Get to know the performers for NASSIM!

Get to know the performers for NASSIM!

Coming up May 7-19, 2019 we have an audacious new theatrical experiment
from Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour (White Rabbit, Red Rabbit), NASSIM. Each night a different performer joins the playwright on stage, while the script waits unseen in a sealed box…Touchingly autobiographical yet powerfully universal, it is a striking theatrical demonstration of how language can both divide and unite us.

We are excited to announce the brave Vancouver perfromers who will be taking on the unique challenge: Carmen Aguirre, Adam Grant Warren,  Maiko Yamamoto, Marcus Youssef,  Craig Erickson,  Christine Quintana, Dawn Petten, Pippa Mackie,  Quelemia Sparrow,  Tetsuro Shigematsu, Conor Wylie,  Donna Soares.

Read below for an introduction to these fabulous actors!

ABOUT NASSIM SOLEIMANPOUR:

Nassim Soleimanpour. Photo by: Nima Soleimanpour

Nassim Soleimanpour (Writer and Performer) is from Tehran, Iran. His plays have been translated into more than 30 languages and performed globally in over 50 countries. Best known for his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit, written to travel the world when he couldn’t, his work has been awarded the Dublin Fringe Festival Best New Performance, Summerworks Outstanding New Performance Text Award and The Arches Brick Award (Edinburgh Fringe) as well as picking up nominations for a Total Theatre and Brighton Fringe Pick of Edinburgh Award.

Each night a different performer joins the playwright on stage:

CARMEN AGUIRRE (May 7):

Carmen Aguirre

Carmen is a theatre artist and author, and a core artist of Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre. She has written and co-written over twenty-five plays, including The Trigger, The Refugee Hotel, and Blue Box. Currently she is writing Anywhere But Here for Electric Company, an adaptation of Euripides’ Medea for Vancouver’s Rumble Theatre, and an adaptation of Moliere’s The Learned Ladies for Toronto’s Factory Theatre. Her one-woman show Broken Tailbone has just completed a cross-Canada tour. Carmen is the author of the #1 national bestseller Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter (winner of CBC Canada Reads in 2012), and its bestselling sequel, Mexican Hooker #1 and My Other Roles Since the Revolution. She is currently starring in the independent feature Bella Ciao!. Carmen has won multiple awards for her work, has over eighty stage, film and television acting credits, and is a graduate of Studio 58. carmenaguirre.ca

ADAM GRANT WARREN (May 8):

Adam Grant Warren

Originally from Newfoundland, Adam is a theatre-maker, writer, dancer, and arts educator whose career in performance spans almost 20 years —and has taken him everywhere from the basement stage of the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre to the International Pavilion at Walt Disney World. In the theatre, Adam’s west coast performance highlights include productions of his own solo show, Last Train In, Touchstone Theatre’s Kill Me Now, and Real Wheels Theatre’s CREEPS, for which he won a Jessie Award. As an associate artist with All Bodies Dance Project, Adam’s collaborations have featured at festivals including Vancouver’s Art on the Spot, Victoria’s SKAMpede, and Calgary’s Fluid Festival. With the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the British Columbia Arts Council, his new show, Lights, will be featured in a staged reading as part of Upintheair Theatre’s 2019 rEvolver Festival Updrafts Series. For more about Adam and his work, visit www.adamgrantwarren.com

MAIKO YAMAMOTO (May 9):

Maiko Yamamoto

Since 2003, Maiko Yamamoto has been an Artistic Director of Theatre Replacement, a company she formed with fellow artist James Long. The company’s work has focused on building new, experimental and intercultural performances that react to contemporary existence through a highly evolved and extended process of collaboration, and explores unique and challenging ways of using content and staging material. In addition to her work with T/R, Maiko directs, writes, teaches, mentors and creates contemporary performance for and with a diverse range of companies and institutions, including the National Theatre School, Company 605, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the MAKE Artists Residency in Ireland, among others. She holds a BFA in Theatre from Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts and a MAA in Visual Arts from Emily Carr University of Art + Design

MARCUS YOUSSEF (May 10):


Marcus Yousseff. Photo by: Kari Medig

Marcus’ plays have been produced in dozens of theatres in fifteen countries across North America, Europe and Asia, from Seattle to New York to Reykjavik, London, Hong Kong and Berlin. He is the recipient of Canada’s largest cultural prize, the Siminovitch Prize for Theatre, the Rio Tinto Alcan Performing Arts Award, the Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award, the Chalmers Canadian Play Award, the Seattle Times Footlight award, the Vancouver Critics’ Innovation award (three times) and the Canada Council Staunch Lynton Award for artistic achievement. Over the years Marcus has also written for a half dozen shows on CBC Radio and Television and a wide variety of Canadian print and web publications. Marcus is Artistic Director of Vancouver’s Neworld Theatre and co-founder of the East Vancouver-based artist-run production studio PL1422. He was the inaugural chair of the city of Vancouver’s Arts and Culture Policy Council, a Canadian Fellow to the International Society for Performing Arts and co-chair of the Vancouver political party COPE. He is currently an Editorial Advisor to Canadian Theatre Review, and a consulting advisor for the National Arts Centre English Theatre. He teaches regularly at the National Theatre School of Canada and Studio 58 Langara College.

CRAIG ERICKSON (May 11):

Craig Erickson

Craig Erickson has been active in Vancouver’s theatre scene for the past 15 years, working with such companies as Electric Company, Neworld, Pi, PT, and Mitch and Murray. Craig has also spent 10 seasons at Canadian classical theatres (Stratford, Shaw, Bard on the Beach). He earned a Jessie nomination for his portrayal of Mormon lawyer Joe Pitt in the acclaimed runs of Angels in America, Parts 1 and 2 (Arts Club Theatre, directed by Kim Collier).

Theatre: White Noize (Savage Society), East Van Panto: The Wizard of Oz (Theatre Replacement), Forget About Tomorrow (Belfry/Arts Club) Angels in America, Parts 1 and 2 (Arts Club), Titus Buffonius (Rumble Theatre), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Arts Club/Blackbird Theatre), Tear the Curtain (Arts Club/Electric Company), The Great Gatsby (Theatre Calgary).  Upcoming: Coriolanus (Bard on the Beach). Film & Television:  The Man in the High Castle, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lucifer, Backstrom.

CHRISTINE QUINTANA (May 12):

Christine Quintana

Christine is an actor, playwright, and co-Artistic Producer of Delinquent Theatre, based on unceded Coast Salish territory. This season Christine appeared in the East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz (Theatre Replacement/The Cultch) and Yoga Play (Gateway Theatre), Marine Life (Ruby Slippers) and co-wrote and performed in Never The Last for Delinquent Theatre at the Annex Theatre. Christine received the 2017 Siminovitch Protégé Prize for Playwriting, a Dora Mavor Moore Award and Sydney Risk prize for her play Selfie, and is Tarragon Theatre’s Playwright in Residence. Christine has BFA in Acting from UBC, and is a proud member of the Canadian Latinx Theatre Artist Coalition.christinequintana.ca

DAWN PETTEN (May 14):

Dawn Petten

Dawn has performed with Theatre Replacement for 4 of its renditions of East Van Panto wherein she has had the pleasure of being a harp, a Hansel, a Prince, and Gloria Macarenko(among others). Other favourite theatre companies Dawn has trod the boards with include: Electric Company Theatre, Bard on the Beach, Caravan Farm Theatre, the Arts Club, and Touchstone Theatre. Most memorable shows: Tear the Curtain!, A Doll’s House, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Our Town, Pavilion, Hedda Gabler; Studies in Motion, Unity, 1918, and Butoh on Wreck Beach. Dawn is a glad grad of UBC’s BFA Acting Program, has a bunch of Jessie nominations, and has received some of the hardware/glassware. When not onstage Dawn teaches Shakespeare and sex ed to young people (generally not at the same time).

PIPPA MACKIE (May 15):

Pippa Mackie

Pippa Mackie is an award-winning actor, writer and producer. Since graduating from the National Theatre School of Canada’s Acting Program in 2009, Pippa has worked with: Arts Club, Gateway Theatre, Belfry Theatre, Pi Theatre, Rumble Theatre, Firehall Arts Centre, Delinquent Theatre, Greenthumb theatre and many more. Pippa originated the role of ‘Leap’ in Rumble Theatre’s The Society for the Destitute Presents: Titus Bouffonius written by Colleen Murphy, which earned her and the ensemble a Jessie Richardson award for ‘Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble’. She was also the Vancouver Sun’s, Artslandia Magazine and the Georgia Straight’s ‘Artist to Watch’.

Upcoming: Pippa is co-writing a new show titled JULIET: A Revenge Comedy (with Monster Theatre’s Ryan Gladstone), which will premiere the summer of 2019 and most recently, Pippa teamed up with award-winning UK writer/performer Kit Redstone (Testosterone), as they are developing a show titled The Fucking Garden, a wickedly dark reclamation of the Adam and Eve story. Lastly, she will be playing the title role of Pinocchio in Theatre Replacement’s East Van Panto: Pinocchio this winter. www.pippamackie.com 

QUELEMIA SPARROW (May 16):

Quelemia Sparrow

Quelemia is of Indigenous/English ancestry from the Musqueam Nation. She graduated from Studio 58’s Acting program, and the Langara Film Arts program in Screenwriting. Some of Quelemia’s acting Theatre Credits include: Lysistrata (Bard on the Beach), directed by Lois Anderson,Timon of Athens (Bard on the Beach) directed by Meg Roe, The Bakkai (The Stratford Festival) directed by Jillian Keiley The Snow Queen (Globe Theatre), directed by Rachel Peake, Our Town (Osimous Theatre), directed by Bob Frazer, The Edward Curtis Project (GCTC/NA), directed by Marie Clements, The Penelopiad (Arts Club Theatre), directed by Vanessa Porteous, August: Osage County (Arts Club Theatre) directed by Janet Wright, Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout (Firehall Arts Centre), directed by Lorne Cardinal, and Where the Blood Mixes (Playhouse/WCT) directed by Glynis Leyshon. Various Film and T.V credits include: Clouds of Autumn, Fringe, V, Sanctuary 2, Blackstone, Unnatural and Accidental, Da Vinci’s City Hall, Dead Zone and, Da Vinci’s Inquest for which she won a Leo Award for Best Female Guest Appearance. Some of her writing credits include: A podplay for Neworld Theatre and Raven Spirit Dance called Ashes on the Water, Salmon Girl (Raven Spirit Dance), Papiyek (Full Circle Theatre), The Pipeline Project (Itsazoo and Savage Society), and O’wet (Savage Society).

TETSURO SHIGEMATSU (May 17):

For more than twenty years, Tetsuro Shigematsu has been telling stories across an array of media. He is a playwright, actor, scholar, broadcaster, author, filmmaker, and theatre artist. At the age of 19, he became the youngest playwright to compete in the history of the Quebec Drama Festival. Originally trained in the fine arts, he found a similar creative outlet writing for CBC Television’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Then in 2004, he became the first person-of-colour to host a daily national radio program in Canada when he took over The Round up on CBC Radio, where he co-wrote and co-produced nearly a thousand hours of network programming. His most recent theatre work,1 Hour Photo garnered five Jessie nominations, and won for Significant Artistic Achievement. His solo work, Empire of the Son was nominated for six Jessie awards and was described by Colin Thomas as, “One of the best shows ever to come out of Vancouver. Ever.” Empire continues to tour throughout Canada and across the world. Tetsuro’s award-winning body of work in film, television, radio, new media, and theatre is taught in universities as examples of cultural possibility. If you would like to support Tetsuro’s work, visit patreon.com/tetsuro.

CONOR WYLIE (May 18):

Conor Wylie

Conor Wylie is a performer, writer, and director creating experimental theatre. Alongside Nancy Tam and Daniel O’Shea, he co-artistic directs A Wake of Vultures (WOV), a performance company working across sonic, visual, and theatrical disciplines. WOV are currently developing Conor’s new work BODY AND MIND, a mash-up of experimental minimalism and maximalist anime cyberpunk, as well as Nancy Tam’s Walking at Night by Myself. Conor regularly collaborates with Theatre Replacement (T/R), Hong Kong Exile, and many members of Vancouver’s esteemed Progress Lab consortium. He is one of the core artists of T/R’s MINE, and is currently co-creating GIRL RIDES BIKE, an algorithmic multimedia motorcycle chase. Conor received a Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for Emerging Theatre Artist in 2017 .As an actor, Conor has performed across the country, at the Belfry Theatre, Arts Club, Theatre Calgary, Citadel Theatre, and most recently at Buddies in Bad Times in The Scavenger’s Daughter, the second instalment of Susanna Fournier and Paradigm Productions’ indie-epic EMPIRE TRILOGY. Outside the work, Conor is a single-speed cyclist, a craft beer stickler, casual gamer, low-tier softball ace, and a pretty good person to call if you have a fever for a secret dance party.

DONNA SOARES (May 19):

Donna performed Nassim’s White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at The Cultch in 2012. She is excited to find out what he has in store for her now. Donna has a long history with Theatre Replacement. She played and toured with them in Cinderella: An East Van Panto, Dress me up in your love, and Bioboxes: Artifacting Human Experience, assistant stage managed and helped cast 100% Vancouver, and sat on their board of directors for six years. Some of Donna’s other credits include: Salmon Girl (Raven Spirit Dance),The Enemy (Firehall),King of the Yees (Gateway, NAC),The Drowning Girls (Vertigo),Half Life (Theatre NorthWest),Green Lake (Solo Collective),Benefit (Downstage), and Cock (Rumble).Donna is a graduate of Studio 58 and holds a double major in Theatre and French from UBC. Now, shall we see what Nassim has planned for us?


NASSIM runs May 7-19 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.


FROM OUR FRIENDS AT RUMBLE THEATRE

Can’t get enough of the work of Nassim Soleimanpour (we don’t blame you!)? You will not want to miss his play BLANK, presented by Rumble Theatre April 29-May 4. Similar to NASSIM in style, during each performance of BLANK, Nassim Soleimanpour’s play full of blanks will be completed by a new performer before a live audience.

Performers include:
April 30, 8pm: Emelia Symington Fedy
May 01, 8pm: Peach Cobblah
May 02, 8pm: Maiko Bae Yamamoto
May 03, 8pm: Allan Morgan
May 04, 2pm: Hazel Venzon
May 04, 8pm: Kim Sənklip Harvey

We know you will want to see both amazing shows from acclaimed playwright, Nassim Soleimanpour!

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.

Leftovers, An Interview with Charles Demers

Leftovers_Landscape

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.