The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia presents Huff, the boldly conceived, darkly comic tale of three Indigenous brothers caught in a pattern of grief and solvent abuse following the death of their mother. In this highly anticipated theatrical return to Vancouver, playwright and performer Cliff Cardinal embodies over a dozen different characters in an unrelenting portrayal described as “stunning” by the Edinburgh Festival, and a “hard-hitting tour-de-force” by The Guardian. Two performances, at noon and 7:30pm, will be held in the Chan Centre’s Telus Studio Theatre as part of the interdisciplinary Beyond Words series on Wednesday, October 30.
As the story of Huff develops, the brothers’ gas-induced dream world oscillates in and out of reality as they are preyed on by the mythical Trickster in hallways at the old residential school, the abandoned motel they have come to love more than home, and within their own fragile psyches. Though the visceral play is fictional, “It reaches inside and grabs you so hard that you forget it’s make-believe,” (CBC), and its riveting story vividly confronts the devastating, urgent topics of youth suicide, sexual abuse, and the ongoing perseverance of Indigenous communities in the face of incredible adversity. In an interview with Intermission Magazine, Cardinal states: “You know what, we are implicated. We are part of the history that has left people out. If you’re offended, that’s good, because I’m offended. This stuff in this play—the stuff in all my work—it turns my stomach. That’s why it’s compelling to me.”
Huff is directed by Karin Radoja and debuted in 2012 as part of the SummerWorks Festival, where it won the Buddies in Bad Times Award for Risk and Innovation. It went on to receive numerous accolades when it was re-mounted by Native Earth Performing Arts in 2015, including two Dora Mavor Moore Awards and the RBC Taragon Emerging Playwright Award. Huff has completed two national tours and over 200 live performances, including presentations at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, Magnetic North Theatre Festival, and the High Performance Rodeo, and closed the studio season at Canada’s National Arts Centre in May 2014.
Born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Cliff Cardinal is the son of iconic Canadian actress Tantoo Cardinal. He graduated from the playwriting program at the National Theatre School of Canada. His other plays include Stitch, The Andersons, Sidewalk Chalk (for young audiences), Romanceship, and Maria Gets a New Life. In addition to his work in theatre, Cardinal is also a musician, performing and recording both with The Skylarks, as well as creating his own solo repertoire. In August 2019, the artist debuted Cliff Cardinal’s CBC Special—also in partnership with director Karin Radoja—a combination of words and music featuring folk songs, miraculous stories of familial resilience, legends of Turtle Island survival, and new contributions to the ongoing mythology of the Canadian experience. He is also working on a new solo project, (Everyone I Love Has) A Terrible Fate (Befall Them).
Chan Centre Presents Huff
Date: Wednesday October 30, 2019 at 12pm & 7:30pm
Ticket Price: $35/adult, $15/student
Address: Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
University of British Columbia
6265 Crescent Road
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Box Office: 604-822-2697 / chancentre.com
Open Tue–Sat, 12pm–5pm
Photo by Jamie Williams
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