Birdsong promises to be a powerful and poignant play.
That’s how the new production opening this week at UFV Theatre set in the First World War is being described.
The month of October marks the 100th anniversary of WWI and UFV Theatre is honoured to present the Canadian premiere of a new adaptation, Oct. 15 to 26.
Birdsong records the tragedy, the remarkable history and surprising humour of the Great War through songs, music, movement and theatrical performance.
“I can’t tell you how excited we are to be presenting the Canadian premiere of this wonderful adaptation,” said director Raina von Waldenburg, who teaches at UFV. “This is an outside-of-the-box piece of theatre, and I’m convinced that our unconventional approach will make the story fresh, alive and powerful for audiences.”
It’s based on Sebastian Faulks’ best-selling novel, written by playwright Rachel Wagstaff.
As the guns of war echo, the audience joins Stephen Wraysford and his fellow soldiers, huddled in trenches and holes, trying to find ways to shake off the monotony of war and remember family. Injured at the Somme, Wraysford flits between past and present as he struggles to recall those final romantic days before the war when he fell in love with a beautiful, but already-married young woman named Isabelle. In their heart-rending story set against the crumbling of their whole world and in the strong bonds of friendship between the young soldiers, we get a sense of all the real-life heartbreak that forever marked the world.
“We have multiple actors playing the same character, every actor playing multiple roles, unorthodox staging and a whole lot of surprises in store,” said von Waldenburg, who is one of North America’s foremost proponents of the Grotowski Method, a decidedly physical approach to theatre.
“But believe me, people shouldn’t have any difficulty following the action: these young actors are brilliant at finding ways to be expressive and clear. This is storytelling at its finest.”
Birdsong runs Oct. 15 to 26 with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m., and a school matinee on Oct. 21 at 12 noon. The opening night performance features food, drinks and socializing on October 17 at 7:30 p.m.
More at ufv.ca/theatre or by calling 604-795-2814. Tickets at ufv.ca/theatre/box-office/, over the phone or in person at the performance theatre at 45635 Yale Road, Chilliwack.