Photos: Veterans showcase tribute pole as part of Granville Island theatre production

    1 of 7 2 of 7

      The result of a public art project involving veterans culminated this week at Studio 1398 on Granville Island.

      The last of three performances of Contact! Unload, directed by UBC professor George Belliveau, takes place this evening (May 2).

      The production incorporates both veterans and community artists to illustrate the challenges that some veterans face as they return to civilian life, and some of the steps taken to help those who are struggling.

      The Man/Art/Action project also involved the creation of a tribute pole comprised of two coffins.

      Vancouver artist Foster Eastman and the group of Afghanistan veterans who carved the tribute have been raising the totem at the beginning of each night’s production.

      Marv Westwood and David Kuhl appear as themselves in the play, leading a group therapy program, like those delivered by the Veterans Transition Network.

      Kuhl said the production exposes "the invisible wounds" of veterans.

      "I think that the whole portrayal here is taking the inside story that all of these guys hold and inviting the audience to understand," he said.

      Both the theatre production and the art project are being studied as methods of healing for veterans. Kuhl said researchers will now talk to participants to determine the benefits of the project.

      He also hopes to continue looking at various art forms like photography, art, drawing, and sculpture as different avenues for continuing the process of repair.

      "There’s no silver bullet—we wish there was," Kuhl said. "But we need as many different modalities of intervention and addressing the wounds as possible."

      The tribute pole includes the names of Canadian soldiers who died in Afghanistan.
      Yolande Cole



      Arts Advocate/Practitioner

      May 2, 2015 at 5:36pm

      This adds to the compelling evidence for investing in the development of arts programming at all levels. There's a good chance that Dr. Belliveau began his love for and training in theatre at school as a youth. In many public schools across Canada, children do not have access to drama education, which is where potential to be directors/actors/writers/artists are commonly established, and this absence for our youth can also be seen as a loss for us all to have more skilled artists who can offer their artistry for healing and building communities. Every citizen with voting privilege has agency to change the state of cultural poverty.

      @arts advocate etc

      May 3, 2015 at 12:26am

      I acquired my love for the arts from my parents, all my brief public school exposure to their version of "the arts" accomplished was making me detest theatre. Thankfully my folks had the sense to get me out of public school and into a place where excellence was expected rather than dismissed as somehow "elitist." Public schools do a terrible job with basics like math, I do not expect the bulk of teachers with their "masters" degrees to have a grasp of anything to do with the arts. Art education begins at home and if,it isn't there then tough luck.