British Columbia faces an average of 1,600 wildfires every year. Last year, nearly 8,700 square kilometres of land burned. So far, in 2022, there have been 1,558 fires, with the fire season still in play. Thousands of animals are at risk and those who can’t fly away or dash to escape lay victims. Wildfires have a lasting impact on wildlife.
“When creating The Cave, we wanted to work towards activism. We wanted to have politically motivated art, but we wanted to keep it fun – scary but good, entertaining art,” says John Millard, Composer of The Cave, showing on Thursday, Oct. 27, at Key City Theatre in Cranbrook.
The Cave is sung in English and Cree, combining live music and immersive visuals. It’s a timely parable about the folly of our actions and the impact of the climate crisis.
Millard has composed and directed music for Theatre Columbus, National Film Board, Soulpepper Theatre, Volcano Theatre, National Arts Centre, Albert Theatre Productions, Shaw Festival, and others. He has recorded six albums and toured Canada and Europe with his bands. He created The Cave with internationally renowned Canadian playwright, novelist, pianist, and songwriter Tomson Highway.
Tomson is the winner of the 2021 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for NonFiction and most recently received the 2022 Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement. He will be delivering this year’s CBC Massey Lectures.
Also on The Cave project is Martha Ross, book writer. Martha is the co-founder of Theatre Columbus, a Toronto-based theatre company. She has created numerous award-winning plays collectively and collaboratively.
The Cave is a cabaret-style performance that includes singing and talking wild animals seeking shelter from a raging forest fire. The animals take solace as unlikely companions and face their growing anxiety together by sharing stories and pondering the reckless human activity that has destroyed their homes.
“We brought together these animals in a nightclub, cabaret environment,” says Victor Pokinko, Producer. “Through these animal voices, we bring to life the impacts of climate change and the world-changing implications of human actions on our environment. We look at the effects of climate change through their eyes.”
Victor is a Dora Award-winning producer, actor and theatre creator. He is dedicated to developing original work, championing the collective voices of artists to let them influence and shape the creative process.
“As the producer of The Cave, I have watched the performance many times. What surprises me is the impact it has on me each time I watch it,” says Victor. “It is beautiful and multi-levelled. The performers are brilliant.”
Complete with wry humour and poignant storytelling, The Cave draws on emotion and creates an intimate and entertaining relationship with the audience.
“Art has a huge role to play in bringing serious issues to the world stage,” says Martha. “The Cave allows us to re-imagine our relationship with the world.”
For John, the lyrics are splendid and bring a politically charged conversation to the stage through art, resulting in a captivating performance.
“The music is glorious. Thomson Highway brings life to the play,” says John. “As humans, we have not been good co-habitants of our planet. This play helps us digest this message by feeling the trauma caused by climate change. We need to be kind to our fellow creatures.”
By allowing art into our lives, we can change our approach to serious issues facing humans – and animal – kind.
“Through art, we can allow ourselves to change. We can envision a different, better world,” says Martha.
For information and tickets to the Oct. 27 performance in Cranbrook, click here.
The Cave is created by renowned Canadian artists John Millard (composer), Tomson Highway (lyrics), and Martha Ross (book writer), directed by Adam Paolozza, music direction by Gregory Oh, performed by John Millard, Neema Bickersteth, Andrea Koziol, Derek Kwan and Alex Samaras, with Gregory Oh, Chris Pruden, Rob Clutton, Peter Lutek, Christa Mercey, and Matti Pulkki in the pit and produced by Victor Pokinko.