Jan 09

Of Fighting Age is an interesting theatrical museum gallery piece

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments

Does nostalgia buffer our ignorance about war? This is a questions that Of Fighting Age, a production by Verb Theatre and the Glenbow Museum tries to explore. The performance is created by Christopher Duthie (creator of NooBand Col Cseke (Co-Artistic Director of Verb Theatre) and David Van Belle (Co-Artistic Director of Ghost River Theatre) and stars Cseke and Duthie. Of Fighting Age is part theatre, part museum exhibition, performed in a casual, audience participatory production.

The performance opens to Duthie and Cseke playing a make shift board game, using different props as game pieces. The game brings in different elements of war, with Duthie and Cseke playing war strategists. They both then lead the audience into a narrative of both of their grandfathers and their respective stories of the World Wars. The narrative is interspersed with games: Would you rather? Audience members line-up according to what they would rather drink (coffee or tea?), watch (a war documentary or YouTube videos), listen to (the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?). This series of events all take place in the Glenbow exhibit Transformations featuring war art from Canadian A.Y Jackson and German Otto Dix, which is incorporated into the production.

Of Fighting Age has an interesting commentary on the Afghanistan war, when Duthie makes a timeline of what he was doing in the 12 years that the war was raging and he personally was of fighting age and how unaffected or affected he was by it. The piece featured an interview with an Afghan who was in Afghanistan during the war and it adds an interesting edge to the production.

Anton De Groot’s production includes some innovative projection design on chalk board that gives the piece its theatricality. Van Belle’s direction has Duthie and Cseke performing some fun choreographic sequences.

Of Fighting Age as an interactive museum exhibit has value added. It provides information on the exhibition in interesting ways and keeps the audience involved. As a theatre production, the production doesn’t dive into a narrative enough to really be poignant. Though the personal details that Cseke and Duthie divulge are interesting and the delivery is so casual, the production isn’t provoking. It’s mild as a theatrical production. The performance also sometimes veers into feeling staged, but hopefully the kinks will be ironed out with more runs.

Of Fighting Age is part of the 28th annual High Performance Rodeo and open tonight. Performances take place at the Glenbow Museum. More information and tickets are available online.

Photo Credit: Anton De Groot

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