To Peek Inside Where Looking is Forbidden

This year’s World Theatre Day message comes from Polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski.

“…Most often I turn to prose for guidance.  Day in and day out I find myself thinking about writers who nearly one hundred years ago described prophetically but also restrainedly the decline of the European gods, the twilight that plunged our civilization into a darkness that has yet to be illumined…Their common sense of the inevitable end of the world—not of the planet but of the model of human relations—and of social order and upheaval, is poignantly current for us here and now. For us who live after the end of the world. Who live in the face of crimes and conflicts that daily flare in new places faster even than the ubiquitous media can keep up. These fires quickly grow boring and vanish from the press reports, never to return. And we feel helpless, horrified and hemmed in…We no longer have the strength to try and glimpse what lies beyond the gate, behind the wall. And that’s exactly why theater should exist and where it should seek its strength. To peek inside where looking is forbidden.”

Over the decade that we’ve been creating theatre, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades has sought to define ourselves, as all of our peers do, through the well-penned phrases that encapsulate our purpose, our values, our mission. For us, these have been to “embrace boldness”, or to “reveal the vulnerable heart and champion the brave idea”, or “to shine light into darkness”. Over the history of our many works, from 4.48 Psychosis, to Palace of the End, to Re:Union, to Except in the Unlikely Event of War and This Stays in the Room, and to what’s coming down the pike, we believe that we’ve held true to our ideals. We’re proud to say that we’re trying to peek inside where looking is forbidden.

On this specific occasion, on World Theatre Day 2015, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre is spread out far and wide. In Vancouver, co-artistic director Mindy Parfitt and associate artist Amber Funk Barton continue to work on their new collective creation RUN, a dance / theatre piece which explores the undefined space between opposing ideas. In Ottawa, associate artist Kyle Ahluwalia just wrapped production of Suit Up, a short piece about the diseased effects of capitalism on the third world, for the subDevision Festival. Meanwhile, co-artistic director Alexa Devine (Ottawa), and associate artists Andrew Wheeler (Vancouver), Brad Long (Ottawa), Noah Drew (Montreal), John Webber (Vancouver), Jason Thompson (Los Angeles), Vanessa Imeson (Ottawa) and Lois Dawson (Vancouver) prepare for Re:Union, the true story of a father’s sacrifice in the face of national injustice, at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival. In Seattle, associate artist John Langs (and Associate Artistic Director of ACT Theatre) prepares for a workshop of Daisy, a new play about the birth of negative advertising, by co-artistic director Sean Devine. And in Reykjavik, Sean Devine finishes up a research trip to Iceland and Greenland in preparation for Hans Island / Tartupaluk, being created with associate artist Emily Pearlman, a new project about the elusive search for Utopia and the corruptive forces that prevent us from finding it.

As I sit and write this message from Reykjavik, I’m directly across the street from the Althing, Iceland’s Parliament building. In 2009, this was the site of the mass protests that turfed out a corrupt government and set in motion one of recent history’s most inspiring citizen-led actions for change. Although the Icelanders haven’t yet got the change they’re after, the world sat up and took notice.

Althing 2009


On this day when we at HHG Theatre are so inspired by the world unfolding around us, we reach out to our community of citizens to continue supporting theatre that matters, theatre that seeks to inspire action and change, theatre that doesn’t worship exclusively at the altars of form and process, theatre that reaches in and pulls your guts out, theatre that dares you to peek inside where looking is forbidden.


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