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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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Play focuses on medieval religious conflict

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Daniel Kash

Daniel Kash will perform the role of Cocco, one of the four strong men in Tarragon Theatre’s world premiere of A God in Need of Help, by playwright-in-residence Sean Dixon.  

The play is based on a true story from the 17th century about four men tasked with carrying a painting through the Alps.

“To put the play in a nutshell is difficult – it is a conflict between church and politics, but in the end it is probably about art,” says Kash. “It is set in 1606, Venice, where four strong men win a competition by the Venetian government, to carry a painting over the Alps from Venice to Prague. They don’t want to destroy this special painting by Albert Durer. It is a prized religious, Renaissance painting.”

Halfway through the journey, the four strong men, who are Catholic peasants, meet a large group of Protestant iconoclasts, who want to destroy the painting.

“In the middle of this moment, one of the strong men, who happens to be effeminate, creates a miracle [when] he brings the Virgin Mother and Christ child out of the painting in front of [their] eyes and then all the Protestants decide to convert to Catholicism.”

The play then follows the trial that takes place when a Venetian representative and a cardinal from Rome interview the men and try to figure out if the miracle really happened. 

“I don’t know if this miracle is true but it is true that these guys carried the painting over the Alps,” Kash says.

The stellar cast includes Greg Ellwand as Cardinal-Archbishop. Alden Adair, Tony Nappo and Jonathan Seinen along with Kash play the four strong men, and Dmitry Chepovetsky is the captain hired to ensure their safety.  Daniel Giverin and Ben Irvine are the guards. It is directed by Tarragon’s artistic director Richard Rose

 “Marco represents the very strong, uneducated peasant, then there is Dolfin who is an actor who just needs some money, there’s Rafal who is this effeminate boy who had no business wining this competition and then there is me, Cocco. I’m a mercenary soldier and older than the rest of them. I have been a gun for hire. I am not as impulsive as the rest of them when we are attacked,” explains Kash. 

“I am really the protector of everyone and when I confront the cardinal, he gives me more respect because I have stood my ground – I am a man of reason.  I am sort of the future of humanity as I see things from a scientific point of view.  I am a soldier that has survived on my own wits.”

Kash says during that period most people were illiterate, so propaganda was often communicated through art,  as was the case with Napoleon 200  years later, who commissioned artists to paint pictures of battles preceding his return to France.

The actor’s past theatrical experience includes Cruel and Tender, Alice’s Affair, Unidentified Human Remains and The  True Nature of Love.  In film and on television he’s appeared in Casino Jack, Skins, Alphas, The Line, Aliens, and Gross Misconduct, to name a few.

“One of the reasons I stay in Canada is because here you can do film, television and theatre,” Kash says. “I always want to keep my foot in the door in theatre because it is a great mental workout. We should cherish our theatrical environment because it is a very good one.”

A God in Need of Help runs April 23 to May 25 at Tarragon’s Mainspace. 416-531-1827 or online www.tarragontheatre.com

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