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!


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…)

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…)

Darwin the Dinosaur is a Hi-Tech Show for the Whole Family

This weekend, prepare for a whole new kind of theatre experience at The Cultch! In a larger than life, glow-in-the-dark puppet show, Darwin the Dinosaur tells the story of one dinosaur’s journey to find love and courage!

As part two of The Cultch’s three-part Family-Time Series, Darwin uses a product called electroluminescent wire (EL wire) to bring to life the magnificent, neon glowing puppets of Darwin, his creator Professor Henslow, and the many friends he meets along his journey. In pitch black theatre, the effect is amazing! This technology is great for theatre because its flexible nature makes it ideal for attaching it to clothing for costumes. El Wire consists of a thin tubing of solid copper wire surrounded by a layer of phosphor that glows when a current is applied to it. Unlike traditional strings of wire, EL wire creates a 365°, unbroken line of light. And, its battery powered!

El wire up close

Glowing EL wire. Photo courtesy of

Nevertheless, the creators of Darwin the Dinosaur, Corbin Popp and Ian Carney of CORBIAN Visual Arts and Dance, still had some technical problems to figure out when they started construction of the show. First, they had to figure out how to bend and mold it while ensuring it doesn’t break or cause the brilliant glow to fade. Second, as the story of Darwin is told through dance and movement, they had to ensure that the weight of the wire and battery packs didn’t weigh them down too much. (more…)

Christine Fellows Writes Songs About Strong Women: Mermaids, Runaways and Nuns of Franco-Manitoba

By Amanda Ash originally published in Exclaim!

Christine Fellows at the Piano: Live Music in Vancouver, March 8 at The CultchTake a black-and-white photograph and bring it to life — that’s what Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Christine Fellows did with her fifth and most innovative release, Femmes de chez nous. The 13-track record and accompanying DVD, Reliquary/Reliquaire, were written during, and inspired by, Fellows’ six-month residency at Le Musée de Saint-Boniface. Femmes de chez nous, which translates to “our gals,” celebrates Franco-Manitoban history, delving into the lives of nuns, a mermaid, a troubled runaway and a small-town stenographer crowned beauty queen. Some characters are real, some imagined, but all are connected through their experiences. Fellows memorializes her characters, telling their stories of strength and fortitude via brilliant theatrical instrumentals. The lyrics of “Dragonfly” unsettle the soul, while the title track announces Fellows’ sympathy; she holds these women close to her, as if they’ve been placed in a locket and worn around her neck. On “Reversed Arrow,” Fellows sings: “We trip and cringe and cry/We hold our hands up to the light/We speak in languages and gestures just like yours.” Her loving voice rises above the background gang vocals and serenading violin, bringing together two languages and listeners through songs of decidedly different natures yet universally similar sentiments.

Who are the femmes de chez nous?

Christine Fellows: Femmes de Chez Nous Album Cover

Femmes de Chez Nous Album Cover

That’s why I wrote the record: to express these people, real and imagined, in song instead of writing stories about each or making up people. Femmes de chez nous is actually based on a book of the same name, published by a small house here in Manitoba. It’s this fantastic book; it’s basically a photograph, with a little caption and a brief history on all of these women from the French community here. I just took that format and borrowed some of the real women’s names and captions that went with them.

What kind of connection did you feel with these characters?
The museum [I spent a six-month residency at] used to be a convent. It was the home of these incredibly strong women. The first four nuns came by canoe from Montreal in the 1800s, so I felt the spirit of that building was very female and I wanted to locate the work right from that point — from those first four nuns. It’s funny because my last record was all about solitary characters and playing on the word “spinster”. This was a happy accident, coming upon the idea of working on the history of nuns. I’m a completely secular person. I wanted to memorialize these women before we forget.

What the Heck is Unison? A Viewer’s Guide

This January 25th to 29th The Cultch is presenting one of its most innovative pieces of the season, relay. Created by Toronto-based choreographer Ame Henderson, relay explores the concept of unison in dance.

We all know the word unison means “at the same time as somebody or something else,” but what does it mean when we talk about dance?

live dance: Swan Lake

National Ballet of Canada

Turns out, unison pretty much means the same in dance terms as it does in general usage. It’s when two or more dancers perform the same steps at the same time on the same stage. As one of the oldest conventions of movement there is, unison is commonly used in all choreography and dance styles from hip hop and salsa to classical ballet.

Check out this photo of the dancers from Canada’s own National Ballet. This iconic piece from Swan Lake shows how effective true unison in a dance piece can be. Notice how every dancer is performing the same steps at the very same time. If any dancer were to stray from performing in synchronization, the whole effect would be lost.

Now, check out this photo from Vancouver’s own MOVE: the company as it illustrates dancers abandoning the concept of unison. They move in their own time and their own way, independent from one another. While this choreographic choice is much different from true unison, creating a different story onstage, it still makes for quite a compelling performance.

What is Unison? An Interview with Public Recordings Choreographer Ame Henderson

vancouver live dance: Ame Henderson, choreographer of relay

Ame Henderson - photo by Aaron Mackenzie Fraser

On Tuesday January 25th, Ame Henderson brings her creation, the contemporary dance piece relay, to The Cultch. This cross-disciplinary work uses live music and dance to examine the idea of unison, questioning the “politics and possibility of being together.” We spoke with Ame about her process, the artistic journey she traveled in creating this highly anticipated work, and how she feels about bringing it to Vancouver.

Ame, Can you tell us a little about your background and the creation of Public Recordings? How did you get to where you are today?

I grew up on Vancouver Island and finished high school in North Vancouver. I then moved to Montreal to attend Concordia University, staying in Montreal for several years after graduating from the dance program. I think these early years in Montreal were really important for me in terms of exploring ways to work with other artists and creating strong connections with performers and musicians that I still work with today. We were making things happen ourselves, creating contexts for our projects and working collectively. The spirit of these collaborations is still very much at the crux of how I imagine Public Recordings. With the company, I hope to create a space for people to come together to work and to share time and to come up with ways to extend what we’re thinking about to our audiences.

What are your thoughts on the current Canadian dance scene?

I am excited by what’s happening in dance in Canada. It is sometimes challenging to bridge the great expanses of space between our cities, but I think artists find incredible ways to work with these distances and differences while also working locally. I am now based in Toronto where the dance community is made up of many artists that come originally from other parts of Canada and from other countries. I think that we are in an ongoing and dynamic conversation with each other about how to nurture the forms we work in, as well as our own artistic growth, and then how to connect with the outside and move our work. These questions are challenging but they are also exciting.

Vancouver live dance: relay

photo by Omer Yukseker

As you are originally from Tofino, how do you feel about coming back to the West Coast to perform?

I am thrilled. I apologize for being incredibly personal, but one thing I keep thinking about is how exciting it is to get to perform this work for friends and family that have never seen what I do. I am absolutely looking forward to presenting at The Cultch for that reason. But at the same time, there is something about coming around full circle. I am the person and artist that I am partially because of my upbringing and where I grew up. I don’t think often of the direct connections between my youth on Vancouver Island and my work, but I think the opportunity to think about some of that when in closer proximity is interesting. I am curious about what it will feel like and also what conversations I’ll have with audience members.


Christmas Carol Project Song of the Week: Bah Humbug

Bill Bourne as Ebenezer Scrooge, live music presented by The Cultch

Bill Bourne as Ebenezer Scrooge

The Christmas Carol Project makes its first visit to The Cultch this Friday and Saturday, December 17 & 18. The third and final installment of our song of the week from the album Songs of the Christmas Carol Project is Bah Humbug featuring Bill Bourne and Terry Morrison. The Christmas Carol Project is made up of a talented cast of Edmonton-based musicians who have created a collection of songs written from the perspective of each character in this beloved Christmas fable, and in Bah Humbug, Bill Bourne is playing Ebenezer Scrooge.

Listen to Bah Humbug here >> Bah Humbug

About Bill Bourne:
A multiple Canadian Juno Award winner, Bill has received international acclaim for his recordings and live performances. A mainstay on the international roots scene, life on the road is reflected in Bill’s music – powerful rhythms and soulful songs, steeped in world beat, blues, cajun, celtic, folk, flamenco, funk, poetry and more.

Bill Bourne as Ebenezer Scrooge in The Christmas Carol Project: Live music in Vancouver presented by The Cultch

Bill Bourne as Ebenezer Scrooge (in the top hat)

Bah Humbug (You Don’t Know Me)

Well if you think I care
You don’t know me very well
If you think I have a heart
You don’t know me, I can tell

If you believe in peace
You really are stone blind
for you waste my precious days
you leave your task behind

Well if you think I care
You don’t know me very well
If you think I have a heart
You don’t know me, I can tell

And if you stand up for love
well, you really are stone blind
you, who idle away the hours
pretending to be kind

Well if you think I care
You don’t know me very well
If you think I have a heart
You don’t know me, I can tell

© 1996 Bill Bourne

The Christmas Carol Project: An Interview with the Show’s Creator, John Armstrong

What is on your Christmas list this year? Socks? Underwear? An iPhone? How about tickets to see and hear Juno-nominated folk musicians that make up The Christmas Carol Project at The Cultch. Complete with an original score of 14 musical pieces, The Christmas Carol Project chronicles a transformative night in the life of one Ebenezer Scrooge. The Cultch was lucky enough to catch up with John Armstrong, the man behind The Christmas Carol Project. He was kind enough to answer a few questions and give a little insight into the show’s concept and talent, along with his personal insights.

The Christmas Carol Project: Entire band of Live Musicians in Vancouver for the Holidays

Tell us about The Christmas Carol Project – how does the show unfold?

The show is based on compositions by a collective of songwriters who have written from the perspectives of the main characters of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The songs are tied together with text from the story delivered by our narrator, Dave Clarke who makes his debut with the project this year.

What inspired you to make a music show out of the classic story, A Christmas Carol?

When the idea came to me, I was looking for a way to showcase some of the incredible musical talent that we have in Edmonton in one show. It just made a lot of sense as a vehicle and it’s a classic, timeless story with an important message for all of us.

What about A Christmas Carol made it the best platform to showcase the talent in Edmonton’s music scene?


Taking Residency: The Transformation of “Fish Face” from Fringe Show to Cultch Presentation

By Ginette Mohr

Fish Face, live theatre for children and families presented by The CultchFish Face tells the story of a young woman who journeys into a vivid underwater universe to battle a giant sea monster and confront her destiny. A fantastical mystery full of humour and suspense, this solo show incorporates dance, puppetry and music.In September 2009, The Quickening Theatre‘s Fish Face toured from its home in Toronto to the Vancouver Fringe Festival, where it won the “Cultchivating the Fringe Award” – an award in which The Cultch chooses one show from The Vancouver Fringe Festival to develop in a residency at The Cultch and to be presented in its season. The Cultch offered Fish Face development residency for four weeks and a run from Dec. 3-5, 2010.

We at The Quickening Theatre Company believe original work is the lifeblood of this industry. Our residency here at The Cultch is instrumental in the development of both Fish Face and our creation process, as it takes time and space to develop original work.

Fish Face director/co-creator Kate Fenton co-creator/performer Ginette Mohr rehearsing

Fish Face director/co-creator Kate Fenton co-creator/performer Ginette Mohr

The Cultch engenders a wonderfully inspired community of artists and celebrates the achievements of dynamic, independent theatre. Executive Director Heather Redfern is a wealth of information and has taken us under her wing, and the staff at The Cultch have been incredibly generous with their time and knowledge. The residency has also afforded us collaboration with a stellar west coast team: Ray Moschuk (lighting design), David Mesiha (sound design and composition), Diana Magallon and Kelsey Peacock (stage management).

In a solo show, the relationship between the actor and director is greatly intensified. Director/co-creator Kate Fenton is my life-line. We work closely together – playing, searching, questioning, investigating and following trails to magic moments. When I get on stage, Kate radiates better than a kindergarten teacher at a spring concert. I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished thus far. Yesterday we read the final scene, counted the characters (five) and the actors (one), and said,  “Okay, let’s dive in.” I love that.

It is our ultimate goal to tour Fish Face. There is strong potential in the play to speak to audiences about fear, commitment and finding your own way. With the history and viability of our performance at The Cultch, Fish Face could be well-placed for future productions. The time, space and resources – what a gift it has been.

Fish Face, live theatre for children and families presented by The Cultch

Fish Face director/co-creator Kate Fenton co-creator/performer Ginette Mohr

Ginette Mohr writes and acts in Fish Face, which will be presented at The Cultch Dec 3-5, 2010 in The Vancity Culture Lab as part of its Family-Time Series. Tickets start at $15 – $18 and are available at, or by phone at 604.251.1363 or in person at The Cultch Box Office at 1895 Venables Street at Victoria Drive.