If you weren’t one of the dozen people who came out to see Dead Crow: Prologue, at the Bonnington Arts Centre on Friday, you missed out.
The performance was the beginning in what is hoped to be a series, written and starring Sean Arthur (Art) Joyce as the title character.
Joyce was inspired several years ago to begin writing what would be the first of a series of poems on Dead Crow after hearing the First Nations quote, “Crow was pecking at his shadow, scratching at it. Finally the shadow woke up and ate him, now Crow is Dead Crow.”
The show was split into two parts.
The first featured two solo sets, beginning with Joyce reading selected poems from his book The Price of Transcendence, including “In The Blood,” “Coyotes on the Edge of Town,” “Mourning Cloak,” and “Shimmer No More,” which was about the death of a hummingbird during the Lemon Creek disaster.
His voice is very soft spoken, but strong.
Following Joyce was Noel Fudge, performing a variety of covers and music he wrote himself.
Both men live in New Denver,share similar interests and have run into each other on many occasions.
“I’ve read some of his poems, I’ve listened to Art recite some of his poetry in New Denver before, and he’s always an amazing poet, I’ve always really enjoyed it,” said Fudge. “I jumped at the opportunity when he asked me, and I’m very honoured to be a part of it.”
After a brief intermission and a few more songs from Fudge, the stage went dark, save for one glowing red circle in the centre.
From the side walked in Joyce, moving his arms about in a manner that reminded one of the flapping of wings.
Crow story began with his birth as a white crow, using the powers The Makers had given him, only to have those powers grow so strong, and Crow become so confident, The Makers tricked him in response. They turned his feathers black, taking away his beautiful singing voice, and banishing him to the other side of the galaxy, to a place called Earth, where he remains to this day.
Watching him perform, it becomes clear that not only was Joyce portraying the role of Dead Crow, he became Dead Crow, something he attributes to having a really good character.
“It surprises me as much as anyone, especially when I’ve got the mask on, and the headdress,” he said. “I get to the point now where I will actually rehearse in mask and headdress, because I find when I do that, it’s almost as if a switch is turned, and before I know it I’m not me anymore, I’m just Dead Crow.”
Throughout the show Dead Crow’s movements, while not frantic, are constant. He never stayed in the same spot for more than a few seconds, and his wild, trickster eyes appeared as though they had seen many things over many millennia.
Those in the audience were spellbound.
“I thought it was awesome,” said Deirdre Dore. “The poetry was great, the music was wonderful, and the real zinger was the Dead Crow performance. It was just captivating, totally wonderful.”
There are 27 poems in total for the manuscript for Dead Crow, and Joyce hopes to develop it further into a full, hour-length stage show featuring Dead Crow. He would like to get funding and spend time developing enough material to fill out that manuscript, including a second character.
Dead Crow: Prologue is currently on tour, going to towns including Kaslo, New Denver, and Nelson.