On March 13, 2020, many theatres worldwide closed their doors due to the pandemic.
One year later, Berlin-based theatrical booking agency Aurora Nova has initiated a global event marking the occasion with performances of Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour’s award-winning White Rabbit Red Rabbit around the world.
Joining theatres in more than 30 other countries, The Cultch will present a free livestream of White Rabbit Red Rabbit on March 13, 2021, with the local production of the solo show performed by Vancouver performer and creator Amanda Sum.
I’m truly fired up and excited to make this idea become reality. The thought of all of us together, making theatre once again gives me boundless hope and energy. – Wolfgang Hoffmann, director of Aurora Nova.
Forbidden to leave his native Iran, Soleimanpour wrote White Rabbit Red Rabbit in 2010 to travel the world in his place. Taking on a life of its own, the play has since been performed thousands of times and translated into dozens of languages.
Now living in Berlin, Soleimanpour realized that our world is trapped, much like he was ten years ago. Through Aurora Nova, he has offered his play as a vehicle to connect and empower artists and audiences around the globe.
A potentially daunting task for any artist, White Rabbit Red Rabbit is performed without rehearsal or director by a different artist every night.
In Vancouver, Sum will see the script, waiting for her in a sealed envelope on stage at The Cultch, for the first time on performance night with no prior knowledge of the play.
“I would not say I am terrified, but it is a little unnerving, for sure,” says Sum, who was asked to perform partly because she was unfamiliar with the piece.
And while Sum has performed in two other livestream performances at The Cultch in the past few months, she says White Rabbit Red Rabbit is different. Not only does she have to deal with the inherent challenge of performing without a live audience, for this performance she also cannot rely on any fellow actors.
“With a livestream performance, it already feels a little lonely,” she explains. “I know I am going to be alone, but then I also know that this layer of online streaming feeds into this isolation. We have to trust the audience is there.”
Sum does take some comfort in knowing she joins performers worldwide who will tackle the piece the same day.
“It is a special night not only to remember but also to acknowledge where we have come with live performance and how we have adapted to technology,” she says.
But while current pandemic restrictions may mean Sum must perform by livestream in Vancouver, that isn’t necessarily the case for all theatre groups that will also present the play on March 13.
“It is kind of cool to see that in other places, they can do it in person,” she says. “It is an exciting acknowledgment of where we have come and in knowing that it is a community thing, not just in Vancouver, but in a broad spectrum of locations around the world.”
Sum also acknowledges that White Rabbit Red Rabbit may also serve as a metaphor for artists who have dealt with the pandemic uncertainties.
“There are definitely similar feelings of like you are stepping into the unknown, and that inherently is scary,” she says. “But it is also exciting in the opportunity that it can present.”
The Cultch presents the free livestream performance of White Rabbit Red Rabbit starring Amanda Sum on March 13. Visit thecultch.com for more information.