Althea Thauberger

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Musical Confronts Mortality

Robin Lawrence
The Georgia Straight | 2005

Vancouverite Thauberger has collaborated with four local young women to produce a DVD musical that tells four different versions of the same distressing story, each version starring one of the aspiring performers (who are on the road somewhere between student and professional). During extensive improv sessions before the shoot, the actors developed their characters and actions around the skeletal plot, outlined by Thauberger, and each wrote the prayer-like song she would sing in response to a situation that pitches her into a confrontation with mortality and adulthood.

Taped at night, in real time, in and around a private swimming pool, A Memory Lasts Forever conveys the adolescents’ attempts to find some form of spiritual resolution or redemption following an event that stimulates their feelings of grief, guilt, shame, regret, and fear of retribution. To droning organ chords, the teenagers direct spiritual songs of supplication, atonement, or longing upward into the firmament, some toward a Christian God, others to an unnamed power. Folded into these deeply uncomfortable sequences are concerns about class and privilege, popular-culture representations of young women, and the politicization of religion. The work is both alluring and squirm-inducing.