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 or call the Box Office at 604-251-1363.

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 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?


An Interview With the Creators of Ali & Ali 7

Camyar Chai Ali & Ali 7

Ali Hakim played by Camyar Chai

Ali and Ali 7: Hey Brother (Or Sister) Can You Spare Some Hope and Change? is a follow-up to Ali and Ali and the aXes of Evil.  Can you tell me about the characters and original story?

Marcus Youssef (MY): The characters were two Arab/Persian stereotypes Cam and I played improv games with in our early 20s, touring BC with Green Thumb. In the wake of 9/11 the CBC asked if we wanted to create something in response for the radio. At the time the only image of Arab/Muslims available you saw anywhere was either terrorist or victim of US racial profiling / paranoia. Those are, for me, equally uninteresting (and deeply interrelated) possibilities. So I suggested we use the Alis — because they’re not real; because they say the wrong thing; because they are about the West’s image of the Middle East, not the Middle East itself.

Camyar Chai (CC): One of my first experiences on stage was performing in the musical Oklahoma! in high school in North Vancouver. After a hot audition, I dreamt all weekend of being cast as ‘Curly.’ Why not? I was cute and had curly hair. I was shocked when my name appeared in front of the character, ‘Ali Hakim.’ It was then, at seventeen, when I first realized that my fellow Canadians didn’t see me as a blond and blue eyed Oklahoman, but rather, a creepy Persian peddler who enjoys de-flowering virginal white women. To my surprise, it was the best part in the play and I’ve rarely had bigger laughs. The idea behind our play’s Ali Hakim is to take the negative stereotypes of the character from Oklahoma! and appropriate them for our own gains, without losing the clown and the cultural tropes but adding dignity and complexity.

Marcus Youssef Ali & Ali 7

Ali Ababwa, played by Marcus Youssef

Did you plan to write a follow-up to The aXes of Evil?

MY: There was no plan at all, until Guillermo and I were in Toronto watching a hearing in federal court against security certificate detainee Mahmoud Jaballah. It was crazy. The most extraordinary thing to watch testimony in which the prosecution is not obligated to talk about its evidence, and instead relies entirely on hearsay and inference, while casting aspersions at a guy who’s been held in solitary confinement for almost a decade WITH NO CHARGES. In CANADA. Halfway through the first day of testimony and I said to Guillermo, this process is so absurd the only way I can imagine tackling it is with a characters for whom absurdity is central, as an aesthetic and as a critical tactic.

CC: The first one wouldn’t go away. Then suddenly the Obama phenomenon happened. We had a theme in the first play: ‘same but different.’ At that time we were referring to the fact that, if you look at their actions it’s hard to see much difference between Bush and Bin Laden (amongst other similar examples). Now, the theme still applies, only the comparison is between Bush and Obama as well. Everyone said everything has changed. Has it really? Another interest I had was the response to the first show in Seattle. I had to sit out because of an appendectomy and I gleefully watched Guillermo [Verdecchia, director] play my part. There was an edge to the satire, a level of self-consciousness and complicity, in the American audience that didn’t always happen with Canadian audiences. I think the subject of the Canadian Security Detainees gives us that edge.

If this is a sequel, why is it numbered “7”?

MY: They [Ali Ababwa and Ali Hakim] thought that calling it “7” made it sound more successful. Maybe it’ll excuse it if it’s bad. Nobody expected Rocky 6 to be any good. Or Saw 12.

CC: It was Marcus’ dumb idea. Or Guillermo’s? Anyway, they both think it’s funny so I humour them.

Ali & Ali 7 is on at The Cultch from Apr 13–24 @ 8pm. Matinees: Apr 17 & 24 @ 2pm.  No performance Apr 18 & 19.  For tickets, order online at or call the Box Office at 604-251-1363.

The Enchantment of Bretta Gerecke

Bretta, along with being the set designer, has also directed the play "Elephant Wake"

Bretta, along with being the set designer, has also directed the play "Elephant Wake"

Bretta Gerecke is the set, lighting, and costume designer for Elephant Wake. She graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Interior Design in 1992 and from the University of Alberta with a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Design in 1996. She is the recipient of 13 Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards, an Enbridge Award for Best Emerging Artist, and was short-listed in 2006 and 2009 for the elite Siminovitch Prize. Gerecke is currently the resident designer for the Catalyst Theatre in Edmonton.

I’ve read you were originally interested in pursuing a career as an architect. Can you tell us a bit about your shift to theatre and set design and what drew you towards it?

Theatre is so immediate – so interactive – it is an organic art form. Ever it is an exciting, volatile, unpredictable career – perfect for an adrenaline junkie!

Who or what were your greatest influences when you began?

Influences are tough – I am always drawn to architects and installation artists. I believe there are no real limits in what we do – shoot for the sky and cross your fingers.

Where do you find the inspiration for your work?

Everywhere. I try always to keep my eyes and ears open. It can be a construction site, a concert, a group of protesters. There is nothing more powerful to me than the excitement of going into the unknown.

The set of "Elephant Wake"

The set of "Elephant Wake"


Tennessee Diary: A Sneak Peek at Theatre Replacement’s Creative Process

The Greatest Cities in the World is based on interviews and interactions with residents of the large collection of small towns in Tennessee that are named after world-famous cities– like Paris, London, and Rome.  Collected and transformed into a multi-media performance by Theatre Replacement, the play takes the words of one world and makes them specific to our experience of living in Vancouver, examining everyday life and mapping out what it means to be a citizen of our constantly shrinking world.

Moscow mayor

The Mayor of Moscow

The Greatest Cities in the World is the winner of the 2010 Rio Tinto Alcan Performing Arts Award for Theatre, and is directed by James Long and Maiko Bae Yamamoto, and features musical composition and direction by Veda Hille.  It’s on from March 9 – 13, 2010 at 8 pm at The Cultch.


A Conversation with Robert Chafe, Artistic Fraud Artistic Associate, Playwright & Co-creator for “Fear of Flight”

Robert Chafe playwright and co-creator of Fear of Flight playing at The Cultch

Robert Chafe

What happens in this show?
Fourteen singing passengers endure turbulence, paranoia, their fear of flying and their fear of what’s waiting on the ground, during a bumpy transcontinental flight. There’s Joyce on her way to her sister’s lesbian wedding, and the invariable familial grilling of her continued singledom. There’s Blandy, the tough-as-nails fourteen year old, flying to say goodbye to her dying mother in Florida. There’s Glynis, the naïve ball of optimism, flying to Vancouver because Jesus asked her to.

How did Fear of Flight come to be?
It all started many years ago when Director Jillian Keiley and friend and actor Torquil Colbo created a five-minute movement piece to explore their shared fear of flying. They concocted the plan on the lawn of the Sir Wilfred Grenfell College Fine Arts Building. Flash forward ten years and Jill and playwright Robert Chafe are back at the college in residency and asked to create a show utilizing the 30 second and third-year students. Fear of Flight was born. Since that time the original student production played at the 2006 Magnetic North Festival in St. John’s, before a pared down (14 person), ramped up (new a cappella score) professional production debuted in 2008. That production travelled to the Magnetic North festival and Toronto’s Factory Theatre last spring, and now comes to the Cultural Olympiad.


Best Before – A Curatorial Statement

by PuSh Festival Executive Director Norman Armour and Senior Curator Sherrie Johnson

In keeping with our curatorial vision to nurture creativity, foster innovation and stimulate dialogue and exchange, PuSh commissioned the German company Rimini Protokoll to embark on a new creation for our 2010 Festival with the simple premise that the work embody the notion of futurism.

Electronic Artist Brady Marks

Electronic Artist Brady Marks

Rimini Protokoll ( is the label given to a unique triumvirate of directors: Helgard Haug, Stephan Kaegi and Daniel Wetzel. Founded in 2000, this internationally acclaimed group has created over 20 new works of theatre—all sharing a very distinct house style. Having studied together at the Institute of Applied Theatre Studies, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen (Giessen, Germany), and working in various combinations, the three artists behind Rimini Protokoll devise new work out of the material provided by real life. They have become the central figures in a documentary movement that has taken centre stage in German theatres over the last few years.

Rimini Protokoll has a distinct vision of the world, but what stands out in their productions is their belief in the impact of their work on society. They tackle major social issues with their innovative and visionary productions—works that redefine the very boundaries of theatre. Rimini Protokoll are the change-makers in our field; they themselves represent a contemporary futurism as leaders in the documentary theatre movement. International commissions and co-productions are key to the PuSh Festival’s evolving identity. They bring new insights, ideas and approaches to the artistic milieu within which we work, as well as offering a deeper understanding of the world-at-large to our audiences.