What is peace? A whole lot more than the absence of war. That premise will be examined in full in the Peace by Piece - The Musical, which debuts by The Reach Arts Action Heritage Project on Nov. 22 at the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium.
Created and performed by an all-ages community cast from Abbotsford and Mission, the musical underscores its thought-provoking messages with dance numbers that range from contemporary to hip hop to fusion plus original songs written by local musicians, including a sing-a-long or two, along with some serious and some funny bits of script.
The story imagines a different Abbotsford, a different world not too far beyond our grasp.
Locally renowned community theatre director and dramatist Freddy Latham and dancer and choreographer Lorissa Arndt were inspired by the work of the community cast and the "pieces" that they have created.
Funded in part by a grant from the B.C. Arts Council, Peace by Piece - The Musical takes some of its inspiration from the exhibition Illuminating Peace by Amy Loewan, an exhibit currently showing at The Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford.
"Loewan's list of words that describe peace were a part of our discussions before we got to writing,"
said Latham. "We used them as a filter, as well as drawing from the issues and ideas that each cast member brought to the process. Themes explored include bullying, equality, freedom, diversity, gratitude, compassion, creativity and the power of one to make a difference.
"Peace-making has lots of energy," said Arndt. "There is so much positivity in this show, we think you'll be transported."
The creative efforts come from both sides of the Fraser River, with local singer-songwriters Liisa Nessim, Corey Primus, Cheryl Kinchen Epp and Jolie Gardner performing their original works in the musical.
"My song, Peace is Possible, was written several years ago and never really had a home or a vehicle. The song is obviously about peace, a concept that always resonates with me. How do I live it? How do I create it?" said Primus.
"It is so exciting to be collaborating with people of all ages with a similar interest in the concept of peace. What will it look like when a group of creators assemble to explore the idea of peace? Come and see the play and find out."
Artistic director Kat Wahamaa said the original work, including the original music, makes the production "just that much richer."
As does the visual art borrowed from Postcards From the Edge - an art exhibition created this spring by community members aged 14 to 50-plus as the first part of The Reach Arts Action Heritage Project 2012, she said.
"It's multi-media - as we will be using some of those images for a visual
backdrop to this very uplifting play - just in time for the season of peace, something we'd like to see all year round," said Wahamaa.
Peace by Piece - the Musical runs Nov. 22 at the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium, 32315 South Fraser Way, Abbotsford, with a matinée performance at noon and a show at 7: 30 p.m.
Tickets are just $2 and on sale now at The Reach. School and community group packages are available for the matinée performance. Contact Wahamaa at email@example.com.
? Buy tickets at The Reach at 604-864-8087 or stop by 32388 Veterans Way, Abbotsford.
You can also see a photo gallery of this theatre project at www.flickr.com/photos/artsactionheritage, and see clips of rehearsals at youtube. com/watch?v=jjCoSwAavig&feature=relmfu.