Victoria-based actor/musician (and former Winnipegger) Mark Hellman is delighted to be returning to Winnipeg as part of the 2018 Mayworks Festival of Labour & the Arts, presenting his rollicking one-man tribute to the late great Pete Seeger.
Pete Seeger was a folk singer, social activist, and a key figure in the mid-20th century global folk music revival. He sang in defence of the poor, the oppressed, and the exploited, and always to enliven and encourage, to delight, and to tell tales
Pete Seeger's The Incompleat Folksinger (adapted from his 'autobiography', pub. 1972) imagines a concert 'somewhere on the road, 1970' wherein the book comes to life. In his own words, Seeger takes the audience on a globe-trotting journey spanning 35 years, looking back on his involvement in the formative events of the 20th Century, (the Great Depression and the union movement, WWII, the Cold War and the rise of McCarthyism/HUAC, the Civil Rights Movement, global peace initiatives, and the emerging environmental movement), while also paying tribute to some of his greatest inspirations: Woody Guthrie, Lee Hays, Leadbelly, Martin Luther King, and the love of his life, Toshi Ohta.
Featuring all or part of 29 songs, The Incompleat Folksinger invites the audience to sing along at every turn, thus embedding them in the story as it unfolds, whether as a small group of striking oil workers in Oklahoma City, a bunch of soldiers jamming in a latrine in Alabama, a civil rights rally in Meridian, Mississippi, a Tel Aviv hotel ballroom just before the Six Day War, among half a million people gathered in Washington DC protesting the War in Vietnam, a concert hall somewhere in Canada, or sitting on the banks of the Hudson River. By the finale of “If I Had a Hammer” audience and performer merge into a mass choir, embodying the principle that Seeger lived through his life and art: "Participation. That's what's gonna save the human race."
"...it’s so real. It became this huge singalong. I’ve never been to a piece of theatre like that." – DAVID LENNAM, CBC RADIO
"...Hellman shines…playing a five-string banjo and a 12-string guitar, and getting the audience to sing along with classics like “Turn! Turn! Turn!”, “Guantanamera”, and “We Shall Overcome”....I can’t remember a play that had me singing along so much."
– KATHLEEN OLIVER , GEORGIA STRAIGHT
"…a beacon on the horizon that calls out to our better selves to respond, to act...an old-fashioned hootenanny...You'll thank yourself for taking it in."
– BAIRD BLACKSTONE, BROKEN LEG REVIEWS
"...beautiful tunes, accomplished storytelling and an immense heart."
- J. LACOUVEE (Victoria blooger)
Adapted and Written by Ross Desprez & Mark Hellman
Directed by Ross Desprez
Musical Direction by Tobin Stokes
Originally produced by the Other Guys Theatre Co (Victoria, BC), 2015
Actor, musician, puppeteer, teacher, director and independent producer MARK HELLMAN (AFM, CAEA, ACTRA) started his career on the road in 1981 with the renowned Story Theatre Co. (Victoria, BC), performing from coast to coast, and from Orlando, Fl. to Old Crow, Yukon. He has subsequently lived and worked in Montreal (Centaur Theatre, APA, Geordie Prod.), Winnipeg (PTE, Contemporary Dancers, MTYP, Ragamaroons), Armstrong BC(Caravan Farm Theatre), returning to Victoria in 1998, where he has continued his work as an innovator, independent producer, choir director and community builder. He was commissioned by the Other Guys Theatre Co., (Ladysmith, BC) in 2014 to co-create a performance dedicated to Pete Seeger, one of his early musical heroes. markhellman.ca