Jay Dodge in Photog

Boca del Lupo’s new production, Photog, sets out to document the lives and passions of conflict photographers. Since its Toronto premiere three years ago, the show has toured to rave reviews. Photog at PuSh International Performing Arts Festival serves as Boca del Lupo’s Vancouver debut.

Drawn from the real life accounts of conflict photographers, Boca del Lupo examines both the juxtapositions and internal struggles that many photographers in the field experience between foreign soil and home turf; between privilege and suffering; between disconnect and belonging; between war and peace.

Photog was created from interviews with award-winning war photographers and international journalists, combining computer animation, video, and physical theatre to uncover the occupational hazards that come with documenting humanity at its worst. Photog offers a glimpse into unfamiliar territory, and a deeper sense of empathy and understanding between our own lives and the lives of those we see in the news every day.

According to Jay Dodge and Sherry J. Yoon, two of Boca’s founders, the photos used were carefully chosen for the show. Rather than creating shock value, the idea behind Photog was mostly to engage and leave audiences questioning what they really see in the daily news.

Dodge plays the role of the photographer in the one-man show. The storyline involves his arrival home from an assignment in Iraq, trying to make sense of what he’s witnessed.

Now home, he is faced with a new challenge: 72 hours to vacate his home which will be demolished to make way for new and more sophisticated buildings and high-rises. The situation raises a number of questions, drawing comparisons to life at home with one of suffering and death in warn-torn regions.

Yoon had access to four New-York based conflict photographers who’ve covered news in trouble spots such as Liberia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti. By meeting with the photographers, the team behind Photog were able to grasp a realistic sense of the emotional struggle faced when on assignment.

And then the reality hit closer to home when in 2011, British photojournalist Tim Hetherington (one of Photog’s collaborators) was killed while covering the civil war in Libya.

Another shocking element to life as a photog: many photographers who cover events in an area of conflict do so without any media accreditation nor official assignment, in hope of capturing that one shot that will catapult them into the spotlight upon their return home. This was something that Dodge and Yoon discovered during the interview process and is not revealed in the show.

Thousands of photos were offered to Boca, giving Dodge and Yoon (married with a young child) a chance to sift through countless horrific images with which to assemble the show. The photos are seen on a large screen, coupled with video mapping and live feed video, adding dimension to the stories behind them.

Additional images not used in the show are on display in the lobby for viewing after the show.

Presented by Boca del Lupo, the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, and SFU Woodward’s, Photog will be performed tonight at 8 pm, and tomorrow at 4 and 8 pm at Studio T, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings Street. Click here to purchase tickets.

And if you missed out on the Goldcorp Centre shows, Burnaby’s Shadbolt Centre for the Arts will take over for four nights: January 30, 31, and February 1 and 2; all shows at 8 pm. Tickets are available online.

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