The world premiere of CHILDREN OF GOD!

The world premiere of Children of God!

May 19th is a very special night for The Cultch. It is our immense honor and privilege to present Children of God in collaboration with Urban Ink Productions, National Arts Centre English Theatre, and Raven Theatre! After two amazingly received preview presentations (May 17-18) it is finally time to present this timely and urgent musical to the world.

The cast of Children of God | Photo credit: Emily Cooper

In this powerful musical, the children of an Oji-Cree family, Tommy and Julia are sent to a residential school in Northern Ontario. Children of God is a story of redemption: for their mother Rita, who was never let past the school’s gate, and her kids, who never knew she came.

Brother and sister, Tommy (Herbie Barnes) and Julia (Cheyenne Scott) in Children of God. Photo by Emily Cooper

It may seem like dark subject matter for a musical, but as Writer/Director Corey Payette says in The Georgia Straight“How I understand musicals to work best is they express emotions that are beyond words, so when characters can no longer speak, they sing. This felt like a perfect fit.” In fact, when you hear Corey speak about it, the more and more a musical seems like the clear choice to start a conversation about residential schools. “What I’ve been taught from the elders I’ve worked with” Corey says in an interview with The Vancouver Sun,  “is that you cannot tell a story without that story having a song. You cannot sing a song without that song having a dance. And you cannot dance without that dance telling a story. So for me, the musical form really lends itself to indigenous performance.”

Watch this video with Corey Payette as he describes the story of Children of God.

Residential schools are a dark part of Canadian history. According to Reconciliation Canada, over the course of roughly 130 years, over 150, 000 children were forcefully removed from their family homes and taken to residential schools to be re-educated and converted. Today, it is estimated that there are over 80,000 residential school survivors living in Canada. This isn’t ancient history, this is our current reality; the last residential school didn’t close it’s doors until 1996.

Study time at Native residential school, (Fort) Resolution, NWT © Public Domain Credit: Library and Archives Canada, PA-042133

Children of God demonstrates the intergeneration impact of a cultural genocide,” says Payette. “It shows how this chapter in Canadian history changed the course of lives. We hope that it will help people understand what happened. We hope that people will enter the theatre one way and leave it changed” states Corey  in an interview with BeatRoute Magazine. As Colin Thomas says in his blog, Fresh Sheet,“As Canadians, all of us are connected in some way to the legacy of residential schools. Corey Payette’s new musical, Children of God, which addresses that legacy… may be one of the most important openings we’ve seen in years.”

Cast of Children of God. Photo by Emily Cooper

Children of God may have dark and triggering subject matter, but it offers moments of hope, and it is a true celebration of the strength of our indigenous peoples.“When I spent the years meeting with survivors and their families talking about the story I wanted to tell, the thing that I wasn’t prepared for and that I didn’t fully understand was the strength it took for survivors to forgive” says Corey in a Q&A with Artslandia. “I felt those conversations changed the direction of the show to be about celebrating the strength of Indigenous peoples to overcome this tragic part of our history, and this strength is not widely reported in the media; it’s powerful and a kind of resilience that is overwhelming to imagine.”

The response we have been getting at our previews has been overwhelming. This is a powerful piece of theatre. Here is what one audience member had to say: “Last night, Brent and I went to Children of God. I was astounded by the message, the play, the actors, the lyrics, the music and the incredible way it was all combined so completely. Corey Payette and the team did an amazing job. It was so thought provoking, disturbing, shocking, and beautiful , and I left the theatre full of emotion, guilt, strength, and sadness from the resonating messages. We need to get PM Trudeau in to see it on Friday when he is in Vancouver!”

Watch this great video with Corey Payette (Meet the Creator) describing the journey of creating Children of God.

If you want to know more about Children of God you can listen to Corey Payette and Kim Harvey on Roundhouse Radio speaking with Kirk LaPointe. And dont miss this great interview with Corey Payette on The Early Edition with Rick Cluff (interview starts at 2:39:57).

Children of God runs at the York Theatre, May 17-Jun 3. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Contains swearing, sexual content, and haze.
Due to the triggering content of the performance, Emotional Support Workers will be available to provide support to audience members who may require it.

In Conversation: Kim Harvey from Children of God

In Conversation: Kim Harvey from Children of God

Children of God, a new Urban Ink musical by Corey Payette, makes its world premiere this week at the York Theatre. In this powerful piece, the children of an Oji-Cree family are sent to a residential school in Northern Ontario. Children of God 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.

Kim Harvey plays Joanna in Children of God. Audiences may know Kim from her work as a director, writer, and actor across Canada or through her position as Youth Program Manager at The Cultch. On a break from rehearsal, Kim sat down with us to talk about Children of God and theatre as a medium for reconciliation.

Kim Harvey (Cast – Joanna/Secretary) during the initial read through. Photo by Brian Chan

You were originally part of the workshop productions for Children of God, what has it been like to watch this production grow and take shape through the years?

I remember at a Cultch staff meeting, the question  was asked “What is one of the most powerful piece of theatre you’ve ever been a part of?” I had just come back from doing the workshop in Kamloops and I had said Children of God. It was really powerful. It resonated with me in a way that only a few shows have.

Specifically in terms of the growth and development, I feel really lucky because we keep getting more. We’re getting an entire orchestra, we’re getting the time to invest in the characters, to really figure out who each and every character is. When you’re in a workshop, you’re getting it done as fast as you can; but in this process I feel really honoured to get to see all of the characters grow, to really get to know my character Joanna and figure out her track and her story.

Also the music. To see the development of the music, it’s already been so beautiful. It has been very special to be a part of it for a very long time and there is something very special when we talk about growth of seeing Indigenous people work together and be together. I just feel really lucky to spend time with Indigenous artists, because that doesn’t really happen enough; because the opportunities are not there. I think we’re all at the point now where we really want people to see it!

Can you tell us a little about your character in the production?

The main character I play is Joanna, she is a very young, 14-year-old Indigenous girl who is in the residential school. I have fallen in love with her. She is a joy to play because she’s earnest and has this youthfulness that as adults we don’t get to tap into anymore. She is a fighter. She’s not the brightest but trying so hard all of the time and I think she has a giant heart. I think Joanna is radically empathetic to what is going on and I think she’s a good representation of one story of what happened to one person surviving the residential schools. She’s also a survivor which I feel a deep sense of responsibility playing because there are so many survivors out there and Joanna is absolutely one of them.

At one point I saw Joanna as a victim, as I imagined what her track was as she grew up I thought, ‘Oh things don’t really work out for her, I’m not sure how well Joanna does in her life once she leaves’. And in this particular production I think that’s changed. I think Joanna not only survives but ends up thriving. I don’t know if it’s because of where I’m at in my own life or my own reconciliation.

In terms of Joanna, I feel the pressure because there are so many survivors out there and there are so many young people who didn’t survive. This is for the hundreds of thousands of children who are buried in unmarked graves and who will never be able to see this show and weren’t as fortunate as Joanna. So I feel honoured to get to play her. I kind of based her a little bit on my mom in terms of her surviving and thriving. So, it’s an honour in so many ways.

Can you tell us a little about the music in this show?

What Corey has done with the music is he has used it as a window and our opportunity to enter into the story. We can go there with the music.

The music is incredible. These songs are just beautiful… they absolutely move you and they hit you in your spirit and they stick with you. And I think that’s a really great tool for the audiences to leave with. If nothing they will leave with the music inside them, remembering how moving and beautiful it was especially around content that is so difficult.

It’s contemporary, it’s sometimes a bit pop-rock and then it’s also absolutely traditional in the sense that we have a hand drum and we have drum songs and Corey has melded these two sort of genres and artistic practices together to create something I don’t think this country has ever seen before.

He’s really is investigating what the evolution of Indigenous song sounds like. My dad used to say that we’ve always evolved our artistic practices. Our ancestors were innovators and they thought about things differently and so I think Corey is participating in an ancestral practice of what indigenous storytelling looks and sounds like. And I’m so honoured to be a part of it and witness him doing that and also that we get to share it with people. I just can’t say enough that I’ve never been a part of anything like it and I’ve never seen anything like it.

In what way do you feel that theatre as a medium is a powerful tool for reconciliation and conversation?

I have worked in social and child welfare, I continue to work in youth engagement, I’ve worked with government in community engagement, I’ve participated in Truth and Reconciliation forums, I’ve done youth empowerment websites and what still resonates and rings the truest and the strongest for me is theatre. That this medium is such a community interaction and on this particular show there is going to be a talkback every night. And to me that is going to be extraordinarily exciting.

You will leave an entirely different person. You will not leave the same person that you came into it. There is something about theatre especially in the creation process, of Indigenous people in a room every day for weeks, focusing on trying to find the truth of our history and how it is impacting the present. There are so many echoes and ripples of why theatre is so powerful and the performances are one aspect of it.

And in the age of technology with huge spikes of people feeling anxious and depressed and isolated and disengaged, this is the antithesis of that. And the fact that it’s a traditional practice to bear witness to a story. That everyone comes to see it is bearing witness to the truth of what has happened in this country. And with that information as a witness the responsibility is then to go and share what you know. Everyone who comes to see this show will become a witness and then an ambassador for understanding what exactly happened in our country and what is still happening. I’ve explored a lot of different ways of figuring out how I can help the community and I keep coming back to theatre. Because I still feel that it has the strongest impact.

It is for me where I’m supposed to be and the strongest tool we have to get people to understand what happened.

Someone said “Theatre is the strongest way to show another human being what it is to be a human being” and I absolutely believe that. It’s hard to deny a living thing in front of you.

By coming that is a way that you can help create that reconciliation, by participating, by bearing witness to the truth.

Is there anything else that you would like to say to the audiences?

I want to make sure that non-Indigenous people feel welcome. Because this show is for them. This show is for people who really want to understand why the present is the way it is. People need to see this. That the only way we are going to achieve real truth and reconciliation is by having the active participation of everyone to bear witness to this and I think that that is so important. We just need to honour the truth. And yes, this is a very dark and damaging part of our past but I think the only way we are all going to be able to move on from it is by understanding what happened. And that is what is going to happen when you see this show. It’s going to move you, It’s going to inform you, it’s going to show you how you can be empathetic… the impacts are still going on.

Because I think you will learn about intergenerational trauma, which I am a survivor of, and how that trauma stays with us. How Joanna, if she has children, what that trauma will do to her children. To all of the children who were at the school and I think people need to understand that, that the trauma is still very much present in us and we are working as hard as we can to figure it out, but we would really love some allies. I think coming to this show – that’s what you can do – you can help a lot of people by understanding the truth of the situation. And that’s why I feel so passionately about this show about seeing it about doing it… I just want to make sure as many people as possible see this show and this show lives because this is a really amazing way to participate in honouring the truth of what happened and is still occurring.

And the talkbacks – you’re not going to want to miss them. The talkbacks in Kamloops were lively and heartbreaking. You are going to bear witness to a story based on historical events but then you are going to have people standing up and speaking about their truths and sharing their stories and people getting angry and people feeling frustration and THAT is what we need more of we need to actually engage with each other and that is going to be exciting.

Our final song is not about finger pointing. It’s not about blaming anyone – we have to help each other to reconcile and remedy what happened and what all of our ancestors participated in… Corey has done a really magnificent job of ensuring that we can’t point fingers and continue the hate because then it is a vicious cycle of what happened.  We’ve got to rise above and I think it’s empowering when you see the show to see how you can be an active ally.

Kim Harvey toasts the cast and crew. Photo by Brian Chan

 

Children of God runs at the York Theatre, May 17-Jun 3. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.
 
Contains swearing, sexual content, and haze.
Due to the triggering content of the performance, Emotional Support Workers will be available to provide support to audience members who may require it.

 

Announcing the 2017 rEvolver Festival Mainstage!

A man stuck in a London train station. A live game show. A cardboard puppet sci-fi western. A live drag attari video game musical. An embarrassing birthday gift. A Spanish Vampire bar. A bespoke handmade book. The meaning of love.

Upintheair Theatre is thrilled to be back at The Cultch for the fifth annual rEvolver Theatre Festival. rEvolver runs from May 24th – June 4th, presenting new work by Vancouver and Canada’s most exciting up and coming performers and theatre creators. Past rEvolver Festivals have included world premieres of hit shows such as Jordan Hall’s ‘Kayak’, Delinquent Theatre’s ‘Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical” (which featured as part of The Cultch’s 2015/16 season) and Mind of a Snail’s gorgeous shadow puppetry in ‘Caws and Effect’.

This year’s programming represents the rich diversity of voices, aesthetics, and styles among Vancouver and Canadian emerging professional theatre makers. Join us in seeing all that this incredible community of artists has to offer.

Got to revolverfestival.ca for all the information you need!

MAINSTAGE SHOWS:

FREE EVENTS:

  • Habitats Isabelle Kirouac & Nayana Fielkov (Vancouver)
  • Plunge in collaboration with Resounding Scream Theatre (Vancouver)
  • SHINY Kelly McInnes (Vancouver)
  • UPDRAFTS Reading Series featuring new works by emerging playwrights

Excited by what you see? There are a number of different ways you can purchase tickets!

  1. With the 6-show flex pass, the passholder can see up to six individual shows, take five friends to one show, or any combination in between!
  2. If you can’t see 6 shows, you can still save by purchasing a 3-show pass instead!
  3. And of course individual tickets are available both through The Cultch’s Box Office and at the door.

BEHIND THE SCENES – Children of God in Rehearsal

BEHIND THE SCENES – Children of God in Rehearsal

The Cultch, in collaboration with Urban Ink Productions, National Arts Centre English Theatre, and Raven Theatre is thrilled to present the world premiere of Corey Payette’s powerful new musical Children of God opening May 19th at the York Theatre!

Pulling musical inspiration from Indigenous traditions as well as Broadway hits, this musical is a timely piece that tells the heartbreaking story of the residential schools through the eyes of one Oji-Cree family. Offering a thrilling blend of ancient traditions and contemporary realities, Children of God celebrates resilience and the power of the Indigenous cultural spirit.

Writer/ Director Corey Payette and Assistant Director Julie McIsaac looking over the script. Photo by Brain Chan

The creative team, along with the cast and a whole host of support personnel, have been hard at work getting ready for next weeks opening night performance. Here are some fabulous shots  by Brian Chan from the early days of rehearsals.

Actress Cathy Elliot, who plays Rita in Children of God, wrote a powerful piece about how working on the workshop of this show impacted her life; “It gets a little difficult sometimes to remember that the word “healing” had more power before it became a made-for-tv catchword, or a politician’s promise or a meme. I have difficulty saying it. Its meaning has been worn down, polished thin through constant use. But it is the only word I can use for what I wish to attempt to describe as a monumental event that has had an effect on my life.”

We love this shot of Kim Harvey (The Cultch’s own Youth Program Manager – we are so proud!) toasting the whole team on the first day of rehearsals! Kim plays Joanna in Children of God.  A huge cheers to Children of God!

Kim Harvey makes a toast to Children of God cast and crew. Photo by Brian Chan

Children of God runs at the Historic Theatre, May 17-Jun 3. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Award-winning La Merda makes its North American debut at the Historic Theatre

Award-winning La Merda makes its North American debut at the Historic Theatre

Photo by Marco Pavanelli

History in the making! After sell-out runs in Rome, London, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Sao Paulo, Madrid and Adelaide, Cristian Ceresoli’s La Merda, performed by legendary Italian performer Silvia Gallerano, opened at the Historic Theatre on May 2. Performed completely naked, Gallerano’s performance is powerful, desperate, vulnerable, and cutting. Don’t miss it; make sure you book your tickets soon!

See what local reviewers have to say about this provocative feminist work:

BOLDLY FEMINIST La Merda unleashes a stream of naked fury” – Kathleen Oliver, The Georgia Straight

“The character is NAKED in every sense. It’s brutal but absolutely RIVETING to watch” – Jo Ledingham, joledingham.ca

“[La Merda] is well worth queuing up for” – Lincoln Kaye, Vancouver Observer

“We in this Vancouver of complacency need to be KICKED IN THE BUTT. Last night Silvia Gallerano did a lot of that.” – Alex Waterhouse Hayward, alexwaterhousehayward.com

“She’s MESMERIZING” – Colin Thomas, colinthomas.com

Photo by Valeria Tomasulo

LA MERDA runs at the Historic Theatre, May 2-13. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Presented with the Italian Cultural Centre

Italian Cultural Centre

REVIEWS: Mump and Smoot in Anything (With Knooma)

REVIEWS: Mump and Smoot in Anything (With Knooma)

Photo by Ian Jackson

Mump and Smoot are back! It’s time to brush up on your Ummomian (the gibberish language spoken in Ummo, the parallel universe Mump and Smoot live in), Canada’s favourite ‘clowns of horror’ are back at The Cultch with their latest production, Mump and Smoot in Anything!  We had a great opening April 27th with tonnes of belly laughs – it was just what the doctor ordered!

Photo by Ian Jackson

 

Check out some of the REVIEWS coming in for Mump and Smoot in Anything:

“Comic horror clowns Mump and Smoot offer more FRIGHT DELIGHT” – Jerry Wasserman, The Vancouver Sun

“My cheeks hurt from grinning so much” – Tiva Quinn, iliveineastvan.com

“A cult classic that returns to Vancouver not often enough…Turner and Kennard are BOUNDLESSLY CREATIVE…”- Jo Ledingham, joledingham.ca

“These self-described “clowns of horror” always CHARM me and always push me towards HYSTERIA. Their latest offering, Mump and Smoot in Anything, is no exception.”– Colin Thomas, colinthomas.ca

“In Mump and Smoot in Anything, as in other Mump and Smoot productions, we are temporarily released from the everyday and delivered into a funhouse universe” – Alexander Varty, The Georgia Straight

Photo by Ian Jackson

MUMP AND SMOOT IN ANYTHING runs at the York Theatre, April 27- May 6. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Rave Reviews for Vertical Influences!

Rave Reviews for Vertical Influences!

The cast of Vertical Influences take a bow! Photo Credit: Roaming the Planet

The Cultch celebrated the opening of a very special show on April 18. Montreal’s Le Patin Libre brought down Britannia Ice Rink with an unprecedented performance – unlike any ice dancing you are likely to have seen! No sparkles, no fuzzy costumes, just pure and beautiful skating!

Check out some of these AMAZING REVIEWS for Vertical Influences:

“Do your body a favour: GO SEE Vertical Influences” – Colin Thomas

“In Vertical Influences, we get five young dancers on skates, wearing ponytails, dreads, and baggy street clothes, VIRTUOSICALLY reinventing the form and PLAYFULLY using it to upend notions of time, space, and physics. With equal amounts of sass and technique, THEY TEAR UP THE SHEET OF ICE” – Janet Smith, The Georgia Straight

Vertical Influences is a STUNNING combination of figure skating and dance” – Mark Robins, Vancouver Presents

Vertical Influences is a BEAUTIFUL MASH-UP of sophisticated figure skating with contemporary street dance” – Carly Whetter, Vancouver Magazine

“Five Performers…DAZZLED us with straight ice skating with no tu-tus, or schmaltzy music” – Alex Waterhouse Hayward

VERTICAL INFLUENCES runs at Britannia Ice Rink, April 18-30. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Vertical Influences offers FREE workshop at Britannia Ice Rink

Vertical Influences offers FREE workshop at Britannia Ice Rink!

We are so EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE that Le Patin Libre – creators of VERTICAL INLFUENCES – will be hosting an amazing FREE Workshop on April 27 1-3pm at Britannia Ice Rink – for ALL AGES and ALL SKILL LEVELS! This is a great event to take the whole family to!

Photo credit: Rolline Laporte

Led by the artists and company choreographers, these playful activities can be enjoyed by all skaters. Through choreographic games and simple teachings, the artists will convince participants that anybody can feel the magic of glide and enjoy the freedom and liberation of ice-dancing. It’s optional to bring your own skates and helmets. There will be FREE rentals for workshop participants.
 
Please RSVP to communications@thecultch.com if you are interested in joining the workshop.

Photo Credit: Alicia Clarke

Wanna know more about Vertical Influences? Check out these great interviews in The Georgia Straight, The Vancouver Sun, and Vancouver Presents!

 

“We are able to bring together groups that wouldn’t otherwise come together and have an opportunity to introduce them to this contemporary performing art. IT REALLY IS QUITE EXCITING.” – Alexandre Hamel in interview with Mark Robins, Vancouver Presents

VERTICAL INFLUENCES runs at Britannia Ice Rink, April 18-30. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.
This event is generously supported by
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How to Be: Q&A with Choreographer Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg

How to Be: Q&A with Choreographer Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg

How To Be, a new creation by Vancouver’s iconic dance & theatre creator Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg, opens April 12 at The Cultch Historic Theatre! Produced by Tara Cheyenne Performance, this piece was presented as part of Boca Del Lupo’s Micro Performance Series and at Dancing on the Edge. We are excited about its premiere at The Cultch! We had a chance to ask Tara a few questions and learn more about the inspiration for How To Be:    

 

L to R: (top row) Kimberly Stevenson, Tara Cheyenne, Josh Martin, Bevin Poole, (bottom row) Marcus Youssef, Kate Franklin. Photo by Wendy D

Hi Tara! We’re thrilled that your piece, How To Be, will be premiering at The Historic Theatre April 12-15. The image for the show expresses a dynamic relationship between the performers – what is the relationship between them?  The photos were a riff on bad family portraits. Family often being the first place we learn “how to be” for better or worse. We are playing with the relationship between how we feel about ourselves and how we feel about others. It’s a great quagmire of heartbreak and comedy.

Does this piece contain your signature comedic style? What are some of those comedic elements? Well I think it’s funny! The performers/collaborators are all extremely talented and funny people. They each bring hilarity and vulnerability as we track “how to be.” Comic elements? I think it’s possible to find comedy everywhere; our pain, our loneliness, our egos run amuck. Certainly our endless cultural obsession with defining the correct ways to be is absorbing and funny.

What inspires you about exploring the topic of “how to be”? My own futile desire to find the right way to be. And of course as I’ve explored this I find we are all wrestling with the question, and frustrated with ourselves for not knowing the answers. Of course there are no answers. What does it even mean to “be yourself”?

The show seems to explore a fine line between fragility and persona – can you talk more about this? We are all uniquely ourselves, one in the universe and composites of every personality and experience that has touched us. Asking the question “how should a person be?” opens us up to our own vulnerability, our own fragile tentative fumbling. Where does my persona begin? Where does the “self” end? Can I find the answers in a Facebook questionnaire? What does my answer to number 7 really say about me?

If we fail at how we think we should be, what’s left? I think we fail all the time at this. Our emotions, our bodies, our minds betray our ideas of how/what we should be all the time. But isn’t  that wonderful? Fascinating and infuriating? Failure is possibility.

How to Be runs from April 12-15 in The Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

We are so excited to announce our 2017/2018 Season!

We are so excited to announce our 2017/2018 Season!

We had a blast at our season launch announcement party – thank you to everyone who joined us!

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We are so excited to announce our 2017/2018 season! Check out this fun video announcing the 22 amazing new shows coming to The Cultch in 2017 and 2018!

Subscriptions go on sale today! Browse our Spectacular 17/18 Season Overview. Save 20% with our Choose 5 subscription package or 25% with our Choose 8 subscription package! This season, the more you see, the more save. You’ll enjoy an exciting roster of artists and programs, from the best seats in the house. Order today: TICKETS.THECULTCH.COM

Single tickets go on sale August 8. Call The Cultch’s Box Office at 604-251-1363 or go online at tickets.thecultch.com.