Source Amnesia – A look at faulty memory, fake news, and truth vs. fiction

Joshua Beamish/MOVETHECOMPANY presents the world premiere of Source Amnesia, an exploration of false memory and the fragility of truth, in which five Vancouver-based contemporary dance artists navigate a reality in constant flux in an age of misinformation and information manipulation.

Dancing away misinformation. | Photo by Jack Tupper

“I am thrilled to bring together such a talented group of dance artists from Vancouver to collaborate on this production which closely reflects the current issues we’re all grappling with,” he says.

Based on the artist’s own fascination with memory confusion and manipulation, the production explores current relevant and critical themes of misinformation, fake news, memory loss and truth. The show runs from Jan. 13–14 at the Vancouver Playhouse.

Mixing family and social realities

Source Amnesia examines memory manipulations and false memories through kinetic choreography. Beamish uses the narratives from these cases to create tension, tactics, scenes and characters for the dancers to embody.

“Misinformation is something that has become personal to us all. With social media, news have the ability to spread like wildfire, in real time,” Beamish explains. “While we’re quick to share and comment, we often don’t stop to think about factual accuracy. Source Amnesia is a thoughtful physical exploration of memory distrust and how we parse and absorb source information before turning it into something else, be it untruths, a manipulated truth – or even fake news.”

Memory confusion and manipulation take the stage in Source Amnesia. | Photo by Jack Tupper

The term ‘source amnesia’ refers to the inability to remember where, when or how previously learned information was acquired which can sometimes lead to false memories created when a real memory is covered up with wrong suggestions. If one cannot recall the source of an act or event, it is possible to believe false prompts as fact, rather than fiction.

And this is where Beamish comes in, setting his five dancers in an ever-shifting reality in order to expose the fragility of truth and how vulnerable memory or truth are to reshaping.

Two sources of inspiration are at the heart of Source Amnesia. Beamish’s own family’s experiences with dementia and amnesia, which impacted his relationships with both of his grandmothers, for one, and the other one was research he did on two examples of episodic memory distortion and memory distrust syndrome.

“I grew up very close to one of my grandmothers, and she was a major supporter of my training and early career,” tells Beamish. “And yet, for much of my adult life, she didn’t know who I was anymore. I often wondered if she knew herself. Who did she see when she looked in the mirror?”

Aside from his own personal experiences, Beamish became fascinated with the story of the Icelandic Six, a homicide case from the 1970s in which six people confessed to a double homicide they had nothing to do with but felt certain they had committed.

The production also reflects a study where participants were given false facts about their lives, which they later believed to be true.

About Joshua Beamish/MOVETHECOMPANY

The B.C. born artist founded the Joshua Beamish/MOVETHECOMPANY, a non-profit charitable dance organization registered in Canada and America in 2005. The society’s main mandate is to further the awareness of and appreciation for contemporary dance at the local, provincial, national and international levels.

The company places equal focus on educational programming, primarily targeting youth and the creation and professional theatrical productions. Beamish’s works have toured throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

For more information visit: