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Onstage at GCTC: Heartlines by Sarah Waisvisz, presented by TACTICS Mainstage Series

If there is love, it is because this alone has kept me alive.” - Claude Cahun

A pair of queer Jewish lovers flee the fascism of WWII and find resistance buried deep in their respective artforms in Sarah Waisvisz’s Heartlines. Last seen on stages during the sold-out premiere at Undercurrents in 2020, this re-worked and re-imagined production of Heartlines – A Calalou/RAFT Theatre Projects Production, presented by TACTICS for their 2022 Mainstage Series in association with Great Canadian Theatre Company (GCTC) – opens on the GCTC stage March 22nd, 2022.

Using play-within-a-play autobiographical storytelling, real-life artists and queer lovers Marcel Moore (born Suzanne Malherbe, played by Maryse Fernandes) and Claude Cahun (born Lucy Schwob, played by Margo MacDonald) take the audience through the dizzying romance of their carefree early life together in Paris, and the fracturing and fragmenting of that life with the rise of Hitler and antisemitism during WWII. Identities of all kinds – gender, sexual, religious, national, creative – are explored, negotiated, suppressed, oppressed, and liberated as Claude and Suzanne invoke their art in dangerous acts of resistance to the Nazi regime. The production features live original music and sound by The PepTides' Scottie Irving.

This play spoke to so many relevant political and community issues and concerns two years ago, and now it speaks to even more, especially after the isolation people have experienced during the pandemic and then after the protests in Ottawa. I think audiences will find it highly relevant and, I hope, healing.”

  • Rebecca Benson, Director, Heartlines

The socio-political context is both historic and immediately relevant: in areas of the world currently affected by war and active conflict, the safety of LGBTQ+ people and activists remains under heightened threat. The under-told life stories of Suzanne and Claude highlight these dangers, but also highlight the inimitable powers of resistance, courage, creativity, and unwavering love through times of oppression. In Heartlines, a start-to-finish Ottawa creation whose development has been supported by TACTICS since 2016, love perseveres across the perversions of oppression, violence, and time itself – perhaps as an act of resistance to all three.

Art can be so many things. It can be entertainment, it can be escapism, it can be provocative, it can also be resistance and be political. Artists have power, and you don’t have to be a professional artist … Heartlines is the story of two people who were confined to the island of Jersey during an occupation, and they continued making art for each other, and that led into the creation of their resistance work which was super effective. So the idea is that all artists are important, any level of your artmaking is valid, and art can truly make huge waves in the world.”

  • Maryse Fernandes, Actor, Heartlines

Heartlines by Sarah Waisvisz, presented by the TACTICS Mainstage Series in association with GCTC, is playing at GCTC from March 22 - April 3. A limited number of free tickets are available for members of Ottawa’s LGBTQ+ community using the discount code Tactics22. General tickets will be released online at https://www.gctc.ca/buy-tickets. The theatre is operating at 50% capacity and proof of vaccination is required.

More about TACTICS:

Theatre Artists’ Co-operative: the Independent Collective Series or TACTICS is Ottawa’s innovative theatre series for independent productions, curated by local artists and producers. TACTICS is a platform for local indie artists to push theatrical limitations, share their stories with their own community and dream big with their art.

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More about GCTC:

“To foster, produce and promote excellent theatre that provokes examination of Canadian life and our place in the world.” GCTC was founded in 1975 by a group of professors and graduate students at Carleton University that envisioned a company that would only produce Canadian plays, especially those with social relevance. Since then they have shaped the scene in Ottawa like no other company.