Closing the Door on Home Sweet Home

On Saturday June 11, Home Sweet Home closed with a “Residents Block Party”. Homeowners were invited back to The Cultch to meet their neighbours and tour the completed city. Residents FM highlighted some of the more memorable features of the town in their final address to the crowd:

Welcome back to Home Sweet Home
We’ve all come together to celebrate the town in which we roam!

There has been action and drama, politics and more.
Candy stores, volcanoes and zombies galore!

Now residents FM will take you on a guided tour,
through the streets, roads, alleys and more… (more…)

Home Sweet Home Takes Over The Cultch!

When you visit Home Sweet Home, you’re not just walking into the Historic Theatre, you’re walking into an entirely new community of cardboard dream homes, shops and hotels. It’s a place where anything goes. You may turn around only to find a toxic spill in your yard or have city council on your case about the extreme colour of your blinds. And it’s all broadcast on the live, on-site radio station “Residents FM”, which provides the soundtrack to all the action in the Home Sweet Home community.

First to catch your eye are the many colourful houses that take over the streets. Feathers, tissue paper and sequins are all normal building materials when it comes to the houses of Home Sweet Home.

However, there aren’t just houses available to build. There are also a few houseboats in the community, not to mention a pirate ship!

There are also budding business opportunities. You don’t have to build a house, but instead you could start up the business you’ve always wanted. Don’t forget to announce your grand opening on the radio so others from the community can come take a look! (more…)

The Cultch at the Winner’s Circle

On Sunday May 29, The Cultch took over the Marquee Tents at Hastings Racecourse for the last fundraising event of our fiscal year: Meet Me at the Winner’s Circle.

Director of Development Eleanor Stacey watches the races

Eleanor Stacey, Director of Development at The Cultch, and her daughter Christina watch the races.

The day was an enormous success. Many of our donors and supporters came out for a day of racing, bidding and betting. Some even walked away with great prizes and a few more dollars in their pockets.

Managing Director Cindy Reid at the races

The Cultch’s Managing Director Cindy Reid bet on a horse with 32:1 odds because she liked the jockey’s name. She won.

Meet Me at the Winner’s Circle was held as part of Hastings Racecourse’s Community Days program, which offers non-profit organizations use of the Marquee area on a live race day and a generous donation of $5000, among other things.

A lady at the races wearing an interesting hat

Elaborate hats have been the standard dress for watching horseracing for centuries.

Celebrity hat judge Christine Reimer, a Vancouver-based set and costume designer, had the task of selecting Best Male Hat and Best Female Hat from many possible candidates. The winners were given $100 to spend at Edie Hats and the chance to meet the winning horse and jockey of The Cultch’s race, called “The Show Must Go On”.

Best hat winners present the jockey and horse with a Cultch blanket

Cathy Forsyth, winner of the Best Female Hat, and Spencer Schrump, winner of the Best Male Hat, present jockey Mario Gutierrez and horse Aberfeldie with a Cultch blanket.

Horses Racing at Meet Me at The Winner's Circle

Horses Racing at Meet Me at The Winner's Circle

The Cultch is very grateful for the constant support of our donors and sponsors. Director of Development Eleanor Stacey would like to extend her thanks to The Flower Factory, Edie Hats, The Georgia Straight, and costume designer Christine Reimer.

Special thanks to Chris Wong and Hastings Racecourse for making our Community Day at the Track possible!

Build your dream house for free with Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home is coming to Vancouver! For those of you who haven’t heard, it’s a totally free, installation-style presentation where you get the chance to build the home of your dreams – in miniature! Home Sweet Home is brought to you all the way from the UK by Abigail Conway and Lucy Hayhoe and their artistic company Subject to_change. Home Sweet Home has already traveled the globe to places like Japan, the United States and throughout Europe and now they’re finally coming to Vancouver. We caught up with creator Lucy Hayhoe to find out more about this exciting, one-of-a-kind experience.

Creators Lucy Hayhoe and Abigail Conway. Photo by Michael Owen Baker

Creators Lucy Hayhoe and Abigail Conway. Photo by Michael Owen Baker*

Home Sweet Home is a theatrical experience quite different from your typical theatre-going performance. Can you start by explaining Home Sweet Home, and where the idea came from for the project?

Home Sweet Home is a durational spectator-led installation. It is a miniature flat-packed cardboard town, created by those who wish to build it. The boundaries of the town are laid out in advance with key environmental and geographical features as well as infrastructure and land plots for home dwellings. Flat-packed cardboard buildings are prepared and placed on the canvas ready for purchase (no money is actually exchanged, however) by the participants in the building of the new community. Participants choose a plot, buy a house and decorate it as they wish. Some plots will allow for garden space, which can also be individualised by house owners. When the buildings are all sold and the community is built, the street party heralds the end of this transient, miniature world of cardboard buildings. The community is dismantled but residents can take away their house and so carry with them a trace of the community that was, and their role within it.

The idea came from an exploration into individual and collective space. We wanted to create a piece in which people participated directly, and that what they had made as individuals contributed to a generative and collective outcome. We were also conscious about giving people room and space to be creative whilst providing the necessary framework to inspire the audience. We believe the project works so well as it has achieved a balance of these two principles, and also because it’s fun!

The Local FM Radio Station

The Local FM Radio Station

Home Sweet Home has a local FM radio station, a postal service, a community notice board and a local city council to help residents settle in. Can you talk a little about these services, how they work and what they do for the community?

The communication devices are vital in allowing participants to role play. The notice board allows for advertisements of local businesses. The postal service allows residents to communicate with one another, and the town councillor is there to guide and oversee all proceedings. The local radio station not only entertains but also facilitates communication between the residents and the district members of the County [City] Council and gives airtime to local issues. The cardboard town soon becomes a living, thriving community.

People are allowed to let their imaginations go wild to create the house of their dreams. What’s the most outlandish, extravagant and/or memorable house you’ve seen?


The Cultch looks back on the 10/11 Season

Vancouver live dance: Firebird 2011

Firebird 2011 was just one of several dance acts brought to The Cultch's Historic Theatre in 2010/11

The Cultch’s 10/11 Season closed on May 14th with Crystal Pite’s sold-out run of The You Show, bringing to an end another spectacular season of dance, theatre and music and the diverse talents of the local, Canadian and international performing artists.

At this time, we would like to extend a huge thank you to our donors, sponsors and continued subscribers. Your support allows The Cultch to consistently deliver world-class programming, foster artistic creativity and inspire the next generation of performing artists through our youth program.

A few members of The Cultch staff share some of their favourite moments from the past season below. What were your favourite moments from The Cultch’s stages in 2010/11? We would love to hear what you have to say!


Home Sweet Home aims to create community on The Cultch’s stage

Over the last 38 years, The Cultch’s Historic Theatre has been a point of convergence for an astounding array of artistic formations. This year, from June 6 through 11, it will become a site of creation in a way unlike any other performance in the theatre’s long history. The Cultch is very excited to be presenting Home Sweet Home, an innovative combination of interactive theatre, architecture and audience-driven performance. We invite you to become residents of Vancouver’s smallest suburb at The Cultch.

Home Sweet Home

In Home Sweet Home, the Historic Theatre’s performance space will be occupied by a large canvas map outlining the boundaries of a community yet to be created. Audience members are then invited to choose a plot and a house and become “residents” of this community. The houses, white flat-packed cardboard buildings that measure in mere inches, are then constructed and decorated by the residents and placed throughout the map. Participants are encouraged to personalize their new property, helping create a unique collective community. (more…)

Young Playwright Chris Nyarady talks about seeing his play performed on The Cultch stage at the 2011 IGNITE! Youth Festival

From April 25 to 30, The Cultch was taken over by eager and energetic youth for the IGNITE! Youth Festival. Hundreds of youth from across the Lower Mainland came together for a week of amazing performances. We caught up with youth playwright Chris Nyarady about the experience of seeing his play Hide and Go Sell performed on The Cultch stage. Check out what he had to say about the process of writing, re-writing and finally seeing nearly four years of work come together for the first time.

Photograph from Hide and Go Sell

"Hide and Go Sell" was part of the IGNITE! Youth Festival at The Cultch that ran April 25-30, 2011.

By Chris Nyarady

I don’t claim to know everything about writing, but from what I’ve experienced so far, writing is like hunting a giant mythological creature.  You want to believe you’re after something amazing and one of a kind. You might have an idea of what you’re after, but you don’t know for sure. It’s all purely speculation. Hell, what you’re after might not even exist at all, but damn it, you’ve got your mission, and you’re going to see it through. As you write/hunt, you begin to find out more about your prey. Perhaps it confirms what you already thought, but sometimes you make some startling discoveries. This creature that you thought had a horn, actually had two. And wings powerful enough to create localized tornadoes! Damn! Didn’t see that one coming. A big change, but nevertheless, the hunt must continue.

I had been hunting my script, Hide and Go Sell, since 2008, and believe me, it went through some radical metamorphoses. What started as a simple examination of the power of advertisements turned into a semi-spy thriller/comedy with a rather sombre ending. All of this even before I heard of IGNITE! and The Cultch.

At one point, the trail had gotten cold on my mythological creature hunt. I was close, so close, but somehow that tricky devil had eluded me.  Luckily, I happened to be part of an organization called PARC (Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre) that sent a weekly newsletter. I owe a lot to them for helping me further my career as a young playwright, and for alerting me of IGNITE! and The Cultch. The hunt was back on. (more…)

The Cultch’s 11/12 Season Announced: “Hottest live-arts venue on the West Coast”

On Tuesday, April 19, patrons and friends of The Cultch gathered in the Vancity Culture Lab for the official announcement of the 2011/12 Season. The Cultch’s Executive Director Heather Redfern spoke to the audience about the upcoming season — a stellar line-up of productions featuring a large number of Cultch favourites. With the announcement of the new season, The Vancouver Sun declared The Cultch the “hottest live-arts venue on the West Coast.” Here are some highlights:

Die Roten Punkte - live theatre and music at The Cultch

Die Roten Punkte

New this year, The Cultch presents its first-ever summer blockbuster, with the utterly dysfunctional siblings Astrid and Otto who make up Die Roten Punkte – one of the most irreverent and hilarious gigs you are ever likely to see.

Nina Arsenault in Silicone Diaries - Vancouver live theatre

Nina Arsenault in "Silicone Diaries"

Then, to kick off the season, The Cultch presents Touchstone Theatre’s production of the internationally recognized playwright Brad Fraser with an outrageous comedy of family dysfunction —True Love Lies. The Cultch is also thrilled to announce its presentation of Ronnie Burkett’s latest work Penny Plain; Buddies in Bad Times’ critically acclaimed production The Silicone Diaries — the transformation of an awkward man into a bombshell woman; and Hunchback, the latest work by Catalyst Theatre and a musical interpretation of Victor Hugo’s classic, endearing story presented with and at the Vancouver Playhouse.

Ronnie Burkett in "Penny Plain" - Vancouver live theatre

Ronnie Burkett

Please check out the complete list of 2011/12 presentations here [with photos here!]. We think you will agree with theatre critic Peter Birnie when he says that “the performers coming to the corner of Victoria and Venables in East Vancouver are collectively the top ticket in town for 2011-2012.” [Complete review here]

Subscriptions for the 11/12 Season are on sale now! Single tickets go on sale August 1st (single tickets for Die Roten Punkte go on sale June 1st). Call The Cultch’s Box Office at 604-251-1363 or go online at

With five presentations sold out before they opened in The Cultch’s 2010/11 Season, the best way to ensure you see the shows you want in the seats you want is by becoming a subscriber at The Cultch today.

Hunchback ensemble, dancing and singing: Vancouver live theatre

"Hunchback" by Catalyst Theatre

Playing Dress up with Maiko Bae Yamamoto

Woman in white dress and gloves, on the catwalk: Vancouver live theatreWith Dress me up in your love opening April 19th, we caught up with one of the Artistic Directors and creators of the show from Theatre Replacement (TR), Maiko Bae Yamamoto. See what she has to say about putting together a show that’s part theatre, part installation and part fashion show.

Tell us about where the idea first came from for Dress me up in your love: to use the clothes we wear as a means to expose our personal stories.

I was in Seattle, actually, on tour with another Theatre Replacement show. In this show we worked a lot with clothing as a kind of prop, and I became really fascinated with the idea that in this exercise – where we were manipulating the things we wore – the clothes all had their own expression. And that it was easy for an audience to project their experience on top of this, because we are all so familiar with clothes. We all wear them. They are universal in nature; a suit represents similar things in every culture it exists in, as does an apron, or big wooly shoes.

And then this kind of got on to old clothes and why we choose to wear what we do at any given moment. And then this got on to the idea of an “outfit of significance”. Whether it was significant because of its purpose, like a wedding dress, or whether it became significant because you happened to be wearing it at a certain moment, like the day you broke up with someone, or went into labour. There seemed to be a wealth of material to tap into with clothes. And there was.

As the show was put together by many people over the course of several development periods in both Vancouver and Oldenburg, Germany, can you talk a bit about the creation process, how all artists collaborated to create a unified production?

This show is very much a total collaboration; all the performers are also creating it and the designers are in every step of the way. It’s exciting to be integrating now and to feel it all coming together. Everyone who has been involved in the development has their stamp on it, and this is really important. Not only to how TR likes to make work, but also to the show, because it really is a piece that hopefully everyone can relate to, no matter your age or gender or where you come from in the world.

actors in a row, trying on clothes: Vancouver live theatre (more…)

Escape to Paris – If only for just one night!

By Kate Minson

On Monday, April 4th, The Cultch will celebrate mid-20th century Paris and all its decadence, with a special fundraising gala, Paris, in love. Inspired by Barbara-jo McIntosh’s cookbook Cooking for Me and Sometimes You – A Parisienne Romance with Recipes, this sumptuous evening of French food, wine and auction packages will tap into your inner bon vivant.

Featuring a reading by Barbara-jo, music from Jessie-Award winner Joëlle Rabu, and a performance by Django Reinhardt-inspired gypsy jazz ensemble Dinette, there will be plenty of opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy the cocktail maison (a bubbly pink drink!). Of equal interest will be the auction, which is full to the brim with the most divine indulgences.  Here are a few of our favourite auction packages up for grabs:

La Joie de Vivre. Relax during a one week reprieve at the Painted Boat Resort on the Sunshine Coast in your very own private villa with views of the water. Indulge at the resort’s spa and dine at the restaurant. Also, enjoy an exclusive mushroom-picking adventure in the wilds of the Sunshine Coast!

Chanel et Couture. Enjoy a one-of-a-kind makeover for you and your friends at Chanel, followed by lunch or dinner on Joe Fortes’ famous rooftop patio. Then, as if you haven’t had enough of a treat, take advantage of two all-inclusive VIP passes to Vancouver Fashion Week where you will enjoy access to all the shows and parties.

Vancouver live theatre gala fundraiser

1950s Paris

And there’s much more: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sit with hockey greats in the Canucks’ alumni suite, personal tours of a chocolate factory (yes, with sampling!) and the Bill Reid Gallery, a robust wine collection, countless opportunities to eat, to learn to cook, and to see some of the best and most exclusive entertainment Vancouver has to offer.

And what’s more, tickets are only $125 (standard seating) and $250 (intimate floor seating) and include the performance and party, with food by Pied à Terre, West, and Benton Brothers, as well our signature Paris, in love cocktail maison.

Buy tickets: call 778.709.0323 or email