Donor Spotlight: Michael Hedden with Dignity Memorial

Donor Spotlight: Michael Hedden with Dignity Memorial

This February, for our Donor Spotlight, Natalie Schneck, our Development Associate connected with Michael Hedden of Dignity Memorial.

Thank you so much for joining us in this edition of The Cultch’s Donor Spotlight, I am delighted to interview you, Michael!

How and when did you first get involved with The Cultch?

Jamie and I attended a performance with our dear friends and former neighbors, Maureen and Bob. We were so impressed and invigorated with the quality of the performance, that we made a conscious decision to see as many of the remaining performances of that season. What a revelation to find this gem in our city. As a patron, I feel as if I belong to something bigger. Sitting in that audience, I become part of this cathartic ebb and flow of the human experience. I believe storytelling in all of its artistic forms is vital to understanding ones journey as an individual, as a family and a community.

Please tell us a little about the work you do with Dignity Memorial:

As a funeral professional, I facilitate and help families tell the story of their loved one who has passed on. I provide a platform upon which a family can build a tribute that incorporates cultural, religious and personal preferences that directly reflect and honour the person who has lived. Through spoken word, music, and imagery we bring people together to express our loss, love and gratitude for the person we are remembering. I currently manage our Ocean View property located in Burnaby.

Michael, was there a turning point when you realized The Cultch is an organization
that fits the altruistic mandate and community mindedness of Dignity
Memorial?

With my reference to storytelling it was an obvious fit right from the start. I am privileged to work for a company that encourages its employees to participate in the community we live and work in. I believe it is imperative that when able, one’s philanthropy benefit a diverse community. Funding for the arts is vital to our wellbeing and contributes to a healthier community.

Recently, Dignity Memorial became an integral part of our Legacy Giving
program – Can you tell us what this means to you and how it aligns with The
Cultch and its future growth?

Legacy Giving is an undeniable way to make sure that your support for The Cultch continues after you are gone. Let us be honest, you cannot take your money with you when you die. As individuals, we have the opportunity to make a meaningful statement that reflects ones commitment to the arts in life and in death.

Do you feel that Dignity Memorial’s partnership with The Cultch is creative? In what ways?

I don’t know that the partnership is creative per say, but I am proud of the fact that through our continued sponsorship and support, Dignity Memorial and The Cultch are able to showcase the Arts, in all of its glory, to our community and makes it accessible to as many people as possible. Together, I would like to think we bring the best of performance art to Vancouver.

Has there been a Cultch show that you just can’t forget?

Oh, that is a tough one; there have been many for sure. Two still resonate with me, Big Mouth in 2016 and La Merde in 2017. So inspiring that I still get goose bumps when I think of them.

Finally, what are you curious about right now?

I continue to be fascinated and curious about the way in which we communicate with each other in today’s world. It comes back to that ebb and flow of the human experience. Acknowledgement, humility, acceptance, forgiveness…I believe we are all part of the story; it is exciting to think about how we influence the outcome.

Thank you!


As a registered Canadian charity, The Cultch relies on the support of the community to operate as a cultural hub; bringing diverse and engaging live performance to the stage.
Please consider making a donation today! Contact Natalie Schneck, Development Associate: natalie@thecultch.com; 604.251.1766 x.121
Charitable registration # 11928 1574 RR0001

Donor Spotlight: Charlotte and Sonya Wall

Donor Spotlight: Charlotte and Sonya Wall

This month marks our second annual Femme month at The Cultch; both have been generously supported by Charlotte and Sonya Wall. We chatted with Charlotte and Sonya to learn a bit more about their involvement with The Cultch and their passion for supporting female artists.

Thank you so much for joining us in this edition of The Cultch’s Donor Spotlight! You have both been long-time supporters of The Cultch. Can you tell us how you first got involved with the organization?

Sonya: I first became involved with The Cultch through attending theatre productions. I loved the diversity and originality of The Cultch productions and believed that The Cultch offered Vancouverites the opportunity to see theatre which was contemporary, thought provoking and international in its scope. I wanted to support such an endeavour. Around the same time, I also got to know Heather Redfern – who is marvelous – through the restoration of the York Theatre. I asked Heather how Charlotte and I could best help The Cultch and so we came up with the idea of a Femme February or January theme.

What has surprised you most about working/partnering with The Cultch?

Sonya: What has surprised me most about working and partnering with The Cultch is the enthusiasm, dedication and openness of everyone. They are all committed to providing the best experience for the theatre goer and for the actors, writers, directors and technical staff. Everyone works in concert with each other and are super organized – a rarity in any organization! Also, the creative energy at The Cultch is amazing.

Charlotte: I too, admire the dedication and enthusiasm I constantly encounter when I am at The Cultch. I think The Cultch provides an important service in the community in regards to women in theatre and consistently stages contemporary and cutting-edge work.

Charlotte, you are a trained and practicing visual artist. Do you find that engaging with other art forms, such as theatre and dance, contributes to your own artistic practice?

Charlotte: As an artist working also in a contemporary mode, I strongly believe that all art forms influence and benefit each other.The expression of thought and discovery in every form relates to the endeavours of artists in other mediums.

I find the staging involved in both theatre and dance can easily inform some of my work, especially since I often deal with the manipulation of spacial assumptions. The composition of characters in a play on stage or the choreography of dance involves the same process as composing a sculpture or an installation.

I look forward to many more Cultch events and I will always enjoy the open minds that present us with challenging and intriguing visual offerings.

Sonya, you are passionate about supporting women in higher education and the arts. What do find fulfilling about supporting women in these particular areas?

Sonya: I am a strong believer and proponent for supporting and recognizing women in the Arts and all fields. I am not sure if “fulfilling” is the feeling I get from supporting this belief, rather it is a balancing. I can remember in the ’80s taking a modern American literature course and looking at the outline and realizing that we would only be reading one work written by a woman compared to 9 by men. When I queried this imbalance, the Professor stated that he had neither noticed the discrepancy nor did he care. I would like to say that my voluble reaction to his response resulted in a change, but alas, no. While this scenario is probably not as visible today, it is, nevertheless, still necessary to foreground women’s work in all areas as we have still not achieved that optimal balance. One only has to look at the economics of wage parity within today’s society. So, supporting Femme Feb/Jan makes me feel as if I am helping achieve a balance, which, frankly, I am still fairly voluble about.

Can you tell us what wish other people knew about The Cultch?

Sonya: I wish people knew how hard everyone at The Cultch works to continue providing the audience and community with top notch entertainment. Every season brings new, exciting and professional works to the stage. Truly amazing.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating to The Cultch but hasn’t made the move yet?

Sonya: Don’t stop at “go,” just give.

One last question, what are you curious about right now?

Sonya: I am curious about the tipping point society has recently reached as women finally feel they can speak out about sexual harassment. I am also interested in seeing how this movement changes the workplace – both the conduct and the demographic. And, I am most curious to see Hot Brown Honey along with many other Cultch productions. Should be fun.

 


As a registered Canadian charity, The Cultch relies on the support of the community to operate as a cultural hub; bringing diverse and engaging live performance to the stage.
Please consider making a donation today!
Charitable registration # 11928 1574 RR0001
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Donor Spotlight: Ken Gracie and Philip Waddell

Donor Spotlight: Ken Gracie and Philip Waddell

 

We recently chatted with long-time Cultch supporters Ken Gracie and Philip Waddell to learn more a bit more about why supporting The Cultch has been so important to them for so many years.

Ken and Philip, thank you so much for joining us in this edition of The Cultch’s Donor Spotlight! You have both been long-time subscribers and donors to The Cultch. Can you tell us how you first got involved?

K: This is pretty nostalgic; we are going back to the ’70s now. It was only the old Historic Theatre at that time. This is long before any refurbishment of any note. We have a nephew and niece, now in their late 30’s, who enjoyed the movies on the big screen at The Cultch on Saturday mornings. We loved to attend! The “kids”  still recall it fondly. The Cultch was not an alternate theatre for that sake alone; it had a diversity of offerings, topics, performance method, and originality.

P: I have a fond recollection of my first time at The Cultch. It was the fall of 1976 and the production was Hossana. This type of theatre was totally new to me – it was raw and taboo and left a lifelong memory. Up until that point, my theatre experiences were mostly bland and felt too safe, this left me feeling unsatisfied.

It’s pretty amazing the impact that diverse and edgy programming can have. Phil, I love that your first Cultch experience left a lifelong memory, that’s such a gift!

K: And diversity is consistently relevant and nurtured by The Cultch. The conversations and the awakening that The Cultch offers are ongoing, and our attendance as subscribers is still our biggest theatre commitment.

Any show highlights?

P: Dickens’ Women, Empire of the Son and Children of God

What has surprised you most about working/partnering with The Cultch?   

P: Through our involvement with The Cultch I have had the privilege of getting to know staff, volunteers and fellow patrons who have enriched my life with their knowledge and enthusiasm.

K: And the growth of The Cultch over the years to include the Jim Green House Studio, along with the management and presentations at the York Theatre speak to the strength and major talents in Vancouver’s theatre and arts community. The engagement with staff, opening receptions, talk backs, and performances are always anticipated with excitement. It is very connecting. The Cultch is our family by choice. We also really like our own families.

Speaking of families, I know you are both advocates of strengthening our community and making live performance accessible to everyone. Can you tell us what you wish other people knew about The Cultch?

K: We know that at The Cultch there is inclusiveness of all communities and economic/social backgrounds. Provisions are made to make the live performance experience accessible to those people who might otherwise feel it is beyond their means to attend. Opportunity can be transformational. We all benefit in the experience and it should be shared.

P: Because of the wide variety of topics addressed and expressed, each season at The Cultch provides the stimulation many of us need to take a fresh look at old assumptions.

The Cultch programming really does offer audience members a chance to experience a different perspective that might be out of their comfort zone. 

P:  Yes and because of opportunity for a fresh perspective, I highly encourage more people to include The Cultch and its productions into their year of theatre.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating to The Cultch but hasn’t made the move yet?

K: The Cultch offers a high quality Youth Program that focuses on life skills as much as creativity and innovation; community outreach and ticket subsidies are made available through Cultch Connects and The Cultch supports the development of artistic work. These offerings require financial support and commitment from those who enjoy and appreciate The Cultch and can help financially over and above buying a ticket. We view this as a charitable opportunity and investment worthy of consideration based on performance and delivery by The Cultch.

We are so grateful that you and Philip see the incredible value that The Cultch has in our community!

K:   There are now theatre opportunities in the three affiliated venues of different size  – the Historic Theatre, the Culture Lab, and the York Theatre. In the last 40 years The Cultch has had great significance in our lives. We have grown substantially older in our membership. The Cultch continues to keep us renewed and challenged.

And what about our current show, the East Van Panto: Snow White & the Seven Dwarves running at the York? 

K: Who doesn’t love the Panto filled with kids and excitement and fun? LOOK BEHIND YOU!

Right? It’s absolutely heart-warming and inspiring!  Thanks Ken and Philip!
As a registered Canadian charity, The Cultch relies on the support of the community to operate as a cultural hub; bringing diverse and engaging live performance to the stage.
Please consider making a donation today!
Charitable registration # 11928 1574 RR0001

Q&A with Governor General award-winning playwright, Colleen Murphy!

Q&A with Governor General award-winning playwright, Colleen Murphy!

Photo by Heidi Hamilton

How did the idea to adapt a Shakespearean text incorporating Bouffon come about?

When Stephen [Drover] asked me to write an adaptation of Titus Andronicus I wondered how to connect with a play I felt was emotionally vacant but intriguing.  “What makes people so angry they kill children?  What is under such rage? Terrible hurt probably, and terrible grief.”

While adapting the play I was the Lee Playwright in Residence at the University of Alberta, working in the same department as Professor Michael Kennard, aka Mump from the incredible duo Mump & Smoot.  Michael teaches clown there and I was inspired by the rigor and the fearlessness he used in his hilarious student presentations.  I felt that given the blood-bath of the 21st century, Bouffon were more suitable to my adaptation because they bring a primal urgency to a story that both begs to be taken seriously and begs not to be taken seriously.

Can you tell us a little bit about the effect that the Bouffon style has on the piece?

The Bouffon style opens up both the emotional and the farcical aspects that are already in Shakespeare’s play.  He must have enjoyed writing it, and there are some beautiful passages, as fine as any he wrote.  The murders and the outrage might even be funny…and the funny is sometimes sad.  The world of revenge is an over-the-top world driven by sad, angry people.

What is something about the show that audiences may be surprised to learn?

Perhaps members of the audience might be surprised to discover that nothing is sacred, that everything is human, including the worse things people do to each other.

Can you describe the show in 3 words?

Fun Meets Death.

What most excites you about bringing this piece to the stage?

Marrying Shakespeare with Bouffon offers another perspective on Titus Andronicus in the 21st century.

Peter Anderson in “The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius”. Photo by Stephen Drover


The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius runs from Nov 22 – Dec 3 at the Cultch’s Historic Theatre. Tickets are from $22 and can be found here.

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