A Q&A with Kevin McKendrick and Lindsey Angell about BUTCHER

A Q&A with Kevin McKendrick and Lindsey Angell about BUTCHER

Butcher, an edge-of-your-seat thriller from award-winning Canadian playwright, Nicolas Billon, opens March 21 at the Historic Theatre, and runs until March 31.

Early Christmas morning, on the doorsteps of a Toronto police station, Inspector Lamb discovers an unlikely bundle; a drugged and abandoned old man, who doesn’t speak any English, dressed in a strange military uniform. Atop his head a Santa hat, and around his neck a business card impaled on a butchers hook with the words, “Arrest me,” scrawled on it. Inspector Lamb begins an investigation into the identity of the stranger that will forever tie together the lives of four people: a lawyer, a translator, the stranger and the inspector.

 

We connected with Director, Kevin Mckendrick, and performer, Lindsey Angell, to ask them a few questions about bringing the hit show to The Cultch stage.

What excites you most about bringing Butcher to The Cultch stage?

Lindsey — Butcher has managed to get under my skin and I think it will truly draw our audiences in as well. It is deceptive and sneaky and even oddly charming at times, but be careful, you might get *hooked*…hehehe.

The Cultch has partnered with Amnesty International as a Community Partner for Butcher. Our Community Partners offer us the opportunity to spread the word about important issues at the same time as helping us spread the word about our shows. Knowing what you do about Amnesty International, do you feel that it is a good fit? Why?

Kevin — I think it’s an excellent partnership because Amnesty International wrestles with the issues in Butcher every single day. In her forward to the play Louise Arbour, a former Supreme Court of Canada justice, and former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda said, “When can victims find peace when justice is elusive?” and  “Can offenders find closure if punishment is not extended to them?” Are these not huge questions for our time? Real peace and closure, it is often said, can only come from forgiveness. It falls to organizations like A.I to help us find our way through these tangled questions.

Why do you think Butcher has hit such a chord across Canada since its debut?

Lindsey — Butcher is brave. It does not choose sides or lead its audience in any way. That kind of experience in live theatre is rare and exhilarating.

In an ideal world, what would you like audiences to take away with them after seeing Butcher?

Kevin — One of my mentors, the playwright  John Murrell, impressed upon me the idea that theatre must be provocative, yet entertaining. It’s a maxim I try to apply to every play I work on. I want audiences leaving Butcher at The Cultch to feel we exceeded their expectations. I want them to be  thrilled and moved by the experience. To be glad they left the comfort of their home to take in a play. And I want them to leave the theatre arguing about the themes of justice and revenge. The best theatre serves to help us strengthen our society by spurring us to make changes.

You have put together an all-star cast of performers and creators for this production. Lindsey, what do you think Butcher offers actors that other plays may not?

Lindsey — Butcher is unlike any show I have done before. I have spoken in dialects and even other languages but never have I been given the gift of learning an invented language (playwright, Nicolas Billon, had two linquistics professors from the University of Toronto invent the language of ‘Lavinian’ specifically for this play). This story is incredibly mysterious and the characters are fighting fiercely for what they need, creating a tension I have yet to experience on stage. That’s about all I can say without spilling any spoilers.

Butcher has some very serious themes — justice, revenge, forgiveness — Have there been many discussions during rehearsals? Do you think it will stir up debate with audiences?

Lindsey — Of course! We have turned this play over and over, hashing out the ideas and the arc of the story. It is our hope that the audience will discuss the piece passionately afterwards, not only the themes but their own personal response to the ride.

Is there anything else about putting on Butcher that you would like to say a few words about?

Kevin — I have been so fortunate to have this opportunity. To work on this fine Canadian play with this outstanding team of collaborators. And it is very gratifying to us to have The Cultch recognize the importance of Nicolas Billon’s play and afford us the opportunity to share it with Vancouver audiences.

Thank you Kevin and Lindsey!

To read more about Butcher check out this great article from the Vancouver Sun, a Q&A with Peter Anderson.


Butcher runs March 20-31 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.


Written by: Nicolas Billon

Starring: Peter Anderson, Lindsey Angell, Noel Johansen, and Daryl Shuttleworth

Director: Kevin McKendrick

Artistic Associate: Christy Webb, Set Designer: David Roberts, Costume Designer: Jenifer Darbellay, Assistant Costume Designer: Alaia Hamer, Lighting Designer: Michael Hewitt, Original Music and Sound Design: Keith Thomas, Stage Manager: Joanne P.B. Smith, Makeup Consultant: Miss Nikki Ying, Student Apprentice: Leah Read

Official Website: www.butcherplay.com 

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.