Leftovers, An Interview with Charles Demers

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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.

The Cultch receives $130,000 grant from Vancouver Foundation for “Democratizing our Stages” Project

The Cultch and Diwali Fest staff at Nirbhaya Community Engagement meeting1Left to Right, Rohit Chokani & Vineeta Minhas Co-Producers of Diwali Fest, Heather Redfern – Executive Director, Nicole McLuckie – Director of Patron Development, Kim Harvey – Youth Program Manager, Abdel Naroth – Marketing Intern, Ricky Choi – Marketing Coordinator

 

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve received a significant three-year $130,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation for our “Democratizing our Stages” Project! While The Cultch has a long history of diversity, community inclusion, and pushing the boundaries of art to benefit society, this grant will allow us to go even further, challenging the status quo by prioritizing community development and presentation with groups and communities that have not yet engaged with us.

“We are delighted and grateful for Vancouver Foundation’s support,” says executive director Heather Redfern. “I truly believe this is a game-changer. The confidence the Vancouver Foundation has shown in our ability to make significant change is heartening and meaningful not only to The Cultch but to the community partners we will work with on this project over the next three years.”

The project began in earnest this past November when we partnered with Diwali Fest, Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW), and Amnesty International to present and engage in community dialogue around Nirbhaya, the internationally acclaimed play inspired by the 2012 rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey in Delhi and featuring the real life testimonials of sexual violence survivors. This was the first year in what will now be an ongoing partnership with Diwali Fest. Other Democratizing our Stages partners include Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (VACT), Dancers of Damelahamid, Neworld Theatre, Neworld Theatre, and Urban Ink, with plans to bring others on board over the course of the project and into the future.

“There is increasing diversity in professional arts practices in Canada, however there are still very few venues that present this work in a mainstage context throughout a season of programming,” says Redfern. “We are interested in talking to people who are not coming to The Cultch. We’ll be partnering with like-minded organizations from the community to diversify the audience that attends these productions, finding innovative ways to provide access to communities. Social exclusion is systemic and can only be reversed by conscious and proactive efforts. The democratization of our stages will happen when cross-cultural communication takes place between artists and communities over and over again, until we reach the point that it feels ordinary, as though it’s always been that way.”

Read more:
The Georgia Straight
Vancouver Presents

Rentals Roundup: Heathers: The Musical and Blackbird’s The Rivals excelling at The Cultch and York

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It has been a busy month at The Cultch with Blackbird Theatre’s presentation of The Rivals and …Gently with a Chainsaw Artists Collective’s Heathers: The Musical at the York. Both of these shows are playing to wildly appreciative audiences and we love having these high-calibre rentals buzzing in our buildings!

What people are saying:

“Just got home from opening night…You guys were amazing!! This is my all-time favorite 80’s movie and you were on point!
Thank you so much for your hard work and allllll the laughs! Well done!” – Melissa McPherson, Audience Member

“Whether you’re a fan of the movie or not, you will still enjoy this energetic show with it’s strong-voiced cast” – Cassady Ranfordt, – Vancity Buzz

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Emma Slipp: photo by Tim Matheson

“This is an excellent production. On the night we went most of the audience were in fits of laughter throughout the play, and I seriously thought the lady in front of me would fall out of her seat, she was laughing so hard. So if you enjoy light hearted comedies, don’t miss this professional production of one of Richard Sheridan’s masterpiece comedy of manners” –  Gillian Lockitch, – Review From The House

“Love, money, language: The Rivals may be over 200 years old, but its concerns are still relevant—and very entertaining” – Kathleen Oliver – The Georgia Straight

Have a show or event and need a venue? If you have that eureka moment or if your company needs an outstanding venue, look no further than The Cultch and York Theatre. Get more info online at https://thecultch.com/rentals/

 

The rEvolver Festival Opens This Week!

The 2015 rEvolver Festival kicks off on Wednesday, May 20 with three local performances on the opening night of the Festival:

7.00PM Caws and Effect (Mind of a Snail, Vancouver)
Historic Theatre

Crows are re-dreaming the world. Is the future all it’s cracked up to be?

Mind of a Snail’s large scale shadow theatre production is an exploration of survival and extinction from a bird’s eye view. Funny, beautiful and unique, with handmade layered projections, puppetry, masks, and an original musical score. The story can be seen as a modern fable, a tongue-in-cheek nature documentary, or the animated dream of a sleeping bird. In 2014, Caws & Effect won Patrons Pick at the Winnipeg Fringe and Pick of the Fringe at the Vancouver Fringe Festival. More info

8.00PM Double Recessive (Jordan Lloyd Watkins, Vancouver)
Culture Lab

A blessing. A curse. A one in four chance. A people on the brink of extinction. What would you do if you were the last of your kind?
Double Recessive. “Opression. Genocide. Comedy.” is a savage comedy about an eerily familiar dystopia. Double Recessive shows us the history of the Ginger crisis, and how society reacts when a lone Red is born, years after their extinction. A nasty, seemingly extreme, look at how society deals with “the other”, everything in Double Recessive is based on real events. Double Recessive is the multi-media brain-child of creator/performer Jordan Lloyd Watkins, working with award-winning director David Bloom. More info

9.15PM Hell of a Girl (Jeff Gladstone & The Bad Ideas, Vancouver)
Historic Theatre

Hell of a Girl is a unique musical theatre experience. The story is loosely based on the myth Orpheus and Eurydice, set in a timeless world with cowboys, nymphs & demons, and told through 26 original songs. Musically it weaves together gothic country with rockabilly and swing, into a visual style drawn from German expressionism and French absurdism, and taking the audience to Hell and back again. More info

Be sure to join us in between shows for an Opening Night Reception! For more festival programming visit Upintheair’s website or The Cultch’s Online Box Office.

Next week: rEvolver Theatre Festival hits The Cultch!

2015_revolver_bannerNext week, we’re thrilled to welcome back Upintheair Theatre for the third annual rEvolver Theatre Festival. The rEvolver Festival runs from May 20-31, and is dedicated to providing presenting opportunities to emerging theatre companies both locally and nationally. Past rEvolver Festivals have included such shows as Kayak (seen at the Firehall Arts Centre in January) and Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical which played last month at The Cultch!

This year’s festival line-up reflects the dynamic and distinct work being created in the theatre community on a national level. From the comedic to the confounding, the festival will present works that explore the dynamics of human relationships, classical myth with a musical twist, modern fable, new world orders, historic journeys and elements of risk taking.

The 2015 rEvolver Festival Mainstage is:

Excited by what you see? There are a number of different ways you can purchase tickets! 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! If you can’t see 6 shows, you can still save by purchasing a 3-show pass instead! And of course, individual tickets are available both through The Cultch’s Box Office and at the door.

March Mayhem: A month in photos

We’re only a quarter of the way through 2015 and it’s already been a VERY busy year. We’ve barely had a moment’s rest in March, there was so much happening! Here’s just some of what went on:

The biggest event we had this month was our annual fundraising gala, in which we celebrated the Celtic Spirit of Ireland!

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Heather Redfern rocking out with auctioneer David C. Jones

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MCs Margaret Gallagher and Fred Lee addressing the attendees

There was some great entertainment throughout the evening

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You couldn’t turn around without seeing someone doing something!

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We had two great openings, first with Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s TransMigration:

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Kaha:wi Dance Theatre Artistic Director Santee Smith with Heather Redfern

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Cultch Ladies: Caitrin Innis (Development Coordinator), Zoe Forsyth (Concierge and Volunteer Coordinator), Nicole McLuckie (Director of Patron Development) and Cindy Reid (Managing Director)

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Members of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre giving us a smile

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Kaha:wi Dance Theatre giving us… something else

And then we had Obaaberima from Buddies in Bad Times, which the audience enjoyed talking about post-show

Kaha:wi Dance also hosted a Pow Wow Boot Camp:

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Kaha:wi Artistic Director leads the participants

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It wasn’t all fun though, as we said farewell to our fantastic Senior Design and Web Coordinator, Isa Chernets

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We did get a lot of puppy love though, as we welcomed Murphy to The Cultch family!

And to end March, we have a little tease for what’s coming up in April, as the Famous Puppet Death Scenes set was loaded in yesterday!

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There are so many crates, they’re not only over flowing outside…

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But even into the lobby as well!

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It’s a lot of work, putting a set together

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The view from above

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The set is starting to rise!

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Do you perfer the orchestra view

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Or looking down from the balcony?

It was a pretty packed month, and we can’t wait for what’s next! Remeber you can always check out our Flickr page for more great photos! Be sure you come down and join us so you don’t miss any of the fun!

CADRE Opening Night Photos + Reviews!

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Richard Jordan, Fezile Mpela, Criss Henderson, Omphile Molusi, Lillian Tshabalala, Rick Boynton, Barbra Gaines

Last Tuesday, The Cultch hosted the Canadian premiere of Cadre, presented with Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Richard Jordan Productions Ltd in association with the Market Theatre of Johannesburg.

This story of a South African freedom fighter during apartheid is extremely powerful and is blowing audiences and critics away.

Fezile Mpela, Lillian Tshabalala, and Omphile Molusi

Fezile Mpela, Lillian Tshabalala, and Omphile Molusi

Check out some of the reviews here:

If you want theatre that grabs you by the throat, brain and/or balls – if you want theatre that shows you a life and world that is likely beyond your imagining – if you like to feel things and be moved by live performance, then you should see this play!” — David C. Jones, OUT TV

Scars of apartheid offer intense audience experience” —Erika Thorklenson, The Vancouver Sun

Hits home because it’s so relevant in Canada…skilled and important. It’s a postcard we should be grateful to receive” —Colin Thomas, The Georgia Straight

A devastatingly powerful piece. Cadre reminds us of the real price of freedom” —Mark Robins, Vancouver Present

Be sure to see this powerful and emotional performance before it closes! Here are some photos of our opening night reception. All photos were taken by our volunteer photographer, WendyD.

Omphile Molusi and Heather Redfern

Omphile Molusi and Heather Redfern

Guest enjoy drinking in the Founders' Lounge

Guests enjoy drinking in the Founders’ Lounge

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Criss Henderson, Barbara Gaines, Richard Jordan, Rick Boynton, Borja Brown, Heather Redfern, Nicole McLuckie, Cindy Reid

Cadre runs until March 8 at the Historic Theatre. Tickets start from $19 and are available on our website or by calling the box office at 604-251-1363.

CADRE: A Brief Timeline of South Africa from 1652 – 1994

With the opening of Cadre tomorrow night, and to help celebrate Black History Month, we here at The Cultch wanted to show you a more in depth back story of Cadre and the history of apartheid. This is a timeline of events in South Africa originally published by Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, where Cadre made its world premiere two years ago.

1652
The Dutch East India Company established a permanent settlement. Initially intending only to create a base camp for sailors going around the Cape for the spice trade, they gradually establish farms to grow produce and move inland. The expansion creates a labor shortage, and they begin to import slaves from West Africa, Madagascar, Malaysia and India.

1700s
Some Dutch farmers, the “Trekboers” (meaning “Wandering Farmers”), later shortened to Boers, migrate into territories inhabited by Bantu and Khoi peoples, and seize lands, which the indigenous tribes had used for cattle grazing. The Boers live isolated lives, independent of official controls, with intermittent warfare against the chiefdoms. In the 1820s, the Zulu leader Shaka gains dominance over vast areas of southeast Africa. But the Zulu nation splinters, facilitating the expansion of the Boer settlers.

1800s
In 1806, when the British conquered the Cape, the colony includes 20,000 white colonists, 25,000 slaves, 15,000 native black Africans, and 1,000 freed black slaves, with Boers and Africans in small farms and communities in the hinterlands. The British are critical of the racist practices of the white elite of Cape Town. As the colony prospers, the British guarantee the political rights of the various races, and slavery is abolished in 1838. European influence spreads east and northward. Some Boers leave the Cape Colony and coalesce in two landlocked, white-ruled republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State.

1860-1900
The discovery of diamonds and gold starts the “Mineral Revolution” and fuels a new economy. To meet the need for labor, the British subjugate the neighboring areas, and institute discriminatory racial practices. Africans are allowed only the most dangerous jobs, housed in fenced barracks and kept under constant surveillance. The diverging fortunes of the mine-owning British and the Boers, who are mostly farmers or urban workers, also cause competition and conflict.

The South African War, sometimes referred to as the Boer War, 1899–1902, ends with the British victory over the Boers and the annexation by the Empire of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State.

1900s
The Union of South Africa, a British dominion, is created in 1910 from the Cape and Natal colonies, the Orange Free State and South African Republic. The constitution reflects a society where wealth and power are controlled by whites. Three of the four states strip Africans of all political rights. The 1913 Native Lands Act gives Africans, who made up 80% of the population, only 7.3% of the country’s land. Africans are allowed on white land only if they are working for whites.

In 1948, the National Party, representing Afrikaner nationalists, is elected to power and institutionalized segregationist policies under the name “apartheid.” Laws include the Population Registration Act, which classified people into three racial groups: white, colored (mixed race or Asian), and native (black African), and outlaws marriages between races. The Group Areas Act creates communities for each race, with the majority of the land, including the best areas, reserved for whites. Non-whites are relocated into “reserves.” The Bantu Homelands Acts designates the lands that reserved for black Africans as independent nations, stripping millions of their South African citizenship. Blacks are required to carry passes to enter white South Africa, and are only allowed to enter to work menial jobs.

The African National Congress (ANC) is founded in 1912 in response to the oppression of blacks, institutionalized in the formation of the Union of South Africa. In the 1950s, under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, the ANC begins civil disobedience campaigns. In the 1960s, ANC’s new military wing, headed by Mandela, launches sabotage campaigns. In 1964, Mandela is sentenced to life imprisonment.

A major turning point in the struggle to end apartheid was the 1976 Soweto Uprising, triggered by a regulation that students be taught in Afrikaans. Police respond to the massive student protests with gunfire, and an estimated 600 people were killed in the ensuing riots.
In the 1980s, international boycotts of South African products and governmental pressures to end apartheid, coupled with civil disobedience and escalating violence, undermine the government and damage the economy. In an effort to maintain control, the government repeals some of the laws.

When F.W. de Klerk replaced P.W. Botha as president in 1989, he and Mandela meet and many ANC activists are freed. The following year, the ban against the ANC is lifted and, after twenty-seven years in prison, Mandela is released.
In 1991 de Klerk calls for the repeal of the apartheid laws and the drafting of a new constitution. South Africa holds its first multiracial democratic elections in 1994, bringing the ANC to power. Nelson Mandela is elected president.

–Courtesy of Chicago Shakespeare Theater

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Cadre runs from February 24 – March 8 at the Historic Theatre. Tickets start from $19 and are available on our website or by calling the box office at 604-251-1363.

Opening Night Photos of Blackbird Theatre’s All That Fall!

The Canadian premiere of Samuel Beckett’s All That Fall opened last week at the Historic Theatre! The entertaining, existential masterpiece has captivated audiences and critics alike, who are asking for more.

This is what some of the critics are saying:
“A masterpiece…might contain the funniest existential despair you’ll ever experience”
Colin Thomas, The Georgia Straight

“A perfect, polished jewel of a play…I wished it would never end” – Jo Ledingham, Vancouver Courier

“For lovers of language though this is another exquisite theatrical treat from Blackbird Theatre…lean back and be engulfed in the lavishness of its interchange” – David C. Jones, Vancouver Presents

“Beautifully crafted performances” – Jerry Wasserman, Vancouverplays

“The play’s dark humour and Mrs. Rooney’s bleak outlook is what makes this classic both entertaining and profound” – Tessa Perkins, The Peak

Make sure you get your tickets to see this funny and intoxicating production before it’s too late!

Here are some photos from our opening night on December 30. All photos were taken by one of our fantastic volunteer photographers, Wendy D.

The audience eagerly awaits the start of the performance!

The audience eagerly awaits the start of the performance!

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A patron speaking with Graham and Paddy Macleod (Blackbird Theatre General Manager)

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Some of our guests enjoying the reception

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Jenn McGinn in a discussion about the show

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Two patrons being entertained by Paddy Macleod (Blackbird Theatre General Manager)

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A couple of guests enjoying the reception

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Sandra Wright, Jenn Graham (Head FOH Manager at the Cultch), John Wright (Blackbird Theatre Artistic Director) and Graham Macleod

 

All That Fall runs until January 24 at the Historic Theatre. Tickets start from $19 and are available on our website or by calling the box office at 604-251-1363.

Q&A with David Pay, creator of The Orpheus Project

The Orpheus Project by Music on Main starts tomorrow at The Cultch! This musical adventure will take you to every corner of The Cultch for an immersive, site-specific experience. The fantastic creator of this unique piece, David Pay, shared with us his inspirations, the context of the show, as well as his own experience working on it.

What was the inspiration for The Orpheus Project?

The idea first came about when, at the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, I saw dreamthinkspeak’s Before I sleep, which was inspired by Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. You explore an entire building and see theatrical installations and interact with actors. I thought it was totally magical, and when I fall in love with art I want to possess it. When I see exceptional visual art I want to see it all the time. When I see amazing music I want to figure out how to present it. So when I saw Before I sleep, I thought, “How could this work, using music as the basis of an immersive experience rather than theatre?” Once I decided I wanted to develop an immersive musical experience, I really focused on seeing as much of that kind of work as I could, including large-scale works like Sleep No More, and smaller scale works that are more in line with The Orpheus Project.

How does that kind of experience translate into a musical one?

I explored a whole bunch of different ways to create an immersive musical experience, and with our ace creativity team, led by theatrical consultant Amiel Gladstone, we have landed on what theatre calls a “promenade experience.” Audiences are led on a path through the theatre discovering different rooms; different pieces of music inspired by Orpheus; installations and sets created by Naomi Sider; video, both with music and on its own; lighting by Adrian Muir; and new and existing compositions performed in surprising environments.

Can you give us a little hint of what people will see and where they’ll go?

We’re using both the Culture Lab and Historic Theatre at The Cultch; we’re exploring dressing rooms and stairwells; filling passageways with surprises, lounges with live performance. It is a show where the audience is on its feet, climbing stairs, stopping to listen. Keep an eye out for oracles, who might foretell your future as well. People should make sure to wear comfortable shoes! We’re asking people with mobility or other issues to let us know in advance, so we can create a special journey just for them.

What have you learned by being involved in the creative process for The Orpheus Project?

Conceiving The Orpheus Project is a natural progression for me. I’ve never been the kind of music presenter who simply chooses great artists and puts them on stage. I’ve always taken a hands-on approach to the performance environment, the relationship between artists and audiences, and how repertoire can speak to us across time periods and genres. Developing The Orpheus Project as a more theatrical music experience has allowed me to work with theatre experts who are helping me shape what feels like a new, but really authentic way of interacting with live music.

What do you hope people will take away from this experience?

I hope this will be a fun, intriguing, and new experience for every audience member. My ultimate goal is that we each see ourselves in the myths and stories and ideas presented by the composers. I think if you approach the show with an intellectual or analytical bent, you’ll have a really rich experience imbued with music and art history. But the creative team and I also want this to be a really fun, sexy date night, so you can just immerse yourself in the sights and sounds at the theatre, and that will be a fantastic experience, too.

The Orpheus Project runs from July 16 – 20 at The Cultch. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased online or by calling the Box Office at 604.251.1363.