A Conversation with Michel Robidoux, Musical Composer for Gold Mountain

By Sarah Cruickshank

Michel Robidoux Co- Artistic Director

This week, Gold Mountain, a story told by David Yee about his father’s epic journey from a small village in China to war-torn Liverpool, is showing on The Cultch stage. With dazzling visuals and a powerful score, this show will transport you back in time, leaving you mesmerized long after you leave the theatre.

We were lucky to catch up with Michel Robidoux, Co-Artistic Director of Les Deux Mondes in Montréal, and composer of Gold Mountain. Michel shared some behind-the-scenes insight into the creative process of Gold Mountain and the audio and visual inspiration for the show.

Behind the inspiration for the music of Gold Mountain

Les Deux Mondes is a touring company, and Michel is always sure to bring his sound recorder whenever he’s traveling to capture the sounds that he finds inspiring. Sometimes they are ambient sounds that he transforms into rhythmic and polyphonic recordings on his computer once he’s home.

When asked about his inspiration for the music for Gold Mountain, Michel responds, “Well it happened a bit by chance. We were on tour in China and I recorded lots of sounds there. When we were approached with Gold Mountain by David Yip and Kevin Wong, it seemed very interesting. For me, I already had a lot of Chinese inspired material, so it was a wonderful opportunity to integrate the music I had composed.”

Rehearsing Gold Mountain

Gold Mountain plays at The Cultch until November 4

Work on Gold Mountain started when David Yip and Kevin Wong traveled to Montréal to talk through the 24 short scenes they had written. Explains Michel, “After they left, I started to work with the music to go with the short scenes we had. Yves Dubé would then assemble some video footage after listening to the music.” Things really got rolling after a three day workshop with the actors in Liverpool where they recorded voice-overs of the actors, so they could work with the recordings back in Montréal.

“After coming back to Montréal, we would start to work with visuals and putting music with the voice-overs, and ultimately we built a template for the 24 short scenes.” This template was something they could work with to develop the show, even though the actors weren’t there. One of the challenges they faced in the process was lengthening the 24 short scenes into a full-length production, and according to Michel, “we did this by using visuals and music to bridge the gap between the dialogue.”

Rehearsals began once the folks at Les Deux Mondes were joined by the actors in Montréal, and as Michel explains, they would work in loops, “going through the scenes from beginning to end, then starting all over again.” Every time they passed through the scenes, things would change. As Michel says, “it’s a very live and instinctive way of working together. It’s interesting to work like this as everyone is open to what everyone else is doing.”

When pressed further about the idea of rehearsing in loops, Michel goes on to explain, “Sometimes let’s say for instance I have a beautiful musical score for a scene and I thought it would fit perfectly. But when we run through the loop, it doesn’t fit anymore. It’s nice music and I love it but no, it doesn’t fit anymore. The show kicked it out.”

So, with Gold Mountain now showing at The Cultch, how does Michel hope all the technical elements will come together to emotionally move and transport the audience? “The idea is that they forget about it, that it enhances the storytelling and that it’s so smooth that you stay in the story. We want the show not to be didactic, not to be dry. We want it to be fascinating!”

Gold Mountain runs at The Cultch until  November 4. Tickets are available online at tickets.thecultch.com, by phone at 604.251.1363, or in person at 1895 Venables St.

Zombie Apocalypse in Vancouver: 6 tips for survival

Theatre Melee presents a dark comedy about four strangers who make a desperate last stand as human civilization crumbles around them.

By Roanne Ward

Ah, zombies. Where would the Hollywood economy be without them? Everyone loves a good zombie flick. We know our beautiful protagonists are doomed from the start but we keep watching, flinching at every turn, anxiously awaiting the zombie to chow down on their victim’s flesh! Watching the action on film is thrilling enough, but imagine watching these events live!

Theatre Melee, with support from Rumble Productions, brings their zombie inspired production, Cozy Catastrophe, to The Cultch just in time for Halloween. Stemming from Hive 2 in 2008, Cozy Catastrophe places four young, unprepared zombie-apocalypse survivors in a tight situation, where they take shelter in an abandoned storeroom, while racking their brains on what to do.

So how does one survive a zombie invasion? Hide and hope they don’t like your particular taste of flesh? Quickly apply some make-up/dirt/blood to your face so you resemble one of them?

Here are our 6 tips for survival:

A sample zombie survival kit.

  1. Imagine a zombie invasion like you would any other big emergency– fire, earthquake, drought, floods– and get a survival kit. Please include water, dissolving hand soap sheets, beef jerky, a flash light, matches, and some reading material.
  2. Keep to the roof tops people! From there you’ll have a 75% better vantage point and everyone knows that Zombies are not very limber – heck, half of them are missing one appendage!
  3. Study zombie movies like Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead so you can pre-empt their tactics.
  4. Get a baseball bat so you can clear a path through the zombies should their numbers increase.
  5. Conserve, conserve, conserve. No one knows how long the Zombie Apocalypse will last but hey, have you EVER heard of one ENDING? I didn’t think so. Make sure you’re tight with your goods, folks. I hear Twinkies have enough preservatives to keep them “edible” for 80 years!
  6. Visit The Cultch between Oct 22 – Nov 4, check out Cozy Catastrophe, get some live advice and enjoy some fantastic local theatre!

Cozy Catastrophe runs until November 4, 2012. Tickets are $30 and are available online at tickets.thecultch.com, by phone at 604.251.1363, or in person at 1895 Venables St.

Actor and audience come together in White Rabbit, Red Rabbit

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit

Every time we step into a theatre, it’s always a new and exciting experience. Colourful characters, dynamic scripts and jaw-dropping sets all come together on stage, to move and entertain us every time the curtain parts. And really, isn’t that why we love theatre?

But every once and awhile, a performance comes along that’s so innovative, we realize the only thing that makes the magic of theatre possible, is the connection between the audience and the performer.

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit is one such performance that offers something truly original, and bridges the gap between the audience and the artist on stage. With no costumes, no set – and an actor that doesn’t know his lines – this performance is a 90 minute artistic journey, shared between actor and audience. 

Here’s how it goes: each night, a different acclaimed Canadian actor will stand on stage, open a sealed envelope containing directions and a script, and begin to perform. They have no prior knowledge of the script or what’s to come, but the audience is with them every step of the way.

The creative mind behind White Rabbit, Red Rabbit is Iranian playwright Nassim Soulimanpour. Unable to leave his home country of Iran, Nassim is with his audience each night in spirit, and thanks to modern technology, with them online as well. That’s right, the audience is not only allowed, but enthusiastically encouraged to use their handheld devices to reach out to Nassim, to share their experience at the performance. It’s not every day that you can tweet a playwright while watching his show, is it?

So, with a different actor speaking Nassim’s words each night, expect the unexpected when you buy your ticket to White Rabbit, Red Rabbit. However, you can look ahead to see what night your favourite actor is performing*! You may recognize some familiar faces of those who have graced the Cultch stage before. Marcus Youssef, artistic director of Vancouver’s Neworld Theatre and co-writer of the past production Peter Panties is performing on September 22. Meg Roe, a favourite in the Vancouver theatre community will be closing down White Rabbit, Red Rabbit with the final performance on September 30. 

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit runs until September 30. Tickets $26 and are available online at tickets.thecultch.com, by phone at 604.251.1363, or in person at 1895 Venables St.

* Performances by Kathryn Shaw (Sep 20), James Long (Sep 21), Marcus Youssef (Sep 22), Ryan Beil (Sep 23), Maiko Yamamoto (Sep 25), Peter Anderson (Sep 26), Donna Soares (Sep 27), Jonathan Young (Sep 28), Kevin Loring (Sep 29), Alessandro Juliani (Sep 30, 2pm), and Meg Roe (Sep 30, 8pm).

Words to live by: our favourite dating dos and don’ts from Blind Date’s Mimi!

Picture this: you’re on a first date with the person of your dreams, happily enjoying dinner at your favourite restaurant. Things are going well when suddenly you feel compelled to talk about your ex. Before you can stop yourself, you’re lamenting every horrible thing they’ve ever done. Next thing you know, your date is out the door, never to be seen again. Ugh!

Rebecca Northan in Blind Date

Rebecca Northan stars as Mimi in Blind Date, Sep 18 - Oct 7, 2012

Ok, so maybe that exact scenario hasn’t happened to you, but we’ve all made dating mistakes we’d rather forget. Lucky for us, Blind Date is coming to Vancouver and Mimi, the show’s loveable Parisian temptress, is full of dating and relationship tips and tricks. To give you a sneak preview of what’s to come, here’s a few of our favourite quotes from Mimi!

“You want a dating tip? Don’t be an asshole. That goes for women too.”

“The further away you are from a dance floor when you ask a woman to dance, the more romantic it is. Ask me to dance in a gravel pit and I will give you my panties.”

“I don’t understand men dating younger women in order to feel younger…you want to feel YOUNG – date an 80 year old, you’ll feel amazing getting naked…although, you’ll have to sleep with an 80 year old. Which, could be awesome, we just don’t know. The 80 year olds are quiet about that stuff.”

“Women set ‘lady-traps’ for men. It’s what we do. There’s no right answer, and it’s not fair…but then again, men get paid more than we do, so it all evens out. You make more money, we psychologically torture you.”

“I won’t drink out of the milk carton, if you clean underneath your fingernails. That’s romance!”

“When a woman asks you, ‘what are you thinking about?’ what she really means is, “how much do you love me right now?”

“I’m French. Life has no meaning. You might as well drink wine and fuck.”

Don’t miss out on this hilarious performance! Blind Date runs from September 18 – October 7. Tickets start at $17 and are available online at tickets.thecultch.com, by phone at 604.251.1363, or in person at 1895 Venables St.

Conspiracy at The Cultch!

By Roanne Ward

Extraction at The Cultch

Theatre Conspiracy that is. Having collected the prestigious Rio Tinto Alcan Performing Arts Award, our artists-in-residence Tim Carlson and Theatre Conspiracy have made themselves cozy in the Vancity Culture Lab to workshop their upcoming production Extraction, part of The Cultch’s 12/13 exciting season of shows. And they’ll need to get cozy because they’re about to tackle some challenging and complex subject material. Extraction is a ‘documentary theatre show that delves deep into the heart of intertwined cultural phenomena: China’s rise as an economic power and oil extraction in Alberta.’ Political, current, observational and cross-cultural, that’s what Theatre Conspiracy are all about. Co-founded in 1995 by Richard Wolfe and Carlson, Theatre Conspiracy aims to ‘tap the cross-currents of international society, politics and culture to create original work that speaks to international themes’. With an ever-growing cast of non-actors, the real life experiences these people embody will bring an authenticity and truth to the performance and create an intimate and knowledgeable offering for the audience. The Cultch’s artist-in-residence programme aims to foster creativity in a wide range of artistic fields offering a beautiful rehearsal space as well as technical and administrative support. Stay tuned as Theatre Conspiracy continues their residency for more exciting updates on Extraction!

Extraction is playing at The Cultch from March 5 – 9, 2013. Single tickets to Extraction go on sale August 7, 2012. Subscriptions can be purchased by visiting http://www.thecultch.com/content/view/372/541/, or by calling the Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Coming to a Theatre Near You… 18 Productions Live Across Two Stages! Ladies & Gentleman, Welcome to The Brand Spanking New Season at The Cultch!

By Roanne Ward

The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

Well, June-uary is here folks and with the rains falling upon us, we bid farewell to our 2011/2012 season of shows here at The Cultch and look ahead to our fast approaching sunny 2012/2013 season – and what a season it is! Performers from across Canada and the globe will grace the stages of our Historic Theatre and the Vancity Culture Lab proving once again the diverse and dynamic programming that The Cultch consistently aims to present. Contemporary performers, dancers, playwrights, directors, choreographers, musicians, and theatre collectives from Berlin to London, Montreal to Vancouver and Glasgow to Portland will bring their unique approaches to live performance to our cozy corner of Venables and Victoria.

Die Roten Punkte - Eurosmash!

Die Roten Punkte - Eurosmash!

Opening the season, we’re thrilled to bring back the utterly dysfunctional and hilarious siblings Astrid and Otto – Die Roten Punkte – Eurosmash! Fans of Spinal Tap and Flight of The Conchords say ‘HALLO!’ to your new favourite band. Also returning are the hilariously macabre Mump & Smoot with their fantastic new show as well as the festive favourite The Christmas Carol Project. Our friends from Blackbird Theatre also return with the sensually seductive Don Juan following their sellout run of Waiting for Godot.

Other highlights include award-winning actress Miriam Margolyes’ Dickens’ Women, a tour-de-force portrayal of over 23 of Dickens’ best-loved characters revealing the life and character of Dickens himself. Hot off the heels of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot Rumble Productions bring us another gem Cozy Catastrophe asking us “What would you do with what could be your final hours?”. We’re thrilled also to be presenting from Berlin, LEO, an enchanting, mind-boggling piece of physical and multimedia theatre that will leave you rubbing your eyes in disbelief. And this is just a taste! If you’re looking for full face masks (Grim & Fischer), musical cycling journeys (Spin), Reimagined Shakespeare (I, Malvolio), Glaswegian karaoke (The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart) or a Blind Date, then The Cultch has got you covered!



Check out the complete show list and video of our exciting new 2012/2013 Season, choose your shows and snag a subscription today!