Dispatch from Charleston, SC: The Spoleto Festival

Spoleto Festival USA, Opening Ceremonies at Charleston City Hall

Opening Ceremonies for the Spoleto Festival were held at Charleston City Hall. Photo by William Struhs

With subscriptions to The Cultch already on sale for the 2010/2011 Season, and tickets about to go on sale August 1, it is time for me to put my mind to our 2011/2012 Season. One of the ways I do this is to travel to other festivals and see what performing companies and artists from Canada and around the world are touring. My first stop is the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. A well-established annual festival, it has a sister festival in Italy with the same name. The programming ranges from opera and chamber music through contemporary dance, outdoor jazz concerts, puppetry and new theatrical work. It is very interesting to the see the dynamic in Charleston between the community and festival. Everyone in town knows about it and knows it brings visitors into town and is important for the economy – there’s a great buzz! I saw eight shows, and all but one received a standing ovation. Even shows whose content might be considered to be quite “racy” by the local, very conservative population were appreciated.

I had the opportunity of seeing Daniel McIvor’s latest one-man show, This is What Happens Next. I had forgotten what a stunning performer Daniel is, so it was terrific to see him on stage again. This was a very Canadian play yet it definitely resonated with audiences in the southern United States.

The work I saw in Charleston was eclectic and diverse. One of my favourite shows was a marionette version of Cinderella. Produced by Colla Marionette Company, an Italian company that has been run by the same family for 250 years, it was refreshingly traditional. The story was simply narrated and featured a live band and lavish costumes and sets that showed off the skills of the dozen puppeteers who manipulated the 150 puppets in the show.

Finally, a big favourite for me was performers from Berlin called Die Roten Punkte, who will be playing the Vancouver Fringe Festival in September this year!  I strongly suggest you go and see them and if you do, let me know if I should look into an encore performance at The Cultch!

2010 official Festival poster: "From Rhode Island to South Carolina" by Maya Lin

2010 official Festival poster: "From Rhode Island to South Carolina" by Maya Lin

Heather Redfern is Executive Director of The Cultch.

Volunteer Profile: Meet Mihai Ciotinga

Cultch Volunteer Mihai Ciotinga

Mihai has volunteered over 120 hours at The Cultch

A key to The Cultch’s success is the support we receive from our volunteers. Assisting us with everything from greeting and seating patrons to preparing and distributing programs, volunteers play a critical role in ensuring our season runs smoothly. Meet Mihai, one of these aforementioned volunteers. He has volunteered over 120 hours during the 2009-10 season and with his enthusiastic support continues to be an asset to The Cultch!

Full name: Mihai Ciotinga

How long have you been a volunteer at The Cultch?

I am junior volunteer at The Cultch, with only 8 years under my belt.

What motivates you to volunteer at The Cultch?

It is a great honour and a privilege to be able to serve as part of an incredible team of artists and art professionals. These days, more than ever, volunteering at The Cultch is enlightening, exciting, intriguing and rewarding.

What makes The Cultch unique?

Show me another theatre with a brand new building that’s 100 years old, with a 21st century management team fit to operate in Shakespeare’s time, that runs shows out of this world and is humbly put together around The Drive!  The Cultch has established itself on the artistic and cultural map of Canada as a bastion of civic and artistic consciousness, wit, creativity and beauty.

Most anticipated show of the 10/11 Season:


Your childhood nickname:

Jordache, after Rudy Jordache, the main character of  the American series “Rich Man, Poor Man” (played by Peter Strauss).

Photo by Denise Higginson

Your hobby:


The Cultch’s 10/11 Season: Music/Indie Series

Interested in The Cultch’s 10/11 Music/Indie series?  Here’s a preview of our shows!

Garotas Suecas with Calvin Johnson & The Hive Dwellers
September 8, 2010
Burning dance floors throughout the country, Garotas Suecas come raging from Sao Paolo, Brazil—five boys and a girl playing fuzzed out, psychedelic garage rock nu-Tropicalia. This full-length CD release party will have you grooving to its bright, colorful Brazilian horns and shaking rhythms.

The Cultch is thrilled to also bring Calvin Johnson and his new band The Hive Dwellers to the dance floor. Former Beat Happening front-man and K Records head honcho, Calvin is known for his uniquely deep, hypnotic singing voice. With this new project, The Hive Dwellers give a shout out to pop music, underground and dance.



By Ame Henderson / Public Recordings (Toronto)
January 25 – 29, 2011
Dubbed “notoriously adventurous” by Toronto Life, Canadian choreographer Ame Henderson brings us relay—a disarming investigation into the taboos and pleasures of watching and making movement in unison. A cross-disciplinary collaboration between eight dancers and two musicians, relay asks important questions about the politics and possibility of togetherness. Borrowing from memories of dances past, relay re-imagines unison, asking how we maintain our sense of self while working together.

Performed by Eric Chenaux, Eric Craven, Chad Dembski, Katie Ewald, Claudia Fancello, Matija Ferlin, Mairéad Filgate, Marie Claire Forté, Brendan Jensen and Barbara Pallomina.

The Cultch’s 10/11 Season: Family-Time Series

The Cultch’s 10/11 Season offers some great family-friendly options!

Fish Face
By The Quickening Theatre (Toronto)
Winner of the “Cultchivating the Fringe Award: 2009″
December 3 – 5, 2010
An enchanting fairy tale that makes a big splash with audiences of all ages! On the day of her wedding, a young bride sets sail to meet her groom for what is meant to be a romantic ceremony at sea. When she accidentally drops her magic ring into the ocean below, she follows it down into a vivid underwater universe where she battles a giant sea monster and confronts her destiny.

Darwin the Dinosaur

Darwin the Dinosaur

Darwin The Dinosaur

By CORBIAN Visual Arts & Dance (New Orleans)
March 11 – 13, 2011
From a land of darkness comes a tale of light. Darwin the Dinosaur is a truly unique theatre experience featuring larger-than-life, glow-in-the-dark characters that light up the stage. With moments of both calamity and comedy, this heart-warming tale tells the story of a scientist, his creation and the true meaning of love. Using electroluminescent, crayon-drawing-like creatures and an irresistible soundtrack, Darwin the Dinosaur is an imaginative spectacle for all kids.

Old Thomas and the Little Fairy

Old Thomas and the Little Fairy

Old Thomas and the Little Fairy
by Bouge de là (Montreal)
Presented with Centennial Theatre
April 8 – 10, 2011
Old Thomas and the Little Fairy embarks upon a new adventure, one that marries dance and literature. Inspired by the children’s book written by Dominique Demers and illustrated by Stéphane Poulin, it tells the story of an angry old sailor who discovers a tiny water fairy collapsed and unconscious on the beach. As he nurses her back to health, her child-like wonder and happiness restores the sailor’s old and broken heart. A beautiful story about love, life, loneliness and friendship, this production will warm the hearts of one and all.

Become a 10/11 subscriber and get the best rates available!  For more information visit our 10/11 Subscriber page.

The Cultch’s 10/11 Season: Presentation Series

The Cultch is headed towards an exciting 10/11 Season.  Here’s a preview of our Presentation Series!

after the quake
Based on “Honey Pie” and “Superfrog Saves Tokyo” from the novel after the quake by Haruki Murakami
Adapted for stage by Frank Galati
By Rumble Productions / pi theatre (Vancouver)
October 13 – 23, 2010
after the quake takes its audience on a journey where magic and realism collide, in an exploration of disrupted reality. Junpei is a timid writer who enchants Sayoko, the love of his life, by conjuring up stories to soothe the anguish of her young daughter who is having nightmares of the Earthquake Man. A talking bear makes the very best honey pies and a bank loans officer struggles to distinguish between what is real and what is not when six-foot Frog asks for help to fight off giant Worm for the future of Tokyo.

Dr Egg & The Man With No Ear

Dr Egg & The Man With No Ear

Dr. Egg & The Man With No Ear
Written by Catherine Fargher
Directed by Jessica Wilson (Australia)
October 26 – November 6, 2010
When a man loses his ear in a bizarre cycling accident involving a bull terrier, he cannot shake the yearning to replace it. A mysterious Dr. Egg offers to grow him a new ear, but needs a sample of DNA from the man’s daughter in order to do so. The man refuses to harm his daughter, but as she is eager to make him happy, she finds her way to the lab. Like all good fairytales, the journey is not a simple one and the ear comes at a great cost. The doctor’s magic elixir, and this story, yields a dilemma far more challenging than ‘happily ever after’.


Mump & Smoot: coulrophobics need not apply

Still on the fence about seeing Mump & Smoot’s CRACKED?  Let pictures from this fantastically dark and twisted show convince you!

Mump & Smoot

Mump & Smoot converse in Ummonian

Mump & Smoot

Mump & Smoot snarl for the camera

Mump & Smoot

Mump & Smoot lend a hand

CRACKED is on May 26–29 and June 1–5 at 8 pm, with a matinee May 30 at 4pm.  May 27 is Pay-What-You-Can, and May 28 is Artist Talkback. Tickets start at $22 (our subscriber rate).  For tickets, order online at http://tickets.thecultch.com/ or call the Box Office at 604-251-1363.

Mump & Smoot: These tricks are not for kids!

Mump & Smoot

The gruesome twosome Mump & Smoot

By Hanah van Borek

The dark and twisted Mump and Smoot are clowns that induce both stirs and laughs, and are definitely not for children. The duo hails from the land of Ummo, speak Ummonian, and worship the god Ummo. CRACKED is a new epic from their series Mump & Smoot which puts the clowns in battle against their god Ummo. With both their lives and their friendship on the line, the clowns fight — in a fury of hilarious gags and antics — to survive. This outlandish comic creation offers an impeccable mix of slapstick humour and horror, with a signature quirkiness that will leave you in hysterics!

John Turner, playing the impish wimpering Smoot, and Michael Kennard, the more confident Mump, formed their clowning duo in 1986 and have mastered their own genre in the art of clowning that sets a new standard. Mump and Smoot have been critically acclaimed for their prestigious work as both clowns and clown trainers, and in 2003 won the Dora Mavor Moore awards for Outstanding Production and Best Director. The duo trained with the late Richard Pochinko, the infamous Canadian clown trainer, who taught them the uniquely crafted Canadian Clowning technique driven from AmerIndian and Western clowning traditions. Turner and Kennard have taught various workshops on tour and directed a clowning school for six years in Toronto called SPACE (Studio for Physical and Clown Exploration). Director Karen Hines compliments the duo’s freaky style, which has captivated her since Mump & Smoot’s earliest collaboration. As the order within the chaos, her direction has since led them to many successes and many more are sure to come with CRACKED.

The gruesome twosome have toured theatres across North America with their act and even graced the stage in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Some of their biggest acts include the Yale Repertory Theatre, The American Repertory Theatre in Boston, and The Canadian Stage Company in Toronto. They have also appeared in a number of broadcasts including a special with Adrienne Clarkson, The Genie Awards, The Comedy Network’s Cream of Comedy and HBO’s Best of the US Comedy Arts Festival.

CRACKED is on May 26–29 and June 1–5 at 8 pm, with a matinee May 30 at 4pm.  May 27 is Pay-What-You-Can, and May 28 is Artist Talkback. Tickets start at $22 (our subscriber rate).  For tickets, order online at http://tickets.thecultch.com/ or call the Box Office at 604-251-1363.

Mump & Smoot

Mump & Smoot in CRACKED

A Peek at 10 Things

Curious and intrigued about Noam Gagnon’s 10 Things You’ll Hate About Me? Take a look at these photos from the show and see what the critics are saying about this masterpiece.

Go, see this show – it is beautiful, funny, and always heartfelt.  You’ll walk away with a piece of Noam Gagnon.   – Gay Vancouver

Noam Gagnon in 10 Things You'll Hate About Me

Noam Gagnon in 10 Things You'll Hate About Me

Noam Gagnon in 10 Things You'll Hate About Me

Noam Gagnon in 10 Things You'll Hate About Me

Noam Gagnon in 10 Things You'll Hate About Me

Noam Gagnon in 10 Things You'll Hate About Me

Noam Gagnon in 10 Things You'll Hate About Me

Noam Gagnon in 10 Things You'll Hate About Me

Noam Gagnon in 10 Things You'll Hate About Me

Noam Gagnon in 10 Things You'll Hate About Me

The exquisite and moving 10 Things You’ll Hate About Me is on at 8pm until Saturday, May 8th.  For tickets, order online at http://tickets.thecultch.com/ or call the Box Office at 604-251-1363.

5 Things with Noam Gagnon

10 THINGS you’ll HATE about ME is a Molotov cocktail of spectacle, dance and desire from choreographer/performer Noam Gagnon. Organized as a series of deeply personal vignettes, 10 THINGS walks the tissue-thin line between art and autobiography.

10 things you'll hate about me noam gagnon

What can the audience expect from 10 Things?

For 10 Things, I want to take the audience into the story of a fairy tale for grown-ups (but not limited to).  I want to create a world where the audience can be enveloped by the magic of what theatre can do.  I am a dreamer by nature, an extreme optimist, and that has carried me through many hard times.

In the show, I ask people to forget about reality and send them on a ride, showing them a beautiful, visual physicality, a poetry where there are images filled with the power of the story of a boy, and the traditional story of the hero.  It’s about love.  It’s about survival.  But ultimately, it’s about being able to transcend and make the choices that lead you to live the life you were meant to lead, not the life that was given to you.

10 Things is described as a series of personal vignettes, can you tell us more about them?

10 Things is a fairy tale, and a life in Technicolor.  It draws on a series of vignettes, text, set design, and imagery to describe the boy’s story, and is seen through a parallel of the story The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde.

I speak about love, loss, hope, transcendence; it is based on something greater than our day-to-day experiences.  It’s about our own humanity and the desire to transcend. So it’s not a piece where you can sigh with relief.  But you feel safe watching something that’s sometimes tragic, and also creates a magic and a beauty in this world.

What have you been working on since 2007’s world premiere of The Vision Impure at The Cultch?

I have been touring the new solo version of The Vision Impure that will be shown at CDF this coming June, and premiere in Vancouver during Dancing on the Edge this coming July. Also a few film projects, a few small creations/explorations, mentoring (which was delightful), Beyond Pilates teacher training, and more….

What was your inspiration for this work?

Essentially, creating magic in my overly-scheduled daily life.

You’ve described yourself as an emotional dancer.  Do you ever fear of expressing your emotions on such a public scale?  What compels you to do so?

I believe in beauty. And beauty doesn’t have to mean perfection.  We are beautiful when we are tired – it’s when our barriers are down that we are beautiful.  These may be things we think others will hate. It’s just our essence then, and I love that. It takes a lot of courage to be in those places.  And I think people can find themselves in the story, and that is beautiful, too.

The Old Trouts Return to The Cultch With a Show for Ages 7 to 107!

The Tooth Fairy snatching away a molar

One of the best, most surreal works of imagination I’ve seen in ages.

– See Magazine, Edmonton

It’s a children’s puppet show for adults, and adult theatre for children.

The Tooth Fairy, The Old Trouts’ latest production, aims to explore the dark truth of the teeth trafficking industry: What is truly lost (and what could possibly be gained) in the transaction of baby teeth, the symbols of our innocence, in exchange for cold hard cash?

The Tooth Fairy follows the tale of Abigail, the Girl with Perfect Teeth, as she embarks on an epic voyage to defeat the Tooth Fairy once and for all, saving children worldwide the trauma associated with teeth loss.  Abigail’s extravagant mission is a dream-like odyssey, a paradise lost expedition where, with Broadway brouhaha and Weill-ish laments, she meets monsters, dancing houses, a toothless castaway, and plenty of treacherous and piratical souls along the way.  The journey dashes from northern ice-wastes, to the depths of the forested wilds, to the middle of the heaving ocean, to the horrid bilge of a whaling ship, in what can only be described as children’s book surrealism.  At last the question is answered: what does the Tooth Fairy do with all those teeth?