A look at Canada’s residential schools

Children of God is back in the York Theatre (until March 10, 2019) after a national tour, and its highly successful 2017 world premiere at The Cultch.

Children of God a new musical written and directed by Corey Payette, Production Design by Marshall McMahen, Lighting Design by Jeff Harrison, actors David Keeley, Sarah Carlé, Michelle Bardach, Kaitlyn Yott, Cheyenne Scott, Dillan Chiblow, Aaron M. Wells, Jacob MacInnis, and Michelle St. John. An Urban Ink co-production with Segal Centre (Montreal). Photo by Emily Cooper Photography.

In this powerful musical, by Corey Payette, the children of an Oji-Cree family are sent to a residential school in Northern Ontario. This is a story of redemption: for a mother who was never let past the school’s gate, and her kids, who never knew she came. Children of God offers a thrilling blend of ancient traditions and contemporary realities, celebrating resilience and the power of the Indigenous cultural spirit.

The history of residential schools in Canada is a dark part of this country’s history. This selection from the Children of God study guide is a good starting place for those wanting to inform themselves about Canada’s past and present.

Residential Schools In Canada (Background)

The residential school system in Canada was designed to steal Aboriginal children from their home communities and forcibly turn them into Euro-Christian citizens of Canadian society. As former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s famous epithet from his 2008 apology to residential school survivors goes, the residential schools were meant “to kill the Indian in the child.”

Set up by the federal government, and primarily run by the church, the residential schools sprawled across the nation throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The last one did not close until 1996.

The system was rooted in the idea that European civilization was superior to the diverse civilizations of the Indigenous peoples, and that it was thus Canada’s moral, and God-given, responsibility to save Aboriginal children from themselves. By isolating the children from their lands, their languages, their relations, and their traditions; and simultaneously immersing them in European customs, primarily rigid gender roles, Anglo-monolingualism, and industrial vocational training, it was thought that Aboriginal communities would die out, and that a unified Canadian nation would emerge.

Archival photo

Residential schools, at their core, were built to commit what is called ‘cultural genocide’. These schools often became places where children would do menial tasks designed to keep the schools open at low cost, rather than as sites of meaningful education. It is also widely reported that these schools were sites of brutal physical, emotional, and sexual abuse against the children, often as punishment for speaking their traditional language, or trying to escape. Many children died while at these schools.

Residential Schools—Lasting Effects

As Children of God will explore, the horrible legacy of the residential school system is still felt today by many Indigenous peoples.

Many of the youth who attended residential schools not only grew up learning to hate their culture, but also grew up not learning how to raise a family, often in an atmosphere of physical and sexual abuse. This has had disastrous impacts for Indigenous communities. For many, survivors of the schools grew into adulthood lacking parenting skills, fostering another generation of children without a nurturing family environment. In many communities today, rates of domestic abuse, alcoholism, and youth suicide are high, many cases of which observers have traced back to the residential school system and the lack of self-esteem it instilled in the students. This ongoing process of undermining community well-being and cohesion, despite the schools being closed, is often referred to as intergenerational trauma.

Healing from Residential Schools

While understanding the vile history of residential schools and the lingering ramifications of this system, it is also important to pause and recognize that this trauma does not define Indigenous peoples and their communities. Many First Nations communities today are healthy and thriving, have a strong connection to their lands and traditions, and are raising younger generations that are eager and ready to continue this process.

On a national scale, it is becoming more common to talk about the residential schools in an honest way for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike—partly in thanks to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (see below)—which sought to offer space and a platform for survivors of the schools to talk about their experiences as a means of mending relations between Canada and Indigenous nations. Reconciliation politics is by no means perfect, as many First Nations are waiting for the federal government to deliver on its promise of better futures, but we now have valuable entry points into necessary conversations around what healing can look like.

Many communities that still experience the lingering impact of residential schools are taking matters into their own hands, and are looking to break cycles of intergenerational trauma through their own community-led initiatives, such as education, residential school survivor-oriented societies, and drug and alcohol intervention programs (see below).

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Findings http://nctr.ca/reports.phph

Resources on Healing and Healing Initiatives

“Healing the Legacy of the Residential Schools.” Where Are The Children http://wherearethechildren.ca/

Aboriginal Healing Foundation http://www.ahf.ca/

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society – http://www.irsss.ca/

Legacy of Hope http://legacyofhope.ca/

For more information about Children of God, and more resources, read the full study guide here.


Children of God runs until March 10, 2019, at the York Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

A Cultch love letter

A Cultch love letter

This Valentine’s Day, our staff share their Cultch love stories — how they fell for The Cultch and what gets them out of bed in the morning! Have a love story of your own to share? Let us know!

Members of The Cultch staff with cast and crew from Mrs Krishnan’s Party

Lee Newman, Volunteer Coordinator

I first became interested in the Cultch through online research. I was looking into arts organizations to get involved with. I liked that the ED and Director in the organization were women (a rare treasure even in non-profits and the arts), and I thought the programming looked amazing! Diverse and progressive. I met with Cindy to chat about working in the arts and ended up volunteering…and eventually working here!

The moment that came to mind for when I first “fell” for The Cultch was when my partner attended a Founders’ Lounge music and reading event and me. Ivan Coyote did a reading, accompanied by Veda Hille’s music. I loved the cozy, red, cool vibes of the Founders’ Lounge and I LOVED Ivan Coyote – so hilarious and honest. The music was fun and entertaining and lyrically very local! This made it a very special night for me. With representation of queer folks and musicians, I felt safe here. I thought – this place does what I want to do. Inclusivity is a word that comes to mind as very important here and I am all about that.

Lisa Mennell, Communications Associate

I love The Cultch because…

The Cultch has been a place for me to grow and learn, a place to challenge myself, and a place to belong.

I remember the moment I fell for the Cultch. I had just started at The Cultch as an intern. I was completely overwhelmed—new to the city, new to the industry, new to the theatre scene. I felt out of place and over my head.

I think it was day two. I was familiarizing myself with the upcoming Cultch season and going through the material we had for the shows, and we had a copy of the script for Motherload (created by the amazing Emelia Symington Fedy, Jody-Kay Marklew, Juno Rinaldi,and Sonja Bennett). The script was beautiful; poignant, hilarious…it made me want to call my Mom (I did). I laughed, I cried (it was better than Cats!). I think I will always remember that as the moment I decided this was going to be a good place for me. It is the work that we do, and the people we work with, that constantly inspire me and keep me getting out of bed in the morning. And over the past 2.5 years I have slowly made a place for myself in this incredible company—with an unbelievable group of people that constantly remind me of the human capacity for connection and creativity.

I love you Cultch!

Andrew McCaw, Production Manager

I had been working here a little less than a year when I went to see A Vancouver Guldasta in October. I really enjoyed the show. I felt proud of us for programming a piece that represented the Sikh Community so well. At the talkback, the conversation turned to how the women of colour were portrayed in the piece. The comments were very supportive of the work. The Director, Paneet, then said something to the effect of: “If you liked this, you should see Kamloopa! (The OTHER show being presented that week against Guldasta at the Cultch) In fact, THEY close this week, so tell your friends to see Kamloopa THIS week, and come to Guldasta next week!”

We hadn’t asked Paneet to promote the show, it just came to his mind as another example of a show that was created by people of color that actually REPRESENTED them on a modern Canadian stage.

I thought that night: I love working here!

Yuri Arajs, Gallery Coordinator

I love The Cultch because it is making real progress in making our venues more inclusive and accessible to all people.

Cindy Reid, Managing Director

Why do I love The Cultch? I don’t know. But I do.

Is it the people? The staff, the patrons, the volunteers, the sponsors, the donors, the cleaners? I do love all the people.

Is it the programming? Definitely.

Is it the youth program and Ignite? YEP!

Is it the place, the space? Most definitely. It’s awesome! Even the small York lobby – so sweet.

Is it the culture? Ahhh, yes. We care deeply about what we do and who we do it with. It makes going to work a meaningful experience.

It’s a feeling. The Cultch, where we live, work and play on unceded territory. We should write a song about it!

Karaoke favourites from the Cultch staff!

In preparations for Feminist Karaoke, Cultch staff dish about their karaoke favourites!

Julia Croft wants you to sing along!

Power Ballad, from New Zealand’s Julia Croft and Nisha Madhan (Jan 22-26), is part performance piece, part feminist rant, AND part karaoke party! On Friday, Jan 25, the party will continue after the show, when Julia invites Cultch patrons to join her for Feminist Karaoke — a completely free Femme Series event!

The buzz in the Cultch office is palpable—we are a karaoke loving bunch! Here are a few karaoke favourites—and a couple karaoke memories—from some of the staff, to help you get in the mood for Jan 25.

Chelsea Isenor, Marketing Manager

Favourite Karaoke Song: Total Eclipse of the Heart. I don’t really have the vocal chops to sing it well, but it is so fun to belt out. It’s even better if you have a duet partner, but I have been know to sing both parts!

Kelly Barker, Artistic Associate

Karaoke Memory: I sang “I Love Rock and Roll”, by Joan Jett, at my sister-in-law’s wedding, and it was so terrible that the host of the wedding (it was at a small inn in the Okanagan) told me, the next morning, that it was, “the worst thing he’d ever heard”. My mother-in-law apparently has it on video—and I’ve refused to watch it.

Louise Chapman, Development Associate

Karaoke Memory: It’s not a particularly interesting story, but it’s my only personal karaoke experience!

I do not have a good singing voice, so I have only done karaoke once in my life! I was 19 and travelling in Japan with my friend Mariesha. We went along to a karaoke place and got a little room with some people from out hostel. I drank a lot of plum wine (delicious!) and sang Umbrella by Rihanna. A good memory.

Another time, I was staying in a village on a tiny island in the Philippines, where the local fishermen would gather at night to drink rum and sing karaoke. Their singing filled the tropical night air.

Leslie Dos Remedios, Sales Associate

Favourite Karaoke Song: I actually have a running list of karaoke songs on my phone – like when I’m in a store and hear a song I love, I put it in my phone just so I’m not at a loss in those times I’m flipping through a karaoke binder, not at my full capacity and about to make a questionable adult decision.

Some of my faves to sing are:

I Love Rock and Roll by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
Wannabe by The Spice Girls
Since You’ve Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson

Very eclectic, I know, but such good guilty pleasures!

We wanna know your karaoke favourites—come sing with us!! Feminist Karaoke with Julia Croft is a FREE Femme Series event on January 25, 2019, at 9PM.


Power Ballad runs until Jan 26 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or call The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

The Femme Series is generously supported by the Charlotte and Sonya Wall Arts Fund.

It’s party time—time for good music, good laughs…and great food!

It’s party time—time for good music, good laughs…and great food!

Photo by Ankita Singh

The holidays may be over, but the party is only getting started! Coming Jan 15-Feb 3 to the Vancity Culture Lab, Mrs. Krishnan’s Party is a play that takes place at Onam. Have you heard of Onam? It’s a Hindu harvest festival, and it could be the craziest party of them all! Onam celebrates the annual return of the beloved King Maveli to his people. King Maveli was defeated and pushed into the underworld by the gods, but because he was so beloved, he was granted the wish to return to his people once a year. The celebrations for Onam can last up to ten days!

Every great celebration needs great food, and Onam is no different! In fact Onam is know for its good eats—and there are a lot of them:

An example of an Onam Sadhya

All together there are 11 essential dishes which have to prepared…[The]Traditional Onam Sadya (feast) meal comprises of different varieties of curries, upperies – things fried in oil, pappadams which are round crisp flour paste cakes of peculiar make, uppilittathu – pickles of various kinds, chammanthi – the chutney, payasams and prathamans or puddings of various descriptions. Fruits and digestives are also part of the meal. The food has to be served on a tender Banana leaf, laid with the end to the left. The meal is traditionally served on a mat laid on the floor. A strict order of serving the dishes one after the another is obeyed. Besides, there are clear directions as to what will be served in which part of the banana leaf. – www.onamfestival.org 

In Mrs. Krishnan’s Party, Mrs Krishnan is surprised to find that, unbeknownst to her, her boarder, James, has filled her stock room with 100 guests expecting an Onam party (the audience members are the guests!). She is forced to throw an Onam party on the fly. And my oh my, what a party it will be!

And, because every good party needs food, food there must be. Mrs. Krishnan saves the day and makes a delicious daal for everyone to enjoy—yum! We just know you are going to want to know the recipe for this feast.

Here is the recipe for Mrs Krishnan’s Pepper Dhal, as prepared in the play:

RECIPE

(Serves 10)
500g pink lentils
1 litre of boiling water
3 chopped tomatoes or half a tin
2 Tbs of rice bran oil
1 small onion chopped
2 gloves of garlic
1 dried red chilli
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp white pepper

Put lentils, tomatoes and bruised whole cloves of garlic into a large pot of boiling water and simmer till lentils are soft (15-20mins).

Stir occasionally to stop from burning. 5 minutes before lentils are ready, heat oil in a frying pan and add onions and sauté till translucent.

Add all the spices except white pepper and salt to the onions and stir for a minute.Tip the onion spice mixture into the pot of lentils and simmer for five minutes.

Add salt and white pepper. For added deliciousness, add a dash of white vinegar and a big knob of butter right at the end and sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander.  Yum!


Mrs. Krishnan’s Party runs Jan 15-Feb 3, at the Vancity Culture Lab. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363

Feminist Holiday Gift Guide!

Feminist Holiday Gift Guide!

Struggling with your holiday shopping? Need a little help getting the perfect gift for that kick-ass feminist on your list? Look no furtherour Femme Series is coming up this winter, and there are so many amazing shows and events to choose from!

For the Karaoke Loving Feminist in your life…who wants a moment in the spotlight:

Do you have anyone on your list who could use a good evening of belting out classic power ballads? Have we got the show for you!

Power Ballad is an angry, feminist, live art investigation of language and its sometimes hidden ideologies that is part performance lecture and part karaoke party. With an ‘80s soundtrack to rival any school disco, Power Ballad is anarchic and loud; filled with feminist rage and…Annie Lennox.

And, as a BONUSgrab tickets to the performance on January 25, and you can stay behind after the show for a fun evening of Feminist Karaoke with Power Ballad performer Julia Croft!

For the Shakespeare Loving Feminist in your life:

Hipster Shakespeare!

Sure he’s an old, dead, white guy, but the Bard still has some interesting things to say, and in the hands of Classic Chic Theatre Company, this February’s performance of Much Ado About Nothing won’t be your status-quo, Shakespeare!

Shakespeare loving feminists will not want to miss an all-female cast as they take on one of the most famous stage comedies in the worlda deadly serious and sublimely ridiculous story—of soldiers in love and women confined by tradition. It’s a bold and playful romp through the extremes of desire and ambition, loyalty, and redemption.

“It has been my experience that gender-blind casting speaks to a diverse audience—straight and queer, men and women—and is a true reflection of our complex contemporary community.” — Rebecca Patterson, Much Ado about Nothing Director

For the Music Loving Feminist in your life:

There are so many things to choose from for the music loving feminist on your list. From indie, to hula, to punk…and don’t forget the rock ballads, and karaoke! We have the music lover in your life covered!

Don’t miss Ukraine’s Dakh Daughters in their cross-discipline performance from Jan 15-19, at the York Theatre. Seven actresses take musical instruments into their hands in order to create a life-affirming performance about love, freedom, and beauty which at the end of the day—will save the world. Get your tickets for this one fast, because it will sell out!

On January 12, 2019, at the York Theatre, Soft Cedar Presents: Only a Visitor’s Technicolour Education album release, with special guest Wallgrin. Only A Visitor is a quintet that blurs genre boundaries by straddling the line between art music and pop. Their new album, Technicolour Education, focuses on the Chinese diasporic experience in Vancouver through generations of immigrant stories. Tickets are only $20 and can be purchased here.

Soft Cedar will be back at the end of January as well! On January 27, Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole will take the stage in a co-presentation with Capilano University as part of the CapU Global Roots Series. Kaumakaiwa brings to the stage an immense talent as a singer, chanter, and dancer as well as a deep understanding of her Hawaiian culture and her place as a modern, transgender (mahu wahine) Hawaiian in this contemporary world. She engages Indigenous thought to address today’s issues through music, chant, and sharing of spirit.

And, of course, who can forget about Power Ballad?!

For the aspiring Feminist Playwright in your life:

Do you have that one friend who always tells you their “brilliant” play ideas? Theatre creators and producers Kim Senklip Harvey and Pippa Mackie host Pitch, Bitch, or Ditch on Jan 14—an unforgettable night that puts the power in the hands of the patrons! From anonymous suggestions made by the audience, Kim and Pippa will lead patrons through a lively evening of banter and debate—no idea is off limits, no suggestions taboo or too dangerous. The bar will be open. There will be guest appearances…and loads of surprises! And with tickets for only $10, this makes the perfect stocking stuffer, or secret Santa gift!

AND THAT IS NOT EVEN ALL!
Full list of events for the Femme Series:

Jan 11: WROL (Without Rule of Law) by Michaela Jeffery—A new play reading presented by Touchstone Theatre, 8PM, Historic Theatre—FREE
Jan 12: Soft Cedar Presents: Only a Visitor album release, with special guest Wallgrin, 8PM, Historic Theatre—$20
Jan 14: Women in the Arts Mixer, 6-8PM, Historic Theatre—FREE
Jan 14: Pitch, Bitch, or Ditch, with Pippa Mackie and Kim Harvey8-9PM, Historic Theatre—$10
Jan 15 – 19: Dakh Daughters (Ukraine), York Theatre—Main Stage Season Production
Jan 22 – 26: Power Ballad, Julia Croft/Nisha Madhan (New Zealand), 8PM, Historic Theatre—Main Stage Season Production
Jan 25: Feminist Karaoke with Julia Croft, after Power Ballad, 9PM, Historic Theatre—FREE
Jan 27: Soft Cedar Presents: Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole, presented as part of CapU Global Roots Series, 8PM, York Theatre—$40
Feb 5 – 16: Much Ado About Nothing, Classic Chic Productions (Vancouver), Historic Theatre—Main Stage Season Production


Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Ghosts of Scrooges past!

Ghosts of Scrooges Past!

The story of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, is one of the best known and best loved Christmas stories. This beloved tale of redemption has been told and retold in many forms, from traditional tellings, to those that are down right brazen.

Esmé Massengill

Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens, which opened this week in the Historic Theatre falls firmly in the brazen category, with beloved Daisy Theatre character—the booze loving, faded and jaded Diva—Esmé Massengill, taking on the role of legendary miser, Scrooge.

In this role, so perfectly suited to her, Esmé Massengill joins the ranks of so many other celebrities who have taken on the challenge of playing Dickens’ Ebeneezer Scrooge (we think she does it best!).

Here is a look at a few other famous faces that have taken on this legendary role. Esmé is in good company!


Little Dickens runs Dec 4 – 22, 2018 at the Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

 

Cultch Connects: making a difference in our community!

Cultch Connects: making a difference in our community!

A huge thank you to everyone who has donated to our Cultch Connects program so far this year, you have made a very real difference in our community and we are so grateful for your support! This year has seen donations more than double, providing hundreds of free tickets to children, families and local organizations.

If you haven’t donated yet, we are excited to announce that our anonymous match-funder has made a new promise to match all donations made to our Cultch Connects program by January 07 2019, AND our Board of Directors have pledged to double all donations, which means all donations will be tripled!

For many of our Cultch Connects families, their trip to The Cultch is the first time they have ever seen a play. We believe that art is for everyone, and income or life circumstances should never be a barrier to participation in the arts. Our Cultch Connects program provides opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to come to the theatre to experience the joy of live performance.

Since the East Van Panto: The Wizard of Oz opened last week we have had more than ten community groups come to see the show at no cost, including includes Mom2Mom, the Vancouver Aboriginal Child & Family Services Society, the Kettle Friendship Society, and Aunt Leah’s place, among others.

 

By becoming a Cultch donor, you could have access to exclusive donor benefits, including a tax deductible receipt, discounts, access to special events, and more! Find out what your gift could mean for you here.

Little Dickens: The Holiday Hit is BACK!

 

Little Dickens: The Holiday Hit is BACK!

Back by popular demand—Ronnie Burkett’s holiday hit Little Dickens: The Daisy Theatre returns to The Cultch Historic Theatre Dec 4-22, 2018.

In December 2017, Ronnie Burkett premiered this Cultch exclusive, Little Dickens—an adults-only marionette rendition of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol created specifically for the amazing Vancouver audiences who embraced The Daisy Theatre characters in five sold-out runsto the Historic Stage. It was a huge hit with fans, old and new, as well as reviewers!

Check out some of the RAVE reviews from 2017interspersed with an insider look at Ronnie Burkett’s sweet and raunchy characters, direct from his Instagram @ronnieburkett:

“The Dickens story provides a solid platform for Burkett’s high-strung irreverence, but it also has a core of sweetness and generosity that make this show a genuine gift. Enjoy it, Vancouver” — Kathleen Oliver, The Georgia Straight

“The familiar characters from his bizarre repertoire ring a showbiz variation on Dickens’ tale that’s…warmer and fuzzier in a Christmassy way, punctuated by raunchy asides and moments of sheer Burkettian brilliance”—Jerry Wasserman, The Vancouver Sun

“Puppeteer Ronnie Burkett is a genius. He just is…I would watch Schnitzel all night long anywhere” — Colin Thomas, colinthomas.ca

“Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens is a retelling of A Christmas Carol but with more bah-hum-buggery, fewer heartwarming lessons in morality, and a whole lot of excellent banter” — Connal Mcnamara, Vancouver Weekly

I’d recommend seeing it twice because it’s guaranteed you’ll be laughing so hard you’ll have missed some of the great lines the first time around” — Monika Forberger, EntertainmentVancouver.com

“It was a delight to see Dickens’s timeless characters given a glorious and slightly smutty twist” — Molly Gray, The Vancouver Arts Review

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In her gender defying performance as Scrooge in Little Dickens last season, Daisy Theatre superstar Esmé Massengill appeared in a stunning red redemption gown at the end of the show. It was pretty wow, but given that Mrs.Edna Rural essentially stole the show in her light up Christmas tree costume, it was decided to give Esmé a new and “WOW”ier final costume. Kim Crossley, who has made my puppet costumes for almost three decades, came to Puppetland this week, and in two days – voilà! – Miss Massengill shines anew. And in Esmé’s own words, “What tops a Christmas tree, darling? A star, that’s what!” . . #esmemassengill #thedaisytheatre #littledickens #thedaisytheatrechristmascarol #esmeplaysscrooge #costumedesign #puppetdesign #puppetbuilder #theatredesign #maketheyuletidegay #instagay #acchristmascarol #bahhumbugdarling #ronnieburketttheatreofmarionettes

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“…bold storytelling, black humour, and unscripted razor-edged dialogue” — John Jane, reviewVancouver

“I guarantee…you will not have seen anything like this before. It is visually spectacular, exceptionally well executed and truly special to behold” — Penny Warwick, Two Pence & Two Cents

“It’s foul-mouthed fun backed by artistic wizardry, and it’s entertaining as hell” —Lillian Jasper, Two Pence & Two Cents

“Burkett had the crowd laughing along heartily as his marionettes refreshed this classic with their inventive songs and quirky personalities” — Tessa Perkins Deneault, Centre Stage

Are you ready to see your favourite Daisy Theatre characters in in the merriest marionette mash-up again? It is almost time!


Little Dickens runs Dec 4 – 22, 2018 at the Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Rungh. Means. Colour: an interview with our Community Partner

Photo courtesy of: Rungh Archive

Rungh came onto the scene in the early nineties, as a quarterly magazine that held its focus on South Asian Culture, Comment and Criticism. It provided an outlet for marginalized communities to express their opinions, experiences and art and held space to challenge dominant narratives. 26 years on, Rungh has relaunched as an online platform that continues to challenge diversity in the arts and create conversations that encourage cultural growth within Canada. We spoke with co-founder and editor of Rungh, Zool Suleman, to learn more!

Can you tell us a little bit about Rungh, for those who may not have heard of it yet?

Rungh is a word which means “colour” in many languages. Our new tag line is “Rungh. Means. Colour”. If you speak one of the languages (Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, Farsi, and more) you will know! Rungh started as a non profit society and a print magazine in 1992. Rungh also hosted and produced arts events like readings, workshops, creative productions, and fostered a variety of conversations. Rungh also protested against how Canada’s arts institutions worked. We still do that! From 1992-1999, Rungh had a print publication which you can still see on our site in the Archives section, or at the Simon Fraser University Digital Library site. Rungh was relaunched as a cultural web platform in 2017. 26 years old and also, brand new.

What inspired you to create the first issue, all those years ago, back in 1992?

Photo Credit: Ali Kazimi

Rungh was inspired by an absence of voices in Canada’s cultural landscape. These voices today are referred to as IBPOC (Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour) – this term, also, does not do justice to the range of absences which exist. Rungh’s relaunch is committed to looking at the intersectional conversations that need to be had on the Canadian arts scene be they defined by race, gender, sexuality, geography, class, power and otherwise.

How, would you say, the conversation in the arts has changed over the last thirty years?

In many ways, the conversation has not changed, sadly. But, in other ways, the conversation now tries to include and centre Indigenous voices. Rungh is an incubation partner with a new set of conversations which are taking place under the heading of Primary Colours/Couleurs Primaires. The focus of PC/cp is to centre Indigenous voices in the middle of the Canadian art system. Rungh is a part of that journey and has published several pieces on this journey. In the future, more content focusing on this necessary transition within Canada’s art systems will be found in Rungh.

Have you seen any firsthand accounts of how Rungh has impacted its audiences?

Rungh has played a vital role in creating and documenting conversations, and creative work around ideas of “multiculturalism”, “race”, “belonging” and more over the past 25 years. I put these terms in quotation marks because the terms themselves are sites of contestation. A significant part of Rungh’s mission, with it’s relaunch, has been to activate it’s archive. Records of what racialized and otherwise marginalized voices have contributed to the Canadian art system continue to be lost, if they are kept at all. These histories are vital and Rungh is working to secure and foster work founded on Rungh’s archive but also to help other similarly situated communities to do so. Our notions of who makes “art” and “culture” in Canada, need to change.

Artistic credit: David Garneau

What are your thoughts on the diversity within Vancouver’s theatre community, as it stands at the moment? Have you seen an improvement in the last few years?

Rungh is about to publish a conversation with Rohit Chokhani, Jiv Parasram, Kathleen Flaherty, Rahul Varma, and Zahida Rahemtulla. If you do not know who they are, look them up. Between them, they encompass different generations, different geographies, and differing views about what we call “theatre”. In terms of what could be called “South Asian theatre in Canada”, this is only one slice of an ongoing conversation. My sense, as the person who asked the questions, is that the ethic of how work is produced about/by/within South Asian communities continues to evolve. The production scenes in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, are quite different. There are many voices wanting to be heard. Avoiding generalities and providing cultural specificity in theatre/performance works about “South Asians”, might be of more use in defining conversations. I urge the readers to read the interview in Rungh when it is published. Join our free mailing list at www.rungh.org

Stop press! All donations made Nov 27 – 30 will be tripled!

Giving Tuesday: Stop press! All donations made Nov 27 – 30 will be tripled!

This year we are in a unique position:

An anonymous match-funder has pledged to match all donations made to our Cultch Connects program, doubling the impact of any gift made

AND

The Cultch Board of Directors have pledged to double all donations made to our Cultch Connects program from Giving Tuesday on November 27 until November 30.

This means that all gifts made during this four day period will be tripled!

Giving Tuesday is a global movement for giving and volunteering, that sees charities, companies and individuals join together and rally for favourite causes. It harnesses the collective power of organizations and individuals to encourage and amplify small (and sometimes large) acts of kindness.

Our Cultch Connects program provides free tickets to our holiday hit the East Van Panto and other shows throughout our season to people in need. This year will be our most ambitious Cultch Connects fundraising campaign yet, giving more free tickets to children, low-income families and community organizations than ever before.

The Cultch Board Chair, Frank Costanzo says “I first got involved with The Cultch because I grew up in East Vancouver and I am passionate about the arts. As the Board Chair, I have the privilege of working with a group of dedicated professionals who care deeply about helping the Cultch. Match-funding any donation made on giving Tuesday is a way for the Board to really give back to the community”.

Make a gift November 27 – 30 for the biggest impact and make so many holidays so much brighter!