Caspar Ryan, the Director Mentee and Slide Show Designer for Act of Faith, is here to share the excitement with us, and take us behind the scenes!
The date is
April 9. It’s the fourth day of tech week. Pressure is high but the air is
filled with magic and optimism. Our set is freshly built and it is grand.
Tech week is
where the production really blossoms. Light and sound can turn everyday moments
into theatrical wonders. I cannot get over the experience in the room.
Thoughtful designers are bringing to life our director’s vision, which I am so
fortunate to have been included in developing. I feel blessed. I am captivated.
alive. It is organic, growing and taking in a new breath each and every night
— yet always with the same intentions. We cannot guess how audiences will
react to our choices. But we dream big and we are hoping for a beautiful
The props add detail to the world that can bring life to the characters and their interactions. Check out the props table backstage! Each item tells a story and is part of a story. It looks really complicated at a glance, but sharp minds track them all.
Wheelchair movement is also part of Realwheels storytelling. Realwheels Theatre seeks to explore the disability experience in everything they do. In Act of Faith the wheelchair dance bridges a gap between dream and reality.
The day ends with Thank you’s all around!
Thank you, from each of us to all of you.
Caspar Ryan is the Director Mentee and Slide Show Designer for Act of Faith. He has been with Realwheels for eight years as a videographer and performer. His media group, Caspar Ryan Film, has carved out a niche creating video for Miss World Canada and non-profit organizations. Act of Faith is his first opportunity to be part of the directing process for a theatrical production.
Act of Faith runs April 11-20 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online, or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.
Last month we celebrated our 45th anniversary at our annual fundraising gala! We had a blast and it was so wonderful to party with our most valued friends and supporters.
I had so much fun and it was hands down the best fundraiser I have ever attended
2019 Gala attendee
Together we raised an incredible $68,000, our highest ever total, to bring live performance to our community right here in East Vancouver.
The gifts made support local youth programs, develop BC artists, and make live performance accessible to everyone in our community. Watch the video below to find out more about the impact of donations to The Cultch.
Coming up May 7-19, 2019 we have an audacious new theatrical experiment from Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour (White Rabbit, Red Rabbit), NASSIM. Each night a different performer joins the playwright on stage, while the script waits unseen in a sealed box…Touchingly autobiographical yet powerfully universal, it is a striking theatrical demonstration of how language can both divide and unite us.
We are excited to announce the brave Vancouver perfromers who will be taking on the unique challenge: Carmen Aguirre,Adam Grant Warren, Maiko Yamamoto, Marcus Youssef, Craig Erickson, Christine Quintana,Dawn Petten,Pippa Mackie, Quelemia Sparrow, Tetsuro Shigematsu, Conor Wylie, Donna Soares.
Read below for an introduction to these fabulous actors!
ABOUT NASSIM SOLEIMANPOUR:
Nassim Soleimanpour (Writer and Performer) is from Tehran, Iran. His plays
have been translated into more than 30 languages and performed globally in over
50 countries. Best known for his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit,
written to travel the world when he couldn’t, his work has been awarded the
Dublin Fringe Festival Best New Performance, Summerworks Outstanding New
Performance Text Award and The Arches Brick Award (Edinburgh Fringe) as well as
picking up nominations for a Total Theatre and Brighton Fringe Pick of
night a different performer joins the playwright on stage:
AGUIRRE (May 7):
Carmen is a theatre artist and author, and a
core artist of Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre. She has written and
co-written over twenty-five plays, including The Trigger, The Refugee
Hotel, and Blue Box. Currently
she is writing Anywhere But Here for Electric
Company, an adaptation of Euripides’ Medea
for Vancouver’s Rumble Theatre, and an adaptation of Moliere’s The Learned Ladies for Toronto’s Factory
Theatre. Her one-woman show Broken
Tailbone has just completed a cross-Canada tour. Carmen is the author of
the #1 national bestseller Something
Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter (winner of CBC Canada Reads in
2012), and its bestselling sequel, Mexican
Hooker #1 and My Other Roles Since
the Revolution. She is currently starring in the independent feature Bella Ciao!. Carmen has won multiple
awards for her work, has over eighty stage, film and television acting credits,
and is a graduate of Studio 58. carmenaguirre.ca
GRANT WARREN (May 8):
Originally from Newfoundland, Adam is a
theatre-maker, writer, dancer, and arts educator whose career in performance
spans almost 20 years —and has taken him everywhere from the basement stage of
the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre to the International Pavilion at Walt
Disney World. In the theatre, Adam’s west coast performance highlights include
productions of his own solo show, Last
Train In, Touchstone Theatre’s Kill
Me Now, and Real Wheels Theatre’s CREEPS,
for which he won a Jessie Award. As an associate artist with All Bodies Dance
Project, Adam’s collaborations have featured at festivals including Vancouver’s
Art on the Spot, Victoria’s SKAMpede, and Calgary’s Fluid Festival. With the
support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the British Columbia Arts
Council, his new show, Lights, will
be featured in a staged reading as part of Upintheair Theatre’s 2019 rEvolver
Festival Updrafts Series. For more about Adam and his work, visit www.adamgrantwarren.com
YAMAMOTO (May 9):
Since 2003, Maiko Yamamoto has been an
Artistic Director of Theatre Replacement, a company she formed with fellow
artist James Long. The company’s work has focused on building new, experimental
and intercultural performances that react to contemporary existence through a
highly evolved and extended process of collaboration, and explores unique and
challenging ways of using content and staging material. In addition to her work
with T/R, Maiko directs, writes, teaches, mentors and creates contemporary
performance for and with a diverse range of companies and institutions,
including the National Theatre School, Company 605, the Vancouver Art Gallery
and the MAKE Artists Residency in Ireland, among others. She holds a BFA in
Theatre from Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts and a
MAA in Visual Arts from Emily Carr University of Art + Design
YOUSSEF (May 10):
Marcus’ plays have been produced in dozens of
theatres in fifteen countries across North America, Europe and Asia, from
Seattle to New York to Reykjavik, London, Hong Kong and Berlin. He is the
recipient of Canada’s largest cultural prize, the Siminovitch Prize for
Theatre, the Rio Tinto Alcan Performing Arts Award, the Vancouver Mayor’s Arts
Award, the Chalmers Canadian Play Award, the Seattle Times Footlight award, the
Vancouver Critics’ Innovation award (three times) and the Canada Council
Staunch Lynton Award for artistic achievement. Over the years Marcus has also
written for a half dozen shows on CBC Radio and Television and a wide variety
of Canadian print and web publications. Marcus is Artistic Director of
Vancouver’s Neworld Theatre and co-founder of the East Vancouver-based
artist-run production studio PL1422. He was the inaugural chair of the city of
Vancouver’s Arts and Culture Policy Council, a Canadian Fellow to the
International Society for Performing Arts and co-chair of the Vancouver
political party COPE. He is currently an Editorial Advisor to Canadian Theatre
Review, and a consulting advisor for the National Arts Centre English Theatre.
He teaches regularly at the National Theatre School of Canada and Studio 58
ERICKSON (May 11):
Erickson has been active in Vancouver’s theatre scene for the past 15 years,
working with such companies as Electric Company, Neworld, Pi, PT, and Mitch and
Murray. Craig has also spent 10 seasons at Canadian classical theatres
(Stratford, Shaw, Bard on the Beach). He earned a Jessie nomination for his
portrayal of Mormon lawyer Joe Pitt in the acclaimed runs of Angels in
America, Parts 1 and 2 (Arts Club Theatre, directed by Kim Collier).
Theatre: White Noize (Savage Society), East
Van Panto: The Wizard of Oz (Theatre Replacement), Forget About Tomorrow
(Belfry/Arts Club) Angels in America, Parts 1 and 2 (Arts Club), Titus
Buffonius (Rumble Theatre), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Arts Club/Blackbird
Theatre), Tear the Curtain (Arts Club/Electric Company), The Great Gatsby
(Theatre Calgary). Upcoming: Coriolanus
(Bard on the Beach). Film & Television:
The Man in the High Castle, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lucifer,
QUINTANA (May 12):
Christine is an actor, playwright, and
co-Artistic Producer of Delinquent Theatre, based on unceded Coast Salish
territory. This season Christine appeared in the East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz (Theatre Replacement/The Cultch) and Yoga Play (Gateway Theatre), Marine Life (Ruby Slippers) and co-wrote
and performed in Never The Last for
Delinquent Theatre at the Annex Theatre. Christine received the 2017
Siminovitch Protégé Prize for Playwriting, a Dora Mavor Moore Award and Sydney
Risk prize for her play Selfie, and
is Tarragon Theatre’s Playwright in Residence. Christine has BFA in Acting from
UBC, and is a proud member of the Canadian Latinx Theatre Artist Coalition.christinequintana.ca
PETTEN (May 14):
Dawn has performed with Theatre Replacement
for 4 of its renditions of East Van Panto wherein she has had the pleasure of
being a harp, a Hansel, a Prince, and Gloria Macarenko(among others). Other
favourite theatre companies Dawn has trod the boards with include: Electric
Company Theatre, Bard on the Beach, Caravan Farm Theatre, the Arts Club, and
Touchstone Theatre. Most memorable shows: Tear
the Curtain!, A Doll’s House, A
Midsummer Night’s Dream, Our Town,
Pavilion, Hedda Gabler; Studies in Motion,Unity, 1918, and Butoh on Wreck Beach. Dawn is a glad
grad of UBC’s BFA Acting Program, has a bunch of Jessie nominations, and has
received some of the hardware/glassware. When not onstage Dawn teaches
Shakespeare and sex ed to young people (generally not at the same time).
MACKIE (May 15):
Pippa Mackie is an award-winning actor,
writer and producer. Since graduating from the National Theatre School of
Canada’s Acting Program in 2009, Pippa has worked with: Arts Club, Gateway
Theatre, Belfry Theatre, Pi Theatre, Rumble Theatre, Firehall Arts Centre,
Delinquent Theatre, Greenthumb theatre and many more. Pippa originated the role
of ‘Leap’ in Rumble Theatre’s The Society
for the Destitute Presents: Titus Bouffonius written by Colleen Murphy,
which earned her and the ensemble a Jessie Richardson award for ‘Outstanding
Performance by an Ensemble’. She was also the Vancouver Sun’s, Artslandia
Magazine and the Georgia Straight’s ‘Artist to Watch’.
Upcoming: Pippa is co-writing a new show
titled JULIET: A Revenge Comedy (with
Monster Theatre’s Ryan Gladstone), which will premiere the summer of 2019 and
most recently, Pippa teamed up with award-winning UK writer/performer Kit
Redstone (Testosterone), as they are developing a show titled The Fucking Garden, a wickedly dark
reclamation of the Adam and Eve story. Lastly, she will be playing the title
role of Pinocchio in Theatre Replacement’s East
Van Panto: Pinocchio this winter. www.pippamackie.com
SPARROW (May 16):
Quelemia is of Indigenous/English ancestry
from the Musqueam Nation. She graduated from Studio 58’s Acting program, and
the Langara Film Arts program in Screenwriting. Some of Quelemia’s acting
Theatre Credits include: Lysistrata
(Bard on the Beach), directed by Lois Anderson,Timon of Athens (Bard on the Beach) directed by Meg Roe, The Bakkai (The Stratford Festival)
directed by Jillian Keiley The Snow Queen
(Globe Theatre), directed by Rachel Peake, Our Town (Osimous Theatre), directed by Bob Frazer, The Edward Curtis Project (GCTC/NA),
directed by Marie Clements, The
Penelopiad (Arts Club Theatre), directed by Vanessa Porteous, August: Osage County (Arts Club Theatre)
directed by Janet Wright, Ernestine
Shuswap Gets Her Trout (Firehall Arts Centre), directed by Lorne Cardinal,
and Where the Blood Mixes
(Playhouse/WCT) directed by Glynis Leyshon. Various Film and T.V credits
include: Clouds of Autumn, Fringe, V,
Sanctuary 2, Blackstone, Unnatural and
Accidental, Da Vinci’s City Hall, Dead Zone and, Da Vinci’s Inquest for which she won a Leo Award for Best Female
Guest Appearance. Some of her writing credits include: A podplay for Neworld
Theatre and Raven Spirit Dance called Ashes
on the Water, Salmon Girl (Raven
Spirit Dance), Papiyek (Full Circle
Theatre), The Pipeline Project
(Itsazoo and Savage Society), and O’wet
SHIGEMATSU (May 17):
For more than twenty years, Tetsuro
Shigematsu has been telling stories across an array of media. He is a
playwright, actor, scholar, broadcaster, author, filmmaker, and theatre artist.
At the age of 19, he became the youngest playwright to compete in the history
of the Quebec Drama Festival. Originally trained in the fine arts, he found a
similar creative outlet writing for CBC Television’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Then in 2004, he became the first
person-of-colour to host a daily national radio program in Canada when he took
over The Round up on CBC Radio, where
he co-wrote and co-produced nearly a thousand hours of network programming. His
most recent theatre work,1 Hour Photo
garnered five Jessie nominations, and won for Significant Artistic Achievement.
His solo work, Empire of the Son was
nominated for six Jessie awards and was described by Colin Thomas as, “One of
the best shows ever to come out of Vancouver. Ever.” Empire continues to tour
throughout Canada and across the world. Tetsuro’s award-winning body of work in
film, television, radio, new media, and theatre is taught in universities as
examples of cultural possibility. If you would like to support Tetsuro’s work,
WYLIE (May 18):
Conor Wylie is a performer, writer, and
director creating experimental theatre. Alongside Nancy Tam and Daniel O’Shea,
he co-artistic directs A Wake of Vultures (WOV), a performance company working
across sonic, visual, and theatrical disciplines. WOV are currently developing
Conor’s new work BODY AND MIND, a
mash-up of experimental minimalism and maximalist anime cyberpunk, as well as
Nancy Tam’s Walking at Night by Myself. Conor regularly collaborates with
Theatre Replacement (T/R), Hong Kong Exile, and many members of Vancouver’s
esteemed Progress Lab consortium. He is one of the core artists of T/R’s MINE, and is currently co-creating GIRL RIDES BIKE, an algorithmic
multimedia motorcycle chase. Conor received a Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for
Emerging Theatre Artist in 2017 .As an actor, Conor has performed across the
country, at the Belfry Theatre, Arts Club, Theatre Calgary, Citadel Theatre,
and most recently at Buddies in Bad Times in The Scavenger’s Daughter, the
second instalment of Susanna Fournier and Paradigm Productions’ indie-epic EMPIRE TRILOGY. Outside the work, Conor
is a single-speed cyclist, a craft beer stickler, casual gamer, low-tier
softball ace, and a pretty good person to call if you have a fever for a secret
SOARES (May 19):
Nassim’s White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at
The Cultch in 2012. She is excited to find out what he has in store for her
now. Donna has a long history with Theatre Replacement. She played and toured
with them in Cinderella: An East Van
Panto, Dress me up in your love,
and Bioboxes: Artifacting Human
Experience, assistant stage managed and helped cast 100% Vancouver, and sat
on their board of directors for six years. Some of Donna’s other credits
include: Salmon Girl (Raven Spirit
Dance),The Enemy (Firehall),King of the Yees (Gateway, NAC),The Drowning Girls (Vertigo),Half Life (Theatre NorthWest),Green Lake (Solo Collective),Benefit (Downstage), and Cock (Rumble).Donna is a graduate of
Studio 58 and holds a double major in Theatre and French from UBC. Now, shall
we see what Nassim has planned for us?
NASSIM runs May 7-19 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.
FROM OUR FRIENDS AT RUMBLE THEATRE
Can’t get enough of the work of Nassim Soleimanpour (we don’t blame you!)? You will not want to miss his play BLANK, presented by Rumble Theatre April 29-May 4. Similar to NASSIM in style, during each performance of BLANK, Nassim Soleimanpour’s play full of blanks will be completed by a new performer before a live audience.
Children of God is getting all the BUZZ! – Must close March 10!
Corey Payette’s powerful musical, from Urban Ink, about the impact of Canadian residential schools has now been witnessed by over 35,000 people on stages across the country. People can not stop raving about this play; over and over we hear, ‘must-see’, ‘essential’, and ‘vital’, being used to describe it. Check out some of the latest reviews:
“Children of God truly is a must-see for all Canadians, as a lesson about the true history of our country.” —VANCOUVER PRESENTS
“A triumph of dramatic ceremony.” —BROKEN LEG REVIEWS
“Powerful, exciting and emotional.” —TWO CENTS & TWO PENCE
“If you haven’t seen Children of God yet, you should go. Yes, partly because every Canadian needs to understand the legacy of residential schools, but also because it’s an excellent script performed by top-notch double-threat actor/singers and, even when the subject matter gets dark, it’s a real treat to see them perform”—ILIVEINEASTVAN
“One of the most vital and powerful new works in Canadian musical theatre.” —MONTREAL THEATRE HUB
Social media has been lighting up with amazing personal reflections and recommendations:
Children of Godis back in the York Theatre (until March 10, 2019) after a national tour, and its highly successful 2017 world premiere at The Cultch.
In this powerful musical, by Corey Payette, the children of an Oji-Cree family are sent to a residential school in Northern Ontario. This 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.
The history of residential schools in Canada is a dark part of this country’s history. This selection from the Children of God study guideis a good starting place for those wanting to inform themselves about Canada’s past and present.
Residential Schools In Canada (Background)
The residential school system in Canada was designed to steal Aboriginal children from their home communities and forcibly turn them into Euro-Christian citizens of Canadian society. As former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s famous epithet from his 2008 apology to residential school survivors goes, the residential schools were meant “to kill the Indian in the child.”
Set up by the federal government, and primarily run by the church, the residential schools sprawled across the nation throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The last one did not close until 1996.
The system was rooted in the idea that European civilization was superior to the diverse civilizations of the Indigenous peoples, and that it was thus Canada’s moral, and God-given, responsibility to save Aboriginal children from themselves. By isolating the children from their lands, their languages, their relations, and their traditions; and simultaneously immersing them in European customs, primarily rigid gender roles, Anglo-monolingualism, and industrial vocational training, it was thought that Aboriginal communities would die out, and that a unified Canadian nation would emerge.
Residential schools, at their core, were built to commit what is called ‘cultural genocide’. These schools often became places where children would do menial tasks designed to keep the schools open at low cost, rather than as sites of meaningful education. It is also widely reported that these schools were sites of brutal physical, emotional, and sexual abuse against the children, often as punishment for speaking their traditional language, or trying to escape. Many children died while at these schools.
Residential Schools—Lasting Effects
As Children of God will explore, the horrible legacy of the residential school system is still felt today by many Indigenous peoples.
Many of the youth who attended residential schools not only grew up learning to hate their culture, but also grew up not learning how to raise a family, often in an atmosphere of physical and sexual abuse. This has had disastrous impacts for Indigenous communities. For many, survivors of the schools grew into adulthood lacking parenting skills, fostering another generation of children without a nurturing family environment. In many communities today, rates of domestic abuse, alcoholism, and youth suicide are high, many cases of which observers have traced back to the residential school system and the lack of self-esteem it instilled in the students. This ongoing process of undermining community well-being and cohesion, despite the schools being closed, is often referred to as intergenerational trauma.
Healing from Residential Schools
While understanding the vile history of residential schools and the lingering ramifications of this system, it is also important to pause and recognize that this trauma does not define Indigenous peoples and their communities. Many First Nations communities today are healthy and thriving, have a strong connection to their lands and traditions, and are raising younger generations that are eager and ready to continue this process.
On a national scale, it is becoming more common to talk about the residential schools in an honest way for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike—partly in thanks to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (see below)—which sought to offer space and a platform for survivors of the schools to talk about their experiences as a means of mending relations between Canada and Indigenous nations. Reconciliation politics is by no means perfect, as many First Nations are waiting for the federal government to deliver on its promise of better futures, but we now have valuable entry points into necessary conversations around what healing can look like.
Many communities that still experience the lingering impact of residential schools are taking matters into their own hands, and are looking to break cycles of intergenerational trauma through their own community-led initiatives, such as education, residential school survivor-oriented societies, and drug and alcohol intervention programs (see below).
This Valentine’s Day, our staff share their Cultch love stories — how they fell for The Cultch and what gets them out of bed in the morning! Have a love story of your own to share? Let us know!
Members of The Cultch staff with cast and crew from Mrs Krishnan’s Party
Lee Newman, Volunteer Coordinator
I first became interested in the Cultch through online research. I was looking into arts organizations to get involved with. I liked that the ED and Director in the organization were women (a rare treasure even in non-profits and the arts), and I thought the programming looked amazing! Diverse and progressive. I met with Cindy to chat about working in the arts and ended up volunteering…and eventually working here!
The moment that came to mind for when I first “fell” for The Cultch was when my partner attended a Founders’ Lounge music and reading event and me. Ivan Coyote did a reading, accompanied by Veda Hille’s music. I loved the cozy, red, cool vibes of the Founders’ Lounge and I LOVED Ivan Coyote – so hilarious and honest. The music was fun and entertaining and lyrically very local! This made it a very special night for me. With representation of queer folks and musicians, I felt safe here. I thought – this place does what I want to do. Inclusivity is a word that comes to mind as very important here and I am all about that.
Lisa Mennell, Communications Associate
I love The Cultch because…
The Cultch has been a place for me to grow and learn, a place to challenge myself, and a place to belong.
I remember the moment I fell for the Cultch. I had just started at The Cultch as an intern. I was completely overwhelmed—new to the city, new to the industry, new to the theatre scene. I felt out of place and over my head.
I think it was day two. I was familiarizing myself with the upcoming Cultch season and going through the material we had for the shows, and we had a copy of the script for Motherload (created by the amazing Emelia Symington Fedy, Jody-Kay Marklew, Juno Rinaldi,and Sonja Bennett). The script was beautiful; poignant, hilarious…it made me want to call my Mom (I did). I laughed, I cried (it was better than Cats!). I think I will always remember that as the moment I decided this was going to be a good place for me. It is the work that we do, and the people we work with, that constantly inspire me and keep me getting out of bed in the morning. And over the past 2.5 years I have slowly made a place for myself in this incredible company—with an unbelievable group of people that constantly remind me of the human capacity for connection and creativity.
I love you Cultch!
Andrew McCaw, Production Manager
I had been working here a little less than a year when I went to see A Vancouver Guldasta in October. I really enjoyed the show. I felt proud of us for programming a piece that represented the Sikh Community so well. At the talkback, the conversation turned to how the women of colour were portrayed in the piece. The comments were very supportive of the work. The Director, Paneet, then said something to the effect of: “If you liked this, you should see Kamloopa! (The OTHER show being presented that week against Guldasta at the Cultch) In fact, THEY close this week, so tell your friends to see Kamloopa THIS week, and come to Guldasta next week!”
We hadn’t asked Paneet to promote the show, it just came to his mind as another example of a show that was created by people of color that actually REPRESENTED them on a modern Canadian stage.
I thought that night: I love working here!
Yuri Arajs, Gallery Coordinator
I love The Cultch because it is making real progress in making our venues more inclusive and accessible to all people.
Cindy Reid, Managing Director
Why do I love The Cultch? I don’t know. But I do.
Is it the people? The staff, the patrons, the volunteers, the sponsors, the donors, the cleaners? I do love all the people.
Is it the programming? Definitely.
Is it the youth program and Ignite? YEP!
Is it the place, the space? Most definitely. It’s awesome! Even the small York lobby – so sweet.
Is it the culture? Ahhh, yes. We care deeply about what we do and who we do it with. It makes going to work a meaningful experience.
It’s a feeling. The Cultch, where we live, work and play on unceded territory. We should write a song about it!
A conversation with Much Ado About Nothing Director, Rebecca Patterson
Previously from New York City, Rebecca Patterson is known for her inventive classical productions featuring all-female casts for The Queen’s Company (NYC) and her advocacy for diversity and gender-blind casting. As Classic Chic Productions prepares to open Much Ado About Nothing this week, we caught up with Rebecca to chat about her work and inspirations.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Born in California and raised in Western Canada, I went to Studio 58 as an actor before beginning my ongoing journey as an auteur theatre director. For the past 20 years I have been happily living and making theatre in New York City, I moved back home to Vancouver just over a year ago and am now making theatre here in addition to my work in NYC.
Can you tell us more about your work at The Queen’s Company in NYC?
Founded in 2000, The Queen’s Company is a NYC-based theatre company dedicated to the creation of inventive productions of classical plays featuring all-female casts. My work with the company weds a love of language to a love of life, weaving inspiration from history and world cultures into the fabric of each production, and is known for its exquisite use of language, bold physicality, creative storytelling and artistic playfulness. I have also been a vocal advocate for culture change in casting practices, calling for greater opportunities for classically trained professional female actors through all-female productions and gender-blind casting.
Why is gender-blind casting important?
Because it’s about humanity. It is a true reflection of our current culture where the old divisions between men and women are falling away. It is also about social justice and equal employment opportunity for female actors.
What inspires your work?
Life, and the actors I have the pleasure and privilege to work with.
What makes you most excited about being back in Vancouver?
Vancouver has become the city I went in search of, diverse, engaged, hopeful, curious. The city and the theatre community excites me, though I love the dynamic energy and drive of NYC, I miss my culture and my people, it is wonderful being back and diving into this new experiment.
What does it mean to you to be part of the Femme Series?
It means I am claiming space onstage for women and encouraging other women to do the same. This is important, we need to have our diverse voices heard and seen. It will be the journey of multiple lifetimes to undo the untold generations of female silence, to arrive at a time where equality of expression is the norm, this is why, even as women achieve more overt equality, programs like the Femme Series remain important and relevant.
What should audiences expect from Classic Chic’s Much Ado About Nothing?
Expect to be surprised.
Tell us about a woman who has inspired you.
So many to choose from! Of all the fierce females who make my day, I have to choose the French female director Ariane Mnouchkine, within the artistry of stage direction she is considered one the best, her relentless pursuit of truth and bold theatricality has been deeply inspirational and fueled my passion to create theatre.
Photo by Emily Cooper
Much Ado About Nothing runs Feb 5 to 16 at the Historic Theatre (1895 Venables Street). Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.
In preparations for Feminist Karaoke, Cultch staff dish about their karaoke favourites!
Julia Croft wants you to sing along!
Power Ballad, from New Zealand’s Julia Croft and Nisha Madhan (Jan 22-26), is part performance piece, part feminist rant, AND part karaoke party! On Friday, Jan 25, the party will continue after the show, when Julia invites Cultch patrons to join her for Feminist Karaoke — a completely free Femme Series event!
The buzz in the Cultch office is palpable—we are a karaoke loving bunch! Here are a few karaoke favourites—and a couple karaoke memories—from some of the staff, to help you get in the mood for Jan 25.
Chelsea Isenor, Marketing Manager
Favourite Karaoke Song: Total Eclipse of the Heart. I don’t really have the vocal chops to sing it well, but it is so fun to belt out. It’s even better if you have a duet partner, but I have been know to sing both parts!
Kelly Barker, Artistic Associate
Karaoke Memory: I sang “I Love Rock and Roll”, by Joan Jett, at my sister-in-law’s wedding, and it was so terrible that the host of the wedding (it was at a small inn in the Okanagan) told me, the next morning, that it was, “the worst thing he’d ever heard”. My mother-in-law apparently has it on video—and I’ve refused to watch it.
Louise Chapman, Development Associate
Karaoke Memory: It’s not a particularly interesting story, but it’s my only personal karaoke experience!
I do not have a good singing voice, so I have only done karaoke once in my life! I was 19 and travelling in Japan with my friend Mariesha. We went along to a karaoke place and got a little room with some people from out hostel. I drank a lot of plum wine (delicious!) and sang Umbrella by Rihanna. A good memory.
Another time, I was staying in a village on a tiny island in the Philippines, where the local fishermen would gather at night to drink rum and sing karaoke. Their singing filled the tropical night air.
Leslie Dos Remedios, Sales Associate
Favourite Karaoke Song: I actually have a running list of karaoke songs on my phone – like when I’m in a store and hear a song I love, I put it in my phone just so I’m not at a loss in those times I’m flipping through a karaoke binder, not at my full capacity and about to make a questionable adult decision.
Some of my faves to sing are:
I Love Rock and Roll by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
Wannabe by The Spice Girls
Since You’ve Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson
Very eclectic, I know, but such good guilty pleasures!
We wanna know your karaoke favourites—come sing with us!! Feminist Karaoke with Julia Croft is a FREE Femme Series event on January 25, 2019, at 9PM.
Power Ballad runs until Jan 26 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or call The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.
The Femme Series is generously supported by the Charlotte and Sonya Wall Arts Fund.
A Note from Julia Croft | Power Ballad Creator/Performer
Power Ballad is a living, breathing, and demonic little show that we are absolutely delighted to be presenting in Canada for the first time.
This work is the second in a trilogy of feminist works that we created. Power Ballad was inspired in part by the misogynistic train wreck that was the 2016 US election and the implicit gendered narratives that were played out in the politics and media of that time and continue to ripple through our lives and our culture. It was also inspired by a lifetime of personally feeling the ways in which language was used against me as a woman and the ways I felt (and still feel) that language can be an impossible bind.
Over the course of making the show, the concept of language began to also stand in for all those other seemingly immovable patriarchal structures we are all trying to live within or against. They seem permanent but they aren’t – things could be different. While making this work I thought often of the famous Ursula Le Guin quote “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.” This work is about finding the cracks where resistance can begin.
This show started to become a small rally cry – or at least my own attempt to begin to understand what a resistance could look like and my reminding myself of the importance of being hopeful.
Then as we began rehearsals for the show millions of women around the world marched collectively as part of the Womens’ March. And then we had #metoo. And Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette. And a million other acts of resistance both big and small seem to be appearing every day. And I feel in my gut that things are shifting. Maybe the revolution has already started.
Either way, it is my great joy to be in a room with you all while we sing our hearts out.
Power Balladruns Jan 20-26, at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or call The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.
It’s party time—time for good music, good laughs…and great food!
Photo by Ankita Singh
The holidays may be over, but the party is only getting started! Coming Jan 15-Feb 3 to the Vancity Culture Lab, Mrs. Krishnan’s Party is a play that takes place at Onam. Have you heard of Onam? It’s a Hindu harvest festival, and it could be the craziest party of them all! Onam celebrates the annual return of the beloved King Maveli to his people. King Maveli was defeated and pushed into the underworld by the gods, but because he was so beloved, he was granted the wish to return to his people once a year. The celebrations for Onam can last up to ten days!
Every great celebration needs great food, and Onam is no different! In fact Onam is know for its good eats—and there are a lot of them:
An example of an Onam Sadhya
All together there are 11 essential dishes which have to prepared…[The]Traditional Onam Sadya (feast) meal comprises of different varieties of curries, upperies – things fried in oil, pappadams which are round crisp flour paste cakes of peculiar make, uppilittathu – pickles of various kinds, chammanthi – the chutney, payasams and prathamans or puddings of various descriptions. Fruits and digestives are also part of the meal. The food has to be served on a tender Banana leaf, laid with the end to the left. The meal is traditionally served on a mat laid on the floor. A strict order of serving the dishes one after the another is obeyed. Besides, there are clear directions as to what will be served in which part of the banana leaf. – www.onamfestival.org
In Mrs. Krishnan’s Party, Mrs Krishnan is surprised to find that, unbeknownst to her, her boarder, James, has filled her stock room with 100 guests expecting an Onam party (the audience members are the guests!). She is forced to throw an Onam party on the fly. And my oh my, what a party it will be!
And, because every good party needs food, food there must be. Mrs. Krishnan saves the day and makes a delicious daal for everyone to enjoy—yum! We just know you are going to want to know the recipe for this feast.
Here is the recipe for Mrs Krishnan’s Pepper Dhal, as prepared in the play:
Mr Krishnan is forced to throw the party of her life!
James looks on excitedly as Mrs Krishnan prepares the daal
Some helpful guest got roped into helping
500g pink lentils
1 litre of boiling water
3 chopped tomatoes or half a tin
2 Tbs of rice bran oil
1 small onion chopped
2 gloves of garlic
1 dried red chilli
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp white pepper
Put lentils, tomatoes and bruised whole cloves of garlic into a large pot of boiling water and simmer till lentils are soft (15-20mins).
Stir occasionally to stop from burning. 5 minutes before lentils are ready, heat oil in a frying pan and add onions and sauté till translucent.
Add all the spices except white pepper and salt to the onions and stir for a minute.Tip the onion spice mixture into the pot of lentils and simmer for five minutes.
Add salt and white pepper. For added deliciousness, add a dash of white vinegar and a big knob of butter right at the end and sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander. Yum!
Mrs. Krishnan’s Party runs Jan 15-Feb 3, at the Vancity Culture Lab. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363