A time for Remembrance: Theatre as a means for survival

A time for Remembrance: Theatre as a means for survival

This month, The Cultch is presenting the Ceasefire Series: an exploration of war to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice of WWI. The series features three unique shows that explore the causes, effects, and traumas of war from different lenses; one taking place during WWI (SmallWaR), one taking place during WWII (Three Winters), and one taking place in contemporary times (The Believers Are But Brothers). We hope you will come and enjoy all three!

As part of our Ceasefire Series we are please to present the world premiere of Amiel Gladstone’s Three Winters. Three Winters is a highly theatrical case for the creation of art as a means to survive, inspired by the experiences of Amiel Gladstone’s grandfathers who was a prisoner in Stalag Luft III POW camp—made famous by 1963 film The Great Escape. One of the ways the men in the POW camp survived was by making theatre.

“If it weren’t for their ability to make theatre, my Grandpa said he would have died in those WWII POW camps. This play is about that reality, told with immediacy and connection.” — Amiel Gladstone

Though not commonly known, theatre was one of several ways that men in the trenches, and men in POW camps kept themselves occupied during war. Early this year, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MOCAK) exhibited Lagertheater  an exhibition about theatre in concentration camps and POW camps, about which they say: “The assembled documentation reveals how difficult it was – in spite of the radical methods of extermination used – to extinguish the prisoners’ sense of their inner worth, which they expressed through the creative act.”

Amiel Gladstone’s play, Three Winters, has an all-female cast as a way of re-contextualizing this tale of war. “I became very interested in how much of a statement that was about why we make art and its importance…I got interested in how it was all men acting in those places and decided to reverse it to a cast of all young women. They aren’t used to playing war heroes anymore than my 22 year-old grandfather was in his POW situation,” says Gladstone.

Cross dressing was common in prisoner of war camps as well as in theatre for soldiers at the front. Some men became famous for their female impersonations, as shown in these archival photos images:

The idea of theatre as a means for survival is alive and well today. Theatre has used in many therapeutic ways from Drama Therapy, to helping Veterans who are suffering from PTSD, to theatre in refugee camps.

The cast of Three Winters…performing as men performing theatre in a POW camp! Photo by Emily Cooper


Three Winters runs Nov 7-17 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363. See all three Ceasefire Series shows for as low as $65 with The Cultch’s Choose 3 Subscription package.

Thank you for a fantastic 15/16 Season!

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The 15/16 Season was one of The Cultch’s most successful ever! Thanks to your continued patronage, we sold out four shows in our season – a first in Cultch history; hit our Cultch Connects Goal; and hit record subscriber numbers.
We literally wouldn’t be here without you!
Thank you for choosing to make The Cultch and the arts a part of your life – we look forward to more grand adventures in our new season!

Don’t forget to buy your subscription for our 16/17 Season soon. Shows are already filling up, get the best seating while you can! Click here for the full lineup.

Box Office Summer Hours:
Monday- Friday: 12-4pm
Saturday: 12-4pm
Sunday: Closed

Also, open 1 hour prior to all performances

Wondering what to see at the 2016 rEvolver Festival?

Opening this week, the fourth annual rEvolver Theatre Festival will offer 11 days of performances from multi-disciplined theatre artists currently breaking on the local and national scene. All events will be held at The Cultch from May 11 to 22. If you are wondering what to see, here’s a few hints and tips to stoke your interest…..

Diversity:

Not only is the festival focused on providing a platform for emerging artists, this year’s line-up reflects the exciting diversity in our theatre community:

  • Seven shows have been created or directed by women: Beowulf, Charisma Furs, Happiness™, Kolejka, I Want to Tell You Something, Never the Last, and Silenced.
  • Seven shows have been created by or with artists of colour in a significant leadership role: Beowulf, Booth Connection, Mis Papás, Never the Last, The New Conformity, odd., and Silenced.
  • The festival continues its history of supporting innovative work by artists from the LGBTQ community (having premiered shows such as Tucked and Plucked: Vancouver’s HERstory Live on Stage and Cocktales with Maria) with Charisma Furs, by Toronto artist Katie Sly.

Award winning performances:

Two critically acclaimed shows will be presented in the Cultch’s Culture Lab, both wielding a wildly comedic approach to intelligent social commentary:

  • Happiness™, by Ottawa-based May Can Theatre, was nominated for four 2015 Prix Rideau Awards for Outstanding Direction, Lighting Design, Performance and Production.
  • Cause & Effects Circus’ The New Conformity received the Joanna Murata Award in 2015 (Vancouver Fringe Festival) and took home Victoria’s Pick of the Fringe Award in 2014.

The same but different….

Two distinct one woman shows in the Founders’ Lounge—I Want to Tell You Something and Charisma Furs—are equally intimate and engaging, and both incorporate origami lessons. Other than that, they couldn’t be more different….

A little Eastern European Culture
There are two music-heavy shows with European backdrops—puppetry, physical theatre and punk music combine to tell the story of a Babushka’s Soviet Russia in Kolejka,  and Never the Last, the latest from Delinquent Theatre, creators of Stationary: A Recession Era Musical  tells the true story of the early centry composer Sophie Carmen Friedman using live classical music, movement and text.

FESTIVAL BOX OFFICE INFORMATION:
Full Tickets: $17 ($20 with service charges) | Self Identified Low Income Tickets: $12 ($15 with service charges)
3-show pass: $40/$36 | Available at www.tickets.thecultch.com or 604.251.1363
6-show pass: $84 | Available at www.upintheairtheatre.com/buy-tickets
For full festival schedule: www.revolverfestival.ca

ABOUT REVOLVER THEATRE FESTIVAL:
Under the artistic direction of Daniel Martin and David Mott, the rEvolver Theatre Festival presents high energy and adventurous new works with a focus on supporting local talent since 2013. The festival provides professional presenting opportunities in Vancouver and offers a unique platform to present contemporary cutting-edge script-based theatre, devised works, and site-specific performances by artists ranging from recent graduates to more experienced professionals attempting to grow or transform their practice significantly.

Website: www.upintheairtheatre.com/revolver-festival   |  www.revolverfestival.ca
Facebook: www.facebook.com/UpintheairTheatre
YouTube: www.youtube.com/UpintheairTheatre
Twitter: www.twitter.com/UITATheatre

The Invisible Hand: A Note From Director Richard Wolfe

Pi Theatre’s The Invisible Hand opens this week at The Cultch and we can’t wait to present this critically acclaimed production. Directed by Richard Wolfe, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar’s high-stakes thriller follows a kidnapped American trader in Pakistan playing the market for his life. In this riveting, relevant play, taut scenarios unfold as the trader works to earn his release while unwittingly handing the tools for financial chaos and political vindication to his captors. The production made The Georgia Straights ‘17 Things to Do in Vancouver’ this week as well as Vancity Buzz’s ‘6 Hottest Shows in Vancouver’.

Here are the Directors Notes from Richard Wolfe as preface for the show:

Pi is proud to be producing the Canadian premiere of Ayad Akhtar’s The Invisible Hand, presented on the Historic Theatre stage by the visionary team here at The Cultch. I knew as soon I read this script a year-and-a-half ago that it was a Pi show. Bold, smart and visceral – it’s the kind of full and rich theatre experience our audiences have come to expect from our company.

Back in 2014, US-led airstrikes on ISIS were just beginning. I wondered then how the situation would look by the time we opened Akhtar’s play in Vancouver. The naïve, hopeful part of me thought perhaps the situation would have improved. Sadly, it hasn’t.

Akhtar is a wonderful writer. His language is strong and his characters are vivid. But what I like most about The Invisible Hand is how his characters tend to be neither all good nor all bad. In my mind, ambiguous characters make the best theatre.

Akhtar has said he has a deep interest in exploring the themes of Muslim identity in the contemporary world, as well as the workings of the global financial system. Both of these themes are explored in the play you’re about to see.

How do people from different backgrounds become involved in insurgency movements? And what role does the invisible hand of the market play in today’s globalized world? Does it contribute to the general good, as Adam Smith wanted us to believe in his book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (where the title of this play can be found)? Does a world full of self-interest really benefit others in the long run?

The longing for money is fairly universal. But what do we do with it when we have it? And when we have it, what will it do to us?

The Invisible Hand runs from Apr 5 – 23, 2016 in the Historic Theatre. Tickets from $20 and are available online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363

Q&A with Camyar Chaichian, creator and co-director of Doost (Friend)

March 22 marks the world premiere of Doost (Friend) by Neworld Theatre – and it’s happening right here at The Cultch!

Doost (Friend) is a story about compassion, community, and heritage. It is an exploration (through dance, music and poetry) of borders that surround us; borders between secular and spiritual as well as between professionals and community members. This production features an ensemble of professional theatre artists and members of the Vancouver Sufi order who will perform together and bring Doost (Friend) to life.

Neworld Theatre Founder and Doost (Friend) Creator and co-director Camyar Chaichian Photo: Dina Ferreira Stoddard

Neworld Theatre Founder
and Doost (Friend) Creator and co-director Camyar Chaichian
Photo: Dina Ferreira Stoddard

We wanted to learn more about this exciting project, so we turned to the show’s creator and co-director Camyar Chaichian for some further insight.

What excites you most about this production and sharing it with Cultch audiences?
CC: There’s something for everyone. You don’t have to be spiritual to like it. Theatre is often based on intellectual friction. Nothing wrong with that. But how about losing yourself in a trip built on good vibrations mixed with some mystery and enchantment? Who can say no to that?

What were the origins of this project?
CC: My inherent Persian love of Sufi poetry and music, and my theatre practice, came together when I asked the Elder of my path if I could express my devotion through a play based on the story of a generous light who came through the world in the form of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh. Neworld Theatre’s 20th anniversary was a few years around the corner. It all came together.

Doost (Friend) includes professional theatre artists, community members, members of the Vancouver Sufi Centre, and the Canadian Memorial United Church. In what ways do you feel that the theatre, as opposed to other mediums, is an ideal space to promote inter-faith dialogue?
CC: Years ago I was performing Neworld’s political satire, Ali and Ali, at the Magnetic North Festival in Edmonton. The audience was full of – what I presumed – conservative seniors who would – I feared – hate the show. They ended up being one of our best audiences of the entire tour. I asked one of them what she liked about the show. Her answer: “Theatre is a place where I can be exposed to ideas that are frightening or risky and feel safe doing so.” That can apply to spiritual dialogue as well. Not to mention that the many layers of artists that contribute to a theatre play are essential to mining the complexities of such a topic.

Can you tell us about the artists involved?
CC: One of my favourite things to do! We have some of our most wonderful actors, Richard Newman, Sam Bob, Luc Roderique, Nadeem Phillips, and Sofie Newman. A flamenco goddess by the name of Delara Tiv has come all the way from Spain to be a part of the show and they are joined on stage by some big heart being delivered by the community members. And my son Elijah makes his debut.

Can you tell us a bit about the involvement and support of the Nimatullahi Sufi order with this production?
CC: We have Keyvan and Vajieh Tiv, as well as Maya Lee, members of our order, joining the cast and bringing their passion and understanding into the lexicon of the actors. The most important contribution of the order is the direction and essence of following the path of love that we are all trying to share aspects of with the audience. For those of us on the path, this is as much a spiritual practice as an artistic one. The two live hand in hand. Think Gregorian chanting or Nusrat Fattah Ali Khan.

In addition to the 12 performers featured in Doost (Friend) there will be 5 musicians playing live onstage. How is music integrated in this presentation? What types of instruments are being used and what kinds of music can audiences expect to hear?
CC: I have one name to start with: SOLEY! We are blessed. Soley has done it all and is a huge name in Persian music. He has transformed himself into one of the leading Sufi musicians of the world and he’s come from Toronto to jam with us! Can you tell I’m excited? But that’s not all, he’s joining amazing locals Ali Razmi on setar (Persian strings), Hamin Honari on daf (percussion), and Amir Eslami on ney (reed flute). They will be creating some fusion with Zion Fyah (vocals and guitar) and Brandon Walker (cornett). Not to mention backing up Delara’s Flamenco and some world sounds from the cast. It will all be rooted in traditional Persian Sufi music so the audience can expect some eclectic sounds.

Only 6 performances!

Doost (Friend)

March 22-26 2016

Historic Theatre

Purchase tickets here

An Interview with Jenn Sungshine of Our City of Colour

Jenn Sungshine

Jenn Sungshine photo by Rebecca Blisset

March is shaping up to be a colourful month here at The Cultch. We are presenting two critically acclaimed plays, The Gay Heritage Project and Ga Ting, which both deal with issues related to the QTIPOC (Queer,Transgender, Indigenous, People of Colour) community. We had a discourse with Jenn Sungshine who works for our Ga Ting Community Partner, Our City of Colour, about her involvement in various organizations and the QTIPOC community in general.

About Jenn: Jenn Sungshine  facilitates with creativity and social justice media to evolutionize and revolutionize QTIPOC visibility and community-based work through Our City of Colours ( Community Partner for Ga Ting), Love Intersections, Out in Schools and the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia.

 

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1. What are your thoughts on the importance of organizations helping out the artistic community though presentations such as Ga Ting and other GLBTQ plays like The Gay Heritage Project?
Community partnership between organizations in the artistic community helps to facilitate a sense of connectedness through shared experiences. We all want to see ourselves reflected in the stories that are being told, outside of our own little silos. There is a sense of proud recognition and relatability when we can see ourselves represented in nuanced and three dimensional roles as they relate to race, gender, sexuality, culture and all of the intersecting experiences. I find this especially important through art because the ground upon which we walk and play and live our lives has the potential to be bigger and far more interconnected in an isolating city like Vancouver.

2. You mention the acronym QTIPOC. Would you mind explaining exactly what this means?
QTIPOC stands for queer, trans, indigenous people/person of colour – it’s a mouthful isn’t it? And why not? We are complex beings. We are cutie-pocs.

3. What is your involvement with The Pink Line and can you expand more on this initiative?
I’m the facilitator for The Pink Line, which is a new community-engaged theatre initiative created to foreground the stories of members in the LGBTQI+ communities, told in their own words. Our focus this year will be racism within the queer community. Participants will be drawn from the many racial and ethnic groups that make up Vancouver’s LGBTQI+ community. Chris Gatchalian, artistic producer at The Frank Theatre graciously asked if I would be interested in facilitating conversations around race and racism. It runs deep, like the microaggressions that we experience on a daily level.

4. You are a busy individual involved with many organizations that deal with important social issues. Do you think that Vancouver is more welcoming of people with alternative lifestyles than other cities around the world?
I don’t like to compare cities. It’s a dangerous road to go down on so I will only speak to my own experiences here. I think Vancouver is actually a relatively conservative city in terms of the actual minutiae of social interactions that people engage in and how they are subtly encouraged to express themselves creatively. Perhaps due to the scarcity of communal spaces and housing, Vancouver can sometimes seem quite stifling and full of unacknowledged competition.
That being said, Vancouver prides itself on embracing “diversity”. To me, the concept of “alternative lifestyle” is a relative one depending on sub/cultural connections as well as personal predilection and interests — from music to dance culture to food to activism — it’s very sceney here. Of course, like any city Vancouver has its own narrative. One that I find resonates with certain lifestyles and practices while not with others. I have my ups and downs with this city for sure but I have to remind myself everyday of how lucky I truly am to live here.
Lastly, I do think that we glorify busy-ness and quite frankly I am busy because I need to survive, not because I really want to be. Can I retire with cats yet?

5. How do you feel the Out in Schools program is succeeding in its mission? What more do you feel that our national, provincial, and local government can do more to promote the program? What can the community do?
Brandon Yan, my brilliant successor at Out in Schools can speak far more profoundly in all the ways that Out in Schools is succeeding in its mission! Personally I would love to see a SOGI policy at all levels of governance. While I do think tremendous strides have been made in classrooms here and certainly Out in Schools has played a hand in that, the work is far from over!

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The Cultch presents The Gay Heritage Project March 2 – 19 and Ga Ting March 8 – 19. To purchase tickets click here. Get your tickets before it is too late!

Ga Ting weaves a powerful and emotionally-charged story about an immigrant Chinese couple trying to come to terms with the death of their son, Kevin. When they invite Kevin’s Caucasian boyfriend for dinner after the funeral, the evening devolves into a fiery cultural and generational clash.

“Ga Ting isn’t just about being gay, but about parents getting to know your children and children sharing themselves with their parents…Go see it. Take your parents” — GayVancouver

Thoughts on Vancouver’s Gay Heritage by Kevin Dale McKeown

McKeown2Kevin Dale McKeown, then and now, was the Georgia Straight‘s first LGBT columnist.

In preparation for The Gay Heritage Project we reached out to Kevin Dale McKeown, The Georgia Straight’s gay news columnist from 1970 – 1975 and currently writing for the online publication Xtra. Here are his thoughts on gay heritage.

Vancouver’s queer community has a long and rich heritage, much of it preserved in oral histories (and barroom gossip) from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, some found in early newsletters of the Association for Sexual Knowledge (ASK) in the sixties, and then, beginning in the 70s in sometimes excruciating detail in my weekly column, “QQ Writes …. Page 69”, in the Georgia Straight, and in subsequent periodicals such as Your Thing, The Gay Canadian, and Angles, all precursors to the appearance in 1993 of Xtra West. There have been many milestones in that history, some of them global, some national, and many less well remembered moments in our own city.

My own appearance in a publicly circulated newspaper was a milestone of sorts, and the founding of Vancouver’s Gay Liberation Front (GLF), the efforts to desegregate our “men only” clubs and bars, the legal struggle of the Gay Alliance Towards Equality (GATE) against the Vancouver Sun over its refusal to publish classified ads with the word “gay”, the public rallies and protest during the 70s, and the first Gay Unity March in 1978, which evolved into today’s annual Pride parade are all top-of mind when I think of our heritage and history.

 

The founding of many organizations, especially the drag community’s Dogwood Monarchist Society, which helped rally our community during the terrible plague years during which AIDS took so many of our friends and loved ones, were milestones worth noting.

The opening of a pioneering gay and lesbian bookstore, Little Sisters, in 1983 and their subsequent legal fight with Canada Customs over our right to import and read books that were meaningful to us … there was a milestone!

Yes, we’ve come a long way and made a lot of progress. But I feel that our “community” is now in a challenging period where we are questioning the need for identity politics and squabbling within our ranks over issues that would have seemed irrelevant forty years ago. There is still work to do, and we need to preserve our history so that future generations remember their roots, how hard we fought for what we have, and realize how easily it could all be lost to us if we do not continue to stand together.

We have many allies now we didn’t have before. And we can work together with other marginalized groups to continue to push for advances on all fronts. But ultimately I believe that it is up to us to support and care for our own, and I think that begins with educating and supporting the next generation, and the one after that.

Speaking of identity politics, I dislike both the catch-all use of the word “queer” to represent our community, and the ever-morphing alphabet soup we’re burdened with today.

I’m all in favour of the use of a new acronym, which comes to us out of the London queer community, GSD, for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Doesn’t “GSD community” say it all, without putting anyone’s nose out of joint?

I look forward to hearing more about the history and heritage of the GSD community across Canada through The Gay Heritage Project, and sharing some of my own stories at the opening reception. –Kevin Dale McKeown

gayheritge_HomepageHeader_v1-01About The Gay Heritage Project: Three of our country’s most gifted creator/performers set out to answer one question: is there such a thing as gay heritage? In their search, they uncover a rich history not often shared and shine new light on contemporary gay culture. The result is a hilarious and moving homage to the people who came before us and the events that continue to shape our lives.

The Daisy Theatre’s Ronnie Burkett said we would be crazy not to program this show! “Celebratory, upbeat, and deeply moving” — Toronto Star

The Gay Heritage Project runs from March 2nd – 19th at The Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street, Vancouver. Tickets are available from $20. To purchase tickets click here

 

 

Century Song: Five reasons you need to see this groundbreaking show

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 Century Song, presented with the PuSh Performing Arts Festival, is one of the most unique shows of The Cultch’s 15/16 season! The multimedia show provides a thrilling look at 100 years in black  history from a women`s perspective. The piece, a “music recital” study of ephemeral aspects of the Black Canadian experience over the past century, is completely wordless. The story is a survey from servitude to sexuality; pop culture to protest. Here are five reasons you should watch this groundbreaking piece of art. For an interactive experience click here.

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  1. Black History Month:  With February being Black History Month, Century Song provides a great opportunity for  Vancouver audiences to educate themselves, from a Black woman’s perspective, about Canadian Black history. Here’s what Ross Manson, Director of Century Song, says about this dynamic, “I learned the distinction between white and black feminism in my research into the 1970s. White feminism called for equality. Black feminism called for justice. The difference is vast. In short – I learned that as a country there is much under the surface of our history that most of us aren’t aware of. And so the question formed: why does what is taught in our schools omit so much?_MG_7652
  2.  Modern Dance: Neema Bickersteth and choreographer Kate Alton (Dora Award winner and K. M. Hunter award winner) co-created a unique body of modern dance movement featured heavily in Century Song. Alton creates thought-provoking, emotionally engaging theatrical dances that are as much explorations of the mind as of the body, working with writers, directors, and vocal coaches to develop inter-disciplinary performance works that pack an intellectual and emotional punch._MG_7774C
  3. Classical Music: The performance utilizes the UBC Opera-trained and Dora Nominated Neema Bickersteth on vocalise (wordless vocals) and music by some of the past 100 years’ most adventurous composers– 1912: Sergei Rachmaninoff (Russia); 1935: Olivier Messaien (France); 1950: John Cage (USA); 1978: Georges Aperghis (Greece); 2012: Reza Jacobs (Canada); 2016: Piano, Gregory Oh (Canada) and 2016: Percussion, Computers, Composition, Music Co-Direction, Debashis Sinha (Canada)._MG_6798C2
  4.  Innovative Video: The show’s projections were made by Germany’s fettFilm known for their innovative video production. By combining video with other media the video artists Momme Hinrichs and Torge Möller primarily create multifaceted works of art which do not merely decorate the stage or coexist with it but instead blend various artistic levels.They develop and realise their ideas, from the initial stage to the final presentation, in close cooperation with directors and artists. For amazing video of the performance click here. _MG_7291 - Copy
  5. Internationally Acclaimed Theatre Company:  Century Song has been developed by the Toronto-based, international award-winning performance company, Volcano Theatre, in partnership with Crooked Figure Dances, and the Moveable Beast Collective with direction by Dora Award-winning director Ross Manson. “One of those companies that every great theatre city needs – bold, experimental, and bubbling with ideas.” – Toronto Star

Century Song is at The Cultch’s  Historic Theatre until February 6. Tickets are from $20. Get your tickets here.

Images:  Photos of Neema Bickersteth by John Lauener

Leftovers, An Interview with Charles Demers

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Charles Demers and Baby Demers. Photo By Simon Hayter.

One of the stars of CBC Radio’s The Debaters, a best-selling author, and one of Canada’s finest stand-up comedians, Charlie Demers also lectures in creative writing at UBC and continues to fight the good fight as a political activist. His newest adventure Leftovers, which he co-created with Marcus Youssef and also stars in, is presented by The Cultch and PuSh International Performing Arts Festival from Jan 26 to 30 at the York Theatre. We had a chance to chat with Charles about his latest show, its inspirations, and the political landscape in general.

1. You are the playwright for the hugely successful East Van Panto, which has its own brand of political speak. How does Leftovers differ?

I’d say that the biggest difference is that, in Panto-land, we’re in a marshmallowy, cartoon world where everything is ultimately going to be okay — we never really feel unsafe in the Panto. So the political mockery, the potshots, the little jokes, even when they are about real, awful stuff happening in the world — gentrification, uncontrolled speculation, political corruption, whatever — the jokes come from a place of safety. Those bad things can’t get at us in the Panto, because we’re playing pretend. In Leftovers, we’re leaving the door open to all the vicious beasts and monsters in the world. Capitalism isn’t a harmless subject of satire in this world — in this particular show, it’s a bulldozer, it’s everywhere, and we’re scared of it. We’re supposed to be scared of it, even when we’re laughing.

2. You are a very busy man engaged in many varying projects from being a lecturer to an author/playwright, to standup/acting, where does the inspiration and drive come from to create these artistic feats?

Well, the cynical part of me would say that core, unshakeable feelings of financial and emotional insecurity will forever drive me to try and find the greatest number of both paycheques as well as strangers to tell me I’m doing good things. That’s partially true, at least. But I love the life of ideas, I love engaging people with ideas, and I’ve been lucky and privileged enough to get the opportunity to do that on a really nice scale, with a number of people and in a number of different ways, and I will work as hard as I have to and say yes to as many opportunities as I’m presented with that will keep that process alive.

3. Ronald Reagan has been the poster boy for dumb politicians, which Canadian politician do you feel comes close to him?

Well, Jean Chrétien play-acted that he was dumb, but he was actually brilliantly cagey and that was all Machiavellian performance, I think. I had thought that our new man, Justin Trudeau, was a major intellectual lightweight, but as it turns out, there may be something of Chrétien in him after all. No, I’d say the closest thing we’ve seen to the Reagan brand of oblivious cruelty here is probably Bill Vander Zalm, or our current premier, Ms. Clark.

4. Do you find it easier collaborating with others as you have done with Marcus Youssef for Leftovers or creating solo?

It’s interesting — in some ways, I think there’s a mistaken feeling that sets in early on in the process that working with a collaborator is going to be easier, because there’s someone else there to share the load, and that’s true. But having a co-creator ultimately, I think, means that you’re going to work harder, because you’re constantly being challenged about what the piece is, beyond the limited, comfortable thing that you maybe thought it would be. So it makes the show an infinitely richer thing, because you’re being pushed and challenged in ways that you wouldn’t ever do if you were working on your own. In a really good way.

5. East Van and The Cultch have a history of challenging the status quo in what they represent, does the area of East Van, the neighbourhood, play into how and what you present?

I didn’t grow up in East Van, but I lived here when I was a baby (my first home was the rented ground floor of a Vancouver Special on Kaslo street), and I started coming back to hang out on the Drive, at La Quena and for foosball at Joe’s, as a teenager. I’ve lived here for years and the neighbourhood has shaped me culturally and politically and socially and in every other way possible. I’ve been watching shows at The Cultch since I was a teenager, seen so many of the amazing shows that made me want to create theatre myself, that it’s almost impossible for me to answer this question, it’s so big. Let me put it this way: the first time my aunt and uncle babysat my daughter, when she was still shy of a year old, they took her for a a walk in her stroller, and the only time she stopped crying was when they were on the Drive.

6. You pose the question,” Why are we so accepting of the world as it is?” Without giving away too much info about Leftovers, do you have the answer?

Ultimately, I think that the often bloody back and forth of the 20th century drained us of our political imaginations. We’ve hardened against the idea of utopia — and while it’s true that we can’t build utopia in the real world, there’s something profoundly depressing and disempowering about a world where we don’t even entertain the idea, where we don’t even play with thought experiments about what profound changes in the way we organize society might look like. Given this context, I think that a non-cynical comic sensibility is important for the left; to be a little bit ironic, a little bit smirking, is a useful guard against the nightmares of the 20th century, I think. But without other feelings — feelings of love, or fear, or anger — that sort of comedy can become politically harmless, and that harmlessness makes us even more cynical. That’s why we’re excited to be doing a comedy show that isn’t, in this case, only stand-up — to be able to tell jokes but also have those real moments of feeling alongside them

Get your tickets now before they’re gone! An extra show has already been added due to demand!

A LEFTOVERS GLOSSARY

Toussaint Louverture: (1743 –1803) Leader of the Haitian Revolution.

Maximillien Robespierre: (1758 –1794) One of most influential figures of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror.

Tibet: A region on the Tibetan Plateau in Asia northeast of the Himalayas; occupied by China

Frederick Douglass: (1818–1895) African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman.

Emma Goldman: (1869 –1940) Anarchist known for her political activism, writing, and speeches.

Oakridge: An area in south-central Vancouver with an average household income of $65,000.

Jean Jaurès: (1859-1914) French Socialist leader.

The Paris Commune: Radical socialist and revolutionary government that ruled Paris from 18 March to 28 May 1871.

Commercial Drive: Roadway in Vancouver, BC that goes through the neighbourhood of Grandview-Woodland. Better known as “The Drive”.

Rosa Luxemburg: (1871 –1919) Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and revolutionary socialist of Polish-Jewish descent.

Leon Blum: (1872 –1950) French politician, identified with the moderate left, and three time Prime Minister of France.

Michael Corleone: Main character in the Godfather film trilogy

Clement Attlee: (1883 –1967) British politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1945-1951) and the Leader of the Labour Party (1935-1955).

Jawaharial Nehru: (1889 –1964) The first Prime Minister of India

Ho Chi Minh: (1890 –1969) Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader who was prime minister

Deng Xiaoping: (1904 –1997) Chinese revolutionary and statesman influenced by Marxism-Leninism.

Salvador Allende: (1908 –1973) First Marxist to become president of a Latin American country through open elections.

Che Guevara: (1928 –1967) Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist.

Stuart McLean: Canadian radio broadcaster, humourist, host of the CBC Radio program The Vinyl Cafe.

Henry Kissinger: American diplomat and political scientist.

Karl Marx: Philosopher, economist, sociologist, journalist and revolutionary socialist.

Maoism: Political, social, economic, and military theories and policies advocated by Mao Zedong.

Bernie Sanders: American politician and the junior Senator from Vermont self-described socialist and democratic socialist.

French Revolution: A period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France that lasted from 1789 until 1799.

The Cultch receives $130,000 grant from Vancouver Foundation for “Democratizing our Stages” Project

The Cultch and Diwali Fest staff at Nirbhaya Community Engagement meeting1Left to Right, Rohit Chokani & Vineeta Minhas Co-Producers of Diwali Fest, Heather Redfern – Executive Director, Nicole McLuckie – Director of Patron Development, Kim Harvey – Youth Program Manager, Abdel Naroth – Marketing Intern, Ricky Choi – Marketing Coordinator

 

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve received a significant three-year $130,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation for our “Democratizing our Stages” Project! While The Cultch has a long history of diversity, community inclusion, and pushing the boundaries of art to benefit society, this grant will allow us to go even further, challenging the status quo by prioritizing community development and presentation with groups and communities that have not yet engaged with us.

“We are delighted and grateful for Vancouver Foundation’s support,” says executive director Heather Redfern. “I truly believe this is a game-changer. The confidence the Vancouver Foundation has shown in our ability to make significant change is heartening and meaningful not only to The Cultch but to the community partners we will work with on this project over the next three years.”

The project began in earnest this past November when we partnered with Diwali Fest, Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW), and Amnesty International to present and engage in community dialogue around Nirbhaya, the internationally acclaimed play inspired by the 2012 rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey in Delhi and featuring the real life testimonials of sexual violence survivors. This was the first year in what will now be an ongoing partnership with Diwali Fest. Other Democratizing our Stages partners include Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (VACT), Dancers of Damelahamid, Neworld Theatre, Neworld Theatre, and Urban Ink, with plans to bring others on board over the course of the project and into the future.

“There is increasing diversity in professional arts practices in Canada, however there are still very few venues that present this work in a mainstage context throughout a season of programming,” says Redfern. “We are interested in talking to people who are not coming to The Cultch. We’ll be partnering with like-minded organizations from the community to diversify the audience that attends these productions, finding innovative ways to provide access to communities. Social exclusion is systemic and can only be reversed by conscious and proactive efforts. The democratization of our stages will happen when cross-cultural communication takes place between artists and communities over and over again, until we reach the point that it feels ordinary, as though it’s always been that way.”

Read more:
The Georgia Straight
Vancouver Presents