A chat with Gravity & Other Myths acrobat, Lachlan Binns

A chat with Gravity & Other Myths acrobat, Lachlan Binns!

Gravity & Other Myths member, Lachlan Binns. Photo by Darcy Grant

Backbone opens October 30, 2018 at the Vancouver Playhouse (600 Hamilton Street), and we are beyond thrilled to have Gravity &Other Myths back in the city once again! We caught up with Lachlan Binns, one of the key members of the award-winning, world-renowned Australian acrobat company, for a quick chat.

We are so excited to have Gravity & Other Myths back in Vancouver. What are you looking forward to doing while you are here in the city?

Last time we were here we had a lot of great opportunities to explore the city. We rode bikes around the city, explored nearby national parks and saw an ice hockey game. It was a fair while ago, so we’re all really excited to re-familiarise ourselves with the city and explore again! Plus, obviously we’re keen to show our audiences what we have been doing since we were there last; Backbone is much bigger and more spectacular show than A Simple Space.

How do you prepare to get on stage each night—warm ups, stretches—what is the process like?

We will spend around three hours warming up before each show. The first section will be stretching, using foam rollers and thera-bands; doing rehab and general body maintenance. This will last for around 45 minutes, and we will use this time to relax and joke around with each other, and get “socially warm”. Then when we are feeling good, and the sweat has started flowing, we will start to practice some of the skills from the show, anything that needs maintenance or adjustment. We will also spend a lot of time training new skills, and experimenting with new material for this show, or future projects. The last 30 minutes of the time is spent focusing, and preparing the stage for the show.

What is the craziest stunt Gravity & Other Myths has ever attempted?

“Craziest” is a strange term for us—a lot of the things we try are considered crazy! The two most difficult stunts we do are in Backbone; one is called the Four High, it is four people standing on top of each others shoulders in a straight column. It is an incredibly rare and difficult skill in the acrobatic world, and we’re really proud of it!

Four High! Photo by Carnival Cinema

What safety measures do you take to keep everyone safe? Have there been any injuries?

There are always injuries when you practice acrobatics; its impossible to avoid completely. A combination of smart body management, and trust in each other to catch and support one another, is the best way to manage injuries.

Gravity & Other Myths has toured all over the world—what is the wildest experience you have ever had touring with this show?

The literal wildest experience would be performing and going on a safari tour in Zimbabwe, Africa. Being in a totally different culture, and experiencing both the natural beauty, and the amazing tradition, is something we will remember for a long time!

Backbone looks like so much fun! Are you having as much fun on stage as it looks?

Definitely. The fun we have on stage is not pretend. Our job is to do what we love with a group of our best friends, and it’s hard not to smile!

Photo of Gravity & Other Myths by Darcy Grant


Backbone runs Oct 30-Nov 4 at the Vancouver Playhouse (600 Hamilton St). Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Corporate Sponsor Spotlight: Giulio Recchioni from the Italian Cultural Centre

Corporate Sponsor Spotlight: Giulio Recchioni from the Italian Cultural Centre

Giulio Recchioni

Can you tell us how the Italian Cultural Centre first got involved with The Cultch?

Our very first time at The Cultch was in March 2012 with FRESCO, a play the Italian Cultural Centre commissioned from Lucia Frangione and BellaLuna Productions, telling the lesser known story of the internment of Italian citizens in Canada during WW2.

However the first proper partnership with The Cultch was in May 2017 with LA MERDA, featuring a naked Silvia Gallerano sitting on a stool on a dark stage… what a tough show that was!

What has surprised you and your colleagues most about partnering with The Cultch?

I was surprised by the richness and diversification of the shows offered at The Cultch, and also by the number of people that created a community around this historical institution in Vancouver;  some of the audience changes according to what’s playing, but there is also a hard core audience that comes to every show. I think that’s great. They trust The Cultch, they know whatever gets put on stage will be good and will have an impact on them, and they come with an open mind.

Over the years, the Italian Cultural Centre has supported several Cultch shows. Are there any highlights or memorable moments?

I still can’t help but smile when I think of Pss Pss and what they did with the ladder. Pss Pss was a funny show by Compagnia Baccalà that made adults and children laugh with non-verbal humour. In our line of work, cross-generational and cross-cultural are adjectives we use constantly, but this show brilliantly embodied both concepts.

How important do you think it is that the arts organizations continue to cultivate and sustain partnerships with corporate sponsors and local businesses?

It’s of paramount importance. The population is growing in this expensive city, and we are also seeing the consequential multiplication of cultural and artistic organizations. Often putting up cultural activities costs more money than ticket sales can generate, and government grants (municipal, provincial, federal) do not always keep up with the growing demand for funds. I hope more and more thriving businesses will want to share some of their wealth with the local community to keep this city interesting and interested.

What are you curious about right now?

I am curious about the new Creative City Strategy that the City will be rolling out – hopefully soon. There have been a number of explorative meetings to get an idea of what is needed in the arts and culture sector, and I can’t wait to see how all that knowledge will convert into an action plan.

Do you have a favorite show?

This is always such an unfair question… I see a decent number of shows throughout the year, and I have to constantly update my list of favourites. If I had to single out something I saw recently, though – I am a jazz fan, and I was lucky enough to go to Pyatt Hall for the live concert of the great baritone sax player, Gary Smulyan, with strings. He is a powerhouse!


As a registered Canadian charity, The Cultch relies on the support of the community to operate as a cultural hub; bringing diverse and engaging live performance to the stage.
Please consider making a donation today! Contact Natalie Schneck, Development Associate: natalie@thecultch.com; 604.251.1766 x.121
Charitable registration # 11928 1574 RR0001

A Q&A with Kevin McKendrick and Lindsey Angell about BUTCHER

A Q&A with Kevin McKendrick and Lindsey Angell about BUTCHER

Butcher, an edge-of-your-seat thriller from award-winning Canadian playwright, Nicolas Billon, opens March 21 at the Historic Theatre, and runs until March 31.

Early Christmas morning, on the doorsteps of a Toronto police station, Inspector Lamb discovers an unlikely bundle; a drugged and abandoned old man, who doesn’t speak any English, dressed in a strange military uniform. Atop his head a Santa hat, and around his neck a business card impaled on a butchers hook with the words, “Arrest me,” scrawled on it. Inspector Lamb begins an investigation into the identity of the stranger that will forever tie together the lives of four people: a lawyer, a translator, the stranger and the inspector.

 

We connected with Director, Kevin Mckendrick, and performer, Lindsey Angell, to ask them a few questions about bringing the hit show to The Cultch stage.

What excites you most about bringing Butcher to The Cultch stage?

Lindsey — Butcher has managed to get under my skin and I think it will truly draw our audiences in as well. It is deceptive and sneaky and even oddly charming at times, but be careful, you might get *hooked*…hehehe.

The Cultch has partnered with Amnesty International as a Community Partner for Butcher. Our Community Partners offer us the opportunity to spread the word about important issues at the same time as helping us spread the word about our shows. Knowing what you do about Amnesty International, do you feel that it is a good fit? Why?

Kevin — I think it’s an excellent partnership because Amnesty International wrestles with the issues in Butcher every single day. In her forward to the play Louise Arbour, a former Supreme Court of Canada justice, and former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda said, “When can victims find peace when justice is elusive?” and  “Can offenders find closure if punishment is not extended to them?” Are these not huge questions for our time? Real peace and closure, it is often said, can only come from forgiveness. It falls to organizations like A.I to help us find our way through these tangled questions.

Why do you think Butcher has hit such a chord across Canada since its debut?

Lindsey — Butcher is brave. It does not choose sides or lead its audience in any way. That kind of experience in live theatre is rare and exhilarating.

In an ideal world, what would you like audiences to take away with them after seeing Butcher?

Kevin — One of my mentors, the playwright  John Murrell, impressed upon me the idea that theatre must be provocative, yet entertaining. It’s a maxim I try to apply to every play I work on. I want audiences leaving Butcher at The Cultch to feel we exceeded their expectations. I want them to be  thrilled and moved by the experience. To be glad they left the comfort of their home to take in a play. And I want them to leave the theatre arguing about the themes of justice and revenge. The best theatre serves to help us strengthen our society by spurring us to make changes.

You have put together an all-star cast of performers and creators for this production. Lindsey, what do you think Butcher offers actors that other plays may not?

Lindsey — Butcher is unlike any show I have done before. I have spoken in dialects and even other languages but never have I been given the gift of learning an invented language (playwright, Nicolas Billon, had two linquistics professors from the University of Toronto invent the language of ‘Lavinian’ specifically for this play). This story is incredibly mysterious and the characters are fighting fiercely for what they need, creating a tension I have yet to experience on stage. That’s about all I can say without spilling any spoilers.

Butcher has some very serious themes — justice, revenge, forgiveness — Have there been many discussions during rehearsals? Do you think it will stir up debate with audiences?

Lindsey — Of course! We have turned this play over and over, hashing out the ideas and the arc of the story. It is our hope that the audience will discuss the piece passionately afterwards, not only the themes but their own personal response to the ride.

Is there anything else about putting on Butcher that you would like to say a few words about?

Kevin — I have been so fortunate to have this opportunity. To work on this fine Canadian play with this outstanding team of collaborators. And it is very gratifying to us to have The Cultch recognize the importance of Nicolas Billon’s play and afford us the opportunity to share it with Vancouver audiences.

Thank you Kevin and Lindsey!

To read more about Butcher check out this great article from the Vancouver Sun, a Q&A with Peter Anderson.


Butcher runs March 20-31 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.


Written by: Nicolas Billon

Starring: Peter Anderson, Lindsey Angell, Noel Johansen, and Daryl Shuttleworth

Director: Kevin McKendrick

Artistic Associate: Christy Webb, Set Designer: David Roberts, Costume Designer: Jenifer Darbellay, Assistant Costume Designer: Alaia Hamer, Lighting Designer: Michael Hewitt, Original Music and Sound Design: Keith Thomas, Stage Manager: Joanne P.B. Smith, Makeup Consultant: Miss Nikki Ying, Student Apprentice: Leah Read

Official Website: www.butcherplay.com 

In Conversation: Kim Harvey from Children of God

In Conversation: Kim Harvey from Children of God

Children of God, a new Urban Ink musical by Corey Payette, makes its world premiere this week at the York Theatre. In this powerful piece, the children of an Oji-Cree family are sent to a residential school in Northern Ontario. Children of God is a story of redemption: for a mother who was never let past the school’s gate, and her kids, who never knew she came. Children of God offers a thrilling blend of ancient traditions and contemporary realities, celebrating resilience and the power of the Indigenous cultural spirit.

Kim Harvey plays Joanna in Children of God. Audiences may know Kim from her work as a director, writer, and actor across Canada or through her position as Youth Program Manager at The Cultch. On a break from rehearsal, Kim sat down with us to talk about Children of God and theatre as a medium for reconciliation.

Kim Harvey (Cast – Joanna/Secretary) during the initial read through. Photo by Brian Chan

You were originally part of the workshop productions for Children of God, what has it been like to watch this production grow and take shape through the years?

I remember at a Cultch staff meeting, the question  was asked “What is one of the most powerful piece of theatre you’ve ever been a part of?” I had just come back from doing the workshop in Kamloops and I had said Children of God. It was really powerful. It resonated with me in a way that only a few shows have.

Specifically in terms of the growth and development, I feel really lucky because we keep getting more. We’re getting an entire orchestra, we’re getting the time to invest in the characters, to really figure out who each and every character is. When you’re in a workshop, you’re getting it done as fast as you can; but in this process I feel really honoured to get to see all of the characters grow, to really get to know my character Joanna and figure out her track and her story.

Also the music. To see the development of the music, it’s already been so beautiful. It has been very special to be a part of it for a very long time and there is something very special when we talk about growth of seeing Indigenous people work together and be together. I just feel really lucky to spend time with Indigenous artists, because that doesn’t really happen enough; because the opportunities are not there. I think we’re all at the point now where we really want people to see it!

Can you tell us a little about your character in the production?

The main character I play is Joanna, she is a very young, 14-year-old Indigenous girl who is in the residential school. I have fallen in love with her. She is a joy to play because she’s earnest and has this youthfulness that as adults we don’t get to tap into anymore. She is a fighter. She’s not the brightest but trying so hard all of the time and I think she has a giant heart. I think Joanna is radically empathetic to what is going on and I think she’s a good representation of one story of what happened to one person surviving the residential schools. She’s also a survivor which I feel a deep sense of responsibility playing because there are so many survivors out there and Joanna is absolutely one of them.

At one point I saw Joanna as a victim, as I imagined what her track was as she grew up I thought, ‘Oh things don’t really work out for her, I’m not sure how well Joanna does in her life once she leaves’. And in this particular production I think that’s changed. I think Joanna not only survives but ends up thriving. I don’t know if it’s because of where I’m at in my own life or my own reconciliation.

In terms of Joanna, I feel the pressure because there are so many survivors out there and there are so many young people who didn’t survive. This is for the hundreds of thousands of children who are buried in unmarked graves and who will never be able to see this show and weren’t as fortunate as Joanna. So I feel honoured to get to play her. I kind of based her a little bit on my mom in terms of her surviving and thriving. So, it’s an honour in so many ways.

Can you tell us a little about the music in this show?

What Corey has done with the music is he has used it as a window and our opportunity to enter into the story. We can go there with the music.

The music is incredible. These songs are just beautiful… they absolutely move you and they hit you in your spirit and they stick with you. And I think that’s a really great tool for the audiences to leave with. If nothing they will leave with the music inside them, remembering how moving and beautiful it was especially around content that is so difficult.

It’s contemporary, it’s sometimes a bit pop-rock and then it’s also absolutely traditional in the sense that we have a hand drum and we have drum songs and Corey has melded these two sort of genres and artistic practices together to create something I don’t think this country has ever seen before.

He’s really is investigating what the evolution of Indigenous song sounds like. My dad used to say that we’ve always evolved our artistic practices. Our ancestors were innovators and they thought about things differently and so I think Corey is participating in an ancestral practice of what indigenous storytelling looks and sounds like. And I’m so honoured to be a part of it and witness him doing that and also that we get to share it with people. I just can’t say enough that I’ve never been a part of anything like it and I’ve never seen anything like it.

In what way do you feel that theatre as a medium is a powerful tool for reconciliation and conversation?

I have worked in social and child welfare, I continue to work in youth engagement, I’ve worked with government in community engagement, I’ve participated in Truth and Reconciliation forums, I’ve done youth empowerment websites and what still resonates and rings the truest and the strongest for me is theatre. That this medium is such a community interaction and on this particular show there is going to be a talkback every night. And to me that is going to be extraordinarily exciting.

You will leave an entirely different person. You will not leave the same person that you came into it. There is something about theatre especially in the creation process, of Indigenous people in a room every day for weeks, focusing on trying to find the truth of our history and how it is impacting the present. There are so many echoes and ripples of why theatre is so powerful and the performances are one aspect of it.

And in the age of technology with huge spikes of people feeling anxious and depressed and isolated and disengaged, this is the antithesis of that. And the fact that it’s a traditional practice to bear witness to a story. That everyone comes to see it is bearing witness to the truth of what has happened in this country. And with that information as a witness the responsibility is then to go and share what you know. Everyone who comes to see this show will become a witness and then an ambassador for understanding what exactly happened in our country and what is still happening. I’ve explored a lot of different ways of figuring out how I can help the community and I keep coming back to theatre. Because I still feel that it has the strongest impact.

It is for me where I’m supposed to be and the strongest tool we have to get people to understand what happened.

Someone said “Theatre is the strongest way to show another human being what it is to be a human being” and I absolutely believe that. It’s hard to deny a living thing in front of you.

By coming that is a way that you can help create that reconciliation, by participating, by bearing witness to the truth.

Is there anything else that you would like to say to the audiences?

I want to make sure that non-Indigenous people feel welcome. Because this show is for them. This show is for people who really want to understand why the present is the way it is. People need to see this. That the only way we are going to achieve real truth and reconciliation is by having the active participation of everyone to bear witness to this and I think that that is so important. We just need to honour the truth. And yes, this is a very dark and damaging part of our past but I think the only way we are all going to be able to move on from it is by understanding what happened. And that is what is going to happen when you see this show. It’s going to move you, It’s going to inform you, it’s going to show you how you can be empathetic… the impacts are still going on.

Because I think you will learn about intergenerational trauma, which I am a survivor of, and how that trauma stays with us. How Joanna, if she has children, what that trauma will do to her children. To all of the children who were at the school and I think people need to understand that, that the trauma is still very much present in us and we are working as hard as we can to figure it out, but we would really love some allies. I think coming to this show – that’s what you can do – you can help a lot of people by understanding the truth of the situation. And that’s why I feel so passionately about this show about seeing it about doing it… I just want to make sure as many people as possible see this show and this show lives because this is a really amazing way to participate in honouring the truth of what happened and is still occurring.

And the talkbacks – you’re not going to want to miss them. The talkbacks in Kamloops were lively and heartbreaking. You are going to bear witness to a story based on historical events but then you are going to have people standing up and speaking about their truths and sharing their stories and people getting angry and people feeling frustration and THAT is what we need more of we need to actually engage with each other and that is going to be exciting.

Our final song is not about finger pointing. It’s not about blaming anyone – we have to help each other to reconcile and remedy what happened and what all of our ancestors participated in… Corey has done a really magnificent job of ensuring that we can’t point fingers and continue the hate because then it is a vicious cycle of what happened.  We’ve got to rise above and I think it’s empowering when you see the show to see how you can be an active ally.

Kim Harvey toasts the cast and crew. Photo by Brian Chan

 

Children of God runs at the York Theatre, May 17-Jun 3. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.
 
Contains swearing, sexual content, and haze.
Due to the triggering content of the performance, Emotional Support Workers will be available to provide support to audience members who may require it.

 

Partnering with Whistler Brewing

The Cultch is proud to have had Whistler Brewing as a partner since the 2011/2012 season. Our patrons know that they can enjoy a quality beverage at any of our performances and can always look forward to the rotating seasonal beers. Megan McKay Hall, Key Account Manager at Whistler Brewing, shared with us a little history of the company and what it’s like to partner with The Cultch.

Greg Armstrong-Morris (Broken Sex Doll) and a friend enjoy some Whistler Brews at the reception.

Greg Armstrong-Morris and Dustin Freeland (both from Broken Sex Doll) enjoy some Whistler Brews at the reception.

Can you tell us a little bit about Whistler Brewing and its history?

                The Whistler Brewing Company is celebrating its 25-year anniversary this month! The brand was born a long time ago, but the real success of the brand has really happened in the past 8 years when consumers started to support local, craft brewers much more. We welcome everyone to visit us at our tap house and brewing facility in Function Junction, Whistler anytime. We love to show off what we do and introduce people to the faces behind the brewery. We are one of BC’s oldest craft brewers, and are proud of the history and evolution of the brand from 1989 until now – big changes in the look of the brand, how and what we brew and the people behind it all.

Where do you get your inspiration for the seasonal brews?

                We have our Brew Master, Joe Goetz, as well as our head brewer in Whistler, Matt Dean, who come up with the recipes for each brew, but it really is a team effort. Many people within the company weigh in and provide ideas for both recipe ideas and the story that goes along with that recipe. Brand development is a lot of fun, and it’s very cool to be able to put forth suggestions that may end up as a finished product. A lot of the brand inspiration comes from the area in and around our home in Whistler – Whiskey Jack Ale pays homage to the Whiskey Jack bird found in the alpine, Paradise Valley Grapefruit Ale gets its name from the Paradise Valley area outside of Squamish, and Black Tusk Ale takes its name from the famous Black Tusk peak in Garabaldi Provincial Park to name a few references.

As a company that is 100% BC owned and operated, is supporting other local businesses something that is important to you?

Absolutely! Supporting other BC businesses is, and always has been, a top priority. The general public is demanding the support of BC business and community more and more each year. It used to be that you couldn’t find a lot of local business to support and everyone was buying imported food, clothing, liquor, and the like. Now, it’s rare not to see businesses supporting each other on a daily basis and we definitely see that reflected in everything we do from sales to support at festivals and industry events.

How has your relationship with The Cultch been beneficial to Whistler Brewing?

                It’s been a great opportunity to showcase our products to the theatre community in east Vancouver and beyond. The people who are enjoying shows at The Cultch are obviously wanting to support local arts and their community, and a partnership with a BC craft brewer pairs well with this!

Can you tell us about Whistler Brewing’s role in supporting The Cultch? How did this partnership take shape?

                The opportunity came up to work with The Cultch for the 2011/2012 season and we jumped at it! As a company, we have always been a big supporter of the arts; whether it be live music festivals, visual arts, or performing arts. This is partially because of those who work within the organization and what we like to do in our extracurricular time, but also because the arts help to form communities and bring those communities together for common enjoyment. The Cultch has been such a pleasure to work with, and the people involved have always been so wonderful and pleasant.

Whistler Brewing is located in Function Junction in Whistler, they offer tours and tastings and have an excellent tap house. Join us at The Cultch or the York Theatre and enjoy a Whistler Brew on tap.

WB_EyebrowColour

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

Leftovers, An Interview with Charles Demers

Leftovers_Landscape

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.

Q&A with The Dancers of Damelahamid: Cultch Artist-in-Residence

As part of their artistic residency here at The Cultch, the Dancers of Damelahamid are currently workshopping their upcoming production, ‘Flicker‘. We chatted with Margaret Grenier, Executive and Artistic Director of the Dancers of Damelahamid, about the role of dance in her heritage, the power of reconciliation through art, and the creative process of workshopping a new performance.

Hi Margaret! Can you tell us a little about the Dancers of Damelahamid? 

The Dancers of Damelahamid are an Aboriginal dance company based in Vancouver, BC. Our mandate is to advance the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the art, history, language, and traditions of First Nations’ culture through story dance and song; to educate the public about and increase cross-cultural understanding of First Nations’ heritage through dance performances at festivals, in educational institutions, and at other venues and public spaces; and to advance education by providing instructional workshops on traditional First Nations’ dance to students at elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools.

What role does dance play in your heritage?

Dance plays an integral role in our cultural heritage. It is an intergenerational practice, strengthening ties between elders and youth. The art form carries forward language, story, song and dance as well as being a platform to share from as a community and on many levels.

What is Gitxsan masked dance?

Dance on the Northwest coast has always brought together all aspects of coastal art. The masks, as well as the narratives portrayed through movement and song support the underlying story and themes. The art form is a reflection of a way of understanding and seeing the world, indigenous to our home territories.

Gitxsan songs and dances were banned by the Canadian government for several decades. The Dancers of Damelahamid emerged, in part, as a response to this – to ensure that the Gitxsan heritage was preserved and not lost. What role can art play in reconciliation and healing?

Storytelling through movement has been an integral part of defining our unique identities as indigenous peoples on the Northwest coast. There is a healing authority to the dances. Through continual and dedicated practice we strengthen our ability for reconciliation within ourselves as well as offer this understanding through performance. Therefore our collective consciousness can move forward, bridging our differences and celebrating our distinct identities.

Your upcoming production, ‘Flicker’, is a part of The Cultch’s 15/16 season. Can you describe the show?

Flicker is an innovative dance piece by the Dancers of Damelahamid in collaboration with multi-media artist Andy Moro that combines Northwest coast graphic designs with projected environments. Vividly rich imagery represents the ‘spirit world’, the mystical realm portrayed through Gitxsan masked dance. Just as light shimmers, Flicker represents the moments through which one can cross space and time, as the dancers journey in and out of the ‘spirit world’ of their ancestors.

In creating a new work during your residency here at The Cultch, what has your creative process been like?

It has been an intensive creative process and a wonderful opportunity to bring together the multilayered aspects to the production, making for a very full and productive month. We have worked for a year to prepare for the residency, beginning with a short research residency last summer at The Cultch. All aspects of the production are coming together from the choreography and song composition, the regalia and set creation, as well as the supporting soundscape, video projection, and lighting design.

‘Flicker’ will be on at the Historic Theatre May 25 – 29, 2016.

For more information about the Dancers of Damelahamid, visit their website: www.damelahamid.ca

Q&A with choreographer Crazy Smooth, creator of Music Creates Opportunity

Music Creates Opportunity

Music Creates Opportunity

We are thrilled to welcome back choreographer Crazy Smooth and Bboyizm for their new show Music Creates Opportunity, playing at the Historic Theatre from October 21-26! Even though their motto is “dance to express, not to impress,” Bboyizm will surely thrill audiences with their virtuosic dance moves and high-flying energy. We got a chance  to catch up with Crazy Smooth and ask him a few questions about dance, Bboyizm, and his new show.

Crazy Smooth

Crazy Smooth

Your last performance at The Cultch, IZM, was a huge success. What can audiences expect with Music Creates Opportunity? Where do you look for inspiration when creating new work?

Audience members who have seen other Bboyizm shows (IZM, The Evolution of B-boying) will experience the company as they have come to know them while also being rewarded with a brand-new piece that will inspire them to continue to follow Bboyizm – and street dance – as we mature into our goal of being Canada’s premier street-dance company. Inspiration for new work usually comes to me when I am reflecting on the present… on what’s going on in my life right now.

Blueprint for Life is a great company that uses hip-hop as a community development tool and as a model for alternative education  among First Nations and Inuit youth. Can you tell us a little about Blueprint for Life and what it’s like to work closely with them?

Blueprint For Life is a company that does social work and community development through hip-hop culture. I was part of the first team Blueprint for Life put together to go to Iqaluit (Nunavut). There were 10 facilitators for about 100 youth. We basically replaced school classes for a whole week and worked with the youth from Iqaluit 9 to 5 everyday. There were many components to the project, such as; dance training, working on a graffiti art piece, cultural exchanges (we learned about their culture), and talks on subjects like suicide, health, bullying, etc. By the end of the week kids put on a big show in front of their community. The social work in many ways happens from the relationship we create with the youth throughout the whole week. Working for this company was an amazing experience that gave me a lot of perspective on life, culture, and community. Before Bboyizm Dance Company became full-time for me, I was part of about 25 Blueprint For Life projects in both northern Québec and Nunavut. These experiences made me grow a lot as an artist and as a human being.

We know that everyone in Bboyizm comes from very different backgrounds and training. Can you tell us a little about how you came together as a group? Has the group changed much since its conception in 2004?

I’ve known some members of the company, like Strife, since I was in high school. I’ve been teaching other members like Julie Rock and NOSB since they were 13 and 14 years old. For the most part dance is what brought us together. The company always had about 15 members but over the years we’ve had new people join for different projects and we’ve had some members stop dancing because of their other professional careers, starting families, studies, etc.

I understand that your vision is for the company to promote and preserve the foundation and authenticity of all street dances. What are your thoughts on the evolution of breakdancing over the past two decades? How has the style been influenced and developed by other types of dance?

What people refer to as break-dancing is really B-boying or B-girling. Over the past 20 years the dance has evolved tremendously in many aspects: the complexity and physicality of the movements is at an all time high today, the level of athleticism has gone up also, the exposure that this dance is getting is 10 times more than what it was 20 years ago, and finally the money injected by companies in the b-boy/b-girl scene is really incredible. With all this evolution, I also think the dance has lost some of its purity and rawness over the past two decades. 20 years ago the b-boying scene was more about the art form, the community, and culture of hip-hop. Now I feel it’s almost becoming like a sport. Since it’s inception B-boying has been influenced by other dances and art forms like tap, hustle, kung-fu, rocking, gymnastics, etc. So that hasn’t changed! The one thing I would say is that now more then ever b-boying has become so big that it is the one that seems to be mostly influencing the other dances around the world.

Music Creates Opportunity runs from October 21 – 26 at The Cultch. Tickets are from $19 and can be purchased online or through our box office at 604.251.1363. See you there!

Hello my name is Kathy Battye: Box Office Manager at The Cultch

On this week’s ‘Hello My Name Is…’ we’ve interviewed a sparkling addition to our staff: Kathy Battye, our new Box Office Manager. We’ve whipped up these seven jazzy questions to acquaint The Cultch supporters with new staff members. So, without further ado, let’s get to it!

Q: Hi, what’s your name and what do you do at The Cultch?

Hello blog readers! My name is Kathy Battye and I am excited to say that I’m the Box Office Manager at The Cultch!

Q: Why did you decide to work at The Cultch?

Well I was definitely looking for change when I decided to apply to The Cultch. I had been to various Cultch shows in the past and have always been really impressed by not only the calibre of the performances, but also the range and variety of shows that are offered here. I just had a gut feeling that The Cultch would be a great place to work and would definitely provide me with the challenges that would help me grow personally and professionally.

Q: Favourite place to eat on the Drive?

Hmmm…that is definitely a tough one…a person can really eat their way around the Globe in this neighbourhood…but I’d have to say Five Elements. My first visit there was with Gosia, the previous Box Office Manager and Lisa, our Design and Web Coordinator, during my training week and it was love at first bite. I highly recommend the vegetarian hot and sour soup and garlic pork sub…oooh or a sizzling plate…ooh or a noodle bowl…oh man…now I’m hungry.

Q: What show from the 14/15 season are you looking forward to seeing the most?

I’m a musical fan myself, so I was thrilled to hear that Stationary: A recession era musical was part of The Cultch’s presentation season for 14/15. Unfortunately I missed seeing the show when it played a couple years ago, but I worked with its creator, Christine Quintana, at the Arts Club Box Office and I remember her doing her research and sharing with us all the great articles and post recession statistics she’d find. Also, our very own Box Office agent Brian Cochrane was involved in creating the rap for the show and is in the cast. If the show is even a fraction of how clever and talented they both are I’m positive it will be one to watch next season.

Q: Were there any performances that you’ve enjoyed as an audience member at The Cultch?

Absolutely! Last Christmas I went to Jack and the Beanstalk: An East Van Panto and what a holiday treat! I won tickets at the Arts Club staff Christmas Party and took some friends with me. I loved the audience participation. Any chance that I can yell “Oh no it isn’t!” at the top of my lungs always makes for a good time. I love that it was fun for the kiddies, but the humour was just cheeky enough to keep the adults laughing. I had the great pleasure this summer to sit in on a table read of next year’s Panto, and I can say without a doubt it’s going to be great fun for all!

Q: What’s your favourite thing about the theatre scene in Vancouver?

My absolute favourite thing about the theatre scene in Vancouver is that it is a community in every sense of the word. There is a mutual love, respect, and support among all the theatre companies in this city and all that good stuff contributes to the amazing shows that grace the stages in this city.

Q: It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon and you’re stuck indoors, what do you do?

A typical rainy Sunday for me involves throwing something in a slow-cooker, doing laundry and firing up the Netflix! I’m currently addicted to the show (can’t believe I’m actually admitting this…) NASHVILLE. It has become my guilty pleasure. I’m not a fan of country music, but nothing can tear me away from the rhinestones, cowboy boots and soap opera – like drama!