Art of War

This exciting new play combines Lawren Harris’ own poetry, theatre scenes, live visual art and entertaining audience participation.

The play tells the story of Lawren Harris during World War 1 and the impact war had on the artists that gave birth to the Group of Seven. This lively look at our cultural icons is unique and fascinating.

May
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  1. 27
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      1. 29
        1. 30
          1. 8:45 pm
            Art of War

            See https://theatreinlondon.ca/2018/05/art-of-war/ for details.

            Location: Spriet Family Theatre

        2. 31
          June
          1. Sun
          2. Mon
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          1. 1
            1. 2
              1. 1:00 pm
                Art of War

                See https://theatreinlondon.ca/2018/05/art-of-war/ for details.

                Location: Spriet Family Theatre

            2. 3
              1. 6:00 pm
                Art of War

                See https://theatreinlondon.ca/2018/05/art-of-war/ for details.

                Location: Spriet Family Theatre

            3. 4
              1. 5
                1. 6
                  1. 7:30 pm
                    Art of War

                    See https://theatreinlondon.ca/2018/05/art-of-war/ for details.

                    Location: Spriet Family Theatre

                2. 7
                  1. 8
                    1. 6:30 pm
                      Art of War

                      See https://theatreinlondon.ca/2018/05/art-of-war/ for details.

                      Location: Spriet Family Theatre

                  2. 9
                    1. 9:30 pm
                      Art of War

                      See https://theatreinlondon.ca/2018/05/art-of-war/ for details.

                      Location: Spriet Family Theatre

                  2 thoughts on “Art of War”

                  1. Melony Holt
                    Reviewer
                    says:

                    Art of War is an ambitious production that tries to tackle an iconic Canadian topic — yet for a production that demands refined technique and timing, it tends to paint outside the lines, leaving the end result sloppy and short of reaching its potential.

                    The stage is set with an easel with paints and sheets of paper, a podium, a trunk, chairs, and even a can of beans. This show opens with a Lawren Harris, in military gear, addressing the audience as if they were recruits and giving them a lesson about rifle care. He hands the rifle off to the audience to inspect it, and this is the first of a few audience-participation moments. But fear not! These moments are few and intuitive.

                    Art of War centers around the life of Lawren Harris, but also integrates the experiences of AY Jackson and Tom Thomson as they deal with World War I duties and how it affects each man’s work — and leads to the foundation of a uniquely Canadian school of art. Each artist experiences tragedy in their lives and their art evolves over time, influencing what we’ve eventually seen in art history books and on gallery walls.

                    The topic is an iconic one. The Group of Seven is a larger-than-life Canadian artist collective that has shaped how the world sees Canada. In trying to tell a small part of that story, this play put on by Brant Theatre Workshops was overly ambitious and under rehearsed.

                    Nick King’s Lawren Harris had great physical resemblance of the man himself and King was able to carry himself throughout the show moving between beautiful poetry and the harsh rigidness of being a part of the armed forces.

                    The show has a lot of moving pieces (literally) and at times the audience is taken away from the flow of the show. Often, it seemed that the performers were waiting for a cue or for a quick-change to be complete in the back, leaving all stuck in an awkward, pregnant pause. Other times, lines were repeated, dropped, or seemingly forgotten.

                    On a positive, the audience was welcomed into the world of the artists and their lives which was a fun break throughout the storyline. Throughout the entire show there is an artist in the back corner painting along with the narrative, representing the changing style of Harris throughout this time in life. This concept, unfortunately, falls short due to the sparseness of the images that are being painted and lack of time afforded to each. The concept of live painting throughout the show was exciting but was not executed to the represent the style or feeling of Harris’ paintings.

                    This show has a lot of potential and if you have an interest in the Group of Seven or Harris’ poetry I would suggest to take a chance and check it out.

                    3 out of 5 stars

                    ***

                  2. Susannah Joyce says:

                    This reviewer makes some good points. I really appreciated the premise and there were lots of interesting touches included, such as the analogies between the weapons (passed around to audience members) and the tools of art. Is the Brush mightier than the Bayonet? I think this is such a sweeping subject that the writer, Peter Muir, tried to cover too much and then was not able to tie Art and War together in a sufficiently coherent way. I was confused at first as to when Howard was onstage and when Tom Thomson was, and I didn’t really see the point of including Pauline Johnson, to have her appear in only one brief scene. And although I thought the use of the artist onstage was interesting, perhaps a way to convey some of the changing sensibility of Harris’s art might have been through the character of an art critic and prints of some of the art onstage or projected, or some other conceit. My final (hopefully constructive) criticism is that the male actors often spoke a bit too quickly without enunciating as clearly as they might. But I think there is much here that could be reworked and possibly both honed down and lengthened to focus in more specifically and intensely on Art and War. An important subject. Despite the flaws I am glad I saw it. Thank you!

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