JAN 22-24, 2021 | 7:30PM PST
JMAR electric

The Cave

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Music by: John Millard
Lyrics by: Tomson Highway
Original Concept by: Martha Ross, John Millard, and Tomson Highway
Book by: Martha Ross
Director: Adam Paolozza
Music Director: Gregory Oh

Producer: Victor Pokinko

Sound Design: Christopher Ross-Ewart
Lighting Design: Andre du Toit
Set Design: Trevor Schwellnus
Costume Design: Allie Marshall
Digital Producer: Gregory Sinclair
Webcast Producer: Lisa Marie DiLiberto with Theatre Direct Canada
Streaming Consultant: Robert Metcalfe and Links Live Media
Production Manager/Associate Technical Director: Courtney Pyke
Technical Director/Associate Production Manager: Wesley Babcock
Stage Manager: Tamara Protic 

Performers: Alex Samaras, Derek Kwan, Neema Bickersteth, Andrea Koziol
Musicians: Gregory Oh, John Millard, Rob Clutton, Germaine Liu, Karen Ng, Matti Pulkki

The Cultch Team

“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.

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.”

John Millard has composed and music-directed for Theatre Columbus, National Film Board, Volcano Theatre, National Arts Centre, Alberta Theatre Productions, Soulpepper, Shaw Festival, and many other Canadian cultural organizations. He has toured Canada and Europe with his bands The Polka Dogs and John Millard & Happy Day. In April of 2008 John was the Music Director for the 90th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in Vimy, France and at the PEN Congress in Tokyo for Margaret Atwood’s “Year of the Flood”. John teaches at Humber College and recently completed a residency at Banff Centre for the Arts. Last season at Theatre Passe Muraille was John & Waleed with Waleed Abdulhamid for Cahoots Theatre. The Polka Dogs released a new cd in June 2018. Current collaborations include The Cave with Tomson Highway and Coyotes at Caravan Farm Theatre.

Tomson Highway was born in a snowbank on the Manitoba/Nunavut border to a family of nomadic caribou hunters. He had the great privilege of growing up in two languages, neither of which was French or English; they were Cree, his mother tongue, and Dene, the language of the neighbouring “nation,” a people with whom they roamed and hunted. Today, he enjoys an international career as playwright, novelist, and pianist/songwriter. His best known works are the plays, THE REZ SISTERS, DRY LIPS OUGHTA MOVE TO KAPUSKASING, ROSE, ERNESTINE SHUSWAP GETS HER TROUT, the best-selling novel, KISS OF THE FUR QUEEN, and the musical THE POST MISTRESS. For many years, he ran Canada’s premiere Native theatre company, Native Earth Performing Arts (based in Toronto), out of which has emerged an entire generation of professional Native playwrights, actors and, more indirectly, the many other Native theatre companies that now dot the country.

Martha Ross trained at Ecole Jacques Lecoq and has been writing, performing, teaching, directing, and creating original theatre ever since. With Theatre Columbus, the company she co-founded with Leah Cherniak in 1983, Martha collectively created many award-winning plays: The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine; Paranoia; The Attic, The Pearls and Three Fine Girl; Hotel Loopy, to name just a few. Their distinctive theatre style, which was funny, serious, imaginative, at times anarchic, and always identifiable to the human story, quickly earned them a national reputation. Martha has a passion for teaching and inspiring actors and students to tell their stories with newness and a spirit of play.

Adam Paolozza is an award winning performer, director, writer, arts educator, and producer. As Artistic Director of Bad New Days he continues to explore his vision of a contemporary poetic theatre of gesture. This work explores the intersection of contemporary performance, music, and traditional ‘popular’ theatrical forms, guided by the belief that the experience of live performance has the potential to open up radical new ways of thinking in the public. Bad New Days highlights include: Spent (with Why Not Theatre and Theatre Smith-Gilmour), The Double (co-created with Arif Mirabdolbaghi and Viktor Lukawski), Italian Mime Suicide, Flashing Lights (co-produced with Ahuri Theatre), Paolozzapedia (co-presented by Theatre Passe Muraille) and Melancholiac: The Music of Scott Walker, which will be remounted next season in partnership with The Music Gallery. Adam is a former Urjo Kareda resident Artist at Tarragon Theatre. He is a dedicated teacher leading workshops in performance and creation all over the world. He has been a sessional instructor at Ryerson Theatre School and at University of Toronto. Adam trained at Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris.

Gregory Oh is a pianist, music director, and artistic programmer who always tries to lean towards the progressive and experimental. His exploits have taken him from techno mecca Berghain in Berlin to the Wordless Music Series at the Lincoln Centre in New York to the Beijing Modern Music Festival. Recent adventures include performing and recording with improvising legend Roscoe Mitchell and the Montreal-Toronto Art Orchestra, conducting the premieres of Bearing with Signal Theatre and While 100 Guitars Gently Weep with Bradyworks at the Luminato Festival, performing on piano and marimba in Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians at Massey Hall and musical direction on Sean Griffin’s Cold Spring at EMPAC with members of Signal Ensemble and the JACK quartet.

Victor is a Dora Award-winning producer, actor, and theatre-creator based in Toronto who has entertained audiences on stages ranging from parks to museums, from stone amphitheatres to the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai, India. As an artist, he is best known for his work with Bad Hats Theatre’s flagship Peter Pan, as part of Soulpepper’s 2017 and 2018 Family Festival, and in Pea Green Theatre’s internationally acclaimed Three Men in a Boat, which continues to tour to sold-out houses around the world since 2014. As a producer, Victor is committed to carving out space for new, imaginative, interdisciplinary art. As an Artistic Producer of Bad Hats Theatre and Producer of Bad New Days and of the Three Men Collective, he is dedicated to the development of original work, championing the collective voices of artists to let them influence and shape the creative process. Learn more about his upcoming projects at badhatstheatre.com

Alex is a singer and performer in Toronto. He sings with The Queer Songbook Orchestra, his solo project TRYAL and is active all over the Toronto music scene. Upcoming projects include a tour to Canada’s East Coast with TRYAL and an ongoing art song collaboration with Lara Dodds-Eden. Alex has worked all over North America leading singing workshops and conducting choirs of all ages and also has taught at U of T and Humber College.

Soprano Neema Bickersteth was born and raised in Alberta to parents from Sierra Leone. She is known for her skills as a singer, an actor, and a maker of multi-disciplinary performance. She has performed operatic roles in both Canada and Europe and in recent years, she has specialized in contemporary projects in opera, music theatre and experimental theatre. These include: concerts and shows with Soulpepper Theatre; tours in the USA and Europe with globally-acclaimed Spanish conductor and musician Jordi Savall; and Century Song for Toronto’s multiple award-winning Volcano and her own collective, Moveable Beast. Century Song is a work she co-created and which has had multiple tours in Canada, Europe, and East Africa to critical acclaim. NOW Magazine (Toronto) has named her as one of the top ten theatre artists in the city. She has won once and been nominated three times for Outstanding Performance at Toronto’s Dora Mavor Moore Awards. In addition, Neema has been honoured to perform for the XIVth Dalai Lama, Shirin Ebadi, and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu. She is a co-founder of the experimental collective, Moveable Beast. Upcoming: singing the title role in Volcano’s Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, a reworking of ragtime giant Scott Joplin’s visionary 1911 opera.

Derek Kwan is an actor, singer, and creator working at the intersection of theatre, music, and movement in a number of forms including opera, clown, and puppetry. Recent highlights include: a Deaf/hearing production of The Tempest (Citadel Theatre), an immersive Sweeney Todd in London, England (Talk is Free Theatre); Mr. Shi and His Lover—Toronto Theatre Critics Award: Best Supporting Actor in a Musical; Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination: Outstanding Male Performer, Musical Division (Tarragon/Toronto; NAC/Ottawa); The Blue Bird (Theatre de la Sardine, Taipei); Blood Weddings (Modern Times/Aluna, Toronto); I, Claudia (Theatre Ignite, Taipei); Tails From the City (Common Boots Theatre, Toronto).

Andrea Koziol is a performing songwriter. She has created six studio albums, written music for film and television, toured widely across North America, received the KM Hunter Award for Music, enjoyed a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts, appeared as a guest vocalist on countless Canadian albums, and joyfully performed with symphony orchestras across the continent. In the last few years she has also found a new passion for performing improvised music. Current collaborations include duets Tarbelle (with Joel Schwartz) and Bartholomaus (with Ian de Souza). Her newest recording project (with pianist extraordinaire Bill Brennan) is a return to her jazz roots, and is set for release in June 2019.

Rob Clutton is a musician who works in the spaces between composition and improvisation, where the impetus to play comes from listening, allowing inspiration to reside in a sonic imaginary. In addition to composing for the Cluttertones, Rob Clutton Trio, and Sweet Session, Rob enjoys collaborations with musicians, dancers, theatre, and performance artists.

Germaine Liu plays percussion, performs, and composes. In her creative process, she loves tactile explorations of objects, everyday gestures, feelings, and collaborating with friends. Liu has performed as a soloist and has been privileged to play with many incredible artists. Her latest interest is composing percussion music for anyone who wants to play.

Toronto based improviser and curator has appeared on stage with Andy Shauf, L CON, Happiness Project, Do Make Say Think, Fresh Snow, Bry Webb, Woodshed Orchestra and Broken Social Scene. She is co-founder of TONE festival, recently appointed Assistant General and Artistic Director at Guelph Jazz and a member of several improvising and ad hoc ensembles. In November 2018 she released a tape of solo saxophone and clarinet improvisations, her first project under her own name.

Finnish accordionist Matti Pulkki performs internationally with different ensembles and as a soloist. He’s always delighted to work with amazing musicians and other artists on different productions for example in the fields of musical theatre and opera. In his own artistic work, he focuses mainly on the classical contemporary repertoire and often collaborates with composers writing new music for the accordion. Pulkki completed his Master’s degree at Sibelius Academy of the University of Arts Helsinki and will start his doctoral studies at the University of Toronto in the fall 2019.

For the Friday and Saturday performances:
Interested in more insights from the show creators? After the show click the Post-show Conversation button above to watch a pre-recorded discussion with Tomson Highway and John Millard, hosted by Pippa Mackie.

For the Sunday performance
Interested in more insights from the show creators? After the show click the Post-show Conversation button above to join us for a post-show talk-back with show creators John Millard and Martha Ross, hosted by Pippa Mackie.

An Apocalyptic Cabaret about the climate crisis and why the animals sought refuge.

A group of animals flee from a vicious forest fire and 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.

At times comical, at times dramatic and tragic, The Cave is hosted by a wry and charming MC played by the composer, John Millard, himself. The four performers sing seventeen stirring songs in English and Cree, playing abstractions of Bear, Moose, Beaver, Skunk, Snake, Wolf, Crow, and Fox. The cabaret band supports the style with wild, beautiful, poignant, and entertaining orchestrations. Part Nightclub, part Cave, the show stimulates discussion about our planet’s precarious survival in the context of exceptional art, offering an affirmative and cathartic experience. It is a sublime assemblage of multidisciplinary art, showcasing what makes Canada astounding and unique on the international arts landscape. The Cave is as entertaining as its themes are timely and has audiences leaping to their feet.

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