underbelly is on now at The Cultch  and to get you even more excited about this fantastic show, we have compiled a list of the ten things you need to know about Underbelly!

Award1. Underbelly is the 2012 winner of the Cultchivating the Fringe Award! Presented once a year, this award is granted to a performance from the Vancouver Fringe Festival that demonstrates a strong potential for further development by granting the performance a spot in the upcoming Cultch season. It’s no surprise Underbelly won when…

Robot12. This is Jayson McDonald’s FIFTH touring solo show. This writer and performer has made his rounds before. Underbelly is the latest in a long line of shows that also includes Giant Invisible Robot. And speaking of Giant Invisible Robot

UNderbelly23. Jayson McDonald won the Georgia Straight Critics’ Pick….two years in a row! Giant Invisible Robot took home the prize in 2011 and came back in 2012 to take the award again with Underbelly. It seems Jayson McDonald is doing something right whether he is writing about invisible friends or…

Lastfarewell5. The Beat Generation! Underbelly takes its inspiration from the literary and cultural revolution that evolved from the events before and during 1950s. Questioning the old traditions and conventions and influenced by the new jazz scene, the Beat Generation explored a new, honest way of expression. The term ‘The Beat Generation’ was coined by none other than…

jack6. Jack Kerouac, well known author of On the Road. The most well known author of the Beat Generation, Kerouac fell to the pressure of the fame and attention his one success gave him. Kerouac and his friend…

Allen7. Allen Ginsberg, one of the first Beat poets and lasting mentor, appears in Underbelly but it is the third of this circle of friends that Jayson McDonald chooses to portray…

Burroughs8. The odd man out, William S. Burroughs.  The oldest of the three and the junkie struggling with alcohol and drug addiction, Burroughs defied the linear narrative in his work, and lived recklessly in his life. Using this as inspiration Jayson McDonald creates a ‘fevered hallucination’ with…

Underbelly_Mike9. Some of the finest spoken word poetry you will hear. Fans of slam poetry and spoken word rejoice! The words in this piece are no mere reproduction from a beatnik who only dresses and looks the part. Jayson McDonald’s words evoke the poetic and bold era of the Beat Generation. And finally…

Underbelly10. If Cindy Reid, The Cultch managing director, managed to stay awake the whole time during a 10:30pm showing of Underbelly at the Vancouver Fringe in 2012, it must be an amazing show!

Underbelly runs at The Cultch until March  30, 2014 at 8pm in the Vancity Culture Lab. All tickets just $31 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 604. 251. 1363 or online.