Multimedia production pays tribute to 40th anniversary of famous
May 16, 2009
special to the star
With a slew of projects marking the 40th anniversary of the John
Lennon and Yoko Ono Bed-In for Peace including a forthcoming
Canadian faux-doc 2009 could well be described as the Summer of
Love, version 2.0.
The film Let Him Be, in which Lennon is discovered alive and well
living in a small northern community, opens this month, as does the
Stephen Bulger Gallery showcase of previously unseen pictures of the
bed-in, shot by photographer Gerry Deiter.
And starting Wednesday the Theatre Centre on Queen St. W. becomes
home to the John/Yoko Bed Piece, focusing on the political and social
climate surrounding the Montreal Bed-In for Peace in 1969, when the
famous ballad "Give Peace a Chance" was recorded.
The sixth production by company draft89 features a 20-member cast of
characters based on personalities at the event, such as Timothy Leary
and Derek Taylor, Tommy Smothers and Al Capp.
Writer and director Risha Yorke felt the influence and significance
of both the event and John and Yoko from a young age.
"That was always really instilled in me, and I always appreciated
that idealism," says Yorke, born in 1980, the same year Lennon died.
"I just grew up with them. My parents were definitely hippies. My
mother talked about (Lennon) a lot as I was growing up."
Like her other works, based on individuals such as F. Scott
Fitzgerald and Phil Spector, Yorke feels a personal connection with
those she chooses to examine.
Yorke says she gets obsessed with the individuals she portrays in her
plays. "I have to be obsessed with it," she says. "I have to be in
love with something to do with it. I find with every show I write,
it's obsession about character.... I love characters. You know, the
story is intriguing, but more so than the story (it's) the character,
This time around, her obsession stems from the reactions and stories
she uncovered while researching the bed-in, and the influence it had
on those involved.
"What struck me most and what I found so interesting is that all the
documentaries and all the people I talked to who were there, said `Oh
the event was so incredible. It affected me. It changed me.'"
Bed Piece operates as a multimedia installation, transporting
audience members atop pillows, benches and the like into rooms 1738
and 1742 of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel via film, music and visual arts.
"It's more than a voyeuristic experience," Yorke says. "It's going to
happen to them. What we really like to do is involve our audiences as
much as possible in the show, so they really feel like they're part
of the show. It's like they're in the room"
Despite taking place 40 years ago, Yorke says the message behind the
bed-in is relevant today.
"There's still war, there's still violence. And if you're telling me
that it affected an entire generation, then we need to affect them
again, do you know what I mean? And so maybe it's naive, but I'm
hoping to affect an audience in a similar way, to make them leave and
think about it."
Part of the show's proceeds will be donated to the Ono-co-ordinated
Dream Power Project, which builds schools for children in Africa.
For ticket prices and showtimes, visit johnyokobedpiece.com