Introducing the Comedians of TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival!

Comedians poised to take over the York stage – with laughter!

We are so excited to launch our 2019/20 season with a brand new festival to enliven all of our venues every fall. This inaugural year of TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival will bring together over 50 Indigenous and non-indigenous performers—comedians, musicians, burlesque performers, drag artists, and more.

On Friday, October 4, and Saturday, October 5, some of the funniest comedians we know are taking over the York in a side-splitting night of comedy – BONUS – they are all kick-ass women!

Hosts of The Women in Comedy, Katey Hoffman and Cheyenne Rouleau

Hosted by Cheyenne Rouleau and Katey Hoffman (familiar to Cultch audiences from sold-out Cultchivating the Fringe hit, The After After Party), and featuring Canadian Comedy Award winner Martha Chaves, Australia’s rising Indigenous comedy star Steph Tisdell, Toronto-based comedian Nour Hadidi, and beloved local comedian Erica Sigurdson, we just know The Women of Comedy will be filled with fun and fierce belly-aching laughter.

Need a good laugh before the festival starts? We have your hook up here!

MARTHA CHAVES

Martha Chaves is a busy comic! She is a Nicaraguan-Canadian, fluent in FOUR languages (English, Spanish, French, and Italian), and does stand-up in all four! Chaves came out publicly in 2009, and has since been very outspoken in her comedy around the realities facing LGBTQ+ people of colour. Her infectious candid style, her captivating stage presence, and her gift to relate to a wide range of audiences grant her numerous presentations at comedy festivals around the world. www.marthachaves.com

PLUS – Martha Chaves is also performing in both Opening Night Bash performances!

NOUR HADIDI

Nour Hadidi is a Toronto-based standup comic and writer, born and raised in Jordan. She has appeared at Just For Laughs, Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Kevin Hart’s LOL Network, and CBC’s The Debaters. Last year she filmed a half hour comedy special for Comedy Central in the Middle East. Nour has written for CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and Comedy Network’s The Beaverton.  www.nourhadidi.com

PLUS – Nour Hadidi is also part of the two Opening Night Bash performances!

STEPH TISDELL

Steph Tisdell is steadily becoming one of the biggest names in the Australian Comedy Scene and has been collecting awards, rave reviews, and critical acclaim while selling out runs at the Sydney Comedy Festival and Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Steph is a proud Indigenous woman and is making a fast rise as one of Australia’s funniest Indigenous comedians, putting her in a unique position to encourage other Indigenous artists to come forward and showcase why they’re the funniest race in the world. www.stephtisdell.com

PLUS – In addition to being a part of The Women in Comedy show, Steph Tisdell is also presenting her show Steph Tisdell: Identity Sheft, is going to be a part of the Opening Night Bash performances, AND is offering a workshop on Oct 3 (3 pm) for people to learn how to use comedy as a coping mechanism and a diplomacy tool. 

ERICA SIGURDSON

Local Vancouver comedy gem, Erica Sigurdson is best known for her rapier wit on CBC Radio’s smash hit The Debaters, as well as her numerous television appearances on both CBC and CTV. She is one of Canada’s most beloved comedians, but also beloved around the world, having performed in Iceland, Singapore, Thailand, England, The Philippines, Afghanistan.

As a story-editor Erica has written for CBC’s Mr. D and CTV’s Corner Gas Animated as well as numerous pilots. Erica won a Leo Award for co-writing the 21st Annual Gemini Awards. www.ericasigurdson.com


TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival runs in all three Cultch venues, Oct 2-12, 2019. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

A look at Canada’s residential schools

Children of God is back in the York Theatre (until March 10, 2019) after a national tour, and its highly successful 2017 world premiere at The Cultch.

Children of God a new musical written and directed by Corey Payette, Production Design by Marshall McMahen, Lighting Design by Jeff Harrison, actors David Keeley, Sarah Carlé, Michelle Bardach, Kaitlyn Yott, Cheyenne Scott, Dillan Chiblow, Aaron M. Wells, Jacob MacInnis, and Michelle St. John. An Urban Ink co-production with Segal Centre (Montreal). Photo by Emily Cooper Photography.

In this powerful musical, by Corey Payette, the children of an Oji-Cree family are sent to a residential school in Northern Ontario. This 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.

The history of residential schools in Canada is a dark part of this country’s history. This selection from the Children of God study guide is a good starting place for those wanting to inform themselves about Canada’s past and present.

Residential Schools In Canada (Background)

The residential school system in Canada was designed to steal Aboriginal children from their home communities and forcibly turn them into Euro-Christian citizens of Canadian society. As former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s famous epithet from his 2008 apology to residential school survivors goes, the residential schools were meant “to kill the Indian in the child.”

Set up by the federal government, and primarily run by the church, the residential schools sprawled across the nation throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The last one did not close until 1996.

The system was rooted in the idea that European civilization was superior to the diverse civilizations of the Indigenous peoples, and that it was thus Canada’s moral, and God-given, responsibility to save Aboriginal children from themselves. By isolating the children from their lands, their languages, their relations, and their traditions; and simultaneously immersing them in European customs, primarily rigid gender roles, Anglo-monolingualism, and industrial vocational training, it was thought that Aboriginal communities would die out, and that a unified Canadian nation would emerge.

Archival photo

Residential schools, at their core, were built to commit what is called ‘cultural genocide’. These schools often became places where children would do menial tasks designed to keep the schools open at low cost, rather than as sites of meaningful education. It is also widely reported that these schools were sites of brutal physical, emotional, and sexual abuse against the children, often as punishment for speaking their traditional language, or trying to escape. Many children died while at these schools.

Residential Schools—Lasting Effects

As Children of God will explore, the horrible legacy of the residential school system is still felt today by many Indigenous peoples.

Many of the youth who attended residential schools not only grew up learning to hate their culture, but also grew up not learning how to raise a family, often in an atmosphere of physical and sexual abuse. This has had disastrous impacts for Indigenous communities. For many, survivors of the schools grew into adulthood lacking parenting skills, fostering another generation of children without a nurturing family environment. In many communities today, rates of domestic abuse, alcoholism, and youth suicide are high, many cases of which observers have traced back to the residential school system and the lack of self-esteem it instilled in the students. This ongoing process of undermining community well-being and cohesion, despite the schools being closed, is often referred to as intergenerational trauma.

Healing from Residential Schools

While understanding the vile history of residential schools and the lingering ramifications of this system, it is also important to pause and recognize that this trauma does not define Indigenous peoples and their communities. Many First Nations communities today are healthy and thriving, have a strong connection to their lands and traditions, and are raising younger generations that are eager and ready to continue this process.

On a national scale, it is becoming more common to talk about the residential schools in an honest way for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike—partly in thanks to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (see below)—which sought to offer space and a platform for survivors of the schools to talk about their experiences as a means of mending relations between Canada and Indigenous nations. Reconciliation politics is by no means perfect, as many First Nations are waiting for the federal government to deliver on its promise of better futures, but we now have valuable entry points into necessary conversations around what healing can look like.

Many communities that still experience the lingering impact of residential schools are taking matters into their own hands, and are looking to break cycles of intergenerational trauma through their own community-led initiatives, such as education, residential school survivor-oriented societies, and drug and alcohol intervention programs (see below).

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Findings http://nctr.ca/reports.phph

Resources on Healing and Healing Initiatives

“Healing the Legacy of the Residential Schools.” Where Are The Children http://wherearethechildren.ca/

Aboriginal Healing Foundation http://www.ahf.ca/

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society – http://www.irsss.ca/

Legacy of Hope http://legacyofhope.ca/

For more information about Children of God, and more resources, read the full study guide here.


Children of God runs until March 10, 2019, at the York Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.