TRU’s Actors Workshop Theatre bring to life iconic Canadian Artist

Mixing mysticism and biography, The Magnificent Voyage of Emily Carr sheds light on West Coast icon

Catch the Magnificent Voyage of Emily Carr at the Actors Workshop Theatre between Nov. 29 and Dec. 1. (Submitted)

TRU’s Actors Workshop Theatre presents yet another amazing show, demonstrating the great breadth of the young actors of TRU. Currently playing at the Blackbox Theatre, The Magnificent Voyage of Emily Carr.

Directed by TRU theatre faculty member Wesley Eccleston, the company takes on the wonderfully rebellious life of Canadian art icon Emily Carr. The Magnificent Voyage of Emily Carr was originally written in French by Jovette Marchessault in 1990 and later translated to English by Linda Gaboriau in 1992.

The AWT took on the iconic Canadian artist in a depiction that floated between the real and the spiritual world. This fine line between realms falls perfectly in line with the immense appreciation Carr had for Indigenous cultures in Canada and more specifically, the West Coast of B.C.

Zenila Philander brought to life the rebellious yet gentle nature of Emily Carr in motion and voice. Philander was perfectly suited to play Carr as she showed with great passion the trials and tribulations of Carr’s success.

The Magnificent Voyage of Emily Carr took place later in her life as she was nearing 50 and breaking ground with beautiful depictions of West Coast nature and spirituality. She placed specific emphasis on the Indigenous population who took her under their wings and held her in high regards.

Carr’s work was not fully appreciated until later in life as her style was seen as against the norms and amateurish as showcased in several interactions Carr had with peers throughout the performance.

Eventually, Carr did receive full acknowledgment for her work along with Canadian icons the Group of Seven. The support was magnified by artist Lawren Harris, played by Cole Horvat, who was one of the major supporters in revolutionizing Canadian art.

The performance was the perfect mix of biography and mysticism, with the true to life events stated by Carr herself sandwiching the spiritual nature of her life.

Taking place in her House of All Sorts, a magical place christened by Carr as a wonderland of kindness. While the role of Emily Carr was the centre-stage to the production, the audience was also introduced to many different characters, sometimes conflicting yet more often than not, complimenting the kind nature of Carr.

Alexa Rood took on the role of Lizzie Carr, the older sister of Emily Carr and the epitome of Victorian poise. Rood brought to life the stubbornly proper sister, showing the opposing image to her sister perfectly.

While not understanding of Emily’s beliefs and avoidance of mainstream settler culture, Rood brought to life the compassion Lizzie had for her sister through all the disagreement.

Taking on the far more mystic side of the production and dancing on the line of reality, characters such as the Soul Tuner (Caleb Oman) and the D’Sonoqua (Laura Saul) brought to life Carr’s spirituality.

The Magnificent Voyage depicted the life of Emily Carr and her battle to be noticed and understood among her artist peers while simultaneously presenting the award-winning works of Carr herself, projected on the walls behind the stage for the audience to connect with.

This performance was like travelling back in time to our own West Coast history and reliving how the great artists we learned about in high school history became who they are today.

The Magnificent Voyage of Emily Carr will be playing at the Blackbox Theatre in Old Main Nov. 29 to Dec. 1. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online at tru.ca/awt.

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