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.

The Goblin Market and 1 Hour Photo are opening The Cultch’s 17/18 season!

The Goblin Market and 1 Hour Photo are opening The Cultch’s 17/18 season!

Next week we welcome two shows to our stages (The Goblin Market at the York Theatre and 1 Hour Photo at the Historic Theatre), and we couldn’t be more excited. It seems we are not the only one. Vancouver critic, Colin Thomas gave us a shout-out in his blog, Vancouver Greenroom:

“There are two piping hot shows sitting on the windowsill this week. They both open next week in venues operated by The Cultch” — Colin Thomas, colinthomas.ca

Want to know more about these shows? Read some of this great press before you see the shows!

The Goblin Market is a contemporary circus re-telling of Christina Rossetti’s poem, following two sisters, their temptation, sacrifice and eventual salvation. Delicious circus is precariously balanced with gritty performances and candid story telling.

“‘Goblin Market’ gets standing ovations everywhere it travels to around the globe. And seeing it within the intimate confines of the York should be eerily, mind-blowingly fun.” – Janet Smith, The Georgia Straight Editor’s Choice

Read ‘Five reasons to check out Goblin Market’ in The Vancouver Sun

1 Hour Photo is the story of Mas Yamamoto, a man whose life was swept up by the major currents of the 20th century. Written and performed by Tetsuro Shigematsu, 1 Hour Photo is a moving portrait saturated with the most vivid colours of our times.

“We’re trying to deepen the experience of listening by allowing the audience to look at different things to enable their imaginations to take flight”— Tetsuro Shigematsu, in interview with The Vancouver Sun

“…on a certain level I just wanted this ritual to continue—to sit at the knee of an elder and be transported to the past”— Tetsuro Shigematsu, In interview with The Georgia Straight

 


The Goblin Market runs at the York Theatre Oct 3-14. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

1 Hour Photo runs at the Historic Theatre Oct 3-15. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Join us for our Season Kick off Dance Party on Wednesday, October 4 starting at 9:30pm! Everyone welcome! Vancity Culture Lab, 1895 Venables St

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.

We are so excited to announce our 2017/2018 Season!

We are so excited to announce our 2017/2018 Season!

We had a blast at our season launch announcement party – thank you to everyone who joined us!

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We are so excited to announce our 2017/2018 season! Check out this fun video announcing the 22 amazing new shows coming to The Cultch in 2017 and 2018!

Subscriptions go on sale today! Browse our Spectacular 17/18 Season Overview. Save 20% with our Choose 5 subscription package or 25% with our Choose 8 subscription package! This season, the more you see, the more save. You’ll enjoy an exciting roster of artists and programs, from the best seats in the house. Order today: TICKETS.THECULTCH.COM

Single tickets go on sale August 8. Call The Cultch’s Box Office at 604-251-1363 or go online at tickets.thecultch.com.

The Daisy Theatre has returned to The Cultch!

The Daisy Theatre has returned to The Cultch!

After three sold out runs, the popular marionette production has returned to The Cultch. The Daisy Theatre celebrated its opening yesterday at The Historic Theatre and will run until April 9.

10 things you should know about The Daisy Theatre:

  1. The name “Daisy Theatre” comes from “Daisie”- puppet shows staged in Czechoslovakia during World War II, which were banned by the Nazi-regime.
  2. Every single show is unscripted and partly improvised. So every performance will be different.
  3. The story is dark and sometimes disturbing, but always ridiculous!
  4. Ronnie Burkett’s company consists of over 40 marionettes.
  5. This puppet show is not for kids!
  6. Ronnie Burkett formed his Theatre of Marionettes in 1986.
  7. The Daisy Theatre is “Ronnie unleashed”- a show which is completely different than his last shows with monologues and songs, but without an established script.
  8. Esme Massengill, Mrs. Edna Rural and the fairy child Schnitzel are some of the audiences favourite characters.
  9. The show celebrated its premiere in 2013 and enthused thousand of visitors since then.
  10. The Province calls it “Some of the funniest, most brilliant theatre you’ll ever be lucky enough to see”.

 

We are so excited about the show, and The Daisy Theatre has also obviously infected others with enthusiasm :

“His characters are the stuff of BRILLIANT sketch comedy…the puppets vibrate with life, even though the audience can see Burkett the entire time.” – Andrea Warner, The Georgia Straight

“This is a UNIQUE and CHEEKY form of live stage entertainment that honours and propels the dissident and mutinous roots from which it hath so richly grown” – Baird Blackstone, Broken Leg Reviews

 

The Daisy Theatre runs from March 21 to April 9 at The Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.  Ask the box office about our “see it twice price.” For ages 19+

Not Your Average Dance Show: All Hell is Breaking Loose, Honey

Not Your Average Dance Show: All Hell is Breaking Loose, Honey

Photo credit: Grouped’ArtGravelArtGroup

Photo credit: Grouped’ArtGravelArtGroup

If you come to see All Hell is Breaking Loose, Honey, be prepared to leave with lots to think about. This is not your average dance show. When it played in Ottawa, the Globe and Mail reported that, “Audience members lingered so long in the theatre, discussing the work that the… ushers, who wanted to lockup, had to ask them to leave.”

Created by Frédérick Gravel, All Hell is Breaking Loose, Honey is a tale of distraught men, the ordinary run-of-the-mill North American male – beer, T-shirts, baseball caps, cowboy boots, beer bellies and their hesitations, outbursts of violence, confusion, brusque changes of mood, right left, front and back, lurching in a drunken haze of beer and powerlessness.

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Frédérick Gravel has been active in the Montreal scene for over 10 years and graduated from the dance faculty of Université du Québec à Montréal in 2009. An interdisciplinary artist with experience as a choreographer, dancer, musician and a lighting designer; it is no surprise that Frédérick Gravel’s work embraces a mixture of styles and disciplines. He has become known for pushing the boundaries of dance choreography and turning it on its head. Says the Ottawa Citizen, “Gravel’s work dances the fine line between rock concert, trailer park party and dance performance. He certainly likes to push the boundaries of what dance can be – taking pleasure in obliterating stereotypes.”

Merging rock music and performance art into his dance performance, Frédérick Gravel’s work is emotionally gripping and hard hitting.  All Hell is Breaking Loose, Honey is described as being part dance, part performance art, and part rock show. Be prepared to leave this show feeling as though you have just experienced a particularly exhilarating rock concert.

les-bonobos

But don’t be scared away.  Just because All Hell is Breaking Loose, Honey deals with some heavy things, doesn’t mean it isn’t accessible. In fact it is known for skirting the line between the serious and the comic. This is dark comedy at its best. In an interview with The Dance Current Philip Szporer says, “Gravel has good patter… with wicked timing. He doesn’t hesitate to reinforce, constantly, the idea that contemporary dance is “waaay” too serious, and why not have a good laugh?”

Check out the trailer.

All Hell is Breaking Loose, Honey runs Nov 8 – 12, 2016 in the Historic Theatre. Tickets from $20 are available online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363

Thoughts on Vancouver’s Gay Heritage by Kevin Dale McKeown

McKeown2Kevin Dale McKeown, then and now, was the Georgia Straight‘s first LGBT columnist.

In preparation for The Gay Heritage Project we reached out to Kevin Dale McKeown, The Georgia Straight’s gay news columnist from 1970 – 1975 and currently writing for the online publication Xtra. Here are his thoughts on gay heritage.

Vancouver’s queer community has a long and rich heritage, much of it preserved in oral histories (and barroom gossip) from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, some found in early newsletters of the Association for Sexual Knowledge (ASK) in the sixties, and then, beginning in the 70s in sometimes excruciating detail in my weekly column, “QQ Writes …. Page 69”, in the Georgia Straight, and in subsequent periodicals such as Your Thing, The Gay Canadian, and Angles, all precursors to the appearance in 1993 of Xtra West. There have been many milestones in that history, some of them global, some national, and many less well remembered moments in our own city.

My own appearance in a publicly circulated newspaper was a milestone of sorts, and the founding of Vancouver’s Gay Liberation Front (GLF), the efforts to desegregate our “men only” clubs and bars, the legal struggle of the Gay Alliance Towards Equality (GATE) against the Vancouver Sun over its refusal to publish classified ads with the word “gay”, the public rallies and protest during the 70s, and the first Gay Unity March in 1978, which evolved into today’s annual Pride parade are all top-of mind when I think of our heritage and history.

 

The founding of many organizations, especially the drag community’s Dogwood Monarchist Society, which helped rally our community during the terrible plague years during which AIDS took so many of our friends and loved ones, were milestones worth noting.

The opening of a pioneering gay and lesbian bookstore, Little Sisters, in 1983 and their subsequent legal fight with Canada Customs over our right to import and read books that were meaningful to us … there was a milestone!

Yes, we’ve come a long way and made a lot of progress. But I feel that our “community” is now in a challenging period where we are questioning the need for identity politics and squabbling within our ranks over issues that would have seemed irrelevant forty years ago. There is still work to do, and we need to preserve our history so that future generations remember their roots, how hard we fought for what we have, and realize how easily it could all be lost to us if we do not continue to stand together.

We have many allies now we didn’t have before. And we can work together with other marginalized groups to continue to push for advances on all fronts. But ultimately I believe that it is up to us to support and care for our own, and I think that begins with educating and supporting the next generation, and the one after that.

Speaking of identity politics, I dislike both the catch-all use of the word “queer” to represent our community, and the ever-morphing alphabet soup we’re burdened with today.

I’m all in favour of the use of a new acronym, which comes to us out of the London queer community, GSD, for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Doesn’t “GSD community” say it all, without putting anyone’s nose out of joint?

I look forward to hearing more about the history and heritage of the GSD community across Canada through The Gay Heritage Project, and sharing some of my own stories at the opening reception. –Kevin Dale McKeown

gayheritge_HomepageHeader_v1-01About The Gay Heritage Project: Three of our country’s most gifted creator/performers set out to answer one question: is there such a thing as gay heritage? In their search, they uncover a rich history not often shared and shine new light on contemporary gay culture. The result is a hilarious and moving homage to the people who came before us and the events that continue to shape our lives.

The Daisy Theatre’s Ronnie Burkett said we would be crazy not to program this show! “Celebratory, upbeat, and deeply moving” — Toronto Star

The Gay Heritage Project runs from March 2nd – 19th at The Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street, Vancouver. Tickets are available from $20. To purchase tickets click here

 

 

Beckett + Greek mythology + The Bachelorette?

In just two weeks, our 40th anniversary season kicks off with the Canadian premiere of Penelope, Enda Walsh’s critically acclaimed take on Homer’s The Odyssey. Brought to you by Rumble Theatre, the team behind The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, this show promises to be the first hit of the 13/14 season! We asked Stephen Drover, the show’s director and Rumble’s Artistic Director, to tell us a little bit about this extravagantly imaginative tale:

“In 2010, the Oberhausen Theatre in Germany was interested in exploring Homer’s The Odyssey and commissioned five playwrights to create new plays based on the epic poem. One of those five, Enda Walsh, was not very keen on the heroic journeys of the superhuman Odysseus nor his intrepid son Telemachus. Instead he was drawn to the degenerate bunch of suitors camping out at Odysseus’ home, trying to win the love of his hapless wife, Penelope. The result is a play that connects an ancient story with a contemporary sensibility and explores the surprising complexity of the story’s minor characters. For me, the play is an exciting intersection of the work of Samuel Beckett, the narratives of Greek mythology, and reality TV tropes like The Bachelorette and Big Brother. Its rich language and brutish male posturing form an odd marriage of the beautiful and brutal. The characters have realized that they are somewhat inconsequential – that the gods have forgotten about them – and they have constructed a complex and deluded game to give their lives meaning. From a certain perspective, I cannot help but sympathize.”

Stephen Drover is the Artistic Director of Rumble Theatre. As founding Artistic Director for Pound of Flesh Theatre, he adapted and/or directed The Bond, Macbeth, DenmarK (adapted from Hamlet), co-directed Everyone (at the Caravan Farm Theatre), and most recently directed The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at The Cultch. Other directing credits include: Romeo & Juliet, Leaving Home and Of the Fields, Lately (Theatre Newfoundland Labrador), PolitoKo (Ghost River Theatre), Boston Marriage (Guild Theatre, Whitehorse), The Pillowman (Wild Geese Co-op), The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (Carousel Theatre), and Skydive (Realwheels – for which he shares a Jessie Award for Outstanding Direction with Roy Surette). He lives in East Van with his wife, Sasa Brown, and their son, Jack.

Penelope runs from Sept 25 to October 13 at The Cultch’s Historic Theatre. Get your tickets before it’s too late!

Tickets start at $18 and can be purchased at tickets.thecultch.com, by phone at 604.251.1363, or in person at The Cultch Box Office, 1895 Venables St.