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!

 

It’s behind you! (oh no it isn’t!): The history of the East Van Panto

It’s official, the most wonderful time of the year is rapidly approaching. Everything at Starbucks has turned a garish shade of red, and all the drinks are spiked with EggNog. Pacific Centre will soon start lulling their shoppers into a state of hypnotized spending surrender with the repetitive tones of Jingle Bells. And the Ugly Christmas Sweater party season has been in full swing for so long that we haven’t even put ours away from last year yet.

As you know, here at The Cultch, we like to put our own twist on the holiday season. In fact, we like to turn it completely on its head with our incredible winter programming (can you say Little Dickens?!?). And this year marks the sixth anniversary of on of our favourite holiday treat: Theatre Replacement’s East Van Panto.

So, what better time to take a look back at the last few years of glorious pantomiming? Let’s reminisce about all the weird and wonderful ways that Theatre Replacement has created a home-grown East Van tradition that just keeps getting bigger and better every year.

Okay, here we go…

2017

2017 brought us the delightful Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Written by Mark Chavez, directed by Anita Rochon, with music and lyrics by Veda Hille. The Georgia Straight described it as “a hyperlocal and wonderfully creative reimagining of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” It featured some of the years biggest hits including Despacito and Can’t Stop This Feeling – all rewritten to have a more East Van flair, of course.

Spotlight on: The Dame

With every panto comes a Dame – an over the top female character always played by a man. Snow White’s Dame was played by Alan Zinyk in the role of The Evil Stepmother – the Real Housewife of West Vancouver.

2016

2016 Panto audiences were enthralled with Little Red Riding Hood, whose adventures took her along the Adanac bike path on the search for Grandma’s house, at the Woodwards Building.

Spotlight on: the Studio 58 students

Every year, the East Van Panto plucks three, willing, Studio 58 students from their highly regarded conservatory style performance program, and plops them onto the York stage in the most ridiculous costumes. The aim is to flesh out the cast with three up and coming, pre professional actors and give the students some stage time in a professional, Vancouver production. In 2016, the lucky three were: Stephanie Wong, Elizabeth Barrett and Mason Temple who donned their brussel sprout and hot dog costumes with the upmost of professionalism.


2015

Hansel and Gretel stole the show in 2015 with a Vancouver version of their perilous plight. After being dropped off in the wilderness of Stanley Park by their evil food-blogger stepmother, the sibling duo ran into a hippie witch who captured them and fattened Hansel up in preparation to consume him. Naturally, hilarity ensued.

 

Spotlight on: The Kids

Pantomimes are traditionally a family affair. And not just in the audience, but also on the stage. Each year, the East Van Panto enlists fifteen kids, in five groups of three, to take it in turns to don adorable costumes and make their stage debuts. In Hansel and Gretel, the children appeared as cute, fluffy woodland creatures as well as an army of gingerbread men (still cute, but also slightly ominous).

2014

The East Van version of everyone’s favorite Disney movie came to life on stage in 2014. With a saxophone playing Cinderella, ugly stepsisters with vinyl collections, and a suspiciously Trump like King, this version was perhaps slightly ahead of its time.

Spotlight on: The Music

Since the East Van Panto’s conception in 2013, local musician, composer, and genius: Vede Hille has provided the score. Vede is infamous for taking well loved pop songs and giving them an East Vancouver flavor. Check out how she spun this T-Swift classic.

2013

And so we come to the end of our journey through time. Back to the OG East Van Pantomime. One thing we can say for certain is our graphic design has come along way. Jack And The Beanstalk, the first production of its kind here in Vancouver, also marked the first production in the newly renovated York Theatre. It was a huge hit that would go on to spark a new tradition in East Van that would last for (at least) six years.

Spotlight on: The Set

Since the beginning of the East Van Panto incredible local artist, Laura Zerebeski, has provided the backdrops. Her incredible, impressionist interpretations of East Van’s landmarks provide the weird and wonderful worlds that our characters live in.

And there we have it, some blasts from the past of the East Van Panto. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed taking this stroll down memory lane with us. If you can’t get enough of the East Van Panto, there’s another lane that you can stroll down with us very soon – and this time, it’s yellow! Get your tickets for the East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz right here. 

 

By Charlotte Wright

Community Outreach and Marketing Intern

Cultch Connects funds veterans to attend the Ceasefire Series

Cultch Connects funds veterans to attend the Ceasefire Series

Last week our Cultch Connects donors made a real difference in our community by giving veterans and seniors from our community partner The Whole Way House free tickets to our Ceasefire Series. 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 in our community. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far!

“All of the men have enjoyed the opportunity to get out of the building and attend a play – something most of them haven’t done in many, many years. Thank you for giving them this opportunity.” The Whole Way House team

Whole Way House Society provides community building programs and tenant support services for 133 vulnerable seniors and veterans in the Downtown Eastside. Whole Way House is dedicated to creating a safe and welcoming environment, building meaningful relationships and a community that instills worth, value and dignity. The veterans and seniors saw all three shows in the series, SmallWar, Three Winters, and The Believers Are But Brothers, which marked the 100 year anniversary of the armistice of World War One.

Each year, our donors give 2,000 free tickets to children, low-income families and community organizations. We believe that art is for everyone, and income or life circumstances should never be a barrier to participation in live performance.

By making a gift this year, you can help make more tickets available than ever before. This year will be our most ambitious Cultch Connects fundraising campaign yet. Donate by the deadline on November 30 2018, and our anonymous match-funder will double your gift!

The Cultch is also collecting donations of non-perishable food items, toiletries, clothing and fitted twin bed sheets in our lobby until November 17. If you would like to make a donation of any of these items, please bring them to The Cultch.

A time for Remembrance: Theatre as a means for survival

A time for Remembrance: Theatre as a means for survival

This month, The Cultch is presenting the Ceasefire Series: an exploration of war to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice of WWI. The series features three unique shows that explore the causes, effects, and traumas of war from different lenses; one taking place during WWI (SmallWaR), one taking place during WWII (Three Winters), and one taking place in contemporary times (The Believers Are But Brothers). We hope you will come and enjoy all three!

As part of our Ceasefire Series we are please to present the world premiere of Amiel Gladstone’s Three Winters. Three Winters is a highly theatrical case for the creation of art as a means to survive, inspired by the experiences of Amiel Gladstone’s grandfathers who was a prisoner in Stalag Luft III POW camp—made famous by 1963 film The Great Escape. One of the ways the men in the POW camp survived was by making theatre.

“If it weren’t for their ability to make theatre, my Grandpa said he would have died in those WWII POW camps. This play is about that reality, told with immediacy and connection.” — Amiel Gladstone

Though not commonly known, theatre was one of several ways that men in the trenches, and men in POW camps kept themselves occupied during war. Early this year, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MOCAK) exhibited Lagertheater  an exhibition about theatre in concentration camps and POW camps, about which they say: “The assembled documentation reveals how difficult it was – in spite of the radical methods of extermination used – to extinguish the prisoners’ sense of their inner worth, which they expressed through the creative act.”

Amiel Gladstone’s play, Three Winters, has an all-female cast as a way of re-contextualizing this tale of war. “I became very interested in how much of a statement that was about why we make art and its importance…I got interested in how it was all men acting in those places and decided to reverse it to a cast of all young women. They aren’t used to playing war heroes anymore than my 22 year-old grandfather was in his POW situation,” says Gladstone.

Cross dressing was common in prisoner of war camps as well as in theatre for soldiers at the front. Some men became famous for their female impersonations, as shown in these archival photos images:

The idea of theatre as a means for survival is alive and well today. Theatre has used in many therapeutic ways from Drama Therapy, to helping Veterans who are suffering from PTSD, to theatre in refugee camps.

The cast of Three Winters…performing as men performing theatre in a POW camp! Photo by Emily Cooper


Three Winters runs Nov 7-17 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363. See all three Ceasefire Series shows for as low as $65 with The Cultch’s Choose 3 Subscription package.

A time for Remembrance: Women in War

A time for Remembrance: Women in War

This month, The Cultch is presenting the Ceasefire Series: an exploration of war to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice of WWI. The series features three unique shows that explore the causes, effects, and traumas of war from different lenses; one taking place during WWI (SmallWaR), one taking place during WWII (Three Winters), and one taking place in contemporary times (The Believers Are But Brothers). We hope you will come and enjoy all three!

Inspired by Amiel Gladstone’s fictional recontextualization of his grandfather’s war experience in Three Winters, Outreach Intern, Charlotte Wright, wanted to share the story of her own grandmother’s heroic journey in WWII.

After seeing any of the shows in this series, if you would like to share your reflections, memories, or stories, please email us at outreach@thecultch.com


As we approach a very special Remembrance Day we are flooded with images and stories of the incredible and heroic soldiers that gave their lives. But, as important as it is to remember the two generations of men that were ravaged by two world wars, it’s also important not to forget the women – who weren’t just left behind, but who were fighting battles of their own.

Marija Rudzites, my Grandmother, was imprisoned in a Nazi labour camp at the age of 17 near Riga, Latvia. When she spoke about her time there, which wasn’t often, she remembered pushing what little food she had through a barbed wire fence into the hands of the starving children in the concentration camp on the other side.

Upon her release, when Latvia was “liberated” from Nazi rule by the Soviets, she was given a choice: stay or leave. She, alone, chose to leave. She walked across war ridden Eastern Europe, leaving her entire family behind. She spent her days trekking across the continent for months on end; she spent her nights sleeping in fields and barns in the dead of winter, avoiding air raids that lit up the night sky like fireworks. I don’t know much about what else she faced on this journey, as she didn’t speak about it much, but I’m sure the horrors that I can picture don’t even begin to come close.

When she finally arrived at her destination, England, she was alone in a country where the language was not one of the three others that she spoke. After securing a job working in a hospital kitchen, she began to study. Before long, she hadn’t just mastered this new language; she had also been appointed one of the top nurses in the hospital. She returned to Latvia once, just before I was born. I am told that as soon as she got off of the plane, she knelt on the floor and kissed the ground – so grateful to have finally come home.

Photo by Emily Cooper

It’s not often that we hear the stories of the women that lived through these wars. We often forget to consider our grandmothers just as deserving of hero status as our grandfathers. People find it unusual that the events that take place in Three Winters are being told by women, when all the experiences were had by men. But the women were there too. Women lived and died too. Besides, at the end of the day when all the men were gone, who was left behind to tell their stories?

A time for Remembrance: Three Winters captures the defiance of the human spirit

A time for Remembrance: Three Winters captures the defiance of the human spirit

Louise Chapman, Cultch Development Associate

This November The Cultch is presenting the Ceasefire Series: an exploration of war to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice of WWI. The series features three unique shows that explore the causes, effects, and traumas of war from different lenses; one taking place during WWI (SmallWaR), one taking place during WWII (Three Winters), and one taking place in contemporary times (The Believers Are But Brothers). We hope you will come and enjoy all three!

Our Development Associate, Louise Chapman, had the opportunity to hear the early read through of Three Winters. She responded by writing this post.

After seeing any of the shows in this series, if you would like to share your reflections, memories, or stories, please email us at outreach@thecultch.com


 

Playwright, Amiel Gladstone revisits the site of his Grandfather’s internment

Part of the Ceasefire Series, Three Winters is a based on the true-life experiences of Playwright and Director Amiel Gladstone’s Grandfather in Stalag Luft III, a World War Two Prisoner of War (POW) Camp. Stalag Luft has become one of the most infamous POW camps of the war, mostly due to the escapes engineered by the Canadian, US and British soldiers held there.

Three Winters is set against the backdrop of the famous escape, but the real focus is the plays that the soldiers perform in the camp. Men in Stalag Luft were sent plays by the Red Cross which they staged in the camp, providing a creative space to escape to during the long months of incarceration.

The 1963 film with Steve McQueen immortalized the escape efforts of the prisoners in Stalag Luft III

 

I’m from the UK and growing up, every Christmas I would sit down with my Grandpa and watch the The Great Escape, an iconic 1960s movie based on the Stalag Luft story. We’d laugh at the jokes, whoop at Steve Mcqueen’s motorbike stunts, and hum the theme song for days afterwards.

My Grandpa was in his early twenties when World War Two started. He lost his best friend, watched his city turn to rubble in the Blitz, and experienced the brutality of the army. Like many people who have experienced war, he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and had nightmares into his nineties. Yet he found humour in the darkest of memories and would wistfully recall dances, dates with barmaids in towns he was stationed in, and one boozy night when he slept through a bomb blowing the roof off the house was staying in.

I’ve found this same humour in other people of my Grandpa’s generation. My friend Helma, now in her nineties, lost both her brother’s in the conflict. She still cries with laughter when telling stories of how, in occupied Holland, she would win local potato peeling competitions. Even friends who lived through the more recent Gulf War in Kuwait will share hilarious anecdotes of people escaping whilst hidden in boxes of underwear drenched in pungent fish sauce.

The characters in Three Winters, performed by an all-female cast, have the golden glow of youth that tinged my own Grandpa’s memories. They banter, they joke, they dream of the future and their sweethearts back home. In a world where millions are suffering and dying and their own fates are so uncertain, they explore morality and humanity in the form of theatre. Three Winters captures this defiance – to laugh and dream and live in the face of hopelessness.


Three Winters runs Nov 7-17 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363. See all three Ceasefire Series shows for as low as $65 with The Cultch’s Choose 3 Subscription package.

Javaad Alipoor: The Believers Are But Brothers looks at the shape of contemporary violence

Javaad Alipoor: The Believers Are But Brothers looks at the shape of contemporary violence

The Believers Are But Brothers (part of our Ceasefire Series) is in full swing in our Vancity Culture Lab (runs until Nov 10), and it has been getting amazing reviews!

“The textural variety of the show is rich…There’s more to take in than a single viewing affords; that’s an enormous achievement.”— Kathleen Oliver, The Georgia Straight

“The Believers Are But Brothers is about the internet and it’s like the internet: it’s bursting with information and I’m not sure how to make sense of it, but I find it really f**king stimulating.”— Colin Thomas

“It’s an impressive and important show.”—Lincoln Kaye, Vancouver Observer

We had a chat with the writer/director/performer, Javaad Alipoor about creating the show that The Georgia Straight said “clicks all the links”:

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a mixed race writer, director, poet, and political/social activist from a city in northern England called Bradford. I tend to make work that tries to encode the questions it asks about the world in the form of the play; whether my own writing like this play or my versions of classic plays. I also do a lot of community and participatory art works, and try to keep my hand in some other stuff too; I helped to set up a campaigning group that defends migrants in the UK, and write about politics and social theory occasionally.

What inspired the creation of The Believers Are But Brothers?

Really, I wanted to decanter the Islamophobic and racist narratives around the war on terror. So if you look at a lot of the ways that so-called “Muslim radicalisation” is talked about its as if we are told there is a problem with Muslim young men. To be slightly tongue in cheek, there’s just a problem with men; and that’s what this play explores.

We are so excited to have you here as part of our Ceasefire Series: An exploration of war to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice of WWI. With this series we set out to start conversations around the cause and effects of war; in what way does this show add to that conversation?

I think there are some ideas in the play that will help people to think about (and ask questions about) the shape of contemporary violence, and in particular how it exists as a sort of fantasy that helps to order a masculinity that finds itself in crisis. From Brexit to Trump, Modi to Bolsonaro, a revanchist and vicious right wing masculinity is ripping through the world. We need to think about what it is, if we are ever going to stop it.

The Believers Are But Brothers is also a co-production with Diwali in BC, and part of this year’s Diwali celebration. We understand that Diwali celebrates “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance”; how do you think that your show brings light and knowledge to issues we are often ignorant of?

I think a lot of the show is about things that people sort of know exist, or have heard of, but that exist just at the corner of vision. The bits of the internet just below the surface, or the young man in the room in the corner of your eye. Hopefully, we turn the light from the centre onto the fringe for a moment or two.

The Believers are but Brothers
Credit: The Other Richard

The Believers Are But Brothers utilizes the app Whatsapp—it is a rare show that people are encouraged to keep their phones on for! How does having people actively engaging via the app change the relationship between you, as the performer, and the audience?

A lot of my work, especially the stuff I write myself, tends to be work that responds to the physical reality of performers and audience being a room together, so in one sense its not all that different. I suppose what this extra level of interactivity brings out is a sense of liveness (weirdly, given that the audience engage through a screen!) that helps me to tell a little bit of the story about the way that we can often be over faces or consumed by the velocity of digital media.

Have you been to Vancouver before? What are you most excited to see or do while you are in town?

I haven’t been here before. I’m really looking forward to seeing some theatre and film here, as well as seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I’ve heard pretty great things about BC wine and seafood too.

The Believers Are But Brothers runs in the Vancity Culture Lab until Nov 10. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363. See all three Ceasefire Series shows for as low as $65 with The Cultch’s Choose 3 Subscription package.

Cultch Connects: making art for everyone!

Cultch Connects: making art for everyone!

A thank you note from a grateful recipient!

As Vancouver’s most diverse arts and culture hub, The Cultch brings world-class performance to our community in East Vancouver. We are a charity, and ticket income from our shows only makes up 30% of our running costs – the rest comes from the generous support of our donors, sponsors and funders. In return, we offer dynamic contemporary programming in theatre, dance, music, and the visual arts, showcasing cutting-edge national and international work.

At our core is the belief that art is for everyone, and economic background or life circumstances should never be a barrier to participation in live performance.  To this end, we set up our Cultch Connects program, so that our donors could share their love of performance with everyone in our community.

Cultch Connects provides free tickets to our holiday hit the East Van Panto and other shows throughout our season to people in need. Now in its 6th year, Cultch Connects has brought thousands of people from low-income families, mental health facilities, recovery centres, community organizations and more to our shows at no cost.

We know from the messages our Cultch Connects patrons send us that this simple act makes a real difference in the lives of people who are facing difficult times, making the holiday season a little brighter for hundreds of families.

“Christmas was going to be a hard time at the transition house, but attending the Panto helped to make the holiday season better for me and my daughter. You made our holiday season special.” — Cultch Connects patron

This year will be our most ambitious Cultch Connects fundraising campaign yet. Our anonymous match-funder has once again agreed to double any gift made to Cultch Connects between now and November 30 2018, making more tickets available than ever before to people in need.

“By giving to Cultch Connects, our donors are making our theatre accessible to everyone” says Executive Director Heather Redfern. “What I love most about the program is that it is inspiring the next generation of artists, musicians, and theatre-goers, ensuring our city remains a vibrant centre for the arts for years to come. That’s pretty amazing!”

— Louise Chapman, The Cultch’s Development Associate

Would you like to support Cultch Connects? Click here to donate now!

$150 = $300 Brings a community/school group to the Panto

$100 = $200 Brings a local youth group to a Cultch show

$50 = $100 Sends a Cultch Connects family to the Panto

Do you know an organization that would benefit from this program? Let us know!


Contact Louise Chapman, Development Associate:

louise@thecultch.com; 604 251 1766, ext. 108

Charitable registration # 11928 1574 RR0001

A chat with Gravity & Other Myths acrobat, Lachlan Binns

A chat with Gravity & Other Myths acrobat, Lachlan Binns!

Gravity & Other Myths member, Lachlan Binns. Photo by Darcy Grant

Backbone opens October 30, 2018 at the Vancouver Playhouse (600 Hamilton Street), and we are beyond thrilled to have Gravity &Other Myths back in the city once again! We caught up with Lachlan Binns, one of the key members of the award-winning, world-renowned Australian acrobat company, for a quick chat.

We are so excited to have Gravity & Other Myths back in Vancouver. What are you looking forward to doing while you are here in the city?

Last time we were here we had a lot of great opportunities to explore the city. We rode bikes around the city, explored nearby national parks and saw an ice hockey game. It was a fair while ago, so we’re all really excited to re-familiarise ourselves with the city and explore again! Plus, obviously we’re keen to show our audiences what we have been doing since we were there last; Backbone is much bigger and more spectacular show than A Simple Space.

How do you prepare to get on stage each night—warm ups, stretches—what is the process like?

We will spend around three hours warming up before each show. The first section will be stretching, using foam rollers and thera-bands; doing rehab and general body maintenance. This will last for around 45 minutes, and we will use this time to relax and joke around with each other, and get “socially warm”. Then when we are feeling good, and the sweat has started flowing, we will start to practice some of the skills from the show, anything that needs maintenance or adjustment. We will also spend a lot of time training new skills, and experimenting with new material for this show, or future projects. The last 30 minutes of the time is spent focusing, and preparing the stage for the show.

What is the craziest stunt Gravity & Other Myths has ever attempted?

“Craziest” is a strange term for us—a lot of the things we try are considered crazy! The two most difficult stunts we do are in Backbone; one is called the Four High, it is four people standing on top of each others shoulders in a straight column. It is an incredibly rare and difficult skill in the acrobatic world, and we’re really proud of it!

Four High! Photo by Carnival Cinema

What safety measures do you take to keep everyone safe? Have there been any injuries?

There are always injuries when you practice acrobatics; its impossible to avoid completely. A combination of smart body management, and trust in each other to catch and support one another, is the best way to manage injuries.

Gravity & Other Myths has toured all over the world—what is the wildest experience you have ever had touring with this show?

The literal wildest experience would be performing and going on a safari tour in Zimbabwe, Africa. Being in a totally different culture, and experiencing both the natural beauty, and the amazing tradition, is something we will remember for a long time!

Backbone looks like so much fun! Are you having as much fun on stage as it looks?

Definitely. The fun we have on stage is not pretend. Our job is to do what we love with a group of our best friends, and it’s hard not to smile!

Photo of Gravity & Other Myths by Darcy Grant


Backbone runs Oct 30-Nov 4 at the Vancouver Playhouse (600 Hamilton St). Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.