The Cultch’s Guide to the Fringe: 6 ways to make the most out of the Vancouver Fringe Festival (Sept 5-15)

The Historic Theatre will be a main stage venue at this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival

Here at The Cultch, we’re getting prepared for one of the biggest arts festivals around: the Vancouver Fringe Festival! With over 90 performances, the festival promises to be a crazy, 11 days, jam-packed with titillating performances. And this year, The Cultch is uber excited to be one of the main stages in the festival! In its third year of involvement with the Vancouver Fringe Festival, The Cultch will show eight performances as a main stage plus four additional presentations as a BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue).

With so much to see and experience, it might be a little daunting for a newcomer. So, we’ve put together a little guide for those of you who have always wanted to check it out, but never knew quite how to go about it. We have all the information you need to get the most out of your Fringing experience. Consider the Fringe your oyster…with these 6 easy steps!

1. Pick up your Fringe program guide. (Click here to access an online version) Figure out what shows you want to see. Shows are arranged in the program by time and date, as well as by venue. Find shows that suit your taste, budget, and schedule. Check out pages 50 & 51 to choose from one of the exciting shows playing at the Historic Theatre at The Cultch! Performances range from burlesque dancing, to solo musicals, and, of course, good-old-fashioned theatre!

The Cultch is featured on page 50 & 51 in this year’s Fringe Festival program guide

2. Diversify. Think of the Vancouver Fringe Festival as a tapas menu of theatre. Find some shows you’re naturally drawn to, but also try a couple that may be a little out of your comfort zone. The Fringe Festival is all about stepping into new experiences via the theatre, so why not try something different? If you love musical theatre, The Cultch mainstage performances are sure to be treats for you. Come to see La CravateBleue (a solo musical play about a man who sacrifices stability for his love of music) and Watering Hole (a contemporary dance performance about the community of the local bar). Then try something that you’ve never seen before. Bursting into Flames is a refreshing comedic play about a man who finds himself with the rest of eternity to spend in heaven.

‘Watering Hole’ will be playing at The Cultch’s Historic Theatre

3. Watch the previews. If you have the time and $10 – come to watch quick previews of all 91 shows at Fringe-For-All: a two hour extravaganza in which each show has 2 minutes to captureyour interest. Whether it narrows down your choices, or makes it harder to decide – it’s bound to be entertaining! Thursday, September 5 at 10 pm at Performance Works.

A shot from last year’s Fringe For All | Photo provided by the Vancouver Fringe Festival

4. Talk to the volunteers. While you’re waiting in line, or near any of the Fringe venues, you might see some friendly Fringe volunteers. Don’t be shy – ask them what their favourite shows are! Volunteers get to see many shows for free. Be sure to ask them which shows are selling out (those are the ones to get $3 advance tickets for.)

5. BringYourOwnVenue (BYOV) shows. Don’t just stick to the mainstage shows. There are several shows that are near the main stage shows, and in unorthodox spaces. Often, these can be the most intriguing. Explore theatre outside of the theatre. Check out what sorts of compelling shows we have lined up here at The Cultch this year.

Rodney DeCroo stars in ‘Allegeny, BC’ (BYOV presentation)


6. Vote for your favourites! The Fringe Festival is an interactive experience. You’ll receive a ballot after every show. Rate the shows you saw, and cast your ballot! Your favourite play could just be chosen as The Pick of the Fringe (to be announced at The Fringe Awards Night on September 15 at 9:30 pm at Performance Works). Additionally, stay tuned for which performances are chosen for the Cultchivating the Fringe Award. Every year, The Cultch invites its favourite Fringe performance to be a part of the season for the following year. Last year the award was given to Underbelly, and the show is going to run in March 18 to 30 this upcoming season.

Heather Redfern (The Cultch’s Executive Director) presents last year’s Cultchivating the Fringe Award to ‘Underbelly’


The Cultch has an eclectic main stage and BYOV line up for the festival – something for everyone! This is also the perfect opportunity for a fun family outing. A couple of the mainstage performances, La Cravate Bleue and Bursting into Flames are to be enjoyed by all ages. Additionally, several of our BYOV shows (including Underneath the Lintel) also allow admission for all ages.

The Vancouver Fringe Festival runs from Sept 5-15 with select shows playing at The Cultch’s Historic Theatre and Vancity Culture Lab. Tickets available online at

‘Connect the Plots’: Gardening the Stage

The Cultch, in conjunction with the Environmental Youth Alliance, IGNITE!, Strathcona Community Gardens, and Theatre on Earth is proud to present Connect the Plots, an exciting youth program that has blossomed thanks to the nurturing hand of Rob Leveroos. This summer, the youth environmentalists/artists underwent a truly comprehensive experience, as they not only worked on the art of performance and acting, but cultivated their own ecological theatre/performance space.

Young actors giving the garden some TLC with spunky paint

An actor sporting a spooky mask, made by a member of Theatre on Earth

The garden boasts impressive local superlatives. It contains BC’s largest public heritage apple espalier and it’s the first public building in Vancouver to be granted a permit for the use of environmentally sustainable energy and waste treatment systems (the Eco-pavilion).

Vancouver's first Eco-pavilion

Refreshments will be prepared using the garden’s abundant harvest, coming from an orchard with 30 different kinds of fruit trees, a corn stalk wall, an herb garden, and a greenhouse. The seasonal pond and native trees are extra bonuses as they render the garden a friendly spot for wildlife. The theatre lobby includes a lovely lavender promenade and a spot with an upright ‘planted’ piano.

The orchard containing 30 different kinds of fruit trees

The Environmental Youth Alliance greenhouse

The seasonal pond

'Planting' the piano!

Connect the Plots has also received wide media coverage for its wholly unique and environmentally sound approach to theatre. The experience was learning about sustainability and local food sourcing as much as it was about improving the young artists’ craft in acting, music, and puppetry.

Read about the preview of Connect the Plots as covered by the Vancouver Sun here.

Check out the detailed review by the Georgia Straight here.

Check out the awesome work done by the Environmental Youth Alliance here.

Connect the Plots is ready for its sprightly unveiling on August 16 at 7pm.  It is running until Sunday (only three performances from Aug 16 – 18) so come on down to enjoy some theatre, outdoor fun, and lovingly-cultivated treats! Admission is by donation.

West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) Fundraiser: Dickens’ Women

West Coast LEAF’s ‘No Means No’ program has reached over 3000 youth across BC

In partnership with The Cultch, West Coast LEAF is delighted to be offering a fundraiser performance of Miriam Margolyes’ play, Dickens’ Women on Wednesday, November 14 at 7pm.
West Coast LEAF is a BC-based non-profit society on a mission to change historic patterns of discrimination against women through three key areas: Public Legal Education, Law Reform, and Equal Rights Litigation. They offer programming in each of these key areas, including peer facilitated workshops like ‘No Means No’ , the Family Law Project, and litigation in specific cases that have the potential to affect the lives of women across BC. This really just scratches the surface of the hard work that West Coast LEAF does for women in our community and across BC. We are proud to have partnered with such an inspiring organisation!

A veteran of stage and screen, award-winning actress Miriam Margolyes has achieved success on both sides of the Atlantic

As for Miriam Margolyes, you may remember her from any one of her amazingly talented and oft hilarious performances in films, plays, and TV series’ such as The Black Adder, Little Shop of Horrors, Magnolia, The Vagina Monologues, Being Julia, Romeo + Juliet, and the list goes on! In Dickens’ Women she moves seamlessly from role to role depicting 23 of Dickens’ little to best known characters whom, full of life and layers, were shaped from women in his own life – women he knew, women he loved, and women he hated.

The Cultch is thrilled to be presenting Dickens’ Women from November 15 – December 1 (in addition to the November 14 fundraiser performance for West Coast LEAF) considering the combined talent and strength brought to this hilariously entertaining one-woman performance, co-written and performed by BAFTA and LA Critics Circle award-winner Miriam Margolyes. Equally exciting is that this performance Dickens’ Women is Margolyes’ Canadian premier on a critically acclaimed world tour where Dickens’ Women has been eliciting much praise from audience members and critics alike in countries including Australia, New Zealand, India and the USA.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to support an exceptional, BC-based organisation and see the Canadian premier of Dickens’ Women as they continue on their critically acclaimed world tour!

Tickets are available at The Cultch for both the West Coast LEAF Fundraiser and the Nov 15 – Dec 1 run of Dickens’ Women. Tickets can be purchased online at, by phone at 604.251.1363, or in person at 1895 Venables Street.

Connect with West Coast LEAF on Facebook and Twitter or visit their website for more information.

Neanderthal Arts Festival… and you thought theatre was extinct

Neanderthal Arts FestivalEver wondered what lurks in the wings of The Cultch’s stage? Well now is your time to find out! Vancouver’s third Annual Neanderthal Arts Festival kicks off July 19th at The Cultch featuring some of the most talented and dynamic up and coming local and national talent out there.

This year, performances will take place in every nook and cranny of The Cultch building from the kitchen to the wine bar to backstage and of course on the main stage. Neanderthal Arts Festival was first co-produced by Up in The Air Theatre and Left Right Minds in 2010 to give a platform to emerging local and national theatre artists and has been going strong ever since and this year is no exception! Some of Canada’s most exciting up and coming theatrical talents will take up residence at The Cultch from 19 – 29 July.

Jessie nominated Delinquent Theatre bring their new show STATIONARY: a recession-era musical to the festival. Written by and starring two of The Cultch’s very own Box Office superstars Christine Quintana and Brian Cochrane, STATIONARY explores the lives of six young people as they face the disappointment’s of today’s post-graduation reality. And what better way to deal with such things than to sing and dance about them! From Vancouver’s physical theatre company Hardline Productions comes their provocative and hard-hitting new work Coercion. In an immersive experience for both audience and performer, Coercion dives deep into a hostile confrontation between an ex-solider and his torturer challenging the audience’s morals and investigating the volatile nature of truth. And there is so much more! From Improv (Sunday Service), to the new staged readings series (Bouchewacked, Exhibit A, Christmas Eve In Saigon) to black comedy (House of X), the Neanderthal Arts Festival proves once again that theatre is definitely not extinct! Come and witness this uprising of new talent, get lost in the corridors of The Cultch, grab a drink, make some friends and enjoy!

Tickets start at $9 with a Festival pass and are still affordable at $14 (plus s/c) for single tickets. Tickets are available online at, by phone at 604.251.1363, or in person at 1895 Venables St.

Grilling Up A Good Time at The Cultch Volunteer Appreciation BBQ!

Jenn Graham

Jenn Graham

By Jenn Graham, Head Front of House Manager & Volunteer Coordinator, The Cultch

The annual Volunteer Appreciation BBQ is a highly anticipated event in the life of The Cultch. It’s the day at the end of the season when Cultch staff get to hone their chopping skills on salad fixings and burger toppings. It’s the day that no one comes between our Marketing Manager and her role as ‘Queen of the Grill’. It’s the day when the Weather Network is the only channel worth watching. Most importantly, it’s the day we get to say thank you to everyone who has graciously given of their time and energy to make The Cultch such a vibrant community venue.

On June 2nd, we honoured the 120+ volunteers who gave their time to usher at performances throughout the past year and provided valuable administrative support in our office, as well as the numerous volunteer interns who worked in our marketing, youth and development departments. More than 3700 volunteer hours were contributed in total for the 2011/2012 season!

Lisa Snider with Jenn Graham and Rebecca Sharma

Lisa Snider with Jenn Graham and Rebecca Sharma, with the moody BBQ grill

And while the weather was a bit cooler than we’d hoped, it didn’t stop the volunteers who attended from having a fun afternoon! Guests were treated to a BBQ spread courtesy of Choices Markets in Yaletown and a plethora of prizes donated by local businesses on The Drive and numerous Cultch supporters. After the ‘Name Tag Follies’, some mingling, and a helping (or three) of tiramisu gelato, we asked one volunteer to share his memories of working at The Cultch.

A heartfelt thanks to our amazing volunteers for making our 11/12 Season a smashing success!

Jack Vickery, Volunteer Extraordinaire at The Cultch

Jack Vickery, our 12 year-old Volunteer Extraordinaire at The Cultch

Full Name:
Jack Vickery

How long have you been a volunteer at The Cultch?
Approximately 12 years. I started during the Jazz Festival in 2000.

What’s been your funniest/most amazing/weirdest moment volunteering at The Cultch?
There have been many. The one that comes up for me was the first night of the Shane Koyczan show in the Historic Theatre. Best. Rock. Concert. Ever.

What keeps you coming back to volunteer at The Cultch?
The shows, the staff, the volunteers. I have made some great friends here. And see some amazing shows. Helping the audience enjoy their evening is also fulfilling and many of them have become familiar faces.

Did you have a veggie burger or beef burger at the BBQ?

Did you win a door prize at the BBQ?
Yes I did! Two tickets to the Vancouver Aquarium.

Did you meet any new people at the BBQ?
Yep, and renewed connections with many others, including volunteers and staff.

Craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Hmmmmm . . . I will pass on this question (Jenn likes to say I have a sordid past and I do!!!)

Most anticipated show of the 2012/2013 Season?
“Mump & Smoot” and Blackbird Theatre’s “Don Juan

Due to popular demand, currently our volunteer ushering positions are full. If gaining transferable administrative office and people skills sound good to you, contact Cindy Reid, Managing Director, at 604.251.1766 x 112, or email your resume to

Gala Italia – A benefit in memory of Cultch supporter, Jim Green

Tickets are selling fast – buy yours today!

Gala Italia! at The CultchCelebrate the end of The Cultch’s 11/12 season and join us Friday, May 25 from 6:30pm for Gala Italia! – a fundraising event celebrating all things Italian with a focus on Italian art, film, fashion & food. Special guests for the evening include The Consul General of Italy, Mr. Fabrizio Inserra and Mrs. Loriana Inserra.

Arriving guests can linger, mix and mingle and enjoy abundant Prosecco and antipasti right off the red carpet.

Italian Cuisine
A sumptuous light supper of regional Italian cuisine will be provided from Chef “Action” Stations located throughout The Cultch courtesy of Robert Belcham, Campagnolo Roma; Julio Gonzales-Perrini, Lupo; Frankie’s Italian Kitchen; Hamilton Street Grill; and more!

Italian-themed Auctions
Madcap improv-theatre professional David C. Jones will keep us entertained during our live auction. Expect incredible Italian-themed auction items for both our live and silent auctions.

Lively Entertainment
Presented in our beautifully restored 200-seat Historic Theatre, the evening’s entertainment includes Intimissimi Opera Trio (Erin Schroeder, Melody Mercredi and Barbara Towell) performing selections from popular Italian opera repertoire; James Gnam’s post-Ballet BC, post-modern plastic orchid factory; critically acclaimed playwright Lucia Frangione reading from her play Fresco; and more!

Silent Italian cinema, bocce (of course!) and games of chance compliment the evening. Gala Italia! winds down with a selection of Italian pastries, gelato, coffee and tea.

Tickets are $99 (limited) or $250 (premium seating, private reception, take-away gift) and are available now through The Cultch Box Office by phone at 604.251.1363, in person at 1895 Venables Street or online at Tax receipts will be issued for maximum amount allowable. Tables and sponsorships available.

We hope to see you there!

The Medium is the Message: The Cultch Presents Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie

The Cultch is excited to present Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie in anticipation of two theatre productions from its upcoming season: Ronnie Burkett’s Penny Plain and The Old Trout Puppet Workshop’s Ignorance, both of which contemplate apocalyptic realities as described by David Suzuki in the movie Force of Nature.

Photo by Chris Young

Critics and audiences alike have all weighed in and the reviews could not glow any brighter. Since its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010, the highly anticipated documentary about the life, legacy, and final reflections of iconic environmentalist David Suzuki has not only garnered rave reviews from international film critics, it has also amassed a lengthy list of awards – including top honours at TIFF, an International Award in Excellence at the Canadian Environmental Media Awards, and a host of noteworthy accolades from other film festivals across the country.

As for us lucky Vancouverites – The Cultch, together with the David Suzuki Foundation, will be presenting this spectacular documentary on October 11 at 7pm in the Historic Theatre with admission by donation.

The film – which interweaves images of events in Suzuki’s life with clips from his landmark “last-lecture” at UBC’s Chan Centre – has been praised as a must-see movie for its intimate, compelling, and never-before-seen personal portrayal of the renowned educator, author, and scientist.

It was hailed by the Globe and Mail as “the most persuasive argument yet that saving the environment is the most critical fight for human rights occurring today” and has even been likened in its influential scope to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech – we’ll let you be the judge of that one…

But perhaps, in spite of its immense critical acclaim, the film’s most meaningful success (at least for the modest Suzuki) is its wide-scale appeal with ‘unofficial’ audiences across the globe. Indeed, as the recipient of the Cadillac People’s Choice Documentary Award in 2010, this monumental film – which Suzuki describes as “a distillation of my life and thoughts, my legacy, what I want to say before I die” –reflects the culmination of one of his dearest, and longest-running projects: to enable and affect global environmental change by conveying accessible scientific knowledge to the public at large. “Science, after all,” Suzuki points out, “is far too important to be left in the hands of [mere] scientists, industrialists or politicians.”


A Chiseled-out Guide to Neanderthal Arts Festival

The second annual Neanderthal Arts Festival once again brings an eclectic range of cutting edge theatre to the stages at The Cultch. We offer you this guide to the inventive and original shows of the sophomore installment of Neanderthal.


Inspired by Samuel Beckett’s absurdist existentialism, Chairs follows the actions of three men in a barren wasteland. Their existence of “equality and boredom” is interrupted when one claims authority by building a giant chair.

“It’s a simple story about a chair but it definitely explores big ideas,” said Chelsea Haberlin, the play’s director and co-artistic producer of ITSAZOO Productions.


The Cultch Welcomes the Neanderthal Festival

The Cultch is excited to welcome the Neanderthal Festival into the Historic Theatre and Vancity Culture Lab from July 21th to 31st, 2011. The festival, currently in its second year, is a partnership between Left Right Minds and Upintheair Theatre and brings “work that takes risks, is creative and has a clear artistic vision”. We talked to Executive Director Daniel Martin to learn a little more about the vision for Neanderthal.

How did the idea for the festival come about?

We have always been interested in providing opportunities for artists that don’t exist elsewhere. With the growth of festivals like PuSh here in Vancouver and Magnetic North nationally, there is a real movement towards touring productions. But what was missing was a chance for younger companies to be presented in a professional festival setting, and get their foot in that door – a place for young companies who had outgrown the Fringe but maybe weren’t being invited to Magnetic North yet.

At the same time, after seven years of producing the Walking Fish Festival, it needed an injection of new ideas – like many companies, we lost our gaming funding [Government of BC Community Gaming Grants] last year, so we had to broaden our base – audience, funders and sponsorships – in order to be able to keep operating. Our partners, LeftRightMinds, had recently been out to Summerworks in Toronto and were really excited by what they saw there, so together we sat down and put together a model to achieve these goals – a Vancouver based summer theatre festival of exciting new work by younger companies, that would draw in new audiences and support to the company, and that would give local artists a place to have their work presented in a professional context.

What is the mandate for Neanderthal? What do you hope to bring to the Vancouver theatre community through this festival?


Closing the Door on Home Sweet Home

On Saturday June 11, Home Sweet Home closed with a “Residents Block Party”. Homeowners were invited back to The Cultch to meet their neighbours and tour the completed city. Residents FM highlighted some of the more memorable features of the town in their final address to the crowd:

Welcome back to Home Sweet Home
We’ve all come together to celebrate the town in which we roam!

There has been action and drama, politics and more.
Candy stores, volcanoes and zombies galore!

Now residents FM will take you on a guided tour,
through the streets, roads, alleys and more… (more…)