A look at the inspiration for Tetsuro Shigematsu’s world premiere of Kuroko!

The four concepts behind Kuroko!

We are so thrilled to be presenting Kuroko, a world premiere from renowned playwright and performer, Tetsuro Shigematsu, Novemeber 6-17 in the Historic Theatre.

Wanna know more about the show? There are four concepts that inspired Tetsuro as he was writing—Hikikomori, Rental Families, Kuroko, and Suicide Forest. Read below to hear what Tetsuro has to say about these four concepts!

Hikikomori. Imagine going to your bedroom and never leaving. This is the phenomenon known as hikikomori. Japanese young people on the road to maturation, experience a setback: bullying, or failing their entrance exams. They retreat to their bedrooms and never leave, spending all their waking hours online, enabled by parents who don’t know what to do apart from leaving trays of food outside their doors.

Rental Families. Would you ever hire an actor to play a relative or friend in your life? How quickly would the lines blur? As bizarre as this may sound, the rent-a-family industry is a mature industry in Japan, a place where manifestations of the artificial aren’t seen as negatively as they are here.

Kuroko. Literally translated, kuroko means black child, or child of darkness, a rather poetic name for the stagehands in traditional Japanese theatre. Clad entirely in black, audiences in Japan claim not to see them, as they occupy a culturally specific blindspot, in the same way that Western audiences pay no attention to the strings of marionette puppets. The shadowy kuroko enable players to achieve feats of virtuosity, and the otherwise impossible. Is there a kuroko in your life?”

Suicide Forest. The original title for this play was Suicide Forest, We changed the title when we discovered that another play of the same name premiered in New York in March of 2019. This is an actual place in Japan, infamous for being the most popular destination for those wishing to end their life. Geologically unique, it is also an attraction for nature lovers, officially named Jukai or ‘Sea of Trees’.


Kuroko runs at the Historic Theatre Nov 6-17, 2019. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Spotlight on the Music of TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival!

A taste of some of the music of the festival!

TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival (Oct 2-12) is bringing together artists of all different kinds – comedians, circus performers, drag artists, and more – but we are particularly excited to introduce you to some of the musicians that will be honoring us by taking over our stages during the festival!

LEELA GILDAY

Dene musician Leela Gilday, has toured extensively in Canada and around the world. Her fifth album North Star Calling, which Exclaim! raved was “a guiding light, a beacon for those to find refuge,” was released in early September 2019.

Her first single from North Star Calling, “Falling Stars”, is “a love letter to Denedeh (the land of the Dene in the Northwest Territories).” *

Leela Gilday, featuring Sandy Scofield and M’Girl plays at the York Theatre Oct 10, 7:30PM. AND, catch Leela Gilday: Intimate & Unplugged at the Historic Theatre, Oct 11, 7PM!

SILLA AND RISE

Juno nominated Silla and Rise blend Inuit throat-singing and futuristic dancefloor beats. Their breathtaking sound garnered them Juno nominations for Indigenous Music Album of the Year, and Indigenous Music Award for Best Inuit, Indigenous Language, or Francophone Album, in 2017 for their self title debut album: Silla and Rise.

This group is gaining major momentum in Canada and internationally. If Tanya Tagaq says, “Pay attention” you just know they are a group you don’t want to take your eyes off!

Silla and Rise’s brand new album, Galactic Gala, was just released on October 5, and it is INCREDIBLE! Listen to, and purchase, the album here!

Silla and Rise will be performing with local legend JB the First Lady, at the Historic Theatre, October 10 at 9:15!

JB THE FIRST LADY

Jerilynn Webster, aka JB the First Lady, is a member of the Nuxalk & Onondaga Nations. She is a Vancouver-based hip hop and spoken word artist, beat-boxer, cultural dancer, and youth educator. With four studio albums under her belt, JB sees her songs as a way of capturing oral history, and isn’t afraid to write lyrics that speak to challenging subjects like residential schools and missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Silla and Rise, featuring JB the First Lady plays the Historic Theatre on October 10, 9:15 PM!

COREY PAYETTE

We are so lucky that the co-curator of TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival, the incredible Corey Payette, will be taking the stage on the closing night of the festival with a transformative evening of music from his award-winning and critically-acclaimed musicals–featuring songs and stories from Children of GodLes Filles du Roi, plus a sneak peek of the new musical, Sedna.

Corey Payette is proud of his Oji-Cree heritage from Northern Ontario, and has worked across Canada as a playwright, actor, composer, and director. He is the Artistic Director of Urban Ink (Vancouver, BC).

Corey Payette Musical Songbook plays at the Historic Theatre on October 12 at 7 PM! FEATURING: Corey Payette, Michelle Bardach (singer), Chelsea Rose (singer), Sean Bayntyn (piano), Molly MacKinnon (violin), John Kastelic (viola), Doug Gorkoff (cello).


TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival, presented with Urban Ink, runs on all three Cultch stages until October 12! Find the full schedule of events at transformcabaret.com

Staff Picks – TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival Edition!

The Cultch staff are excited for TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival!

It is that time of year again! Time for you to hear from a few of our staff about some of the shows they are excited for in our 19/20 Season. This year we are featuring shows from our inaugural TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival!

Louise Chapman, Development Manager

Louise Chapman cannot wait for Steph Tisdell!

FESTIVAL PICK: Steph Tisdell: Identity Steft (Oct 5 and 6, 4 pm, Historic Theatre)

I am a huge stand-up comedy fan, and I’m really excited about Steph Tisdell’s show Identity Steft. She recently took the Edinburgh Fringe by storm, and has been named the rising star of Australian comedy.

It really makes my heart sing to see artists from diverse backgrounds using laughter to stand up to white supremacy and the patriarchy. That takes incredible courage and awe-inspiring skill.  I can’t wait!

Paul Phalen, Business Development & Hospitality Manager.

FESTIVAL PICKS: The Women of Comedy (Oct 4 and 5, 7:30PM, York Theatre), Family Drag Brunch and Dress up (Oct 6, 11AM, Vancity Culture Lab).

There is so much to see in the festival, but these two shows, I will not miss!

I can’t wait to see The Women of Comedy! These amazing funny women are the best in the country, and it also features the smart and funny Steph Tisdall of Australia.

Martha Chavez, the “Grand Dame” of Canadian comedy, who is featured on CBC`s Debaters and Because News, is hilarious and makes me howl with laughter. Nour Hadidi‘s dry sense of humour makes me wish I was her best friend, so I could laugh with her everyday!

Local comedy writer and performer Erica Sigurdson, has become a favourite on CBC`s the Debaters and will have us all laughing all the way to the bathroom!

Peach Cobblah & Isolde N. Barron are hosting Family Drag Brunch and Dress Up!

Our Sunday morning Family Drag Brunch and Dress up, is a chance for parents and kids to have dress-up fun together, and learn that there is nothing too silly or fun when it comes to drag.

Parents and kids will have lessons in fashion, make up and presentation, and be a part of a family drag runway show judged by kids. Enjoy a great breakfast and have fun with the whole family!

This show is so exciting to me because every child is an individual, and allowing them to express themselves in their own way opens the doors to so many amazing adventures in learning, for both the child and the parent.

Lisa Mennell, Communications Associate.

Lisa Mennell is excited to hear great music!

FESTIVAL PICKS: Leela Gilday Featuring Sandy Scofield and M’Girl (Oct 10, 7:30PM, York Theatre), Silla and Rise Featuring JB the First Lady (Oct Oct 10, 9:15PM).

It goes without saying that I am very excited about the entire festival, but two shows that I am particularly stoked for are Silla and Rise Featuring JB the First Lady, and Leela Gilday Featuring Sandy Scofield and M’Girl.

We don’t often present music as part of our season, and though theatre is usually my art of choice, I am really excited to hear some incredible music on our stages.

Leela Gilday is a Dene artists from NWT, and she has recently release a new album, North Star Calling, which she says is about “facing your fears, standing in the pain, and living with courage, boldness and joy.” I have been listening to it, and it is incredible! PLUS – she is performing Sandy Scofield and M’Girl – whose performance at Main St. Car Free Day was one of the highlights of my summer!

I have always been so in love with throat singing, and Silla and Rise combine throat singing with dance floor beats. From what I have seen, they are incredible live performers, and their music is so amazing, that I just know their show with JB the First Lady is going to be sooo fun!

PLUS – Silla and Rise are releasing their new album, Galactic Gala, on Oct 5, five days before they hit our Historic stage. Talk about timing!


TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival will be nine days of performance of all types in all three Cultch stages (Historic Theatre, York Theatre, Vancity Culture Lab). For full festival details check out www.transformcabaret.com

A conversation with Much Ado About Nothing Director, Rebecca Patterson

A conversation with Much Ado About Nothing Director, Rebecca Patterson

Previously from New York City, Rebecca Patterson is known for her inventive classical productions featuring all-female casts for The Queen’s Company (NYC) and her advocacy for diversity and gender-blind casting. As Classic Chic Productions prepares to open Much Ado About Nothing this week, we caught up with Rebecca to chat about her work and inspirations.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Born in California and raised in Western Canada, I went to Studio 58 as an actor before beginning my ongoing journey as an auteur theatre director. For the past 20 years I have been happily living and making theatre in New York City, I moved back home to Vancouver just over a year ago and am now making theatre here in addition to my work in NYC.

Can you tell us more about your work at The Queen’s Company in NYC?
Founded in 2000, The Queen’s Company is a NYC-based theatre company dedicated to the creation of inventive productions of classical plays featuring all-female casts. My work with the company weds a love of language to a love of life, weaving inspiration from history and world cultures into the fabric of each production, and is known for its exquisite use of language, bold physicality, creative storytelling and artistic playfulness. I have also been a vocal advocate for culture change in casting practices, calling for greater opportunities for classically trained professional female actors through all-female productions and gender-blind casting.

Why is gender-blind casting important?
Because it’s about humanity. It is a true reflection of our current culture where the old divisions between men and women are falling away. It is also about social justice and equal employment opportunity for female actors.

What inspires your work?
Life, and the actors I have the pleasure and privilege to work with.

What makes you most excited about being back in Vancouver?
Vancouver has become the city I went in search of, diverse, engaged, hopeful, curious. The city and the theatre community excites me, though I love the dynamic energy and drive of NYC, I miss my culture and my people, it is wonderful being back and diving into this new experiment.

What does it mean to you to be part of the Femme Series?
It means I am claiming space onstage for women and encouraging other women to do the same. This is important, we need to have our diverse voices heard and seen. It will be the journey of multiple lifetimes to undo the untold generations of female silence, to arrive at a time where equality of expression is the norm, this is why, even as women achieve more overt equality, programs like the Femme Series remain important and relevant.

What should audiences expect from Classic Chic’s Much Ado About Nothing?
Expect to be surprised.

Tell us about a woman who has inspired you.
So many to choose from! Of all the fierce females who make my day, I have to choose the French female director Ariane Mnouchkine, within the artistry of stage direction she is considered one the best, her relentless pursuit of truth and bold theatricality has been deeply inspirational and fueled my passion to create theatre.

Photo by Emily Cooper

Much Ado About Nothing runs Feb 5 to 16 at the Historic Theatre (1895 Venables Street). Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Ghosts of Scrooges past!

Ghosts of Scrooges Past!

The story of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, is one of the best known and best loved Christmas stories. This beloved tale of redemption has been told and retold in many forms, from traditional tellings, to those that are down right brazen.

Esmé Massengill

Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens, which opened this week in the Historic Theatre falls firmly in the brazen category, with beloved Daisy Theatre character—the booze loving, faded and jaded Diva—Esmé Massengill, taking on the role of legendary miser, Scrooge.

In this role, so perfectly suited to her, Esmé Massengill joins the ranks of so many other celebrities who have taken on the challenge of playing Dickens’ Ebeneezer Scrooge (we think she does it best!).

Here is a look at a few other famous faces that have taken on this legendary role. Esmé is in good company!


Little Dickens runs Dec 4 – 22, 2018 at the Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

 

Our 17/18 season takes its final bow – thank you for making it so much fun!

Our 17/18 season takes its final bow – thank you for making it so much fun!

With the closing of Bears we have officially finished our 17/18 season — and what a season! Thank you for taking the journey with us, and making our 17/18 season our most successful one to date.

The cast of Bears gets a well deserved standing ovation! Photo by Roaming the Planet.

With 21 theatrical shows across our three different stages, three great Soft Cedar shows (and more to come!), partnerships with some of the most amazing companies in Vancouver and around the world, and a million amazing memories, it has been a busy year, and we can’t help but get a little nostalgic. Take a peek at a few of the great curtain calls from the season — we bet you can’t help but get a little nostalgic too!

And now it is your turn — take a bow — we couldn’t do any of this without you! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!


 Don’t forget to buy your subscription for our 18/19 season soon. Shows are already filling up!

Thank you for choosing to make The Cultch, and the arts, a part of your life!

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 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.