Ghosts of Scrooges past!

Ghosts of Scrooges Past!

The story of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, is one of the best known and best loved Christmas stories. This beloved tale of redemption has been told and retold in many forms, from traditional tellings, to those that are down right brazen.

Esmé Massengill

Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens, which opened this week in the Historic Theatre falls firmly in the brazen category, with beloved Daisy Theatre character—the booze loving, faded and jaded Diva—Esmé Massengill, taking on the role of legendary miser, Scrooge.

In this role, so perfectly suited to her, Esmé Massengill joins the ranks of so many other celebrities who have taken on the challenge of playing Dickens’ Ebeneezer Scrooge (we think she does it best!).

Here is a look at a few other famous faces that have taken on this legendary role. Esmé is in good company!

Little Dickens runs Dec 4 – 22, 2018 at the Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.


Cultch Connects: making a difference in our community!

Cultch Connects: making a difference in our community!

A huge thank you to everyone who has donated to our Cultch Connects program so far this year, you have made a very real difference in our community and we are so grateful for your support! This year has seen donations more than double, providing hundreds of free tickets to children, families and local organizations.

If you haven’t donated yet, we are excited to announce that our anonymous match-funder has made a new promise to match all donations made to our Cultch Connects program by January 07 2019, AND our Board of Directors have pledged to double all donations, which means all donations will be tripled!

For many of our Cultch Connects families, their trip to The Cultch is the first time they have ever seen a play. We believe that art is for everyone, and income or life circumstances should never be a barrier to participation in the arts. Our Cultch Connects program provides opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to come to the theatre to experience the joy of live performance.

Since the East Van Panto: The Wizard of Oz opened last week we have had more than ten community groups come to see the show at no cost, including includes Mom2Mom, the Vancouver Aboriginal Child & Family Services Society, the Kettle Friendship Society, and Aunt Leah’s place, among others.


By becoming a Cultch donor, you could have access to exclusive donor benefits, including a tax deductible receipt, discounts, access to special events, and more! Find out what your gift could mean for you here.

Little Dickens: The Holiday Hit is BACK!


Little Dickens: The Holiday Hit is BACK!

Back by popular demand—Ronnie Burkett’s holiday hit Little Dickens: The Daisy Theatre returns to The Cultch Historic Theatre Dec 4-22, 2018.

In December 2017, Ronnie Burkett premiered this Cultch exclusive, Little Dickens—an adults-only marionette rendition of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol created specifically for the amazing Vancouver audiences who embraced The Daisy Theatre characters in five sold-out runsto the Historic Stage. It was a huge hit with fans, old and new, as well as reviewers!

Check out some of the RAVE reviews from 2017interspersed with an insider look at Ronnie Burkett’s sweet and raunchy characters, direct from his Instagram @ronnieburkett:

“The Dickens story provides a solid platform for Burkett’s high-strung irreverence, but it also has a core of sweetness and generosity that make this show a genuine gift. Enjoy it, Vancouver” — Kathleen Oliver, The Georgia Straight

“The familiar characters from his bizarre repertoire ring a showbiz variation on Dickens’ tale that’s…warmer and fuzzier in a Christmassy way, punctuated by raunchy asides and moments of sheer Burkettian brilliance”—Jerry Wasserman, The Vancouver Sun

“Puppeteer Ronnie Burkett is a genius. He just is…I would watch Schnitzel all night long anywhere” — Colin Thomas,

“Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens is a retelling of A Christmas Carol but with more bah-hum-buggery, fewer heartwarming lessons in morality, and a whole lot of excellent banter” — Connal Mcnamara, Vancouver Weekly

I’d recommend seeing it twice because it’s guaranteed you’ll be laughing so hard you’ll have missed some of the great lines the first time around” — Monika Forberger,

“It was a delight to see Dickens’s timeless characters given a glorious and slightly smutty twist” — Molly Gray, The Vancouver Arts Review

View this post on Instagram

In her gender defying performance as Scrooge in Little Dickens last season, Daisy Theatre superstar Esmé Massengill appeared in a stunning red redemption gown at the end of the show. It was pretty wow, but given that Mrs.Edna Rural essentially stole the show in her light up Christmas tree costume, it was decided to give Esmé a new and “WOW”ier final costume. Kim Crossley, who has made my puppet costumes for almost three decades, came to Puppetland this week, and in two days – voilà! – Miss Massengill shines anew. And in Esmé’s own words, “What tops a Christmas tree, darling? A star, that’s what!” . . #esmemassengill #thedaisytheatre #littledickens #thedaisytheatrechristmascarol #esmeplaysscrooge #costumedesign #puppetdesign #puppetbuilder #theatredesign #maketheyuletidegay #instagay #acchristmascarol #bahhumbugdarling #ronnieburketttheatreofmarionettes

A post shared by Ronnie Burkett (@ronnieburkett) on

“…bold storytelling, black humour, and unscripted razor-edged dialogue” — John Jane, reviewVancouver

“I guarantee…you will not have seen anything like this before. It is visually spectacular, exceptionally well executed and truly special to behold” — Penny Warwick, Two Pence & Two Cents

“It’s foul-mouthed fun backed by artistic wizardry, and it’s entertaining as hell” —Lillian Jasper, Two Pence & Two Cents

“Burkett had the crowd laughing along heartily as his marionettes refreshed this classic with their inventive songs and quirky personalities” — Tessa Perkins Deneault, Centre Stage

Are you ready to see your favourite Daisy Theatre characters in in the merriest marionette mash-up again? It is almost time!

Little Dickens runs Dec 4 – 22, 2018 at the Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Rungh. Means. Colour: an interview with our Community Partner

Photo courtesy of: Rungh Archive

Rungh came onto the scene in the early nineties, as a quarterly magazine that held its focus on South Asian Culture, Comment and Criticism. It provided an outlet for marginalized communities to express their opinions, experiences and art and held space to challenge dominant narratives. 26 years on, Rungh has relaunched as an online platform that continues to challenge diversity in the arts and create conversations that encourage cultural growth within Canada. We spoke with co-founder and editor of Rungh, Zool Suleman, to learn more!

Can you tell us a little bit about Rungh, for those who may not have heard of it yet?

Rungh is a word which means “colour” in many languages. Our new tag line is “Rungh. Means. Colour”. If you speak one of the languages (Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, Farsi, and more) you will know! Rungh started as a non profit society and a print magazine in 1992. Rungh also hosted and produced arts events like readings, workshops, creative productions, and fostered a variety of conversations. Rungh also protested against how Canada’s arts institutions worked. We still do that! From 1992-1999, Rungh had a print publication which you can still see on our site in the Archives section, or at the Simon Fraser University Digital Library site. Rungh was relaunched as a cultural web platform in 2017. 26 years old and also, brand new.

What inspired you to create the first issue, all those years ago, back in 1992?

Photo Credit: Ali Kazimi

Rungh was inspired by an absence of voices in Canada’s cultural landscape. These voices today are referred to as IBPOC (Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour) – this term, also, does not do justice to the range of absences which exist. Rungh’s relaunch is committed to looking at the intersectional conversations that need to be had on the Canadian arts scene be they defined by race, gender, sexuality, geography, class, power and otherwise.

How, would you say, the conversation in the arts has changed over the last thirty years?

In many ways, the conversation has not changed, sadly. But, in other ways, the conversation now tries to include and centre Indigenous voices. Rungh is an incubation partner with a new set of conversations which are taking place under the heading of Primary Colours/Couleurs Primaires. The focus of PC/cp is to centre Indigenous voices in the middle of the Canadian art system. Rungh is a part of that journey and has published several pieces on this journey. In the future, more content focusing on this necessary transition within Canada’s art systems will be found in Rungh.

Have you seen any firsthand accounts of how Rungh has impacted its audiences?

Rungh has played a vital role in creating and documenting conversations, and creative work around ideas of “multiculturalism”, “race”, “belonging” and more over the past 25 years. I put these terms in quotation marks because the terms themselves are sites of contestation. A significant part of Rungh’s mission, with it’s relaunch, has been to activate it’s archive. Records of what racialized and otherwise marginalized voices have contributed to the Canadian art system continue to be lost, if they are kept at all. These histories are vital and Rungh is working to secure and foster work founded on Rungh’s archive but also to help other similarly situated communities to do so. Our notions of who makes “art” and “culture” in Canada, need to change.

Artistic credit: David Garneau

What are your thoughts on the diversity within Vancouver’s theatre community, as it stands at the moment? Have you seen an improvement in the last few years?

Rungh is about to publish a conversation with Rohit Chokhani, Jiv Parasram, Kathleen Flaherty, Rahul Varma, and Zahida Rahemtulla. If you do not know who they are, look them up. Between them, they encompass different generations, different geographies, and differing views about what we call “theatre”. In terms of what could be called “South Asian theatre in Canada”, this is only one slice of an ongoing conversation. My sense, as the person who asked the questions, is that the ethic of how work is produced about/by/within South Asian communities continues to evolve. The production scenes in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, are quite different. There are many voices wanting to be heard. Avoiding generalities and providing cultural specificity in theatre/performance works about “South Asians”, might be of more use in defining conversations. I urge the readers to read the interview in Rungh when it is published. Join our free mailing list at

Stop press! All donations made Nov 27 – 30 will be tripled!

Giving Tuesday: Stop press! All donations made Nov 27 – 30 will be tripled!

This year we are in a unique position:

An anonymous match-funder has pledged to match all donations made to our Cultch Connects program, doubling the impact of any gift made


The Cultch Board of Directors have pledged to double all donations made to our Cultch Connects program from Giving Tuesday on November 27 until November 30.

This means that all gifts made during this four day period will be tripled!

Giving Tuesday is a global movement for giving and volunteering, that sees charities, companies and individuals join together and rally for favourite causes. It harnesses the collective power of organizations and individuals to encourage and amplify small (and sometimes large) acts of kindness.

Our Cultch Connects program provides free tickets to our holiday hit the East Van Panto and other shows throughout our season to people in need. This year will be our most ambitious Cultch Connects fundraising campaign yet, giving more free tickets to children, low-income families and community organizations than ever before.

The Cultch Board Chair, Frank Costanzo says “I first got involved with The Cultch because I grew up in East Vancouver and I am passionate about the arts. As the Board Chair, I have the privilege of working with a group of dedicated professionals who care deeply about helping the Cultch. Match-funding any donation made on giving Tuesday is a way for the Board to really give back to the community”.

Make a gift November 27 – 30 for the biggest impact and make so many holidays so much brighter!


It’s behind you! (oh no it isn’t!): The history of the East Van Panto

It’s official, the most wonderful time of the year is rapidly approaching. Everything at Starbucks has turned a garish shade of red, and all the drinks are spiked with EggNog. Pacific Centre will soon start lulling their shoppers into a state of hypnotized spending surrender with the repetitive tones of Jingle Bells. And the Ugly Christmas Sweater party season has been in full swing for so long that we haven’t even put ours away from last year yet.

As you know, here at The Cultch, we like to put our own twist on the holiday season. In fact, we like to turn it completely on its head with our incredible winter programming (can you say Little Dickens?!?). And this year marks the sixth anniversary of on of our favourite holiday treat: Theatre Replacement’s East Van Panto.

So, what better time to take a look back at the last few years of glorious pantomiming? Let’s reminisce about all the weird and wonderful ways that Theatre Replacement has created a home-grown East Van tradition that just keeps getting bigger and better every year.

Okay, here we go…


2017 brought us the delightful Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Written by Mark Chavez, directed by Anita Rochon, with music and lyrics by Veda Hille. The Georgia Straight described it as “a hyperlocal and wonderfully creative reimagining of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” It featured some of the years biggest hits including Despacito and Can’t Stop This Feeling – all rewritten to have a more East Van flair, of course.

Spotlight on: The Dame

With every panto comes a Dame – an over the top female character always played by a man. Snow White’s Dame was played by Alan Zinyk in the role of The Evil Stepmother – the Real Housewife of West Vancouver.


2016 Panto audiences were enthralled with Little Red Riding Hood, whose adventures took her along the Adanac bike path on the search for Grandma’s house, at the Woodwards Building.

Spotlight on: the Studio 58 students

Every year, the East Van Panto plucks three, willing, Studio 58 students from their highly regarded conservatory style performance program, and plops them onto the York stage in the most ridiculous costumes. The aim is to flesh out the cast with three up and coming, pre professional actors and give the students some stage time in a professional, Vancouver production. In 2016, the lucky three were: Stephanie Wong, Elizabeth Barrett and Mason Temple who donned their brussel sprout and hot dog costumes with the upmost of professionalism.


Hansel and Gretel stole the show in 2015 with a Vancouver version of their perilous plight. After being dropped off in the wilderness of Stanley Park by their evil food-blogger stepmother, the sibling duo ran into a hippie witch who captured them and fattened Hansel up in preparation to consume him. Naturally, hilarity ensued.


Spotlight on: The Kids

Pantomimes are traditionally a family affair. And not just in the audience, but also on the stage. Each year, the East Van Panto enlists fifteen kids, in five groups of three, to take it in turns to don adorable costumes and make their stage debuts. In Hansel and Gretel, the children appeared as cute, fluffy woodland creatures as well as an army of gingerbread men (still cute, but also slightly ominous).


The East Van version of everyone’s favorite Disney movie came to life on stage in 2014. With a saxophone playing Cinderella, ugly stepsisters with vinyl collections, and a suspiciously Trump like King, this version was perhaps slightly ahead of its time.

Spotlight on: The Music

Since the East Van Panto’s conception in 2013, local musician, composer, and genius: Vede Hille has provided the score. Vede is infamous for taking well loved pop songs and giving them an East Vancouver flavor. Check out how she spun this T-Swift classic.


And so we come to the end of our journey through time. Back to the OG East Van Pantomime. One thing we can say for certain is our graphic design has come along way. Jack And The Beanstalk, the first production of its kind here in Vancouver, also marked the first production in the newly renovated York Theatre. It was a huge hit that would go on to spark a new tradition in East Van that would last for (at least) six years.

Spotlight on: The Set

Since the beginning of the East Van Panto incredible local artist, Laura Zerebeski, has provided the backdrops. Her incredible, impressionist interpretations of East Van’s landmarks provide the weird and wonderful worlds that our characters live in.

And there we have it, some blasts from the past of the East Van Panto. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed taking this stroll down memory lane with us. If you can’t get enough of the East Van Panto, there’s another lane that you can stroll down with us very soon – and this time, it’s yellow! Get your tickets for the East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz right here. 


By Charlotte Wright

Community Outreach and Marketing Intern

Cultch Connects funds veterans to attend the Ceasefire Series

Cultch Connects funds veterans to attend the Ceasefire Series

Last week our Cultch Connects donors made a real difference in our community by giving veterans and seniors from our community partner The Whole Way House free tickets to our Ceasefire Series. Our Cultch Connects program provides free tickets to our holiday hit the East Van Panto and other shows throughout our season to people in need in our community. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far!

“All of the men have enjoyed the opportunity to get out of the building and attend a play – something most of them haven’t done in many, many years. Thank you for giving them this opportunity.” The Whole Way House team

Whole Way House Society provides community building programs and tenant support services for 133 vulnerable seniors and veterans in the Downtown Eastside. Whole Way House is dedicated to creating a safe and welcoming environment, building meaningful relationships and a community that instills worth, value and dignity. The veterans and seniors saw all three shows in the series, SmallWar, Three Winters, and The Believers Are But Brothers, which marked the 100 year anniversary of the armistice of World War One.

Each year, our donors give 2,000 free tickets to children, low-income families and community organizations. We believe that art is for everyone, and income or life circumstances should never be a barrier to participation in live performance.

By making a gift this year, you can help make more tickets available than ever before. This year will be our most ambitious Cultch Connects fundraising campaign yet. Donate by the deadline on November 30 2018, and our anonymous match-funder will double your gift!

The Cultch is also collecting donations of non-perishable food items, toiletries, clothing and fitted twin bed sheets in our lobby until November 17. If you would like to make a donation of any of these items, please bring them to The Cultch.

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.

Cultch Connects: making art for everyone!

Cultch Connects: making art for everyone!

A thank you note from a grateful recipient!

As Vancouver’s most diverse arts and culture hub, The Cultch brings world-class performance to our community in East Vancouver. We are a charity, and ticket income from our shows only makes up 30% of our running costs – the rest comes from the generous support of our donors, sponsors and funders. In return, we offer dynamic contemporary programming in theatre, dance, music, and the visual arts, showcasing cutting-edge national and international work.

At our core is the belief that art is for everyone, and economic background or life circumstances should never be a barrier to participation in live performance.  To this end, we set up our Cultch Connects program, so that our donors could share their love of performance with everyone in our community.

Cultch Connects provides free tickets to our holiday hit the East Van Panto and other shows throughout our season to people in need. Now in its 6th year, Cultch Connects has brought thousands of people from low-income families, mental health facilities, recovery centres, community organizations and more to our shows at no cost.

We know from the messages our Cultch Connects patrons send us that this simple act makes a real difference in the lives of people who are facing difficult times, making the holiday season a little brighter for hundreds of families.

“Christmas was going to be a hard time at the transition house, but attending the Panto helped to make the holiday season better for me and my daughter. You made our holiday season special.” — Cultch Connects patron

This year will be our most ambitious Cultch Connects fundraising campaign yet. Our anonymous match-funder has once again agreed to double any gift made to Cultch Connects between now and November 30 2018, making more tickets available than ever before to people in need.

“By giving to Cultch Connects, our donors are making our theatre accessible to everyone” says Executive Director Heather Redfern. “What I love most about the program is that it is inspiring the next generation of artists, musicians, and theatre-goers, ensuring our city remains a vibrant centre for the arts for years to come. That’s pretty amazing!”

— Louise Chapman, The Cultch’s Development Associate

Would you like to support Cultch Connects? Click here to donate now!

$150 = $300 Brings a community/school group to the Panto

$100 = $200 Brings a local youth group to a Cultch show

$50 = $100 Sends a Cultch Connects family to the Panto

Do you know an organization that would benefit from this program? Let us know!

Contact Louise Chapman, Development Associate:; 604 251 1766, ext. 108

Charitable registration # 11928 1574 RR0001

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.