PETE SEEGER’S THE INCOMPLEAT FOLKSINGER
The Incompleat Folksinger is an absolute delight from start to finish. I’m a huge Pete Seeger fan. I’ve read the book the show’s based on. I saw Seeger live – twice. This show did justice to who the man was, as well as what made him so wonderful as a live performer. The stories are interesting and intimate. Mark Hellman effortlessly pulls the audience into singing different parts of one song after another, without even seeming to try. This is a loving tribute to a great artist and a man of integrity. I left the theatre feeling inspired and bonded with everyone there. – TJ Dawe (A Canadian Bartender at Butlin’s – Solo Playhouse NYC, One Man Star Wars Trilogy, One Man Lord of the Rings and One Woman Sex and the City)
Pete Seeger was a folk singer, social activist, and a key figure in the mid-20th century global folk music revival. He sang in defence of the poor, the oppressed, and the exploited; and always to enliven and encourage, to delight, and to tell tales. Pete Seeger’s The Incompleat Folksinger (adapted by Ross Desprez and Mark Hellman from the book of the same name, pub. 1972), shares, in Seeger’s own words and the music of many, his inspirations, his conflicts with bosses, government committees(HUAC) and the mass media, his favourite songs, stories, and instruments, and the kind of learning that comes from listening carefully.
This unique full-length(2-act) solo performance combines verbatim theatre, story telling, music, and audience participation in the form of a huge singalong, for which Seeger was perhaps most famous. Taking the audience on a journey spanning 35 years and featuring all or part of 29 songs, Seeger reflects on his involvement in the formative events of the 20th Century while introducing some of his greatest inspirations, including Woody Guthrie, Lee Hays, Leadbelly, Martin Luther King, and the love of his life, Toshi Ohta. Invited to sing at every turn, the audience is completely engaged and embedded in the performance, whether among striking oil workers in Oklahoma City, soldiers jamming in a latrine in Alabama, a thousand Arabs and Jews packed into an Israeli hotel ballroom days before the Six Day War, or half a million people gathered in Washington DC to protest the Vietnam War. By the finale of “If I Had a Hammer” audience and performer merge into a mass choir, embodying the principle that Seeger lived through his life and art: “Participation. That’s what’s gonna save the human race.”
2015-2019 AT A GLANCE:
Merville Community Hall (Merville, BC)
Chilliwack Arts & Cultural Centre (Chilliwack, BC)
The Roxy Theatre (Gabriola Island, BC)
Lasqueti Island Pub (Lasqueti Island, BC)
Brock House Society Fundraiser (Vancouver, BC)
Mayworks Festival of Labour & the Arts (Winnipeg, MB)
The Sanctuary in Brentwood (Burnaby, BC)
Waterfront Gallery (Ladysmith, BC)
Mary Winspear Centre (Sidney, BC)
Espace Freestanding Room (Montreal, PQ)
Brentwood Bay Village Empourium (Brentwood Bay, BC)
Langham Cultural Centre (Kaslo, BC)
Richardson Hall (Winnipeg, MB)
Beacon Community Centre (Protection Island, BC)
Gabriola Arts Festival (Gabriola Island, BC)
Firehall Arts Centre (Vancouver, BC)
Malaspina Theatre (Nanaimo, BC)
Evergreen Cultural Centre (Coquitlam, BC)
UNO Festival of Solo Performance (Intrepid Theatre, Victoria)
Metro Studio Theatre (Victoria, BC, premiere)
Whenever possible while on tour, Mark is happy to make contact and do some outreach with local community choirs. This may include a visit to a rehearsal to inform the group about the show and sing a couple of songs, or may take the form of an invitation and choir discount for those willing to come and join in the singing. This is also a wonderful way for local producers to expand their audience base. The following choirs have been instrumental in engaging their fellow audience members to sing out and sing loud!
COMMUNITY CHOIR OUTREACH 2015 – 2018
Gettin’ Higher Choir (Victoria BC)
Maple Leaf Singers (Coquitlam, BC)
De Corso Choir (Coquitlam, BC)
Aurora Celebration Choir (Vancouver)
Solidarity Notes Labour Choir (Vancouver)
Harbour City Singers (Nanaimo, BC)
Margaret’s Choir (Winnipeg, MB)
Labour Temple Choir (Winnipeg, MB)
….it’s so real. It became this huge singalong…I’ve never been to a piece of theatre like that.
– David Lennam, CBC Radio
…Hellman shines….I can’t remember a play that had me singing along so much.
– Kathleen Oliver, Georgia Straight
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* Originally produced by the Other Guys Theatre Co. (Victoria, BC) in 2015.
Original production team:
Director – Ross Desprez
Musical Director – Tobin Stokes
Lighting Design – Rebekah Johnson
Dramaturgy – Sandy Cumberland
Production Stage Manager – Valerie Houle
PETE SEEGER’S THE INCOMPLEAT FOLKSINGER is now produced independently by Mark Hellman of Victoria, BC.