We're All in This Together
By Rosemary Georgeson, Savannah Walling, and a team of Downtown Eastside–involved writers. Directed by Kim Collier. A Vancouver Moving Theatre presentation in association with urban ink's Fathom Labs and the Carnegie and Roundhouse community centres. At the Russian Hall on Friday, April 20. Continues until April 29
The shadows are a terrible place to live, but they make for beautiful theatre.
We're All in This Together is the culmination of a three-year project by Vancouver Moving Theatre to explore the issues of addiction and recovery with residents of the Downtown Eastside. More than a dozen people are credited with writing the script, and over 30 perform the piece. Most are not trained actors or singers; their work here is supported by a team of professional theatre artists who have built a sensually sophisticated container for the creators' hearts and stories.
Although the play takes an effectively nonlinear approach to addiction, it also follows two very different families. Katie and Rita are sisters who grew up with alcoholic parents and struggled with their own addictions; Rita has gotten clean and has a young daughter, Bobbie, while Katie lives on the street. Katie's friend, Gary, has run away from his inattentive suburban parents and started dealing drugs.
Much of the show is a shadow play, and the visual effects–by director Kim Collier, designer Tamara Unroe, and lighting designer Adrian Muir–are nothing short of stunning. Recognizable Downtown Eastside landmarks form part of a background that is constantly in motion for the work's short, cinematic scenes. Actors wearing paper headdresses move behind the screen, interacting with the exquisitely detailed shadow scenery. Drugs and alcohol are represented by coloured light that the characters swallow and are filled by–it's a lovely, powerful choice. Addictions take the form of dragons, into whose mouths characters willingly–but heedlessly–walk.
The music, by Ya-wen V. Wang and Joelysa Pankanea, is hypnotic and moving. Standouts in the cast include Grant Chancey as Gary, Tom Quirk as his dad, and the formidable eight-year-old Phoebe Conway as Bobbie.
Each performance of this show is followed by a facilitated discussion. Art is only one part of healing, but We're All in This Together underscores what a vital part it can be.