Home Arts The Battle of Vimy Ridge remembered in Brendan McLeod’s Ridge

The Battle of Vimy Ridge remembered in Brendan McLeod’s Ridge

Adapted from stage to screen, Canadian WWI soldier songs and stories gain a fresh perspective in this world premiere as part of the Chan Centre's Dot Com Series

Taking its cue from traditional Remembrance Day ceremonies that will look decidedly different across Canada in 2020, the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts will present Brendan McLeod’s Ridge online on November 11 as part of its fall Dot Com Series.

Initially scheduled to premiere in March and cancelled due to the pandemic, Ridge was re-imagined for the screen using locations throughout the Chan Centre as its backdrop to tell the story of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and other formative events in our country’s history. Often called the “battle that made Canada,” Vimy Ridge resulted in over 10,000 Canadian casualties.

Exploring themes of grief, war, and our connection to the past through the lens of what is often called the “battle that made Canada” and resulted in over 10,000 Canadian casualties, Ridge examines the misconceptions and varying perspectives around the battle.

“[McLeod] has a unique ability to delve into extremely challenging topics, from mental health to, in the case of Ridge, world war, and make us see them in a new and intimately personal way,” says Wendy Atkinson, Chan Centre programming manager and curator of the Beyond Words series.

“His performances shine a light on our shared humanity, and I have no doubt the premiere of his latest work will leave us moved, reflective, and perhaps even unsettled by the questions he poses.”

Providing Ridge’s score is McLeod’s Vancouver-based folk band The Fugitives, who perform a collection of re-imagined WWI-era soldier songs throughout Ridge.

The band rewrote new melodies and music for the soldiers’ words to more readily access the emotional content of the lyrics and continue folk music’s long tradition of reshaping songs over time, similar to how soldiers reshaped these songs in the trenches.

“During the pandemic, where war metaphors abound, these songs have given us much-needed perspective around hardship, the sacrifice of previous generations, and, mostly, what vulnerable communities can be forced to endure at the hands of the government and military in a crisis,” the band says. “We think about these soldiers when we sing and hope you will too.”

Prior to its official online release on November 11, Ridge receives its world premiere at Vancouver’s The Cinematheque on November 7 with two in-cinema screenings. Visit chancentre.ca for more tickets and information.

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