A few staff picks for the 2017/ 2018 season!

A few staff picks for the 2017/ 2018 season!

We interrupt you’re summer shenanigans to remind you that before you know it autumn will be here…okay, okay, pipe down with the booing! Though, it may be difficult to think about autumn just yet, we wish to remind you about all the exciting shows coming up in our 17/18 season!

Check out a few of the shows our staff just can’t wait for:

Name: Lisa Mennell

Job Title: Communications Associate

17/18 Season Pick: Goblin Market (Oct 3-14, 2017)

Why: I love poetry and I love circus! This show is based on the narrative poem, Goblin Market by 19th century poet Christina Rossetti. The visuals for this sexy -adult only- circus show are stunning, and I hear that it melds story and athleticism flawlessly. Incredible acrobatic feats combined with classic poetry…what is not to like?!

Name: Elysse Cheadle

Job Title: Head Front of House Manager and Volunteer Coordinator

17/18 Season Pick: Black Boys (Jan 16-20, 2018)

Why: I have been obsessed with Toronto-based Buddies in Bad Times Theatre since I saw their production ‘Obaaberima’ here two years ago. I still get chills thinking about that performance – every element felt so alive and necessary in the telling of their story. Black Boys brings the return of the incomparable Tawiah M’carthy (of ‘Obaaberima’). We are so lucky to welcome back a performer of his calibre to our theatre! I expect ‘Black Boys’ to bring ferocity, humour, honesty, sex, and humanity. What more could you want?

Head Front of House Manager & Volunteer Coordinator, Elysse Cheadle

 

Black Boys runs Jan 16-20. Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Tawiah Ben M’Carthy and Thomas Olajide by Tanja-Tiziana.

Name: Natalie Schneck

Job Title: Development Associate

17/18 Season Pick: Dublin Oldschool (Jan 30 – Feb 3)

Why: It’s an Irish two hander with DJ tunes and re-connections. It seems gritty and real. I look forward to being invited into a world far away from my own but with (hopefully) some relatable elements.

Single tickets for the 17/18 season are now on saleBook a subscription save to up to 25%!

Q&A with reVolver curator, Elysse Cheadle

Q&A with reVolver curator, Elysse Cheadle

Upintheair Theatre is back at The Cultch for the fifth annual rEvolver Theatre Festival. rEvolver runs from May 24th – June 4th, and presents new work by Vancouver and Canada’s most exciting up and coming performers and theatre creators.

We are so pleased that the fabulous Elysse Cheadle, our very own Head Front of House Manager & Volunteer Coordinator, was able to give us a little behind the scene insight into the exciting fifth chapter of this great Vancouver theatre festival.

Elysse Cheadle. Photo by Elliot Vaughan

Elysse, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a theatre-maker, performer, and writer living in Vancouver. I am interested in theatre that is curious and playful, that forces you to consider your own spectatorship, and that carefully uses shape, space, movement, texture, and sound as much as it does text and story.

I also happen to work at The Cultch as the Head Front of House Manager and Volunteer Coordinator and was lucky enough to be this year’s guest curator at The rEvolver Theatre Festival.

How did you come to be guest curator for the rEvolver Festival?

I have been involved in The rEvolver Theatre Festival in the past as a performer in both the Reading Series (The Peaceful Sea – Theatre Elsewhere) and Main Stage Series (The Peaceful Sea – Theatre Elsewhere), and have had my work presented in the festival (Mr.Snortoose and the Machine-Children’s Machine). On all occasions, my festival experience with rEvovler was unique; Dave and Dan really put a lot of effort into selecting artists with interesting perspectives, and then providing the opportunity for them to build connections and community with one another. Being given the encouragement to support and connect with the other artists in the festival has led to long lasting, meaningful artistic relationships. The value of these relationships is as useful to a young artist as the opportunity of having work presented. I think Dave and Dan are very smart that way, and I wanted an opportunity to work with them. Therefore, last Spring when they announced that they were looking for somebody to help curate and produce the festival, I jumped at the opportunity and applied.

What was the experience of programming shows like?

Difficult! I did not anticipate the challenge of trying to examine each selection so holistically; a show can be wonderful, but simply not fit within the larger scope of the festival. For example, we had a lot of applications for one-person shows. Many of them seemed powerful and we really wanted to give them a chance to be presented, but for the sake of diverse programming we could not select all one-person shows. We had several different festivals mapped out with various combinations of pieces. Each of these potential festivals had their strengths and weaknesses. In the end, you have to trust your gut with which to choose – and then, of course, you cross your fingers that the artists accept your offer when you send it to them!

Are there any shows or events you are particularly excited about in this year’s festival? Why?

Oh boy – I think we have a great line-up this year! If I had to pick a few, I would say I am really excited to see The Princess Show (gender bending! bass guitar! lip sync!), NeOn (I missed it at the Fringe this year and continually was told how wonderful it is!), and Soliloquy in English (the concept is so perfectly simple!).

The Princess Show, starring Princess Edward & Abel T. Suckizone

Also, I absolutely love seeing work that is still in process. I think some of the most impactful artistic experiences I have had have happened when being invited in to observe something that is not “done” yet. Artists seem to give themselves more permission to take risks and to try out totally new territory in the earlier stages of creation. Pieces can still feel raw and challenging when they are just finding their shape. Therefore, I am really looking forward to going to Resounding Scream Theatre’s Sunday afternoon event Plunge where we will be invited to watch and discuss three separate pieces that are still in the process of being constructed.

What’s next for you?

I am currently working on expanding a new piece called Fuchsia Futures which is a surrealist domestic drama about a family in the wake of a great loss. It is loosely based on the life of infamous population geneticist George F Price, who is known for boiling down altruistic behavior into a neat little probabilistic equation, before losing his mind in an effort to disprove his own findings. In ‘Fuchsia Futures,’ we follow the family after George’s suicide. There is a lot of humor, and existentialism, and music played on the banjo.

Also, I am going to be performing in a festival in Taiwan in July in a piece called Between Two Rocks by Robert Leveroos.

Elysse in Between Two Rocks. Photo by Lukas Engelhardt


Check out the great line-up of shows happening this year!

Here are four ways you can enjoy this years reVolver Theatre Festival:

  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!
  3. Individual tickets are available both through The Cultch’s Box Office and at the door.
  4. Don’t miss the free performances of Habitats and Plunge

reVolver runs at The Cultch, May 24-Jun 4. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

In Conversation: Kim Harvey from Children of God

In Conversation: Kim Harvey from Children of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

How to Be: Q&A with Choreographer Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg

How to Be: Q&A with Choreographer Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg

How To Be, a new creation by Vancouver’s iconic dance & theatre creator Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg, opens April 12 at The Cultch Historic Theatre! Produced by Tara Cheyenne Performance, this piece was presented as part of Boca Del Lupo’s Micro Performance Series and at Dancing on the Edge. We are excited about its premiere at The Cultch! We had a chance to ask Tara a few questions and learn more about the inspiration for How To Be:    

 

L to R: (top row) Kimberly Stevenson, Tara Cheyenne, Josh Martin, Bevin Poole, (bottom row) Marcus Youssef, Kate Franklin. Photo by Wendy D

Hi Tara! We’re thrilled that your piece, How To Be, will be premiering at The Historic Theatre April 12-15. The image for the show expresses a dynamic relationship between the performers – what is the relationship between them?  The photos were a riff on bad family portraits. Family often being the first place we learn “how to be” for better or worse. We are playing with the relationship between how we feel about ourselves and how we feel about others. It’s a great quagmire of heartbreak and comedy.

Does this piece contain your signature comedic style? What are some of those comedic elements? Well I think it’s funny! The performers/collaborators are all extremely talented and funny people. They each bring hilarity and vulnerability as we track “how to be.” Comic elements? I think it’s possible to find comedy everywhere; our pain, our loneliness, our egos run amuck. Certainly our endless cultural obsession with defining the correct ways to be is absorbing and funny.

What inspires you about exploring the topic of “how to be”? My own futile desire to find the right way to be. And of course as I’ve explored this I find we are all wrestling with the question, and frustrated with ourselves for not knowing the answers. Of course there are no answers. What does it even mean to “be yourself”?

The show seems to explore a fine line between fragility and persona – can you talk more about this? We are all uniquely ourselves, one in the universe and composites of every personality and experience that has touched us. Asking the question “how should a person be?” opens us up to our own vulnerability, our own fragile tentative fumbling. Where does my persona begin? Where does the “self” end? Can I find the answers in a Facebook questionnaire? What does my answer to number 7 really say about me?

If we fail at how we think we should be, what’s left? I think we fail all the time at this. Our emotions, our bodies, our minds betray our ideas of how/what we should be all the time. But isn’t  that wonderful? Fascinating and infuriating? Failure is possibility.

How to Be runs from April 12-15 in The Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Veda Hille Launches Love Waves at the York Theatre on May 28!

veda_hille_love_waves (1)Fresh from creating and performing in the homegrown hit musical Onegin, our favourite Vhine Und Szong  and East Van Panto songstress is back to celebrate the release of her new album: Love Waves.

We were lucky enough to chat with Veda about her album and upcoming concert!

Hi Veda! Many Cultch audience members were first introduced to your work and style through the clever musical mash-ups that characterize The East Van Panto. You are also well known in Vancouver for productions such as Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata and Onegin. Would you say that your work in the theatre has influenced this album?

Veda Hille: I have loved becoming part of Vancouver’s theatre scene over the last 10 years. I do think that work has influenced my personal songwriting. I have way more vocal things going on in the songs, and I often take on characters in a way that I never did before. For example, in Eurydice I sing the parts of both Orpheus and Eurydice. I also took more time with this album; in theatre you often work on a show for 3 years or more before it is ready. I decided to try that with Love Waves, and I think the album benefited from a really long slow process.

What can long-time fans of your music expect from this album? Are there any new elements that you were particularly excited to explore?
VH: I wrote these songs with producer John Collins in mind. He’s great on synths and beats and all these pop elements, and so I wrote songs that would work with that kind of treatment. I would say that the production feels like a pretty new kind of sound for me, but I think the songs at their core are still in the realm that I’ve inhabited all my life.

Can you tell us a little bit about the meaning behind the title of this album?
VH: Love Waves are a certain kind of seismic activity, discovered by the scientist Arthur Love. They ripple sideways through the ground, and are really good at knocking down buildings. I couldn’t resist that name, of course.

You have credited a number of artistic influences ranging from Bowie to Eno to The Carpenters to Eisler and Brecht. I have to ask – which artists are you currently listening to?
VH: I always love that question. It is what I ask other people all the time. I move pretty slowly on albums. Right now the ones I turn to most are Bowie’s Blackstar, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, and Sufjan Steven’s Carrie and Lowell.

Anything else you would like to share about this album or the concert at The York on May 28?
VH: I’m so excited about this show. The band is sounding great. I feel like I haven’t done a major concert in Vancouver in years; maybe that’s true. I keep doing all these other things! Which are also fun, but still. I am very keen to have the chance to be deeply and happily myself onstage with so many friends around.

Want a sneak peek of Veda’s fabulous new album?
Check out this review by Andrea Warner for CBC music
Keep up-to-date with the latest news on Veda Hille’s website
Love Waves: Veda Hille Album Release Concert
May 28, 2016 at 8PM
York Theatre
19+ Event

Q&A with Camyar Chaichian, creator and co-director of Doost (Friend)

March 22 marks the world premiere of Doost (Friend) by Neworld Theatre – and it’s happening right here at The Cultch!

Doost (Friend) is a story about compassion, community, and heritage. It is an exploration (through dance, music and poetry) of borders that surround us; borders between secular and spiritual as well as between professionals and community members. This production features an ensemble of professional theatre artists and members of the Vancouver Sufi order who will perform together and bring Doost (Friend) to life.

Neworld Theatre Founder and Doost (Friend) Creator and co-director Camyar Chaichian Photo: Dina Ferreira Stoddard

Neworld Theatre Founder
and Doost (Friend) Creator and co-director Camyar Chaichian
Photo: Dina Ferreira Stoddard

We wanted to learn more about this exciting project, so we turned to the show’s creator and co-director Camyar Chaichian for some further insight.

What excites you most about this production and sharing it with Cultch audiences?
CC: There’s something for everyone. You don’t have to be spiritual to like it. Theatre is often based on intellectual friction. Nothing wrong with that. But how about losing yourself in a trip built on good vibrations mixed with some mystery and enchantment? Who can say no to that?

What were the origins of this project?
CC: My inherent Persian love of Sufi poetry and music, and my theatre practice, came together when I asked the Elder of my path if I could express my devotion through a play based on the story of a generous light who came through the world in the form of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh. Neworld Theatre’s 20th anniversary was a few years around the corner. It all came together.

Doost (Friend) includes professional theatre artists, community members, members of the Vancouver Sufi Centre, and the Canadian Memorial United Church. In what ways do you feel that the theatre, as opposed to other mediums, is an ideal space to promote inter-faith dialogue?
CC: Years ago I was performing Neworld’s political satire, Ali and Ali, at the Magnetic North Festival in Edmonton. The audience was full of – what I presumed – conservative seniors who would – I feared – hate the show. They ended up being one of our best audiences of the entire tour. I asked one of them what she liked about the show. Her answer: “Theatre is a place where I can be exposed to ideas that are frightening or risky and feel safe doing so.” That can apply to spiritual dialogue as well. Not to mention that the many layers of artists that contribute to a theatre play are essential to mining the complexities of such a topic.

Can you tell us about the artists involved?
CC: One of my favourite things to do! We have some of our most wonderful actors, Richard Newman, Sam Bob, Luc Roderique, Nadeem Phillips, and Sofie Newman. A flamenco goddess by the name of Delara Tiv has come all the way from Spain to be a part of the show and they are joined on stage by some big heart being delivered by the community members. And my son Elijah makes his debut.

Can you tell us a bit about the involvement and support of the Nimatullahi Sufi order with this production?
CC: We have Keyvan and Vajieh Tiv, as well as Maya Lee, members of our order, joining the cast and bringing their passion and understanding into the lexicon of the actors. The most important contribution of the order is the direction and essence of following the path of love that we are all trying to share aspects of with the audience. For those of us on the path, this is as much a spiritual practice as an artistic one. The two live hand in hand. Think Gregorian chanting or Nusrat Fattah Ali Khan.

In addition to the 12 performers featured in Doost (Friend) there will be 5 musicians playing live onstage. How is music integrated in this presentation? What types of instruments are being used and what kinds of music can audiences expect to hear?
CC: I have one name to start with: SOLEY! We are blessed. Soley has done it all and is a huge name in Persian music. He has transformed himself into one of the leading Sufi musicians of the world and he’s come from Toronto to jam with us! Can you tell I’m excited? But that’s not all, he’s joining amazing locals Ali Razmi on setar (Persian strings), Hamin Honari on daf (percussion), and Amir Eslami on ney (reed flute). They will be creating some fusion with Zion Fyah (vocals and guitar) and Brandon Walker (cornett). Not to mention backing up Delara’s Flamenco and some world sounds from the cast. It will all be rooted in traditional Persian Sufi music so the audience can expect some eclectic sounds.

Only 6 performances!

Doost (Friend)

March 22-26 2016

Historic Theatre

Purchase tickets here

Leftovers, An Interview with Charles Demers

Leftovers_Landscape

Charles Demers and Baby Demers. Photo By Simon Hayter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A LEFTOVERS GLOSSARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Corleone: Main character in the Godfather film trilogy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Henry Kissinger: American diplomat and political scientist.

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

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

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

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

Project Elysium presents Cornet: Viktor Ullmann’s Legacy from Theresienstadt

ElysiumProject_EmailHeaderOn October 16 Project Elysium will present Cornet: Viktor Ullmann’s Legacy from Theresienstadt – A performance of Ullman’s final work, written in a concentration camp.

We asked Cornet producer, Catherine Laub, a few questions about the presentation.

This will be the first time the artists of Elysium will be performing in Canada – however, Elysium-Between Two Continents has been presenting the work of Viktor Ullmann in the United States and Europe since the 1990s. Could you tell us about this organization and their work?

Founded in 1983, Elysium was the first and (at that time) only organization in New York which dedicated all its efforts to the presentation of music by composers who were banned, silenced, or persecuted by the Nazis. The many concerts and musical-literary collages presenting works of mostly forgotten artists– works Elysium had found in archives in the US and Europe–had a trailblazing effect. Other organizations and individuals soon followed in Elysium’s footsteps. Some of these composers, who were unknown a few years ago, are now regularly featured in concert and onstage around the world. As an organization, Elysium, together with the Lahr von Leïtis Academy and Archive, has three interrelated components: research and collection, performance, and education. Elysium’s mission statement reads, “Fostering artistic and creative dialogue and mutual friendship between the United States of America and Europe.  Fighting against discrimination, racism and antisemitism by means of art.”

Can you tell us a little more about the artists involved ?

Gregorij H. von Leïtis is the artistic director of Elysium, between two continents. He has directed operas and plays in major theatres throughout Europe and in New York and will provide the recitation for “Cornet.” Herr von Leïtis is an advisor for the Viktor Ullmann Foundation and a consultant for the Jewish Music Institute in London. His awards include the Knight’s Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the New York Theatre Club Prize.

Michael Lahr is the executive director of the Lahr von Leïtis Academy and Archive and Elysium’s program director and will provide the opening lecture. Also a published author, Herr Lahr has curated numerous international exhibits and conceived programs such as Music from Theresienstadt and Degenerate Music. He serves on the advisory board of the Neitzsche Forum in Munich and regularly lectures on topics of social and political importance.

“Master pianist” Dan Franklin Smith is Elysium’s music director and frequent recital soloist and collaborator.  Described as “an incredibly sensitive player,” his “breathtakingly beautiful” artistry will bring Ullmann’s piano sonata to life and provide the musical background for the recitation in “Cornet.” As a chamber musician and vocal accompanist, Dan has performed at major venues throughout the United States and toured Bermuda, Taiwan, and Puerto Rico.

What inspired you to produce this presentation?

When I was a few years out of graduate school, I participated in the Elysium Academy in Bernried, Germany with all three of these artists on faculty. In the years since then, I have been increasingly inspired by the second part of Elysium’s mission statement “fighting against discrimination, racism and antisemitism by means of art.” I reconnected with Gregorij von Leïtis and Michael Lahr in Munich nearly two years ago now and spoke with them about coming to Vancouver at some point to present one of their concerts. Initially, I had planned for there to be only once performance at the Roedde House, but once I began sharing their work with others, I was encouraged to make this music available to a wider audience. In terms of the historical context of the music, we are able to honour the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in 2015 and also mark the actual date of the composer’s death in 1944, mere months before the end of the war.  There’s a really moving story here, and one that is particularly timely right now as our global society has issues of runaway political regimes, discrimination, and displacement once again brought to the forefront of our collective consciousness.

Is there anything else you would like audiences to know about this presentation?

While it isn’t possible to rewrite history, this project functions as a kind of musical “rescue mission,” bringing recognition to a brilliant composer whose work was nearly lost to us.  His story and his music allow us to make a more personal connection to a time that is almost too overwhelming to contemplate.  This connection is essential as it helps us not only mourn but learn.

 

Cornet: Viktor Ullmann’s Legacy from Theresienstadt

Friday, October 16 at 8PM, Historic Theatre at The Cultch – Buy Tickets Here

Saturday, October 17 at 8PM, Pyatt Hall – Buy Tickets Here

* Please note that this event is taking place off-site at 843 Seymour St

Sunday October 18 at 3PM, Roedde House – by Invitation only

 

For more information please visit  www.project-elysium.org

 

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

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

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

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

What role does dance play in your heritage?

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

What is Gitxsan masked dance?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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