SmallWaR Creator’s Notes

Valentijn Dhaenens, the creator and performer of 2016’s hit BigMouth, returns to the York Theatre stage with his new work, SmallWaR. Read on to discover the inspiration behind the companion piece to a show The Georgia Straight called “a mind-blowing celebration of the power of the human voice.”

BigMoutH (pictured above) was a smash hit of The Cultch’s 2015/16 Season

Photo by Inge Lauwers

SmallWaR Creator’s Notes by Valentijn Dhaenens

The idea for SmallWaR was born while touring BigMouth. I soon felt the urge to make a companion piece dealing with the reverse side of those historical speeches. In contrast to BigMouth’s sensational speeches, dynamic rhythm and mankind trying to be God, SmallWaR is about the small victims, the paralyzing standstill, and the trauma of being stuck in the mud. I grew up in the area of Flanders Fields in the early 1980’s and remember playing on those impressive Canadian, Australian, and British cemeteries. Once in a while, schoolmates living on farms would still find bomb-shells while playing on the ploughed fields of their family. I’ve always been fascinated by the First World War as a symbol for war in general. It was the first industrialized war – war as we still know it today. Tanks were invented, air bombing played a new crucial role, lung-hitting gas introduced first weapons of mass destruction and the ripped apart victims of it all allowed surgeons to experiment with the first plastic surgery.

SmallWaR became the necessary sequel to BigMouth. More than 80% of the speeches in BigMouth are directly or indirectly linked to events that led to war. Nevertheless, they’re speeches with wonderful words, where heroism is emphasized. Leaders try to convince the masses to go to war, then they praise the ones who died and pretend to be grieving with their families. While performing BigMouth, I felt more and more obliged to show the other side. There are millions of people who suffered the consequences of what was being said in those speeches. I felt the urge to tell these stories.

Photo by Inge Lauwers

The First World War proved to be the perfect backdrop to tell these stories. Not only because of the 14-18 commemorations. The First World War was the mother of all modern wars. It was the first time that killing had been industrialized. Modern warfare took shape back then and has barely changed since. And to me, after months of reading on the subject it seemed the most useless and meaningless of all wars. Its cause was preposterous – as if the world just felt like fighting. What most struck me in lots of soldier’s diaries was the difference between the sheer excitement and optimism about entering the war and then not much later the total horror of being stuck in the muddy trenches, fearing to die.

There has been so much literature, movies, poetry, and documentaries on the topic of war. As a theatre-maker, I felt compelled to explore the strongholds and laws of this medium in contrast to the other arts. Rather than depicting battle or reconstructing history, I found an opportunity to make an emotional reflection on the trauma and the repetitiveness of war, concentrating on the deadlock instead of the action. To whisper in fear as not to scream for blood.

SmallWaR runs at the York Theatre from November 6th-16th as part of The Ceasefire Series, an exploration of war to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WWI. To learn more about The Ceasefire Series and to get your tickets to SmallWaR click here.

SmallWaR image credit Daily Dolores

 

What is Toxic Masculinity, anyway?

The York Theatre’s season kicked of on Tuesday, October 2nd, with the critically acclaimed Testosterone by Kit Redstone. This darkly comic, physical theatre piece by Rhum and Clay Theatre Company takes the opportunity to explore the meaning of gender, identity, and masculinity all through the eyes of someone who has experienced life on both sides of the gender fence.

Specifically, Testosterone asks the question “What does it mean to be a man?”

This seems like a simple, face value question, and I think if you’d asked it ten years ago, maybe even two years ago, you’d have received a simple, face value answer. But, in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the ever present conversations around gun violence and reproductive rights, the stubborn and rigid form of masculinity has begun to crack and a whole new can of (slightly phallic) worms has been pried open.

So, what is Toxic Masculinity? And how do we recognize it in the world around us and within ourselves?

Toxic Masculinity was coined by Psychologist Shepherd Bliss during the Mythopoetic men’s movement in the 1980’s and 1990’s, but became more widely used – predominately on Social Media – when the Weinstein Scandal emerged. To quote ABC “The term toxic masculinity has become a catch-all to describe male feelings of entitlement, anger, and vulnerability, and the urge to dominate and intimidate, through either overt or covert means.” Of course there are some glaring examples of this, I’m sure we could all name several, but is Toxic Masculinity really just the male archetype that occurs far too frequently in Hollywood, and recent political campaigns?

Jonathan McIntosh puts it in a nut shell for us: “Toxic Masculinity is not something that men are, but rather, it’s something that some men do.” McIntosh lists these behaviors as:

  • Emotional Detachment
  • Hyper-competitiveness
  • Aggression
  • Intimidation
  • Violence
  • Sexual Objectification
  • Sexually Predatory

McIntosh also insists that these behaviors are not inherent or biological traits of men. Sure, I guess that’s true, but I do think it’s very fair to say that a lot of these behaviors have become normalized within society and are often expected of men. Maybe this isn’t a nature situation, but it definitely is a nurture one. Boys are prevented from expressing their emotions because boys don’t cry, aggression on the playground is justified because boys will be boys, young men are humiliated for not pursuing and harassing women because what? are you gay? (you know, because being gay makes you less of a man?). Masculinity in the male sex is instantly compromised if they show any traits that are deemed “feminine”.

Who does Toxic Masculinity affect?

The answer to this question is, obviously, broad, and maybe the easier question to ask (or at least the easier question to answer) is, who isn’t affected by it? We are all affected by Toxic Masculinity, some of us more so than others, but everyone in our society is somewhat living their lives in a way that is directly affected by toxic masculinity.

Probably the first answer we think of is women. Women are, without question, victims of toxic masculinity. 1.3 million women report being physically assaulted by an intimate partner, annually. Due to male privilege in the workforce, women still make 73 cents to every dollar that men make, and it will take another 151 years in Canada for the number of women in middle management to equal that of men.  The #MeToo movement saw thousands of women come forward, finally being able to give voice to the coercion and harassment experiences that occur within their lives everyday and stems back generations (probably since the rise of mankind). From the extreme, which has led to the fall of empires, to the completely normalized, uncomfortable, sexual encounters where women just go through with it so the whole thing can end. And it wasn’t until women began talking about it that we realized that “just getting it over with” wasn’t actually okay.

With that said, it’s very easy to skew Toxic Masculinity as a term that damns men, defames them and denounces them as violent, sex and power mad, monsters. But really the primary victims of toxic masculinity are…men. This ridiculous concept that we drill into little boy’s brains that they must be brave, that to be attractive a man must be strong and silent, that they cannot wear certain colours or smell like flowers or cry when they get hurt or get their hearts broken. This stifling society ensures that men must work themselves to the bone so that they can single-handedly provide for several other people whilst giving them no healthy means of expressing their frustration.

Really, all toxic masculinity is, is a gender confine that we force everybody to conform and submit to. As much as it is second nature for men to dominate and control women (and other men), it is equally ingrained in women to put a man’s pleasure first, to report to him, and to fear him. Society has created this insane and ridiculous battle of the sexes where we are put into boxes that we don’t really fit in. Like my 6 foot 2, 200 pound friend who, when he’s walking toward you on a darkened street, you’d probably cross the road to avoid, but who prides himself on his flawlessly applied sparkly purple nail polish. Or my male friend who’s a professional dancer and prides himself on not submitting to gender norms but who can’t help but cut me off when I’m telling a story, silencing me so he can tell his own. Because women are taught to avoid men in the dark, and men are taught that their louder, deeper voices are more important and have more right to speak.

Testosterone by Kit Redstone, explores these ideas and ideals of masculinity. As someone who has lived as both male and female, Kit has to face what he thought it meant to be a man, and what it actually means to be one, and where, in between all that, he fits in. Testosterone challenges male stereotypes and openly deconstructs the concept of Toxic Masculinity in the most masculine of places – the locker room. It is a “bold, breezy dissection of what makes men men.”

Testosterone plays at the York Theatre from October 2nd to 13th, tickets can be purchased right here

By guest writer and outreach intern: Charlotte Wright

All photography provided by Rhum and Clay Theatre Company

A conversation with Paneet Singh, Writer/Director of A Vancouver Guldasta!

A conversation with Paneet Singh, Writer/Director of A Vancouver Guldasta

Paneet Singh. Photo by Pardeep Singh Photography

The Cultch is excited to once again partner with Diwali in BC. This year we are co-presenting two shows, The Believers Are But Brothers ( Oct 30 – Nov 10, Vancity Culture Lab) and A Vancouver Guldasta (Oct 2 – 21, Vancity Culture Lab). A Vancouver Guldasta, written and directed by Paneet Singh and produced by South Asian Canadian Histories Association (SACHA), opens next week and we couldn’t be more excited. We chatted with Paneet Singh, and he gave us a little background about the show.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a playwright and filmmaker based out of Burnaby. I absolutely love history, and especially the history of the local South Asian community. A lot of my work is around examining intimate stories that happen within large-scale events, much like the story in A Vancouver Guldasta. I also work in admin and am part of the instructional staff at Arts Umbrella, working mostly out of the Surrey locations. Above all else, I love storytelling. I consider engaging with story to be a large part of my professional and personal life, as well as my spiritual journey – and really the only way in which all of these aspects of my life can intersect. I also like to make a lot of jokes. Usually when I shouldn’t be making jokes. I thought that was important to share.

Where did you get the idea for A Vancouver Guldasta?

About a decade ago, a friend of mine gave me a VHS tape that he had gotten from his uncle which contained a ton of local and newscasts from 1984 immediately after the invasion of the Golden Temple. I was so moved by the content and I knew that there was a story to discover around it. I played with it in many ways over the past few years, eventually discovering that the story would be well-served to be told in a way which captured that trauma is shared across generations and cultures – from there, A Vancouver Guldasta was born.

Is it true that the word ‘Guldasta’ means ‘bouquet’? Can you explain what the significance of the word Guldasta is in the context of A Vancouver Guldasta?

Yes, it does! Guldasta means ‘bouquet’ in a few languages from South Asia, including Punjabi, Hindi, and Urdu. The title is meant to reflect the make-up of many Vancouver neighborhoods that many of us grew up in, where families weren’t just those who you were biologically related to, but also became those who you shared a living space with, and interacted with everyday. It speaks to this being a story experienced in a space which appears to be a Punjabi space, but is actually intercultural. ‘Guldasta’ is also a term used in Indian classical music to refer to a composition that is made up of contrasting musical measures – but I won’t go too far into it, as that’s explored in my favourite scene of the show!

The Golden Temple, also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib (“abode of God”) or Darbar Sahib, (Punjabi pronunciation: [dəɾbɑɾ sɑhɪb], “exalted holy court”), is a Gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India. Credit Wikipedia

The invasion of the Golden Temple is a significant event in the Punjabi community. Were there difficulties writing about such a significant period of time, one that is so firmly cemented into people’s minds? How did you overcome these?

The biggest challenge comes from the fact that it’s in the lived experience for so much of the community. Even those of us who didn’t live through it personally, feel the tremors of its impact and have inherited the trauma from those around us. Furthermore, the politics of 1984 form the basis of politics today within the community. Most people want to examine one or the other – the politics, or the trauma. I feel as though the two are so heavily intertwined, to really unpack either you need to see how they intersect, and that’s what forms the basis of this piece. You can approach the politics and trauma in a sensitive manner if you put a face and experience to them. I did a lot of research, observation, and consultation in order to ensure that there was a truth and sensitivity behind every distinct voice that is reacting to this catastrophic incident.

What can you tell us about the characters in the play?

They’re so different from one another, but I think you can really believe them to be interacting the way that they do. They’re funny, they’re bold, they’re dynamic, and they’ve all got something to say – but, perhaps they’re still discovering the right way to say it. I don’t want to get too much into each character individually, but the thing that surprises me most about this show is that an audience member will often say that a particular character reminds them of themselves, but they really found themselves listening to the character who was opposed to them – to me, that’s really exciting because it means that there’s a strong thesis and antithesis being examined and there’s a compelling enough argument to draw the attention of otherwise unwilling ears.

Lou Ticzon as Andy, Gunjan Kundhal as Niranjan, Parm Soor as Chattar, and Arshdeep Purba as Rani. Photo by Pardeep Singh Photography

We are so excited to have A Vancouver Guldasta in our Culture Lab; the last time it was presented, the stage was set in an actual Vancouver Special, the location that the play is set. How did you manage creating a stage inside of a home? What are you looking forward to about having it in our Culture Lab?

Typical Vancouver Specials. “Vancouver Specials have similar floor plans with the main living quarters on the upper floor and secondary bedrooms on the bottom, making them ideal for secondary suites.” Credit Wikipedia

It was tough staging it in that space, but I was stubborn! I knew that I wanted to experiment with that location the first time we put it up, just because there’s so much gravitas with this particular story in that space which is, in other regards, so infamously humble and common. We had three rows of bleachers built into the room and squeezed in 25 people, crammed in shoulder-to-shoulder, to watch this show that was entirely lit by practical lighting, and had all the sound coming out of the television set. It wasn’t glamorous, but it really forced you into the world of the characters, and audiences really responded to it.

I’m twice as excited now because we get to bring that experience into the Lab. We’re playing with the audience’s seating arrangement, we’re playing with projection, and we’re playing with some of that good ol’ 80s technology to really make it as much of an experience as it was in the house. It’s fun re-imagining it in this space – it feels like a whole new production. I have been approaching it creatively not in a way in which I’m trying to get the Lab to become that living room, but rather respecting the Lab for what it offers, and discovering how these feelings translate in this new space, for a larger audience.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the production?

I am really struck by how much this show strikes a personal chord with so many audiences – Sikh, South Asian, Vietnamese, Vancouver residents, and those who fit into none of the above, have all said they found a story in this story that resonated with their own personal experience – and I love that. Experience and empathy lies at the heart of much my work, and A Vancouver Guldasta is no exception, so I really want to invite folks into this intimate space to spend time with this family. Certainly a unique family – but still one that’s perhaps not so far-from-home.


A Vancouver Guldasta runs Oct 2-21 at the Vancity Culture Lab. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Staff Picks #3: don’t miss these highly recommended shows!

Don’t miss these highly recommended shows!

Jamie King, Box Office Attendant, recommends Kamloopa, Sept 25-Oct 6, 2018 AND New Cackle Sisters: Kitchen Chicken, April 2-6, 2019

Jamie King, Box Office Staff, couldn’t pick just one show from our 2018/19 Season!

Kamloopa – This is a brand new show from Kim Harvey who is one of the coolest people on the planet. Not only does it have some incredible Indigenous women onstage, but there is “no crying and no dying”. These women are badass, hilarious and in for an awesome adventure story . Beside writing and directing, Kim is facilitating the most incredible process in the rehearsal room, in talks with the community; this is more than a show – it’s medicine. I cannot wait to see it.

New Cackle Sisters: Kitchen Chicken – I think I cried out with joy when I saw we were bringing l’orchestre d’hommes-orchestres back this season. Think of performance art meets incredible Appalachian bluegrass, meets weirdly funny and sometimes erotic performers. After two amazing shows featuring Tom Waits & Kurt Weill’s music, I am PUMPED they are focusing on female voices and getting weird with some chicken.


Andrew McCaw, Production Manager, recommends A Brief History of Human Extinction, Oct 10-20, 2018

Andrew McCaw, Production Manager

 

 

Some of the artists involved in A Brief History of Human Extinction worked on the show in our studio earlier this summer. It was fascinating to see artists from very different disciplines develop a language to work with each other. The term “Puppeturgy” was jokingly coined. I am excited to see how it all comes together.


Cindy Reid, Managing Director, recommends Testosterone, Oct 2-13, 2018

Cindy Reid, Managing Director, a big fan of nudity!

 

 

 

I am really looking forward to Testosterone. I am interested in personal stories of transformation, and it looks like it’s going to be an interesting ride! Plus, nudity and strong language—should be a good night out!


Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363 | Save 20% with our Choose 5 subscription package or 25% with our Choose 8 subscription package! This year we also have a Choose 3 package—see three different shows for as little as $65!

A Q&A with Joyce Lam, founder of VACT!

A Q&A with Joyce Lam, founder of Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (VACT)

In Vancouver, we are thrilled to have access to such a great range of theatre. One of the companies we are so lucky to be able to partner with is Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (VACT). As we gear up for our 2018/19 season we are getting more and more excited about VACT’s The Ones We Leave Behind, Oct 24–Nov 3, at the Historic Theatre. We had a quick conversation with Joyce Lam, founder of VACT to chat about VACT, Asian Canadian Theatre, Crazy Rich Asians, and The Ones We Leave Behind! 

You founded VACT 18 years ago; can you explain what the impetus to start it was?

VACT was started 18 years ago because I loved attending theatre and it bothered me that there were no Asian Canadian stories or any Asian Canadian actors/characters on stage when Vancouver had a large population of Asian Canadians.  When a friend told me he had actually enjoyed an Asian American Fringe show at a BYOV, I thought it was a shame that more people didn’t get to see it and I decided to invite that show back to Vancouver.  We sold out the show and found a “starving” paying audience for contemporary Asian Canadian stories and actors.

What makes VACT unique in Vancouver, and in the world?

At first, VACT, was a stepping stone to assist Asian Canadian actors to gain more acting experience/skill in order to level the audition process in getting acting roles. Playing significant complicated characters would be instrumental in developing the actor’s talents. Also developing Asian Canadian stories was invaluable to showcase how an underrepresented group was seen in Canada without stereotypes from other mainstream shows. VACT was also unique in seeking out material that reflected specifically on the North American Asian experience—how we live here today and how our cultural heritage played a role in our collective identity as a North American.

Since leaving VACT you have moved on to many other exciting projects; do you feel that VACT has continued on with the mission and mandate that you initiated true to your initial goals?

VACT has continued with the mission and even surpassed its original goals by raising it to a professional theatre company that showcases Asian Canadian stories with Asian Canadian actors locally to expanding its audience nationally and hopefully internationally.

I understand that you recently organized a group of people to go see the new movie Crazy Rich Asians. The movie is making major headlines right now for being the first Hollywood movie in 25 years to have an all Asian cast. How did you like the movie?

I loved the movie, Crazy Rich Asians!  Before viewing it, I was secretly praying that it would have a good story, good acting & direction. After seeing the film, I realize my fears were needless. The acting was excellent, the story line was exceptional as the “ending” surprised me (and I don’t get surprised often).  The direction was the perfect combination of romance, comedy and timing.  What was surprising was that although I went to see it to support Asian American actors, it was a very good universally romantic comedy on its own merit that anyone (mainstream) could identify with. It was a significant rom-com because for the first time, I saw a romantic lead Asian male who was attracted to an Asian female and how each character brings their cultural backstory with them which I could identify with.

Do you think that theatre is ahead of film in representing underrepresented and marginalized groups? Behind?

I believe theatre is way ahead of film in representing underrepresented and marginalized group in a “real” sense because theatre is less expensive to produce and it develops a grass root foundation (locally) in acting and stories. Film is near impossible to penetrate without Asian representation in the decision makers.  For instance, Kim’s Convenience started as a Fringe Show, then Theatre Show and now a TV show.  These actors are now transitioning to film.  In theatre, it is more forgiving to show stories outside of the “mainstream” audience and to reach out and tell individual stories of marginalized groups and make the characters believable and not stereotypical.  With this realistic portrayal, audiences members will appreciate the story.  Hopefully through inclusive theatre, we learn and eventually bring societal tolerance.

The Ones We Leave Behind. Photo by Ray Shum. Photo Design by Terry Wong.

This fall, from Oct 24-Nov 3, we will be presenting, with VACT, Loretta Seto’s The Ones We Leave Behind. Are you looking forward to seeing it? What makes it exciting to you?

Yes, I am excited to see Loretta Seto’s The Ones We Leave Behind, as I am a fan of her other show Dirty Old Woman plus the fact that it is a female Asian Canadian playwright. I don’t usually research shows I see so that I don’t know what it is about.  I like to be surprised when I am watching the show.   I do love the title of the show, very intriguing.  With the fact that it represents three underrepresented components:  females, Asian Canadians actors, Asian Canadian stories in theatre …. I am highly anticipating its opening and wishing it box office success.


The Ones We Leave Behind runs Oct 24-Nov 3, 2018 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Happy Pride!

Happy Pride Weekend Everyone!

Its the most wonderful time of the year! I don’t know about you, but everyone here at The Cultch is excited for another wonderful Pride weekend in Vancouver.

There are SO MANY great things happening in the city, and it promises to be good weather. Check out  www.vancouverpride.ca to find events happening near you. We hope we see you out there!

Staff Picks #2: 2018/19 Season shows that we don’t want you to miss!

2018/19 Season shows that we don’t want you to miss!

The second blog post in a summer series featuring some of the 2018/19 shows that our staff just cant wait for! Read the first post here!


Lee Newman, Assistant to Head Front of House Manager / Volunteer Coordinator. Still photo from Parlour Panther music video by Grace Gadston at Jaunty Media

Lee Newman, Assistant to Head Front of House Manager/ Volunteer Coordinator, Dakh Daughters, Jan 15- 19, 2019

I am so excited for Dakh Daughters, starting January 15th at The York Theatre, part of the Femme Series. They bring this thrilling and captivating power to their performance that I LOVE. I am fascinated by how modern musicians perform, because these days the performance component is often much more than just people with their instruments. The Dakh Daughters use theatrical elements with their bodies, their voices, their instruments, their costumes, and the lighting, all in a uniquely bold and gritty style to create an unforgettable performance! And this I just got from the youtube clip on The Cultch’s website! I cannot WAIT for the live version.


Natalie Schneck, Development Associate. Photo by Tiana He

Natalie Schneck, Development Associate, This Duet We’ve Already Done (so many times), Nov 27 – Dec 1, 2018

I am excited for This Duet We’ve Already Done (so many times). For me, Frédérick Gravel’s work always feels like a sexy rock show with sophisticated themes woven throughout. I often sense a tension between power/persona and vulnerability. Both Frédérick and Brianna are charismatic performers and I am curious to see the energy that’s created when they work together.

 

 

 


Meghan Robinson, Rentals Sales Manager. Photo by Tiana He

Meghan Robinson, Rentals Sales Manager, NASSIM, May 7 – 19, 2019

I can’t begin to describe how excited I am to have Nassim Soleimanpour at The Cultch. His production “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit” was one of the most powerful pieces of theatre I have ever seen. It established my passion and adoration for the theatre. I have faith that “Nassim” will have a similar affect. I have no doubt that it will both connect audiences, and blow them away, from the moment the script is taken out of its envelope.

 

 


Leslie Dos Remedios, Sales Associate. Photo by Tiana He

Leslie Dos Remedios, Sales Associate, The Ones We Leave Behind, Oct 24- Nov 3, 2018

I’m excited to see The Ones We Leave Behind. It’s been so rewarding seeing VACT, Loretta and the entire creative team develop this show for over a year. It’s also great to have an ensemble show from VACT on The Cultch stage – we get to be a place where underrepresented voices have a platform to tell our stories.

 

 

 


Single tickets go on sale July 16, but you can purchase a subscription today to save! Save 20% with our Choose 5 subscription package or 25% with our Choose 8 subscription package! This season, the more you see, the more save. You’ll enjoy an exciting roster of artists and programs, from the best seats in the house.

DONOR SPOTLIGHT: Jim Miller

DONOR SPOTLIGHT: Jim Miller

Jim Miller loves The Cultch!

Jim, you have been a subscriber to The Cultch for many years. Can you tell us what first attracted you?
I don’t know if my memory goes back 30 years! But I’d guess it must have been a totally unique, singular presentation of some sort…like theatre-for-one, or something set inside a neighbourhood home.
Perhaps a performance without words or presented in total darkness. I think the Cultch should use as their slogan: “Why Be Normal?”.

What do you think is distinctive about The Cultch and our programming?
Well, carrying on with that thought, Cultch programming always piques my interest and curiosity, as in: “What the heck is going on here?…this is crazy!” There are a bunch of places I can go to be “entertained”, but I also want to be challenged. Or perhaps be exposed to a new form of artistic expression I had never previously experienced. Like the “Bouffon Comedy” on display with The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius last November. I didn’t know much about it going in, but after the show I was all over Google to learn more about Bouffon! Simply put, the Cultch programs performances that just aren’t found anywhere else in town!

What has surprised you most about The Cultch?
Surprised me? That goes back 20 years or more. Nothing at The Cultch surprises me anymore; indeed, I’ve grown to expect it.

Last Season’s The After After Party, Hot Brown Honey, Goblin Market and Bears…that’s what I EXPECT from the Cultch. Next year it’ll be Backbone, Mrs. Krishnan’s Party, and Dakh Daughters that will be invading your stage from some other planet. If the Cultch were to present a gay, all-nude staging of Romeo & Juliette I don’t think I would be surprised…I’d be intrigued, and would want to check it out!
Let me revise my suggested slogan…make it: “Expect The Unexpected!”

Can you tell us what you wish other people knew about The Cultch?
First, what a terrific value it is. With subscription seats for less than 20 bucks, you are paying about the same as what it would cost to see Spiderman 8 or the pre-prequel of Star Wars. And second…it is an opportunity to learn, not just be entertained. That’s why I tend to always go on the Talkback nights. These artists’ brains are wired completely differently than me, and I want to find out about their vision, what they are trying to achieve, and perhaps about the unorthodox route they took getting there.
Sometimes I’ve had mixed feeling about a show I just witnessed, but when I stay for the Talkback and get to hear from the director and cast what they were trying to achieve, or perhaps the rich tradition that the particular performance style drew upon, it casts a whole new light on the show and gives me deeper appreciation for it.

What would you tell someone is thinking about subscribing and/or donating to The Cultch but hasn’t made the move yet?
Take A Chance! That’s how you discover a new live musical genre or perhaps a great new restaurant or cuisine. When you discover something that is right up your alley but you never knew existed it is like an Epiphany.

Not every show at the Cultch will resonate with you, but Wow, once you’ve discovered the East Van Panto or Ronnie Burkett’s puppetry there is no turning back; you’re hooked and end up going every year out of tradition! You don’t even have to think about it!

The same holds true for plays put on by United Players, E.T.C., PuSh and Studio 58, plus performances by Winter Harp, our Chamber Music Societies, ScotiaBank Dance Theatre, Cinema Salon, etc…they might be a step outside of a person’s comfort zone but often a very affordable step in an entirely new direction. Slogan?: “Broaden Your Perspective”…hmm, probably already taken!

What inspires your love of the performing arts?

Well, everybody has their “Escape”. It might be reading books, or cycling 20 km’s, or taking pottery classes… and they are all good. But for me, I’m passionate about all forms of the performing Arts…theatre, dance, music… from Jazz to Chamber to Symphonic. The Cultch played a big part in cultivating that interest, starting more than 3 decades ago, and I am blessed to be in a city with so much tremendous talent to sustain my passion…far more talent than you would normally expect from a city of this size.

But it can’t be taken for granted…our artists have mortgages, household budgets and pay a buck-fifty per litre of gas, just like everyone else, but they usually don’t enjoy an income commensurate with their training and ability. I see as much as I do, and as much as I can, 150 performances or more per year, in part to support the artists and to help ensure an ongoing vibrant arts scene here in Vancouver. That’s also why I donate to the Cultch. It gives them the ability to provide an ever increasing number of shows (count ’em, 23 next season!), and sustain our artists rather than having them give-up on their passion and go back to some boring day job!

Keep up the good work Cultch!


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

2018/19 Season staff picks!

2018/19 Season staff picks!

As you can imagine, all of the staff here at The Cultch are getting very excited to share the 2018/19 Season with you! We asked a few of our staff members what show they just cannot wait for, and here are the first few staff picks:


Elysse Cheadle, Head Front of House Manager and Volunteer Coordinator, SmallWaR, Nov 6-16, 2018

Elysse Cheadle, Head Front of House Manager and Volunteer Coordinator.

SmallWaR entices me because it is the follow-up to one of my favorite shows we have had here at The Cultch: BigMouth. Valentijn Dhaenens is an extremely powerful performer, who displayed a totally magnetic kind of controlled weight and erratic; as if he was at any moment going to burst in any direction. In addition to Valentijn’s performance, it was the beautiful execution of a simple concept that drew me to BigMouth (one man performs a series of famous speeches made by over 25 000 years of human history). Similarly, SmallWaR is focusing its attention in on one moment: a dying soldier reflecting on the impact of the cyclical trauma of war on his life and the history of humanity. In BigMouth, Valentijn made use of 5 microphones in a wildly creative and impactful manner. I can’t wait to see how the same experimentation is applied to the use of five projectors in SmallWaR.


Paul Phalen, Business Development & Hospitality Manager. Photo by Tiana He

Paul Phalen, Business Development & Hospitality Manager, Testosterone, Oct 2- 13, 2018

I am so excited to see Testoserone, and to open the discussion about masculinity. How masculine do you have to be, to be a “man”? This amazing production explores a character’s journey into the unknown spectrum that is masculinity, having just transitioned from female to male. “Do you think you’re man enough?”


Kelly Barker, Artistic Associate, Power Ballad, Jan 22-26, 2019

I’m really excited about Power Ballad which is going to be part of our Femme Series in January. This one-woman show, from New Zealand, is a feminist, performance-art, karaoke party – what could be better?! The imagery I’ve seen is striking and the reviews are great. I think it’s going to be an awesome night which will have you singing along while deconstructing the patriarchy and examining the way we use language. A unique show not to be missed!


Single tickets go on sale July 16, but you can purchase a subscription today to save! Save 20% with our Choose 5 subscription package or 25% with our Choose 8 subscription package! This season, the more you see, the more save. You’ll enjoy an exciting roster of artists and programs, from the best seats in the house.

Announcing the 2018 rEvolver Festival Mainstage!

Announcing the 2018 rEvolver Festival Mainstage!

Two actors perform Shakespeare’s Macbeth without words. A local artist steps into the radical headspace of a suicide bomber. A real-life scientist takes you through the history of women being f&*$ed over for centuries. Two people find love.

Upintheair Theatre is thrilled to be back at The Cultch for the 6th annual rEvolver Theatre Festival. rEvolver runs from May 23th – June 3rd, presenting new work by Vancouver and Canada’s most exciting up and coming performers and theatre creators. Past rEvolver Festivals have included world premieres of hit shows such as Jordan Hall’s ‘Kayak’, Delinquent Theatre’s ‘Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical” (which featured as part of The Cultch’s 2015/16 season) and Mind of a Snail’s gorgeous shadow puppetry in ‘Caws and Effect’.

This year’s programming represents the rich diversity of voices, aesthetics, and styles among Vancouver and Canadian emerging professional theatre makers. The programmed artists are tackling big issues – inequality, climate change, sexual abuse and consent, violence, the impacts of colonialism. They are doing so in unexpected ways, using wit and humour, intelligence, music and the power of bodies in motion to look for ways to move out and forward, and to bring light into the darkness. Join us in seeing all that this incredible community of artists has to offer.

Got to revolverfestival.ca for all the information you need!

Mily Mumford in Distractingly Sexy. Photo by Cal Wood

MAINSTAGE SHOWS:

FREE EVENTS:   

  • The Somewhere Cedar (Micro Performance by Jess Amy Shead, Vancouver)
  • Asking Alice (Micro Performance; Little Mountain Lion Productions, Vancouver)
  • Plunge in collaboration with Resounding Scream Theatre (Vancouver)
  • Updrafts Reading Series featuring new works by emerging playwrights
  • The Speakeasy (Friday’s: late night cocktail hour in the Greenhouse)

Excited by what you see? There are a number of different ways you can purchase tickets!

Carmine Santavenere in Fuchsia Future. Photo by Elliot Vaughan

  1. With the 6-show flex pass, the passholder can see up to six individual shows, take five friends to one show, or any combination in between!
  2. If you can’t see 6 shows, you can still save by purchasing a 3-show pass instead!

And of course, individual tickets are available both through The Cultch’s Box Office and at the door.