You’ve Got Mail: The Surprising Email that Sparked Brad Fraser’s True Love Lies

Brad Fraser: True Love Lies playwright, live theatre presented by The Cultc

Brad Fraser

The sudden return of a gay ex-lover; decades-old secrets discovered at last; the bawdy sex-capades of a family in crisis. Sure, it reads a bit like a soap opera script. But would you believe that this sinfully explosive portrait of truth, lies, sex, and betrayal is borrowed from the real life experience of controversial Canadian playwright, Brad Fraser?

We kid you not.

When the notorious ‘bad boy’ received a surprising e-mail from an ex-lover he hadn’t seen or spoken with in over twenty years, he turned this would-be-awkward moment into an opportunity for personal growth — and theatrical brilliance.

“We caught up and it turned out he was married, had two teenage children and was going through a divorce,” explains Fraser.

And, although he hadn’t written a play in five years (having focused his energy elsewhere on other forms of media) the nagging question of ‘what if?’—“What if I’d been involved with that family? What if I’d met those children?” — continued to tug at the back of his mind.

“From there it kind of just went and literally spilled out of me,” says Fraser, who also reveals that he carried around a lot of unresolved issues after the couple’s less than amicable breakup. “Neither of us really had a chance to address [those issues],” he says, so when the unexpected email appeared one day in his inbox, Fraser knew he couldn’t just click delete.

“I felt like he was coming back and addressing [those issues], putting certain things behind him. I felt that if I could help him in that it would be very good for both of us.”

Indeed, it certainly has been.

True Love Lies image, female in front, male couple behind embracing and laughing

Still from True Love Lies. Photo by Emily Cooper

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Welcoming the dog days of summer at The Cultch!

They’re full of hair, walk on four legs and often head to the toilet for a refreshing drink of cold water. They say that dogs are man’s best friend, and for us at The Cultch, that couldn’t be more true.

The three gorgeous canine companions that come to work at The Cultch every day each have a distinct personality that make The Cultch the incredible place it is. Katie, Lucia and Fibi may be the smallest members of our team here but when it comes to boosting office morale, providing cute comic relief or simply being a friend to share your lunch with, these special dogs know just what to do. Get to know our fuzzy friends and the important role they play here at The Cultch.

The Cultch intern Dominika Pilat and Fibi.

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The Cultch’s Summer Camp: Full of Surprises

“It’s really fun to surprise yourself,” said Clare.

As a participant in this year’s Cultch Summer Camp, it’s something the 15 year-old has been doing a lot of in the last two weeks.

Summer camp participant Clare and interdisciplinary artist Vanessa Richards discuss the upcoming production.

Clare discovered she was interested in drama after taking a class in school this past year. Because of this, her mother suggested that she join the camp. “I have always been interested in art stuff,” she said.

“I’ve tried a lot of different things like drawing and dancing and singing, but none have really fit me.”

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The Cultch’s Summer Camp and The Only Animal: A Collaboration Between Emerging and Experienced Performers

When 16 high-school aged youth signed up for The Cultch Summer Camp, they were promised the opportunity to collaborate with real-world mentors currently working in the arts. Over the course of the next two weeks, our summer campers will learn all the necessary skills to put a production together from the group up. Our company-in-residence this year is The Only Animal, whose work exemplifies a modern and innovative approach to theatre. Their plays have involved animation and interactive video and have been staged in warehouses, on the beach, and in snow and ice.

The Only Animal's "NiX, Theatre of Snow and Ice"

The Only Animal's "NiX, Theatre of Snow and Ice"

The Only Animal co-artistic director Kendra Fanconi was involved in last year’s summer camp. The company is returning because, according to Fanconi’s Only Animal partner Eric Rhys Miller, “We love to work with young and emerging artists.” Both Miller and Fanconi are veterans of summer theatre camps and are excited to work with such a diverse group of Vancouver youth. The experience is a bit like preparation for one of The Only Animal’s new projects-entitled Out on a Limb – which “brings youth and elders together to question assumptions about each other,” says Miller. “We’re interested in what it’s like to grow up and grow older, and in a collaboration between these two communities of young people and older people.” The resulting conversations will be recorded and used for a multimedia installation that will be projected onto trees in a park. Says Miller, “Trees, growth, community, old and young: we’re putting them all together in a new way that will hopefully spark some insights and strengthen connections.”

For The Cultch Summer Camp, The Only Animal will be bringing a varied set of talent to help lead the participants. Among this talented bunch is Vanessa Richards, a Caribbean-Canadian artist with a background in music, art making, and community engaged projects. Keith Murray is a multimedia and performance artist who has also worked in theatre. David Roche is a storyteller and teacher who leads workshops and performs all over North America. “It’s a fantastic team,” says Miller. “The participants can expect to learn a huge amount about various approaches to creating performance – including storytelling, multimedia, writing, musical theatre and devising – and will apply those lessons directly to creating their own live and multimedia performance in The Cultch on August 26th!”

The concluding evening of The Cultch’s summer camp, Friday August 26th presenting the production created in collaboration with the summer camp participants and The Only Animal, is open to the public, starts at 8pm, and admission is by donation. We hope to see you there!

The Cultch Summer Camp 2010 image

Image from the final performance of The Cultch's 2010 Summer Camp

The Face Behind the Phone Calls

The Cultch is very rarely empty. Work is constantly going on behind the scenes to keep the theatre running. Besides the theatre technicians who ensure our productions look and sound the best they can, The Cultch administrative office works to keep all aspects of The Cultch running smoothly.

Sales Manager Paul Seymour works in the in-between hours, beginning his workday after the offices have all but emptied out and leaving before the cleaning crews come through later in the night.

Meet Paul

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A Closer Look at the Side-Splitting Songs of Die Roten Punkte

You think you can’t laugh any harder, and then you do! With brother and sister duo Otto and Astrid Rot from Die Roten Punkte performing Kunst Rock (Art Rock) here in Vancouver for just a few more days, we wanted to give those of you who haven’t yet seen the show a taste of what to expect – a knee-slapping, rip-roaring good time! But don’t just take it from us. Check out their outrageous songwriting stylings for yourself with their popular song Ich Bin Nicht Ein Roboter (I am a lion).

A definite highlight of the show, Ich Bin Nicht Ein Roboter is surprisingly catchy, guaranteed to be stuck in your head for days. As Otto says, it’s three notes, and it makes a song! Don’t believe us? Check out the video:

See what we mean when we say that this show is one of the most irreverent and hilarious gigs you’ll ever see?

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A Chiseled-out Guide to Neanderthal Arts Festival

The second annual Neanderthal Arts Festival once again brings an eclectic range of cutting edge theatre to the stages at The Cultch. We offer you this guide to the inventive and original shows of the sophomore installment of Neanderthal.

Chairs

Inspired by Samuel Beckett’s absurdist existentialism, Chairs follows the actions of three men in a barren wasteland. Their existence of “equality and boredom” is interrupted when one claims authority by building a giant chair.

“It’s a simple story about a chair but it definitely explores big ideas,” said Chelsea Haberlin, the play’s director and co-artistic producer of ITSAZOO Productions.

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A look at the life of a theatre technician with The Cultch’s Jordan Both

Jordan BothWhen we think about artists working in the performing arts, the first thing that comes to mind are the actors, dancers and musicians that steal the spotlight. But what about the hand that holds the spotlight? Or the eye that makes sure everything is put together just right? That job falls to the theatre technicians working tirelessly behind the scenes, who are just as integral to the success of a show as the performers. They’re the ones who help transform a performance from a piece of art into an experience. So who are these technicians and what exactly do they do?

Lucky for us, we have some pretty talented people working behind the scenes on our stages. Jordan Both, theatre technician at The Cultch is one such individual. Just like the actors, dancers and musicians working today, he caught the theatre bug early. From a young age, Jordan knew lighting and sound design were what he wanted to do.

First introduced to stagecraft at his Vancouver high school, Jordan quickly realized that he had found something he really enjoyed. When he was just 14, he jumped at the chance to work under professional technicians at The Cultch’s Youth Week Program, now known as the IGNITE! Youth Festival. According to Jordan, “it just caught my interest. I was lucky and found something I was good at and enjoyed doing.”

Jordan Both

So what does being a stage technician mean exactly? Well, as Jordan says, in a nutshell the job’s about “helping the people who come into the space to put on the best show they can .” Sometimes, performers who come in know exactly what they want. Other times, they need a bit of help putting together the finished product. And for Jordan, “those are the fun gigs” because it means flexing those creative muscles to come up with sound and lighting to best complement the performance.

But it’s not all fun and games. When asked about a typical work day, Jordan replies “I don’t know that such a thing exists!” Although he does acknowledge that there are generally three different kinds of days in the life (more…)

The Cultch Welcomes the Neanderthal Festival

The Cultch is excited to welcome the Neanderthal Festival into the Historic Theatre and Vancity Culture Lab from July 21th to 31st, 2011. The festival, currently in its second year, is a partnership between Left Right Minds and Upintheair Theatre and brings “work that takes risks, is creative and has a clear artistic vision”. We talked to Executive Director Daniel Martin to learn a little more about the vision for Neanderthal.

How did the idea for the festival come about?

We have always been interested in providing opportunities for artists that don’t exist elsewhere. With the growth of festivals like PuSh here in Vancouver and Magnetic North nationally, there is a real movement towards touring productions. But what was missing was a chance for younger companies to be presented in a professional festival setting, and get their foot in that door – a place for young companies who had outgrown the Fringe but maybe weren’t being invited to Magnetic North yet.

At the same time, after seven years of producing the Walking Fish Festival, it needed an injection of new ideas – like many companies, we lost our gaming funding [Government of BC Community Gaming Grants] last year, so we had to broaden our base – audience, funders and sponsorships – in order to be able to keep operating. Our partners, LeftRightMinds, had recently been out to Summerworks in Toronto and were really excited by what they saw there, so together we sat down and put together a model to achieve these goals – a Vancouver based summer theatre festival of exciting new work by younger companies, that would draw in new audiences and support to the company, and that would give local artists a place to have their work presented in a professional context.

What is the mandate for Neanderthal? What do you hope to bring to the Vancouver theatre community through this festival?

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Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg: Cultch Artist-in-Residence

Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg is a Vancouver based dancer, choreographer, director and all around creative person. Right now she can be found completing an artistic residency at The Cultch, working hard on Highgate, a piece that explores Victorian funeral culture. We caught up with Tara to find out a bit more about Highgate and how she feels about completing an artistic residency with us here at The Cultch!

For those of us who don’t know, can you tell us what a residency is?

A residency is when a theatre (or arts centre) invites an artist to create in their space for a concentrated amount of time. The theatre supports the artist and the work in progress by providing space, technical, and administrative support. For the artist, a residency is a great opportunity to really focus on a creation without distraction.

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