The Arts Club theatre company presents Circle Game: Reimagining the Music of Joni Mitchell at the Port Theatre on Friday, March 22. (Photo courtesy Emily Cooper)

Theatre production reimagines the music of Joni Mitchell

Arts Club theatre company presents ‘Circle Game’ at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre this week

Andrew Cohen and Anna Kuman were both exposed to the music of Joni Mitchell at a young age, so when they sat down to write a show around the oeuvre of the renowned Canadian singer-songwriter, their goal was to produce a work that would bridge generations.

That show became Circle Game: Reimagining the Music of Joni Mitchell, which comes to the Port Theatre on Friday, March 22.

“We really wanted to create a pan-generational show that could be both a discovery of Joni’s music for our generation and also a rediscovery for people who grew up listening to her music,” said Kuman, director and choreographer. “And sometimes when you listen to something after a long time, something different will hit you.”

Cohen, who serves as director and musical director, said it was a challenge to interpret and rearrange such well-liked songs.

“We just wanted to do what resonated with us while still trying to honour what she wrote back then,” he said.

Instead of having an overarching plot that ties the songs together, Circle Game’s cast of young actor/musicians explores the messages of the songs and the narrative in the lyrics through their movements.

“We really just wanted them to find the truth in the lyrics as storytellers themselves,” Kuman said.

Cohen said while the songs are up to 50 years old, the issues Mitchell raised, like environmental concerns and women’s rights, are as relevant as ever.

“The cyclical nature of her lyrics, how history is repeating itself through her words that she wrote so long ago, is both kind of prophetic and terrifying and amazing,” he said.

Kuman said the most exciting thing is seeing parents come to the show with their adult children “because it creates a dialogue between them that wouldn’t necessarily have existed.”

WHAT’S ON … The Arts Club theatre company presents Circle Game: Reimagining the Music of Joni Mitchell at the Port Theatre on Friday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. $40 for adults, $36 for members, $12.50 for youth and students.

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