We begin life in the wombs of our mothers. If we are fortunate, the bond between ourselves and the ones who gave us life can nurture us in one sense or another throughout our corporeal existence. In the formative years, we probably don’t think about or fathom a time when our maternal role model will no longer populate this realm, but rather live on in our hearts. Would-be documentarian and world class lighting designer Itai Erdal faced, and experienced, a slightly different twist on this reality from the far geographical reaches of the globe when he was asked to have a hand in the final footsteps of his mother’s journey. And we as theatergoers are blessed to be let in to Erdal’s world, and fertile mind, during this crucial and most challenging period in his life.
Vancouver was the first locale fortunate enough to be introduced to Erdal’s inspiring How to Disappear Completely as part of the 2011 edition of the Chutzpah! Festival, but from there, it then spanned both sides of the “pond,” from the lush forests of the American Northwest to the majestic shores of the United Kingdom. And the Segal Centre is unabashedly proud to present the forum and venue for Erdal to tell Montrealers this one-of-a-kind story.
Erdal is not an actor by trade, or even a playwright, though he wanted to make documentaries. Well, he would have undoubtedly been fabulous at it, but instead he merely decided to become one of the best lighting designers around, of world class repute. But even at that, the man knows how to tell a great story, and he has a moving, inspiring, tearjerking, humour-infused story to tell about the life-altering turning point of his powerful relationship with his mother living in Israel. He was born in its capital, Jerusalem, and now calls Vancouver his home. But he was beckoned back to his birthplace with the devastating news that the person who helped give him life was heading down the road to its finality. His mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, and was given nine months to live, eerily identical to the span of time from Erdal’s conception to his entry into the world. He grabbed his faithful camera and headed overseas to the land of his birthplace, rushing to be by her side and capture everything he could about her journey in particular, and about her humanity and time as a citizen of this world in general. What made it such an extra powerful and intense time is that she asked of him what most mothers would find supremely difficult to ask of their sons: she asked Itai to help her end her suffering, and her life.
James Long directs Erdal through this emotional roller coaster ride of exuberance, introspection, a spectrum of emotions so rarely seen and expressed with such unique vitality, and the raw exposure of the often unbreakable bond between mother and son. Along the way as an added bonus, you learn about Erdal’s professional achievements and fascinating personal journey in the world of lighting design, and his ascent to the top of his chosen profession. There is little doubt that a similar ascent would have occurred delivering intensely compelling stories and powerful narratives to adoring audiences had he chosen that profession. Luckily, for the moment he has, and you can partake in it at the Segal from April 30th to May 21st. Visit segalcentre.org for more information or call the box office at (514) 739-7944 .