This week we connect with Canadian singer-songwriter and theatre-maker Ben Caplan. Ben joins us from the car park of a Canadian fast-food giant called Tim Hortons, en route to play a socially distanced gig as part of the Small Halls Festival in Ottawa.
We get all the deets about life and lockdown in Canada. Ben has praise for his government’s response to the pandemic – in stark contrast to what we’ve heard from other artists both here in the UK and elsewhere. We talk about Ben’s identity as a Jewish man, his experiences of antisemitism, and how growing up with Jewish values like tikkun olam (literally “repair of the world”) inspires him to make art that leaves a smile on our faces and a question in our hearts.
Plus, after recovering from the shock of hearing someone talk so positively about their government, Katherine and Paul reflect on how heartfelt and eloquent Ben is, which gives us an idea about how we can fix this mess… #BenCaplanForPrimeMinister.
Links, resources and episode timestamps (for all you skippers out there) below.
Ben Caplan is a songwriter, performer and entertainer in the most time-honoured sense of the word. From the moment he walks onto the stage, you are filled with his infectious spirit, and captivating presence. You can feel Caplan’s comfort and ease as he strides in front of the crowd and begins the controlled collective descent into chaos.
In his latest project, Ben Caplan explores themes of immigration, loss, darkness, love, sex, and God. Caplan is touring with a fresh batch of songs which were originally composed for a new musical play called Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story. The award winning play had its international debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it won top festival honours, and has been a smash hit. The play has toured internationally including a seven-week run Off Broadway where it picked up a New York Times Critic’s Pick, and six Drama Desk Award nominations, among other accolades.
O Holy Night by Ben Caplan (12:01)
Fledgling by Ben Caplan (21:35)
Plough the Shit by Ben Caplan (28:40)
Truth Doesn’t Live in a Book by Ben Caplan (45:20)
The Happy People by Ben Caplan (50:57)
Podcast theme – I Can Change by Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires
LINKS AND RESOURCES
00:00 – Welcome to Somewhere To Believe In
00:20 – Katherine and Paul catch up
05:30 – Introducing Ben Caplan and his work
06:03 – Ben joins the conversation
07:51 – Ben on the pandemic in Canada
09:56 – Ben on slowing down
12:01 – ‘O Holy Night’ by Ben Caplan
12:50 – Ben on support for the arts in Canada
15:33 – Ben on creativity
16:29 – Ben on his inspirations
18:05 – Ben on refugees
21:35 – ‘Fledgling’ by Ben Caplan
22:40 – Ben on the power of art
25:40 – Ben on finding moments of joy
26:20 – Ben on telling stories of massacres
28:40 – ‘Plough the Shit’ by Ben Caplan
30:18 – Ben on Judaism
31:45 – Ben on anti-semitism
40:47 – Ben on literalist readings of religious texts
45:20 – ‘Truth Doesn’t Live in a Book’ by Ben Caplan
46:23 – Ben on commercial music
48:30 – Ben on performing
49:41 – Ben on brokenness
50:57 – ‘The Happy People’ by Ben Caplan
51:20 – Ben on Greenbelt Festival
54:20 – Ben on what he would retrain as
56:56 – Ben on how to support his work
59:08 – Katherine and Paul reflect on the conversation with Ben
1:10:07 – Coming up next week
1:10:27 – How to get in touch with us
1:11:06 – Thank you’s
1:11:30 – Hidden track
A huge thanks to the Greenbelt Volunteer Talks Team for all their hard work on editing this episode. Our podcast music is ‘I Can Change’ by Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires.