A dark hybrid dance theatre production will take centre stage tomorrow night at Vancouver Island University.
The production titled Highgate, will run on Friday (Nov. 21) at the Malaspina Theatre, 7:30 p.m., and features five “dancer-actors.”
Highgate focuses on the subject of death and the Victorian funerary culture.
“It’s an exploration of Victorian funerary obsession and a study of death, and how we deal or don’t deal with it,” said creator and director Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg.
“Death was much more of a reality or an everyday occurrence in the Victorian era and that is what I was interested in.”
Friedenberg explained that although Highgate explores a morbid subject the production has moments of humour.
“There are some very comic characters and ridiculousness,” she said. “There is also a lot of sad beauty.”
Highgate has toured throughout Canada and is making its final stop of the month in the Harbour City. Friedenberg explained that the response has been positive.
“I think people are really happy to have a place to look at and think about death. When I talk to the audience members after … people are really responsive and moved.”
Highgate’s name is taken from England’s Highgate Cemetery in London, which has more than 53,000 graves and is the final resting place for more than 170,000 people including philosopher Karl Marx.
“It’s a pretty amazing place,” she said. “Very beautiful and very creepy and that got me interested in the Victorians and how they dealt with death.”
Friedenberg said that she was also interested in how our current culture avoids the topic of death.
“I was interested in how we don’t deal with it,” she said. “How old people are swept away into seniors’ facilities and closed doors. I wanted to bring it out in the open because it is something we aren’t going to get out of this life alive.”
Since 2000, Friedenberg has created a number of award-winning productions including bANGER-The Power Hour and Nick & Juanita-Livin’ in my Dreams, which were both named the People’s Choice at the Dancing on the Edge Festival.
Friedenberg said that people who take in her production will be taken to the underworld.
“When you experience this show you are taken to the underworld,” she said. “You’re taken into this fantastical world of the newly dead.”
Highgate runs at the Vancouver Island University’s Malaspina Theatre tomorrow (Nov. 21) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets to the event range from $5 to $25 and can be purchased by visiting www.crimsoncoastdance.org or by calling 250-716-3230.
For more information about Highgate please visit www.taracheyenne.com.