Javaad Alipoor: The Believers Are But Brothers looks at the shape of contemporary violence

Javaad Alipoor: The Believers Are But Brothers looks at the shape of contemporary violence

The Believers Are But Brothers (part of our Ceasefire Series) is in full swing in our Vancity Culture Lab (runs until Nov 10), and it has been getting amazing reviews!

“The textural variety of the show is rich…There’s more to take in than a single viewing affords; that’s an enormous achievement.”— Kathleen Oliver, The Georgia Straight

“The Believers Are But Brothers is about the internet and it’s like the internet: it’s bursting with information and I’m not sure how to make sense of it, but I find it really f**king stimulating.”— Colin Thomas

“It’s an impressive and important show.”—Lincoln Kaye, Vancouver Observer

We had a chat with the writer/director/performer, Javaad Alipoor about creating the show that The Georgia Straight said “clicks all the links”:

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a mixed race writer, director, poet, and political/social activist from a city in northern England called Bradford. I tend to make work that tries to encode the questions it asks about the world in the form of the play; whether my own writing like this play or my versions of classic plays. I also do a lot of community and participatory art works, and try to keep my hand in some other stuff too; I helped to set up a campaigning group that defends migrants in the UK, and write about politics and social theory occasionally.

What inspired the creation of The Believers Are But Brothers?

Really, I wanted to decanter the Islamophobic and racist narratives around the war on terror. So if you look at a lot of the ways that so-called “Muslim radicalisation” is talked about its as if we are told there is a problem with Muslim young men. To be slightly tongue in cheek, there’s just a problem with men; and that’s what this play explores.

We are so excited to have you here as part of our Ceasefire Series: An exploration of war to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice of WWI. With this series we set out to start conversations around the cause and effects of war; in what way does this show add to that conversation?

I think there are some ideas in the play that will help people to think about (and ask questions about) the shape of contemporary violence, and in particular how it exists as a sort of fantasy that helps to order a masculinity that finds itself in crisis. From Brexit to Trump, Modi to Bolsonaro, a revanchist and vicious right wing masculinity is ripping through the world. We need to think about what it is, if we are ever going to stop it.

The Believers Are But Brothers is also a co-production with Diwali in BC, and part of this year’s Diwali celebration. We understand that Diwali celebrates “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance”; how do you think that your show brings light and knowledge to issues we are often ignorant of?

I think a lot of the show is about things that people sort of know exist, or have heard of, but that exist just at the corner of vision. The bits of the internet just below the surface, or the young man in the room in the corner of your eye. Hopefully, we turn the light from the centre onto the fringe for a moment or two.

The Believers are but Brothers
Credit: The Other Richard

The Believers Are But Brothers utilizes the app Whatsapp—it is a rare show that people are encouraged to keep their phones on for! How does having people actively engaging via the app change the relationship between you, as the performer, and the audience?

A lot of my work, especially the stuff I write myself, tends to be work that responds to the physical reality of performers and audience being a room together, so in one sense its not all that different. I suppose what this extra level of interactivity brings out is a sense of liveness (weirdly, given that the audience engage through a screen!) that helps me to tell a little bit of the story about the way that we can often be over faces or consumed by the velocity of digital media.

Have you been to Vancouver before? What are you most excited to see or do while you are in town?

I haven’t been here before. I’m really looking forward to seeing some theatre and film here, as well as seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I’ve heard pretty great things about BC wine and seafood too.

The Believers Are But Brothers runs in the Vancity Culture Lab until Nov 10. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363. See all three Ceasefire Series shows for as low as $65 with The Cultch’s Choose 3 Subscription package.

2018/19 Season staff picks!

2018/19 Season staff picks!

As you can imagine, all of the staff here at The Cultch are getting very excited to share the 2018/19 Season with you! We asked a few of our staff members what show they just cannot wait for, and here are the first few staff picks:


Elysse Cheadle, Head Front of House Manager and Volunteer Coordinator, SmallWaR, Nov 6-16, 2018

Elysse Cheadle, Head Front of House Manager and Volunteer Coordinator.

SmallWaR entices me because it is the follow-up to one of my favorite shows we have had here at The Cultch: BigMouth. Valentijn Dhaenens is an extremely powerful performer, who displayed a totally magnetic kind of controlled weight and erratic; as if he was at any moment going to burst in any direction. In addition to Valentijn’s performance, it was the beautiful execution of a simple concept that drew me to BigMouth (one man performs a series of famous speeches made by over 25 000 years of human history). Similarly, SmallWaR is focusing its attention in on one moment: a dying soldier reflecting on the impact of the cyclical trauma of war on his life and the history of humanity. In BigMouth, Valentijn made use of 5 microphones in a wildly creative and impactful manner. I can’t wait to see how the same experimentation is applied to the use of five projectors in SmallWaR.


Paul Phalen, Business Development & Hospitality Manager. Photo by Tiana He

Paul Phalen, Business Development & Hospitality Manager, Testosterone, Oct 2- 13, 2018

I am so excited to see Testoserone, and to open the discussion about masculinity. How masculine do you have to be, to be a “man”? This amazing production explores a character’s journey into the unknown spectrum that is masculinity, having just transitioned from female to male. “Do you think you’re man enough?”


Kelly Barker, Artistic Associate, Power Ballad, Jan 22-26, 2019

I’m really excited about Power Ballad which is going to be part of our Femme Series in January. This one-woman show, from New Zealand, is a feminist, performance-art, karaoke party – what could be better?! The imagery I’ve seen is striking and the reviews are great. I think it’s going to be an awesome night which will have you singing along while deconstructing the patriarchy and examining the way we use language. A unique show not to be missed!


Single tickets go on sale July 16, but you can purchase a subscription today to save! 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.