Dr. Egg and the Man with No Ear: an interview with Director Jessica Wilson about the production, the science and (of course) the puppets

From October 26th to November 6th, The Cultch will run one of its most spectacular shows of the season: Dr. Egg and the Man with No Ear. Combining the stunning visual elements of puppetry, stop-motion animation and physical performance, the play follows a man’s quest to replace his tragically lost ear.  Dealing with the moral dilemmas of scientific advancement, Dr. Egg and the Man with No Ear tackles the difficult questions society faces as new developments are made in technology and medicine. Known for her stunning productions, Director Jessica Wilson carefully weaves rich visuals throughout the play making this one unforgettable performance. Excited about the show, we couldn’t wait for opening night and touched base with Jessica beforehand to pick her brain about the production.

What is Dr. Egg and the Man with No Ear all about?

It’s a story about a man with only one ear who longs for another. He finds a doctor who offers to try to make a new one for him, but it requires a piece of flesh from his daughter’s ear. The man refuses, but his daughter, eager to mend his constant sadness, sneaks into the lab and offers her cell to make the ear. But once they get started on the science, things get out of hand and they create something they had not expected.  It’s a dark fable that explores many things – ethics in new advancements in science, the loss of innocence, human desire and kinship.

How did you end up directing Dr. Egg? What intrigued you about this particular story?


Building a greener future: Plans are made for a living wall at The Cultch

planting the green wall with members of The Cultch's Youth Panel

The final configuration of the green wall

It’s alive! Next spring, a living green wall is making its way to The Cultch with the help of the Environmental Youth Alliance and our very own Youth Panel.  Selected by the Environmental Youth Alliance, The Cultch will be one of four buildings scheduled to have a living wall installed by gsky. Hoping to engage local citizens in the green building movement, the Alliance will partner with a number of Vancouver organisations to increase the awareness of green wall technologies and add a touch more green space to our city. Rooted in our commitment to be on top of the latest in environmental engineering, we were thrilled to be a part of this project!

Construction is planned for the south facing side of The Cultch with completion aimed for spring. Seeing as this is no ordinary wall, following a special installation process is a must. So first things first, the seeds must be planted! Like any garden (vertical or horizontal) healthy plants come from carefully cultivated seedlings, so last week our wall vegetation was planted and then will be cared for at a nursery in anticipation of next spring’s installation.  And with our soon-to-be wall fostering evergreens and flowering plants, what a beautiful spring it will be!

Consisting of a complex plant system, the 120 square foot wall garden will be built and maintained with gravity in mind. Essentially a hanging garden, the wall is made up of specially designed 12″ x 12″ plant boxes that are hung from a railing installed on the side of The Cultch.  Irrigation pipes are then placed between each row to administer water and fertilizer as needed. Our Youth Panel, guided by the Environmental Youth Alliance, will then maintain and monitor the plant system to ensure its health. All in all, it’s a fairly intricate system and possibly explained better by the professionals at http://gsky.com/green-walls/panels/.


Rumble Productions and Pi Theatre bring Murakami’s magic to The Cultch

Prepare yourself to enter the disrupted reality of after the quake. Based on Haruki Murakami’s short stories “Honey Pie” and “Superfrog Saves Tokyo”, Rumble Productions and Pi Theatre bring to The Cultch a remarkable production full of wonder. Touching on traumatic historical events in Tokyo, fantastic characters explore hope and healing while sweeping you into a world of super frogs and talking bears. This dream-like production will leave you in awe of the power of imagination and the strength of the human spirit. Running from October 13th to October 23rd, The Cultch is in full swing preparing for after the quake’s opening night tomorrow. Taking a little time off from rehearsal, Richard Wolfe (Artistic Director of Pi) and Craig Hall (Artistic Producer of Rumble) answered a few questions for us about their upcoming production.

Can you describe after the quake?   How did the production get started ?

Richard Wolfe [RW]: after the quake is a theatrical adaptation of two short stories (“Superfrog Saves Tokyo” and “Honey Pie”) by Haruki Murakami. They are both from the collection entitled after the quake and are set in the months that fell between the Kobe earthquake and the Sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway. They present a world marked by despair, hope, and human instinct for transformation. The adaptation was done by Frank Galati of Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, but we had the original Japanese short stories in our rehearsal room which could be read by several people on our team.

Richard Wolfe Artistic Director of Pi Theatre

How did Rumble Productions and Pi Theatre end up collaborating on after the quake? Had you worked together before?

RW: Craig Hall and I had wanted to collaborate on a project for quite some time. We’d talked about doing an original adaptation of Murakami’s work, but when the rights for this adaptation were released, we decided to obtain them for the Canadian premiere production.

Craig Hall [CH]: Rumble and Pi have collaborated on several projects and initiatives in the past, but this is the first time the companies have worked together since Richard took over Pi and I became the Artistic Producer of Rumble.

What was the most exciting/ difficult part of collaborating with another theatre company?


The Cultch presents an evening of Japanese anime, hosted by the producers of after the quake

By Max Prokopenko

If you like science fiction films such as Inception, enjoy themes exploring the boundaries of reality, or are looking for an animated film with a darker edge than a Pixar production, Paprika is a must-view movie that may change your perceptions of what Japanese animation can be.

Anime is a much-maligned and misunderstood category of film within the general populace. Some associate the word only with children’s programs such as Dragonball Z and Sailor Moon or stereotype its fans as nerdy overweight man-children who drool over caricatures of over-sexualized Asian women. Thankfully, with ever-wider releases of foreign cinema, it is becoming understood that the term Anime is merely a catch-all for any form of Japanese animation. In North America, animation is still oft-associated with children’s programming but the variety of themes and challenges it offers in Japanese culture are vast; films like Jin-Roh, Ghost in the Shell and Grave of the Fireflies explore existentialism, war and mortality. In contrast, the films of Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle) are colourful adventures with young protagonists in a fantasy world.

Paprika film - a free presentation by The CultchPaprika is definitely on the darker end of the spectrum, with a strong similarity to the writings of Philip K. Dick in its psychological and reality-bending themes. This comes as no surprise considering director Satoshi Kon’s previous films and series (Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, Paranoia Agent), all of which deal with the merging of the real world and the imagination. In the film, the use of a device called a DC Mini allows technicians to delve into another person’s dreams, hopefully allowing great strides to be made in psychotherapy. As is usual in science fiction films, the intent of the original technology is perverted, and the dream world starts to become an enemy in itself.

This is a finely crafted movie, displaying all the hallmarks of a big-budget feature such as amazing fluid animation, great sound editing and excellent performances by the Japanese voice-acting cast. I always encourage people to watch any foreign film with subtitles and the original audio track, as English voice actors often do a poor job of recreating the original performance and having subtitles allows for more flexibility in the translation. One issue I have with the soundtrack is the main theme, which as is fairly typical for many anime movies and series is too poppy and cheesy for the somewhat darker subject matter. Otherwise, the animated and aural elements blend together in a compelling and exciting way, making for an engaging psychological thriller.

You and your friends are invited to The Cultch’s presentation of the Japanese animated science fiction film Paprika, on Tuesday, September 28th at 7pm. This film presentation is hosted by The Cultch and the producers of after the quake, Craig Hall (Rumble Productions) & Richard Wolfe (Pi Theatre). Please RSVP by end-of-day Monday, September 27th to rsvp@thecultch.com and include your first and last name and number of tickets required (up to 4 tickets). This event is expected to sell out so RSVP quickly. For more details, check here.

Rotten Tomatoes’ rating of Paprika

Calvin Johnson and The Hive Dwellers Rock The Cultch

Calvin Johnson

This fall, get ready to dance! On September 8th, Calvin Johnson and The Hive Dwellers along with Garatos Suecas will be rockin’ The Cultch for one non-stop dance party. Garatos Suecas will be bringing their nu-tropicalia, psychedelic sounds all the way from São Paolo, Brazil to celebrate the release of their debut US full length album, ESCALDANTE BANDA. Headlining the party will be former Beat Happening front man and K Records head honcho Calvin Johnson with his new project, The Hive Dwellers. Calvin and his band will be pumping out some truly danceable underground pop for some move-your-body music that will really get you going. To get the latest on Calvin’s newest project we checked in with him at K Records in Olympia, Washington for an offbeat, but rather sweet interview.

How did you start playing with the Hive Dwellers?

The Hive Dwellers began to record and perform in the summer of 2008. It was time to start rockin’, as summer is “rockin’ time”. The current line-up of Gabriel Will, Spencer Kelley and I, has been at it since the beginning of 2010. Joyous.

The Hive Dwellers had their first official release last year with a cover of Chunk’s “My Noise”. Are you working on any other releases?

We have recorded many songs and will have our first 12-inch single “Get In” out on K Records in the autumn. Excitement.

Calvin Johnson and The Hive Dwellers

What has been your most memorable show with The Hive Dwellers?

The Hive Dwellers have played all over the U.S. and some parts of Canada, though nothing too out of the ordinary (yet). My favourite show of the last year was playing at the old firehouse in Thorp, Washington. There was no fire pole, though. We made do. Before we arrive in B.C., we will play a retirement party for Gabriel Will’s step father. He was a longshoreman for 30 years. Now it is time for him to devote himself to listening to his jazz collection.

You seem to play mostly all-ages shows, any reason?

I make it a habit to only play at venues that are accessible to all audience members. There is no reason that art should not be accessible.

The Cultch has hosted many a performance with the majority of it being theatre. Have you had any theatre experience in the past? Ever been in a play?

I was once cast in a theatrical production of The Miracle Worker as the little black boy who played with Helen Keller. I wore overalls. I usually wore overalls anyway, so it was not a big leap, artistically.

Garotas Suecas

B.C. has recently started using the slogan “the best place on earth”. What did you think of  Vancouver?

B.C.may be the best place on earth, but Saskatchewan just is, naturally.

With the unrelenting rhythm of both bands, this event promises to be one heck of a party. We dare you not to dance! Tickets can be purchased online at tickets.thecultch.com, or by phone (604.251.1363) or in person one hour prior to show time.

Cultch Intern Corner – Meet Noémie Vigier

Cultch Marketing Intern Noémie Vigier

Internships at The Cultch offer more than just skill-building opportunities, they offer the chance to be directly involved in our creative process. Contributing to everything from marketing plans to theatre strategy, interns have a hand in almost everything. We are pleased to introduce Noémie Vigier, an intern who has come all the way from France to join our marketing department. Besides packing the necessary Vancouver carry-ons (raincoat, umbrella) she has brought her quick thinking and cheery attitude. Noémie has proven to be an invaluable addition to the marketing team and a driving force behind The Cultch’s success. We caught up with her to see how she has been enjoying her time at The Cultch and how her Canadian experience has been so far.

Where is your Hometown? How long have you been in Canada?

I come from a city in the south of France called Narbonne and I study in the north of France. I have been in Vancouver for three months.

What do you at The Cultch?  What did you do at home?

I’m an intern in the marketing and communications department at The Cultch. At home, I have just finished the first year of my master’s degree in communications and marketing. In addition to my studies, I’m also involved in an arts organisation that puts on arts festivals in France.

Why did you want to intern for The Cultch? What have you learned about yourself through this experience?

Last year, it was my dream to come to Canada and I wanted to do my internship in a theatre marketing or education department. In February, I got the opportunity to come to The Cultch. By coming here, I have become aware of a different way of life. While working at The Cultch I’ve been exposed to a different organisational structure: horizontal instead of vertical. It’s a democratic work environment and has made me certain that I want to continue to work in organisations devoted to the arts.

What do you hope to do with the experience you have gained at The Cultch?

Eventually, I hope to work with the public through schools and a variety of other groups, as well as work in communications. I was inspired after seeing The Cultch’s “IGNITE! Youth Festival” as  it was completely organised and run by youth. I’ve decided for my second year of my master’s program that I would like to compare systems of art education and develop one with a group of young people.

What has been your favourite/most unique/bizarre experience so far? (more…)

Volunteer Profile: Meet Kiki Hastings

Cultch Volunteer

Cultch Volunteer Kiki Hastings

If you have attended a show at The Cultch, most likely you have been greeted by a volunteer. Handed a program? Guided to your seat? Yes, you guessed it, another volunteer! At The Cultch, our volunteers are important to us and Kiki Hastings is no exception. Kiki is a relatively new volunteer to The Cultch and has recently joined our Café and Wine Bar staff. Without the efforts of volunteers like Kiki, the show would not go on!

Full name: Kirsi ‘Kiki’ Hastings

How long have you been a volunteer at The Cultch?

Since the completion of last year’s renovation.

What motivates you to volunteer at The Cultch?

I love the energy at The Cultch. The atmosphere before a show is full of anticipation! I work all day in a shop and even though I’m in a Cultch shirt when I volunteer, it’s a welcome chance to dress up and have a night out.

What makes The Cultch unique?

It’s a big little theatre! It feels small and has a great community following. I see many of my neighbours in the audience and the programming is professional and diverse. I would travel across town to see many of the shows in the program, but it’s right down the street from me!

What is the funniest/most amazing /weird experience you’ve had while volunteering at The Cultch? (more…)

Greening The Cultch Includes Shades of Gray

At The Cultch we pride ourselves on presenting professional performing arts with minimal impact on the environment. With the aim of making our building the best in environmental practice, we are actively taking steps to reduce our ecological footprint and adopt new “greener” alternatives.  As remaining sustainable requires a constant evaluation of our methods, we are pleased to release our first “Greening The Cultch” dispatch. This is the first of many missives from our Director of Operations Terence Van Der Woude, in which he will put The Cultch under the microscope and take a look at our many efforts to remain environmentally friendly.

Greening The Cultch Includes Shades of Gray

By Terence Van Der Woude, Director of Operations

Cultch Balcony Hallway

Cultch Balcony Hallway

The Cultch is such a unique space. It has a soul that reaches back farther than any of us alive. It has witnessed all the highs and lows of people’s lives and is now witnessing the retelling of those dramas through live performance. I cannot think of a more fitting place to be able to claim to be the first LEED-certified performing arts building in Canada. And I feel very fortunate to be able to share and explore the significance of what that means with you.

Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies intended to improve performance in metrics such as energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. (more…)

Cultch Intern Corner: Meet Daniela Núñez

Cultch marketing intern Daniela Núñez

Bustling with staff, interns, volunteers and the occasional dog, The Cultch is a busy place. Everyone is working hard to keep on top of things and our interns are right in there, collaborating on ideas and working on various projects. Usually a semester long, Cultch internships offer valuable work experience with positions ranging from marketing to videography. Many of our interns are from Vancouver, but a few lucky ones are from places a bit warmer. Take Daniela Núñez for instance. She is a marketing intern at The Cultch and has recently moved here from Mexico. Daniela has become a key player in the marketing department and we wanted to check in with her to find out her impressions of The Cultch and her experience so far living in Canada.

Where is your Hometown? How long have you been in Canada?

I’ve lived my whole life in Mexico City and it’s been one year since I arrived in Canada.

What do you do at The Cultch?  What did you do at home?

At The Cultch I’m working in the marketing department with Rebecca, Denise and Noemie. In Mexico, I worked as a radio producer at a cultural radio broadcast station for two programs. One show promoted the artistic and cultural events happening in the national and international arena and the other was created by my best friend and me; It was about mythology, literature and music. After The Cultch, I will start exploring marketing agencies in Mexico that promote social campaigns sponsored by private companies.

Why did you want to intern for The Cultch and what have you learned about yourself through this experience?

I was invited a couple of times by a friend to come and see a show at The Cultch. I felt immediately engaged by the quality of the shows, the low price and the environment.  This experience has been meaningful to me because I wanted to experience being immersed in a company that focuses on dance, theatre and music events, which are my main interests at the moment. I also realized that I would like to continue working in the cultural field in combination with social welfare development.

What do you hope to do with the experience you have gained at The Cultch?

I want to apply what I have learned when I go back home. Having worked abroad will be useful when applying for a master’s degree in cultural management or another related field.

What has been your most favorite/unique/bizarre experience so far? (more…)

Volunteer Profile: Introducing Vicki McCullough

Vicki McCullough has donated her time to The Cultch for the past 28 years!

At The Cultch, volunteers are an integral part of our well-oiled theatre machine. From ushering to distributing programs, the volunteers make it happen. We are proud to introduce one of our longest-serving volunteers, Vicki McCullough. Having graciously donated her time for the past 28 years, Vicki’s invaluable support has seen us through many a performance!

Full name: Vicki McCullough

How long have you been a volunteer at The Cultch?

I’ve lost track, but it’s about 28 years.

What motivates you to volunteer at The Cultch?

The Cultch’s diverse offerings, the high quality of shows, and the friendly environment. After all these years, I feel very at home here. My association with The Cultch goes back to the ’70s, when, as a theatre student, I attended every show the resident company, Tamahnous Theatre, produced. I’ve performed here, and I’ve co-hosted a private Christmas party here.

What makes The Cultch unique?

Its location on the East Side, its evolution from church to performance venue, its intimate feel, Len Gardiner’s incredible floral arrangements.

What is the funniest/most amazing/weird experience you’ve had while volunteering at The Cultch?