Photo: Diane Park, Rachel Rose, Heather Pawsey, Jeffrey Ryan, and Maggie MacPherson (Credit: Tom Hudock)

Last Friday, March 23, CMC BC and AstroLabe Musik Theatre co-presented a tour-de-force one-woman show by Soprano Heather Pawsey that was both hauntingly beautiful and profoundly moving. The program centred around the Vancouver premier of Jeffrey Ryan’s Unheard based on poetry by Rachel Rose, paired by music from Jennifer Butler, R. Murray Schafer, and Anna Pidgorna.

Ryan’s Unheard gave voice to four mute women of mythology: Yasodhara, the abandoned wife of Siddhartha or Gautama Buddha, left alone without support to raise their infant son alone; Persephone, who we learn is in love with the Devil himself, not damned but rather sexually fulfilled by her repeated stays in the netherworld; Daphne, who is attacked by Apollo, her stalker, if not raped, and then, instead of being rescued by her father as she asks, is turned into a tree, mute, in pain, unable to tell her story; and finally Shamhat, a temple prostitute in the Epic of Gilgamesh, who tames a wild man only to see his lust for war and violence overcome any civilizing influence she hoped might transform and enlighten not just he, but all of mankind.

Heather sung all of the works a cappella, and the interstitial silences throughout the program helped make her vivid portrayals and passionate performances all the more powerful! Colourful, elaborate costumes by Diane Park, and evocative photography by Maggie MacPherson (a filmmaking intern on our BC Legacy Composer Documentary Project) along with choreography and creative staging gave added depth and richness to the performance, repeated the following evening at the Chali-Rosso Gallery.

Photos by Tom Hudock: