PuSh Blog

Marching The Road Forward to Pounding Drums – A Curatorial Statement by Touchstone Theatre’s Artistic Director Katrina Dunn

January 07, 2015

The piece takes local culture, politics and history and transforms it into an expansive work of art functioning on many levels.

Marie Clements is one of the most fascinating and daring theatre artists working in Canada, and I have been following her work for decades.  Now working in several mediums, Marie refuses theatrical convention in the pursuit of communication beyond and beneath linear modes of reception. Her works are always hugely ambitious, and The Road Forward continues in that vein, using music in a more integrated way than ever before. I first heard about the work in the lead up to the 2014 PuSh Festival, where it had a workshop presentation, though an earlier version was featured as part of the 2010 Cultural Olympiad. When I saw the Club PuSh showing, I was thrilled with the scale and power of the work onstage. It was so viscerally powerful, politically fierce, and intellectually rich.

2012-08-12-Red Diva Shoot for Musical. Marie Clements

There are many remarkable things about The Road Forward, but for me what is so exciting is the assemblage of so many amazing First Nations performers in one place at once. Many of the cast I have admired in other contexts, but to have them all together is like running yourself into a huge wall of talent. Jennifer Kreisberg’s music is so unique in its blending of forms, and the ensemble realizes it so beautifully – its really like nothing you’ve ever heard before.

Marie’s work doesn’t submit easily to reduction into a sound byte – which is part of the reason I like it. Thematically The Road Forward functions on many levels. But ultimately it’s about the energy of change and the capacity for people to come together to fix or heal things. The way this is realized in the show, is more like something you feel and experience physically through the music than something that you’re thinking about.

The Road Forward, red diva projects, PuSh Festival
Photo: Courtesy of the artist

The show brings to light a really amazing piece of local history – that of the Native Brother and Sisterhood of BC – the oldest active Native organization in Canada. This group has a fascinating history of advocacy and intervention in our region, so for people interested in the social forces that have created this city, this show is a great way in to some little known but hugely important stories.

The Road Forward is all about local culture. The main creators are local, and although many of the performers come from away, they all have ties to the city. The piece takes local culture, politics and history and transforms it into an expansive work of art functioning on many levels.


Katrina Dunn
Artistic Director
Touchstone Theatre

Catch The Road Forward, the haunting piece by red diva projects, February 5-7, 2015 at the York Theatre. Book your The Road Forward tickets on the PuSh Pass, Youth Passport, or with single tickets. Katrina Dunn will also moderate the post-performance talk on February 6.