“Assassinating Thomson”… A Mystery in Canadian Art

“Assassinating Thomson” written and performed by Bruce Horak of Monster Theatre, currently playing at The Firehall Arts Centre until October 19 also performed at the 2013 Edmonton Fringe Festival. Being too busy with my own show, I missed it.

Thank you so much to the Firehall Arts Centre for giving me a second chance to see legally blind painter, actor, playwright, Bruce Horak perform “Assassinating Thomson”, directed by acclaimed Ryan Gladstone.

Because my best buddy, my Dad, Barry Jeeves, is also a painter, and also has a disability I figured I would fall in love with “Assassinating Thomson”. I was hoping I would. Especially now with my Dad’s illness getting worse, and him not being able to paint.  

I did.

What did I love? ……Well, the fact that I my Dad and his painting career were in my thoughts, that I recognized painter names and stories because of my father, that I learned more about the world my Dad embraces, that I understood the right brain teachings Horak imparted to us, that it cleverly explores the mysterious death of painter Tom Thomson who had a significant influence on the Group of Seven (and Horak’s nicknames to help us remember: A.Y. “Droopy Dog” Jackson), that I am inspired to paint again, and that Horak painted us, the audience, while recounting his story.

If you are an artist, or are close to the arts you will enjoy this evening. It felt like being at an amazing lecture, a story-telling evening, or a performance art piece. It was play. Thoughtful play. I kept wanting to take notes as there were such profoundly quotable lines. “I don’t art. I paint and let other people decide if it’s art.”

From Horak’s father in his last moments: “Instead of grieving what is lost, celebrate what remains.”

Which, from my vantage point, is what Bruce Horak appears to be doing as he writes, performs , paints and embraces his remaining nine percent vision. To research this play, over 300 people sat for Horak who painted and recorded their questions, their input, and their auras. These stunning paintings can be seen as part of an exhibition, “The Way I See It”, at the Firehall Arts Centre Lobby Gallery .

Bruce Horak portraits

I had a great phone call with my father, who is still in hospital back East, as I described Horak’s play, his paintings, and got Dad chatting on the world of painting. It was comforting for me to hear Dad’s tired voice get excited as he probed me about “Assassinating Thomson”. My Dad and I needed this. Thank you Bruce Horak.

My only regret from the evening was that I didn’t scoop up the painting he did of our audience. Then, I thought, maybe someday I would commission a portrait from him, before he gets too famous and out of my league! Because this guy has IT. (in my humble opinion… and I grew up with a lot of painting around me!) Here’s a great interview with Bruce Horak regarding his journey with Tom Thomson.

Bruce Horak painting

Don’t regret missing this show as I did earlier this year. Take the opportunity and be prepared for a soft shoe dance into the art world of Canada. Perplexing, political, and personal.

“Assassinating Thomson” is on until October 19, 2013 with shows running from Tuesday through to Saturday. Get your tickets!

Vive Le Théâtre!

2 thoughts on ““Assassinating Thomson”… A Mystery in Canadian Art

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