Where are they now?

What have they been up to? Follow up with your favourite artists from our 2018/19 season.

The 2018/19 season has come to an end and we’re getting pumped for our 2019/20 season. But before we dive right into it, here is a look back at some of the amazing artists we got to work with this past year. A lot of them have been up to really cool things since we saw them last!

Read to see what they have been up to, and learn where you can find out more about their upcoming projects.

Scroll through, or click on the name of one of the 23 shows, to be taken directly to that part of the post: Kamloopa, Testosterone, A Vancouver Guldasta, A Brief History of Human Extinction, The Ones We Leave Behind, The Believers are but Brothers, Backbone, SmallWar, Three Winters, This Duet That We’ve Already Done (so many times), East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz, Little Dickens, Dakh Daughters, Mrs Krishnan’s Party, Power Ballad, This is the Point, Much Ado About Nothing, Children of God, Hot Brown Honey, Multiple Organism, New Cackle Sisters: Kitchen Chicken, Act of Faith, NASSIM.


KAMLOOPA

What a way to start off our 2018/19 season! We had so much fun having Kim Senklip Harvey‘s powerful and hilarious Kamloopa in our Historic Theatre last fall. It was an honour to have such powerful matriarchs bringing down the house each night! After leaving us, Kamloopa continued its tour, heading to Saskatchewan for a run at Persephone Theatre.

What have they been up to?

If you saw Kamloopa, you will recognize Yolanda Bonnell, who played ‘Indian Friend #1’. Bonnell is a playwright, and was recently announced to be one of 50 international playwrights chosen to be part of Climate Change Theatre Action 2019 – “a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented biennially to coincide with the United Nations COP meetings.” Follow Climate Change Theatre Action on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date.

You may have seen Kamloopa Firestarter (who wrote and directed the ceremony), Kim Senklip Harvey, when she and Pippa Mackie hosted Pitch, Bitch or Ditch, a fun Femme Series event in the vein of ‘Dragons Den’, where audience members brought their ideas for a show to the expert panel.

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BIG EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT!!! Kim Senklip Harvey (writer/director of Kamloopa) and I have created and are hosting a one night only event at the Cultch Historic theatre titled : Pitch, Bitch or Ditch ! (It’s like the Dragons Den of theatre) This is going to be absolutely insane, wild and surprising! (As part of the Cultch Femme Series) @thecultch Monday January 14th 8pm Only $10 !!!!!!!! This is one of those moments you should buy a ticket in advance. Ticket link in my bio!  What is this? Have you grown bored of theatre? When was the last time a show really excited you? Do you have an idea for a show? Join theatre creators and producers Kim Senklip Harvey and Pippa Mackie for an unforgettable night that puts the power in the hands of the patrons. From anonymous suggestions made by the audience, Kim and Pippa will lead patrons through a lively evening of banter and debate—no idea is off limits, no suggestions taboo or too dangerous—let your imaginations run wild! The bar will be open, and there will be guest appearances, and loads of surprises. PITCH—Bring your ideas—pitches are anonymous, so no judgement! BITCH—Kim and Pippa discuss the pitches, and debate whether they have potential as plays or not! DITCH—The power is in your hands—audience members vote on which pitches are ditched and which ones have promise! “It’s like the Dragon’s Den of Theatre…only without the money…and ideas are anonymous!”—Pippa Mackie

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Kim Senklip Harvey

Keep your eyes out for follow up Pitch, Bitch, or Ditch events in our 2019/20 season.

If you don’t already follow Kim Senklip Harvey’s blog, check it out here. Kim is heading to Victoria to take UVIC’s Masters of Creative Writing program this autumn, and we can hardly wait to see the fruits of her time there.


TESTOSTERONE

We had so much fun having Testosterone – the incredible collaboration between Kit Redstone and Rhum and Clay Theatre Company – in our York Theatre last October.

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Testy in Canada 🇨🇦

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What have they been up to?

Rhum and Clay recently premiered a new work, War of the Worlds, a piece inspired by Orson Wells famous broadcast. They will be taking this show to Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August.

Kit Redstone has been busy with his own projects, including a brand new collaboration with Vancouver’s own Pippa Mackie, The Fucking Garden – A wickedly dark and impishly mischievous reclamation of the Adam and Eve story. That is certainly a collaboration to keep your eyes on!

He too will be bringing a show, called Passengers, to Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer.

Follow Rhum and Clay on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Follow Kit Redstone on Twitter, and Instagram.


A VANCOUVER GULDASTA

At the same time as we had Kamloopa in our Historic Theatre, and Testosterone in our York theatre, our Culture Lab was transformed into a Vancouver Special, as we were swept away by Paneet Singh‘s A Vancouver Guldasta – the story of a 1980’s Sikh family confronting the tumultuous events of the invasion of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, India.

Follow SACHA – South Asian Canadian Histories Association – on Instagram and Twitter to be the first to find out about any of their upcoming projects.


A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMAN EXTINCTION

Who could forget this face?!

Audiences fell in love with Stephanie Elgersma’ s Ommie the otter in Upintheair Theatre‘s dystopian environmental thriller, A Brief History of Human Extinction – a puppet and live-action smashup – created by Jordan Hall and Mind of a Snail Puppet Co.

What have they been up to?

Jordan Hall, the writer of A Brief History of Human Extinction, continues to work in support of environmental issues. Recently she was selected to be one of 50 international playwrights for Climate Change Theatre Action 2019 – “a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented biennially to coincide with the United Nations COP meetings.” Follow Climate Change Theatre Action on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date.

Meanwhile, Upintheair Theatre’s rEvolver Festival started THIS week (May 22- June 2, 2019)! We always look forward to having this fabulous festival take over our theatres, and this year’s festival is going to be incredible. Take a look here to find out more about the lineup, and follow Upintheair Theatre on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, for lots of fun content!

Mind of a Snail Puppet Co. joined us again in March, with Multiple Organism. Read below to find out more about what they are up to now.


THE ONES WE LEAVE BEHIND

We always love having VACT – Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre – with us, and last fall’s VACT show, The Ones We Leave Behind, by Loretta Seto, was such a beautiful look at the ways we isolate ourselves from those around us.

Agnes Tong and Alannah Ong in The Ones We Leave Behind. Photo by Ray Shum

What have they been up to?

We are thrilled to have VACT with us again in our 2019/20 season. This coming November, Tetsuro Shigematsu will bring us the premiere of his latest play, Kuroko, the story of a young Japanese recluse (a Hikikomori), who meets a mysterious stranger in virtual reality, and is faced with a challenge that may, or may not, draw her into the real world.

Follow Testsuro Shigematsu on Facebook and Instagram to see up to date updates on Kuroko.

Hopefully you got out to the Arts Club’s production of The Great Leap. If you did, you would have seen Agnes Tong, who played Abby in The Ones We Leave Behind, playing the character Connie. She was also in the Arts Clubs production of Shoplifters – what a busy performer!

Keep an eye on Loretta Seto‘s webpage to stay up to date with her latest projects.

Follow VACT on Facebook, and Twitter, and don’t forget to sign up for their newsletter!


THE BELIEVERS ARE BUT BROTHERS

We kicked off our Ceasefire Series – three shows that explored different aspects of war, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice of WWI – with The Believers are But Brothers, Javaad Alipoor‘s play about young men and the dark web.

What has he been up to?

After stirring up Vancouver audiences with his revealing interactive show, Javaad Alipoor’s The Believers are But Brothers was adapted for television by the BBC.

This summer Alipoor will be taking two shows to Edinburgh Fringe Festival: The Believers are But Brothers and Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran. Follow Javaad Alipoor on Twitter, and check out his website here.


BACKBONE

Gravity and Other Myths took over the Vancouver Playhouse last October with their dazzling show Backbone.

What have they been up to?

Gravity and Other Myths have been (and continue to be) VERY busy touring Backbone,and A Simple Space, as well as a brand new show, that they premiered in Adelaide this past February – Out of Chaos.

Follow Gravity and Other Myths on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up to date…AND, for lots of mind-boggling photos and videos!


SMALLWAR

The second show in our Ceasefire Series was SKaGen Theatre‘s haunting marvel from Valentijn Dhaenen. SmallWar utilized verbatim exerts from soldiers diaries, brought to life by memorizing projections, sound, and performance, to give viewers a glimpse into the experience of war. We were honored to have SmallWar in our York Theatre during Remembrance Day, and everyone who had the opportunity to see it will likely not forget it anytime soon.

What have they been up to?

SKaGen has a long list of shows that will be playing in 2019 and 2020, including Valentijn Dhaenen’s UNSUNG, and TIL IT’S OVER – “a cross-disciplinary collaboration between SKaGeN and the American visual artist Richard Jackson on the themes of civil war, tenderness and revenge.”

Follow SKaGen on Facebook, and Instagram to see what they are up to next.


THREE WINTERS

Playwright, Amiel Gladstone revisits the site of his Grandfather’s internment

Amiel Gladstone premiered Three Winters with us in 2018 – our third Ceasefire Series show. An all female cast told the story of a daring escape attempt from POW camp Stalag Luft III, inspired by the real-life experiences of Gladstone’s grandfather.

What has he been up to?

In the 2019/20 Season Gladstone will be directing Tetsuro Shigematsu’s new play, Kuroko – talk about a dream team!

Currently, Amiel Gladstone is hard at work on the recently revived Magnetic North Theatre Festival, of which he is the 2019 Producer, alongside Amy Lynn Strilchuk. For more information, and for the 2019 Magnetic North Theatre Festival lineup check out their website here.


THIS DUET THAT WE’VE ALREADY DONE (SO MANY TIMES)

For five days in late November 2018, we were lucky enough to have the incredible Frédérick Gravel and Brianna Lombardo  in our Historic Theatre with This Duet That We’ve Already Done (so many times).

What have they been up to?

Since then Gravel has been hard at work in his exciting new role as the Artistic Director of Daniel Léveillé Danse. Even more excitingly, Gravel will be premiering a new work, a solo featuring himself, called Fear and Greed, June 1-2-4, 2019, at Festival TransAmériques (Montreal). Check out the trailer for Fear and Greed here:

Follow DLD – Daniel Léveillé Danse – on Facebook, Twitter, and Vimeo, to keep up to date!


EAST VAN PANTO: WIZARD OF OZ

Last years East Van Panto, from Theatre Replacement, was a record-breaking hit!

What have they been up to?

Pippa Mackie as Pinocchio

The good news is that the team that brought East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz to life are teaming up again for East Van Panto: Pinocchio (Nov 20-Jan 5). Along with taking part in Climate Change Theatre Action 2019, and also having It’s a Wonderful Christmas-ish Holiday Miracle playing at the Arts Club in 2019, Marcus Youssef will, once again, take on the role of Panto playwright (busy playwright!), while Stephen Drover will return to the directors chair once again.

East Van Panto: Pinocchio will feature the amazing Pippa Mackie as Pinocchio, and is sure to be as wacky and wonderful as Vancouver audiences have come to expect.

We are doubly lucky this coming season because we will have Theatre Replacement twice! Along with the Panto, they will be bringing Maiko Yamamoto‘s story about mothers, sons, and playing Minecraft. MINE (Mar 18-22) will be “playing” (hehehe) during spring break, and is a great opportunity for parents to bring their video game obsessed children to the theatre!

Follow Theatre Replacement on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for fun updates on both shows!


LITTLE DICKENS

We were so excited to have Ronnie Burkett’s hit, Little Dickens, back in Vancouver this past December. Ronnie is a Canadian treasure, and The Cultch brings together some of his most devoted fans year after year!

What have they been up to?

Currently Ronnie Burkett is hard at work creating his latest show, Forget Me Not, which will play in Vancouver (at a secret location!) February 4-March 1, 2020, after premiering at Luminato this summer.

We highly recommend following Ronnie Burkett on Instagram for a behind the scenes looks at all things wild and wonderfully Ronnie!


DAKH DAUGHTERS

This past January we kicked off our Femme Series with the incredibly theatrical Ukrainian musical act, Dakh Daughters!

What have they been up to?

In April, Dakh Daughters Band released a new album, called Air. Listen to Air on Spotify here.

Follow Dakh Daughters on Facebook, and Instagram for all up to date information on this “freak cabaret.”


MRS KRISHNAN’S PARTY

For three glorious weeks, in January and February 2019, our entire building was filled with the incredible scent of delicious daal. Our Culture Lab was transformed into the back room of Mrs Krishnan’s dairy (convenience store), and one hundred people at a time were invited to the surprise party of the year – Mrs Krishnan’s Party. It is no exaggeration to say that The Cultch staff still misses the leftovers!

What have they been up to?

After leaving us in February, the cast and crew of Mrs Krishnan’s Party continued their tour; bringing joy, laughter, and daal to many!

Follow Indian Ink Theatre Company on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with their adventures.


POWER BALLAD

Power Ballad, Julia Croft and Nisha Madhan‘s feminist performance piece was an essential part of our Femme Series this year. We had so much fun, laughed so hard, and sung our hearts out! The Feminist Karaoke Party is something we will remember for years to come, and it looks like we aren’t the only ones –

What have they been up to?

After leaving The Cultch, Croft and Madhan premiered a new work,Working on my Night Moves, in New Zealand. They will be taking this new show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer.

Follow Zanetti Productions on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and follow Julia Croft on Instagram to keep up to date with this feminist duo!


THIS IS THE POINT

Every year we partner with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival to present some incredible work. This past January we partnered with them to bring in the fabulous This is the Point – a play about Love, Sex, and Disability – from Toronto’s Ahuri Theatre.

What have they been up to?

After leaving The Cultch, in early February, Tony, Dan, and Liz continued their tour, visiting a total of nine Canadian cities. Follow Ahuri Theatre on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with their upcoming adventures!

We will be partnering with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival again this coming season, and co-presenting Quelemia Sparrow’s O’wet (Jan 23-Feb 1, 2020), as well as The Chop Theatre’s KISMET: things have changed (Feb 4-8, 2020).

We are looking forward to working with PuSh’s new Artistic Executive Director Franco Boni.

Follow PuSh International Performing Arts Festival on Facebook, Twitter, And Instagram, and be sure to sign up for their newsletter, to hear about all the exciting things to come for the 2020 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.


MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

In February Classic Chic Productions took over our Historic Theatre with an all-female cast Much Ado About Nothing. Audiences were treated to a performance of this classic from the Bard, unlike any they have seen before.

What have they been up to?

On Mother’s Day (May 12, 2019) a group of hilarious women took over Yuk Yuks Vancouver Comedy Club in support of Classic Chic, in an event called Chicks at the Mic!

Follow Classic Chic on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram , and join their newsletter list, to keep up to date with all their fun and fabulous feminist events and productions!


CHILDREN OF GOD

What an honour it was to have Urban Ink‘s Children of God Corey Payette‘s heartbreaking and restorative musical about residential schools – back in our York Theatre this February/March.

Photo by Emily Cooper Photography

What have they been up to?

After leaving The Cultch, Children of God toured BC, opening up dialogue about Canada’s residential school system.

We are so excited to have Corey Payette again with us next season. He, and our own Heather Redfern, are co-curating Raven Transforming Cabaret Festival – a brand new festival bringing together Indigenous, and non-Indigenous performers in a multitude of disciplines to all three Cultch stages in early October 2019. Learn more about the festival here.

Corey Payette has also been selected as one of 50 international playwrights to be part of Climate Change Theatre Action 2019.

Follow Urban Ink on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up to date with their latest and greatest.


HOT BROWN HONEY

What a way to kick off spring in Vancouver – Hot Brown Honey returned to us this past March to turn up the heat and bring the noise!

What have they been doing?

After another hit run at our York Theatre, the Honey’s took off to smash the patriarchy in New York City!

You may or may not be aware, but Hot Brown Honey has a male counterpart – Briefs! We are so excited to have Briefs – “a glittery bomb of circus, cabaret, and boy-lesque” – join us at the end of our 2019/20 season (April 19-May 3, 2020). Here are the Honeys and the Briefs together as one big happy family!

Hot Brown Honey is always travelling the world, smashing the patriarchy wherever they go. They are going to be part of the National Art Centre’s Indigenous Theatre‘s inaugural season, May 5-9, 2020.

If you don’t follow these “Fierce Mamas” on social media you are MISSING OUT! Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find out what they are up to next!


MULTIPLE ORGANISM

What fun we had with Mind of a Snail Puppet Co. this past March! Our Cultchivating the Fringe winner, Multiple Organism, sold out show after show.

What have they been up to?

Mind of a Snail artists, Chloé Ziner and Jessica Gabriel, don’t seem to ever sit still! Jessica Gabriel was recently part of the inaugural HUNCH Festival, and the two of them are gearing up for Fringe season once again, and heading to Montreal!

Don’t miss out, keep up to date with this daring duo by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Also, check out this amazing card they made us!


NEW CACKLE SISTERS: KITCHEN CHICKEN

New Cackle Sisters: Kitchen Chicken – a wild meal, prepared right before your eyes, by madcap company L’orchestre d’hommes-orchestres , as they highlighted the songs of the famous DeZurik Sisters (also known as the Cackle Sisters) – enchanted audiences at the York this April.

What have they been up to?

Since leaving us, L’orchestre d’hommes-orchestres has been touring around Canada with Kitchen Chicken. They will continue touring it, along with
Tomatoes, in the coming months.

Follow L’orchestre d’hommes-orchestres on Facebook for all the madcap adventures of this daring theatrical musical troupe.


ACT OF FAITH

It was such a pleasure to have Realwheels Theatre in our Historic Theatre this April. The premiere of Janet Munsil‘s newly commissioned play, Act of Faith – inspired by the real-life experiences of a woman in the community (see below) – was a real conversation starter.

What have they been up to?

Since January this year, Realwheels Theatre have been hosting playwriting circles, facilitated by Kim Seary. Every two weeks, participants have been meeting to write, and support each other. On June 8, they will be hosting a cold reading of some of the work created during this circle. Check out the event here.

Follow Realwheels on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to keep up to date with their latest events and productions.


NASSIM

What a blast it was having a different Vancouver performer take the stage in the incredible show that Vancouver Presents called a “love letter to the audience, to the performer and at its core, a love letter from Nassim to his mother.” NASSIM was a perfect way to wrap up our 2018/29 season!

What have they been up to?

After leaving The Cultch, Nassim Soleimanpour traveled with his self titled NASSIM to Carrefour international de théâtre de Québec. On May 22 it was announced that NASSIM won an 2019 Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best Unique Theatrical Experience.

Follow Nassim Soleimanpour Productions on Facebook, and Twitter to hear the latest news!


Whoa – what a season hey?! Can you believe the incredible people who come through The Cultch’s doors? There are so many incredible artists (not to mention our patrons and donors!) changing the world!

That’s a wrap! We look forward to seeing you next season. Subscriptions are already on sale – book yours today . We look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

Leftovers, An Interview with Charles Demers

Leftovers_Landscape

Charles Demers and Baby Demers. Photo By Simon Hayter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A LEFTOVERS GLOSSARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Corleone: Main character in the Godfather film trilogy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Henry Kissinger: American diplomat and political scientist.

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

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

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

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

Are We Cool Now? An Interview with Director Amiel Gladstone!

Are We Cool Now? An Interview with
Director Amiel Gladstone!

We are so excited to start our new season with Are We Cool Now?, a musical featuring the songs of Dan Mangan. The show is directed by the fabulous Amiel Gladstone, who was also the director of the hit Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata and both of our East Van Pantos (Jack & the Beanstalk and Cinderella). We chatted with Amiel about kicking off the new season.

Hey Amiel! Are you excited to be back at The Cultch?

AG: Of course! The Cultch is the neighbourhood theatre, and I have so many memories of being there. Amazing things happen there – there’s a great vibe and it feels homey. So many different things happen on The Cultch stages and so it feels like the perfect place to host this hybrid indie-rock musical.

Can you tell us a little bit about the show?

AG: Well, I’ve always been curious about how to get the music we listen to every day on to the stage. Dan (Mangan) and I knew each other, he had seen Craigslist Cantata and I really liked his music. It seemed like a natural fit for both of us. We looked for a narrative in Dan’s music and found themes of love, longing, nostalgia, and road trips and Are We Cool Now? was born!

What can subscribers expect from Are We Cool Now?

AG: It’s an indie-rock musical about life and love in your 20s and Dan Mangan’s music provides the backdrop. It’s songs we all recognize and Dan wrote one new song for the show which hasn’t been heard anywhere else.

Is Dan Mangan coming to Opening Night at The Cultch?

AG: Yes! And Dan hasn’t seen it yet! Anton Lipovetsky is playing guitar, and Spencer Schoening from Said The Whale is on drums.

We can’t wait! Thanks Amiel! Tickets to Are We Cool Now? (and all the shows in our 15/16 season) are on sale now!

A one-on-one with The Rap “Guy” From Evolution

Two weeks ago, Baba Brinkman was speaking at the Nelson Arts Festival in New Zealand. Last week, he was a guest speaker at the University of Alabama as part of their ALLELE Lecture Series. The week prior he was busy participating in the 10th Annual World Wilderness Conference in Spain, and last month he performed at Universities all over the UK, as well as at MIT as part of their public science engagement lecture series. Needless to say, Brinkman is a busy man. However, this doesn’t come as a surprise; with 14 lit-hop (literary hip-hop) albums under his belt, Brinkman is one of the only rap-artists who has had their work peer-reviewed by scientists, or who has been commissioned to write an album for the NYU Stern School of Business. Brinkman’s love of words comes from a Masters Degree in Medieval and English Literature from the University of Victoria, where he focused on the relationship
between epic poetry and contemporary hip-hop culture. Since graduating, Brinkman has been touring the world performing his unique blend of theatre and rap, on topics from Beowulf and Gilgamesh to political revolution and evolutionary psychology.

For only a few more days, The Cultch is lucky enough to have Baba home to perform his latest show, The Rap Guide to Evolution. The ground-breaking show was first presented, and awarded for best new theatre writing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2009. The show is inspired not only by evolutionary scientists and theorists such as Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins, but also by the history of hip-hop culture itself and the role that individual selective process, especially with the advent of new technologies, takes in defining the path of a cultural phenomenon.

We were lucky enough to be able to ask Baba a few questions:

I suppose my first question for you is simply how you ended up where you have ended up; rapping about science, economics, psychology , and or ancient literature is not a common career path. Was this something that you have been interested in from a young age, or a skill you accidentally happened upon?

In my teens I wanted to be a writer, but didn’t have a clear idea of what sort, whether journalism, novelist, playwright, etc – I just knew I was good with words and wanted to use that skill. I pictured traveling around the world, composing new work in diverse locations, and making a living from my wits. At nineteen I started writing rap rhymes and was very quickly drawn into the art form. I had been listening to rap since age eleven but hadn’t written any raps of my own. It wasn’t long before I was bringing science and literature references into my rhymes, which seemed natural to me because I was a university student at the time so I was immersed in the world of ideas. Finding an audience for that concept took some time, but I pretty much live like I pictured, traveling, writing, performing, and getting paid to do so.

So would you say you entered hip-hop through academics, or did you find academics through hip-hop?

I was a rap consumer from a young age, but not a participant. Once I started writing and performing I got into the culture more heavily, freestyling at house parties, rapping at open mics, and signing up for freestyle battles. But at the same time I was always academic-minded. I decided my best contribution to hip-hop culture would be to push its boundaries and build bridges to other cultures and art forms, so I focused my English Lit degree on the parallels between hip-hop poetics and traditional English literary poetics. Once my energies were channeled my grades got a lot better, and so did my lyrics, so you could say I found academics and hip-hop independently, but I only got
fully engaged with each by merging them.

What inspires the topics for your productions? You have written about such a variety of themes – where do you begin? Where did the impulse to write The Rap Guide to Evolution come from? Are you ever commissioned to write raps about topics you have no interest in?

People suggest new topics to me all the time, but not all of them take hold. Most of the time I just go “yeah, sounds interesting” and don’t follow up. But with the The Rap Guide to Evolution,  I was very keen as soon as the idea came up. It helps that it was a paid commission of course, because with money on the table you can put other work aside and give a project the time it needs. I have pretty wide interests so no, there isn’t a topic I’ve written about on commission that I’m disinterested in. Then again, I have a lot of creative leeway so I can put an interesting twist on pretty much anything.

The projects either start with an idea, some underlying deep connection or tension I see that I want to explore in the writing, or else it starts with a challenge, someone hiring me or recruiting me to write something, prompting me to hunt for ideas to accomplish the task. I tend to gravitate towards subjects where there’s a disconnect or gap that I think I can bridge, like the perceived inaccessibility of medieval literature vs the actual appeal of the stories, or like the scientific consensus around evolution that is still rejected by major sectors of the population. The surprise and friction that lives in those kinds of spaces is my main attraction.
 
Lastly, you have travelled all over the world presenting your work. What have been some of the most surprising responses to your shows you have received?

I’ve had all kinds of negative responses, from creationists offended on behalf of their religion to feminist social constructivists offended on behalf of women to white liberals offended on behalf of black people. The show brings an evolutionary perspective to all of those subjects: race, religion, gender, and not always in a politically-correct way. Then again, I think everything in the show is scientifically defensible, and it was written to be strategically provocative, not for the sake of being offensive but for the sake of causing people to rethink their assumptions and question the basis of their beliefs and taboos. So in a way none of the negative responses are surprising. The most surprising response was having a New York theatre company offer to produce the show for a major Off-Broadway run, and having it run for five months and get rave reviews. I can’t say I expected that when I started writing the show!

The Rap Guide to Evolution is playing at The Cultch until November 10 in the Historic Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online at: https://thecultch.com/tickets/ , or by calling the box office at 604.251.1363

 

Serial Killers and Bus Boys – A Closer Look at the Precursor to True Love Lies

Did you ever attend your high school reunion? Ever experience that eerie feeling that while at first glance everyone looks older and more mature, after ten minutes of milling around with your drink in your hand, you realize that everyone there is exactly the same?

Notorious playwright Brad Fraser knows what we mean, and has infused that same feeling into the script of his play, True Love Lies. Running at The Cultch from September 21 to October 1 this play is a return to the same characters from another work of his – Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love – a performance that was wildly successful at its world premiere more than 20 years ago. In case you missed Unidentified Human Remains, we thought we would catch you up on the play which ultimately has become a prequel to True Love Lies.

Unidentified Human Remains ensemble still photo from 1990

Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love at Workshop West, Edmonton, 1990

Opening to packed audiences at the Alberta Theatre Projects’ PlayRites festival in Calgary in 1989, Unidentified Human Remains was regarded as highly controversial from the moment it premiered due to its violence, nudity and scandalous dialogue. Of course, for those same reasons, it was also applauded as a huge success. Soon after its premiere, it went on to successful runs in Vancouver (by Touchstone Theatre), Edmonton, Toronto, Chicago and New York, just to name a few, before being named one of the 10 best plays in 1992 by TIME Magazine. It’s won numerous awards and has been translated into multiple languages for runs in places like Greece, Brazil, Argentina and Japan. Oh, and did we mention Fraser also wrote the play’s adaptation for the film Love and Human Remains that was released in 1993? It’s safe to say this little Canadian gem has seen huge international success.

Unidentified Human Remains is a complex story that follows a handful of twenty-somethings desperately trying to find the true meaning of love – all the while living in a neighbourhood that’s being terrorized by a serial killer. But wait, how does True Love Lies fit into the picture? Well, as it turns out, True Love Lies is a look at two of the play’s characters, Kane and David, and their surprise return into each other’s lives 20 years later.

In Unidentified Human Remains, the lead character David is a former child actor now working as a server. Often predisposed to seek intimacy in fleeting sexual encounters with complete strangers, David is blindingly in love with his heterosexual best friend Bernie. Ultimately however, he develops a relationship with Kane, the bus boy 12 years his junior. Kane, who has an affinity to television due to the lack of affection he receives from his parents, idolizes David and his TV star past. However, in a constant battle to recognize his own sexuality, Kane ultimately develops into a stronger, more confident character at the end of the play with a somewhat ambiguous yet seemingly bright future.

Stage still from True Love Lies, live theatre in Vancouver presented at The Cultch

True Love Lies, 2011, at The Cultch, Vancouver

Fast forward 20 years and In True Love Lies we find out that Kane’s future involves a wife and two kids. When his daughter applies for a job at a trendy restaurant, only to discover the restaurant owner is her father’s past lover, the once-happy family dynamic gets turned upside down. See for yourselves what happens next in this wicked dark comedy starting September 21st with a preview at The Cultch.

True Love Lies runs at The Cultch from September 21st to October 1st. Tickets start at $16 and are available online at tickets.thecultch.com, by phone at 604.251.1363 and in person at 1895 Venables Street.

You’ve Got Mail: The Surprising Email that Sparked Brad Fraser’s True Love Lies

Brad Fraser: True Love Lies playwright, live theatre presented by The Cultc

Brad Fraser

The sudden return of a gay ex-lover; decades-old secrets discovered at last; the bawdy sex-capades of a family in crisis. Sure, it reads a bit like a soap opera script. But would you believe that this sinfully explosive portrait of truth, lies, sex, and betrayal is borrowed from the real life experience of controversial Canadian playwright, Brad Fraser?

We kid you not.

When the notorious ‘bad boy’ received a surprising e-mail from an ex-lover he hadn’t seen or spoken with in over twenty years, he turned this would-be-awkward moment into an opportunity for personal growth — and theatrical brilliance.

“We caught up and it turned out he was married, had two teenage children and was going through a divorce,” explains Fraser.

And, although he hadn’t written a play in five years (having focused his energy elsewhere on other forms of media) the nagging question of ‘what if?’—“What if I’d been involved with that family? What if I’d met those children?” — continued to tug at the back of his mind.

“From there it kind of just went and literally spilled out of me,” says Fraser, who also reveals that he carried around a lot of unresolved issues after the couple’s less than amicable breakup. “Neither of us really had a chance to address [those issues],” he says, so when the unexpected email appeared one day in his inbox, Fraser knew he couldn’t just click delete.

“I felt like he was coming back and addressing [those issues], putting certain things behind him. I felt that if I could help him in that it would be very good for both of us.”

Indeed, it certainly has been.

True Love Lies image, female in front, male couple behind embracing and laughing

Still from True Love Lies. Photo by Emily Cooper

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Fostering Creativity: Artistic Residencies at The Cultch

Here at The Cultch, we’re all about fostering creativity. Whether it’s music, theatre or dance on our stages, or visual art in our gallery, we want to see artists succeed and do what we can to give them a hand. Of course, one of the greatest ways we help by seeking out incredible local, national and international shows that we know our audience will love. But we also do a lot behind the scenes as well.

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Young Playwright Chris Nyarady talks about seeing his play performed on The Cultch stage at the 2011 IGNITE! Youth Festival

From April 25 to 30, The Cultch was taken over by eager and energetic youth for the IGNITE! Youth Festival. Hundreds of youth from across the Lower Mainland came together for a week of amazing performances. We caught up with youth playwright Chris Nyarady about the experience of seeing his play Hide and Go Sell performed on The Cultch stage. Check out what he had to say about the process of writing, re-writing and finally seeing nearly four years of work come together for the first time.

Photograph from Hide and Go Sell

"Hide and Go Sell" was part of the IGNITE! Youth Festival at The Cultch that ran April 25-30, 2011.

By Chris Nyarady

I don’t claim to know everything about writing, but from what I’ve experienced so far, writing is like hunting a giant mythological creature.  You want to believe you’re after something amazing and one of a kind. You might have an idea of what you’re after, but you don’t know for sure. It’s all purely speculation. Hell, what you’re after might not even exist at all, but damn it, you’ve got your mission, and you’re going to see it through. As you write/hunt, you begin to find out more about your prey. Perhaps it confirms what you already thought, but sometimes you make some startling discoveries. This creature that you thought had a horn, actually had two. And wings powerful enough to create localized tornadoes! Damn! Didn’t see that one coming. A big change, but nevertheless, the hunt must continue.

I had been hunting my script, Hide and Go Sell, since 2008, and believe me, it went through some radical metamorphoses. What started as a simple examination of the power of advertisements turned into a semi-spy thriller/comedy with a rather sombre ending. All of this even before I heard of IGNITE! and The Cultch.

At one point, the trail had gotten cold on my mythological creature hunt. I was close, so close, but somehow that tricky devil had eluded me.  Luckily, I happened to be part of an organization called PARC (Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre) that sent a weekly newsletter. I owe a lot to them for helping me further my career as a young playwright, and for alerting me of IGNITE! and The Cultch. The hunt was back on. (more…)

Dave Deveau brings emotional, laugh-out-loud theatre to the Neanderthal Arts Festival

Dave Deveau of Zee Zee theatre Vancouver Playwright of Tiny Replicas playing at the Neanderthal Arts Festival at The Cultch

Dave Deveau

Make way for the Neanderthal Arts Festival, a new, adventurous festival lumbering over to The Cultch this summer. This festival will highlight bold, innovative work from visionary artists and will run from July 21st to August 1st at The Cultch. One of these local visionary artists is The Cultch’s very own Head Front of House Manager, Dave Deveau. Describing theatre as “the ultimate conversation about humanity”, Dave has started two theatre companies in Vancouver and is now working on various projects at home and in Toronto. His play, Tiny Replicas, will be at the Neanderthal Arts Festival (July 21 to 25) and we took this opportunity to pick his brain about the festival, his work, and the secret to his success as an emerging playwright and theatre company creator.

­­­­You are behind both Zee Zee Theatre and Thirty Below Theatre. When did you start these companies and what are they all about?

Thirty Below Theatre emerged as a project in the final year of my undergrad at York University with the mandate of producing plays by Canadian playwrights both past and present. There are a multitude of companies in our country who help develop work by young playwrights, but very few who actually see them through to professional productions. The company itself formed in 2005 with the English-Language world premiere of Canadian master playwright Michel Tremblay’s The Train, which I translated and directed. The company has produced a show every year since.

Zee Zee Theatre is my fiancé Cameron Mackenzie’s mastermind project which he formed at the end of 2008. It’s a registered non-profit that focuses on the stories of the marginalized as seen through small moments. It launched with Bryden MacDonald’s Whale Riding Weather in February 2009, followed by my own play Nelly Boy last October, which earned the company its first Jessie nomination.

What made you want to start theatre companies in Vancouver? What challenges have you faced?

As any young artist out of theatre school can attest, it’s hard to get hired, particularly if you’re a director or a playwright in a city that’s not yet familiar with your work. You need to get your name out, and the best way is to do it yourself. One thing Cameron was adamant about with the formation of Zee Zee, was that everyone got paid a professional living wage from the get-go. It’s vital because otherwise you’re dismissed as amateurs and we don’t have the time or patience for that. So despite not receiving any government or foundation funding for Whale Riding Weather, Cameron chased funders and patrons and was able to employ a full roster of Equity actors and professional designers – something I still stand in awe of.

Tiny Replicas image playing at the Neanderthal Arts Festival at The Cultch

"Tiny Replicas"

What have you found most rewarding about your experience?

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5 Things with Noam Gagnon

10 THINGS you’ll HATE about ME is a Molotov cocktail of spectacle, dance and desire from choreographer/performer Noam Gagnon. Organized as a series of deeply personal vignettes, 10 THINGS walks the tissue-thin line between art and autobiography.

10 things you'll hate about me noam gagnon

What can the audience expect from 10 Things?

For 10 Things, I want to take the audience into the story of a fairy tale for grown-ups (but not limited to).  I want to create a world where the audience can be enveloped by the magic of what theatre can do.  I am a dreamer by nature, an extreme optimist, and that has carried me through many hard times.

In the show, I ask people to forget about reality and send them on a ride, showing them a beautiful, visual physicality, a poetry where there are images filled with the power of the story of a boy, and the traditional story of the hero.  It’s about love.  It’s about survival.  But ultimately, it’s about being able to transcend and make the choices that lead you to live the life you were meant to lead, not the life that was given to you.

10 Things is described as a series of personal vignettes, can you tell us more about them?

10 Things is a fairy tale, and a life in Technicolor.  It draws on a series of vignettes, text, set design, and imagery to describe the boy’s story, and is seen through a parallel of the story The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde.

I speak about love, loss, hope, transcendence; it is based on something greater than our day-to-day experiences.  It’s about our own humanity and the desire to transcend. So it’s not a piece where you can sigh with relief.  But you feel safe watching something that’s sometimes tragic, and also creates a magic and a beauty in this world.

What have you been working on since 2007’s world premiere of The Vision Impure at The Cultch?

I have been touring the new solo version of The Vision Impure that will be shown at CDF this coming June, and premiere in Vancouver during Dancing on the Edge this coming July. Also a few film projects, a few small creations/explorations, mentoring (which was delightful), Beyond Pilates teacher training, and more….

What was your inspiration for this work?

Essentially, creating magic in my overly-scheduled daily life.

You’ve described yourself as an emotional dancer.  Do you ever fear of expressing your emotions on such a public scale?  What compels you to do so?

I believe in beauty. And beauty doesn’t have to mean perfection.  We are beautiful when we are tired – it’s when our barriers are down that we are beautiful.  These may be things we think others will hate. It’s just our essence then, and I love that. It takes a lot of courage to be in those places.  And I think people can find themselves in the story, and that is beautiful, too.