Kate Digby and Erika Batdorf in rehearsal for  The Red Horse is Leaving.  Photo by Myriam Rafla.

Kate Digby and Erika Batdorf in rehearsal for The Red Horse is Leaving. Photo by Myriam Rafla.


Will be in SummerWorks 2018! Toronto
Aug 9th  9:00 pm
Aug 13th 7:30 pm
Aug 15th 6:30 pm

Inspired by the journals of Thaya Whitten, a Nova Scotian painter, performance artist and musician, "The Red Horse is Leaving" travels through the dangerous territory of creative inspiration, sacrifice and clinical madness in the pursuit of artistic excellence and beauty.
A theatrical duet integrating biosensors.

Led by Erika Batdorf's poignant physicality, quirky dialogue and disarming humour, The Red Horse is Leaving production gives the audience an intimate view of someone who is plagued (or blessed) by visions and struggles to distinguish inspiration from delusion. Along this journey we watch an intensely painful and joyful battle with prescription drugs, addiction, isolation, and manic-depression in the pursuit of something truly beautiful.

As always the piece includes Batdorf's inimitable audience interactive approach, inviting the audience to join her in creating a painting and discussing art on mulitple levels.

Thaya Whitten herself was an abstract painter who incorporated her own musical notation directly into her paintings. Referred to as a "controversialist", she toured university campuses doing performance art before the form was widely understood. Thaya Whitten was also Erika Batdorf's mother.

News and Reviews from 2007 solo version:

 STAGE AND PAGE by Keith Garebian


The Red Horse is Leaving "may be the first stream-of-consciousness monologue to depict how an artist struggles to express an elusive artistic vision... What stamps it with genius is not simply Thaya Whitten’s singular artistic and spiritual identity, but Ms. Batdorf’s artistry that expresses the relationship between genius and madness with haunting vividness and sympathetic understanding..…

… for the most creative of us (as Ms. Batdorf articulates) are destined to be “lovers of longing.” One of the extraordinary achievements of this solo piece is its vivid ability to make this longing a thing of spiritual radiance."

EYE WEEKLY by Paul Issacs

 The Red Horse Is Leaving opens with a single scene of magnificent control, … [it's] an absolute marvel: a pitch-perfectly timed symphony of coffee slurps, pill-pops and cigarette drags, as the artist contemplates a terminally blank canvas before her. It’s a wonderfully sustained piece of tragic-comic acting.

NATIONAL POST by Robert Cushman

There is nothing embarrassing about this audience participation; Batdorf is an underplayer, and the attitude she presents — firm in her ideas, diffident in their presentation — makes everyone feel at ease. 
[Batdorf is]…stabbing and unadorned.

One section of this show, sympathetically directed by Todd Hammond, bleeds imperceptibly into the next, and it seems that suddenly we are back in the studio, watching and hearing a verbalized elaboration of the opening silent sequence. This is a loving portrait, and both she and the audience are nourished by that fact, but it's an objective and unsentimental one.

Credits 2018

Written by Erika Batdorf; Directed by Kate Digby and Erika Batdorf; Choreographed by Kate Digby; Performed by Erika Batdorf and Zoe Sweet; Dramaturged by: Iris Turcott; Digital technology and Sound by Mark-David Hosale; Costume Designed by Mark-David Hosale and Sylvia Defend; Music Composed by J. Rigzin Tute; Digital technology collaborator by Omar Khan; Digital technology assistant Filiz Eryilmaz; Stage Managed by Anastasiya Popova, Costume Design Assistant Joyce Padua; Original Production Directed by Todd Hammond. Biosensors by BIOPAC; Biosensor Technology by Alan Macy; 

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This is an excellent piece for theatres, museums, art school and festivals - it is challenging, audience interactive and sophisticated. It deals with mental illness and creativity and has some intense moments. I have recreated performance art lecture/performances created by Thaya Whitten from the early 1960's at which time she was called in reviews 'a controversialist'. they are highly interactive. At one point the character begins to paint a picture of fear and invites the audience to join her, this is really fun and engaging and the audience gets quite involved; then she becomes paranoid and destroys that very painting. Most evenings audience members take home parts of the painting that are left on stage and want to buy the final painting created during the show.

This piece travels with 3 people, needs basic stage lighting, requires some set building/gathering on location and a day of tech time. It can work in a gallery or a theatre (the audience needs to be able to get on to the stage). and the new completely revised version with 2 performers and integrated new media has 3 in progress shows in SummerWorks 2018, premieres in October in Rendezvous with Madness film festival in their new site specific arts festival and tours the US in 2018/2019 in NY, California and Kansas.

Please Contact Erika Batdorf at erika@batdorf.org for touring inquiries.

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