At some point in your life, if you’re lucky, some piece of art or creative event will grab your attention and your heart, and will insinuate itself into you, leaving you changed and perhaps more alive and aware.
Jacques Brel was a Belgian poet-musician who was born in 1929 and died in 1978. Although a Flemish Belgian, he spoke and wrote in French and his words and his music captured the attention of a large, devoted following in France and later Europe and North America. His music and his poetry delve into the depths of human despair and reach for the distant heights of the capacity of love and hope.
His music was first performed off Broadway in 1968 in Greenwich Village and ran for over four years. His songs are raucous, sexy, insistent, and absolutely timeless in their focus on the themes of war, peace, ageing, love, and the human capacity for senseless violence and depravity. Yet, they are evocative of the potential of the human spirit and the power of love.
The last performance of the last night of the Gabriola Theatre Festival was Jacques Brel is Alive, Well and Living in Paris. The group of five from the Point B Theatre who presented this brilliant collection of poetry and song captured Brel’s passion and pathos with exceptional talent and enthusiasm. They played to a full house and a deeply appreciative audience who acknowledged the performance with two standing ovations and, like me, a deep appreciation for being reminded how powerful the written and sung word can be in the hands of a master poet and musician, and a troupe of vibrant and skilled performers.
It is a rare gift when a performance can impact an audience and bring them to their feet. It is a rare gift when the words and music from a poet and musician can be brought to life by talent such as this. It was a rare gift brought to us by the hard work and untold hours of Jim Wilson-Storey and the entire group of volunteers of the Gabriola Theatre Festival.
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