“It’s an occasionally melancholy, sometimes quite hilarious multimedia revisiting of some of the lows of Calgary’s topsy-turvy economic history, which is about as stable as its weather.”
–Stephen Hunt, Calgary Herald (Pack of Lies)
|Something to do with Death|
“Visually stunning... a feast for the senses.” - Louis B. Hobson, Calgary Sun
“Boldly imaginative... brilliantly conceived and directed.” – Bob Clark, Calgary Herald
Flush with dreams of starting life anew, Claudia has just arrived at a dusty farm on the outlay of a frontier town to find her new husband and family murdered. Alone and very much out of her element, she hurries to leave, before an unexpected discovery stays her departure. But Claudia soon finds that others have designs on her unexpected inheritance, and will stop at nothing to remove her from her property.
Set against the backdrop of an encroaching railway, of great forces vying to shape the contours of this new land, and a slain hero resurrected by ancient gods to avenge a tragic past, Something to do With Death is a modern-day fable that exemplifies the best of Sergio Leone’s renowned “spaghetti western” mythology. So, put on your cowboy hat, and join the groundbreaking Invisible Elephant Performance Ensemble for a gun-slinging, pulse-pounding tale of vengeance, renewal, and rugged perseverance.
Duster jackets and spurs welcome.
Conceived & Directed by Eric Rose
ABOUT THE CREATION PROCESS
Something to do With Death is a collaboratively devised live performance piece that deconstructs Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone’s mythic Old West: his operatic aesthetic, groundbreaking technique, and exploration of themes of unbridled progress.
We entered into both creation processes with a simple goal: to investigate the structure, content, and aesthetic of the seminal films of Sergio Leone; in particular the Fistful of Dollars trilogy and Once Upon a Time in the West. We examined these films with an eye to parallels in contemporary Alberta society (as Leone himself did with late 1960’s America). The further immersed in Leone’s world we became, the more his world came to resemble our own. Leone described Once Upon a Time in the West as “a fairytale for adults,” and the film certainly follows in this tradition; a tale of a time long since passed, interwoven with subversive parable of (and commentary on) our contemporary age and culture. The best folk and fairy tales distill and document the time and place in which they are told: the subversive Emperor’s New Clothes questions the divinity of monarchs, Hansel and Gretel is a devastating record of famine and death tearing families apart. It is no less so with Leone; West is a telling portrait of late-60’s-era America undergoing a profound cultural schism – bursting at the seams with new technology, and inextricably embroiled in a divisive foreign war. West is steeped in birth pangs and death throes: a journey through a new world struggling to be born out of the old, an homage to the ritualistic gods left behind in a world they cannot (nor care to) understand.
In Something to do With Death, we embraced the unique qualities of Leone’s cinematic style. The beauty of film is the mobility of the camera – instant transitions from intimate close-ups to wide long shots. We employed extremes in scale to achieve the same ends: a model train is used to give the sense of scale and largess; a flashlight is used to project a fluid silhouette onto a scrim, then – by moving the light source and not the actor – transition into a terrifying close-up on the villain (and in flashback no less). This is not an effort to mimic cinema, but to theatricalize cinema. It was our goal to explore the rituals of violence, emblematic codes of honour, and the dual imagery of character and landscape associated with Leone’s epic storytelling. This exploration led to the incorporation of the most powerful elements of the film medium into an image-based, minimalist theatrical presentation.