The title may be a little daunting, but The War and Peace Show has some surprisingly hilarious moments in it, says organizer Trish Cooper. The Winnipeg actor and playwright was encouraged to create this show for the Winnipeg Fringe Festival by her mother, who is a member of Project Peacemakers, a Winnipeg organization devoted to peace and justice work.
'The Fringe is still a place to take risks and do stuff that you wouldn't normally get a chance to do' - Trish Cooper
Cooper invited seven heavy hitters in the theatre world to contribute to the project, including TJ Dawe, Sarah Constible, Rick Chafe, Ellen Peterson, Ross MacMillan, Alix Sobler and Gordon Tanner. They each wrote a short vignette for a cast of up to three actors, Heather Russell, Alissa Watson and Andrew Cecon, and two musicians, Tom Penner and Jill Cooper. It will be directed by Debbie Patterson.
All of the playwrights approached the topic from an original angle, touching on feminism, corporate greed, funding for the arts, the first date of a soldier who has just returned from Afghanistan and a song inspired by Pussy Riot.
"They all did subtle, interesting, complex pieces," said Cooper, who elected not to write a vignette herself.
The Winnipeg Fringe Festival has been very important to all the playwrights. Rick Chafe's first big show was presented at the Fringe, TJ Dawe is a Fringe regular and this is Cooper's 20th show, having performed frequently with Sarah Constible and Gordon Tanner as part of the sketch troupe the Royal Lichtenstein Theatre Company.
"The Fringe is still a place to take risks and do stuff that you wouldn't normally get a chance to do," she said.
"Winnipeg is one of the best Fringes in the country," she continued. "I'm obviously biased and sentimental about the Winnipeg Fringe but I really do think there are some amazing shows happening."
The War and Peace Show will be presented at the Winnipeg Art Gallery as part of the 2014 Fringe Festival at various dates and times between July 16 and 27.