After a successful run at CanStage in 2011, Art of Time Ensemble’s I Send You This Cadmium Red is back for a limited time at the Harbourfront Centre. Directed by Daniel Brooks and musically directed by Artistic Director Andrew Burashko, I Send You This Cadmium Red is based on a series of letters exchanged by poet/art critic John Berger and painter/filmmaker John Christie, between 1997 and 1999. The letters are filled with poetry and evocative images, through which the two men discuss colour, its purpose, and the feelings and memories it evokes.
I wouldn’t quite call this performance “theatre”. It is much more complex. It is a theatrical concert infused with visual art, through technology. While there is no conventional plot structure, this show provides us with powerful moments. Each moment is a puzzle piece, and together they stimulate us to think about our lives in a new way. Colour evokes feelings – both new and nostalgic. Cadmium red is an “innocent” kind of red. Blue says “I am yours”. Yellow makes a transition from darkness to light. Something so simple, such as observing the colour of a flower at a funeral home, can open up a world of fresh perspectives. What does that colour mean? How does it infiltrate into our lives?
The reading of the letters is performed by John Fitzgerald Jay and Julian Richings, but the focus is not on them. The story is told through use of two technological canvases, which depict the various paint strokes of each colour featured in this play. We discover the colours alongside Berger and Christie. We witness the enlightenment that each moment brings.
The performance is accompanied by a beautiful score by composer Gavin Bryars and the talented musical performances of Carolyn Blackwell, Robert Carli, Joseph Phillips and Rob Piltch. The score was originally created for the BBC radio play of I Send You This Cadmium Red in 2002, and works wonders at accentuating the emotions that these letters ignite.
This show leaves its audience pondering the necessity of colour in their lives. As the show comes to a close, red lights wash over the audience. And we are told that “red could be that colour always in need of a body.” We are each given that chance to define it – an opportunity to give it a space to dance within us.
I Send You This Cadmium Red runs at Enwave Theatre until April 12. For tickets and more information, visit http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/whatson/music.cfm?id=4852.
photo credit: John Lauener
featured in photo: Julian Richings