A time for Remembrance: Women in War

A time for Remembrance: Women in War

This month, The Cultch is presenting the Ceasefire Series: an exploration of war to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice of WWI. The series features three unique shows that explore the causes, effects, and traumas of war from different lenses; one taking place during WWI (SmallWaR), one taking place during WWII (Three Winters), and one taking place in contemporary times (The Believers Are But Brothers). We hope you will come and enjoy all three!

Inspired by Amiel Gladstone’s fictional recontextualization of his grandfather’s war experience in Three Winters, Outreach Intern, Charlotte Wright, wanted to share the story of her own grandmother’s heroic journey in WWII.

After seeing any of the shows in this series, if you would like to share your reflections, memories, or stories, please email us at outreach@thecultch.com


As we approach a very special Remembrance Day we are flooded with images and stories of the incredible and heroic soldiers that gave their lives. But, as important as it is to remember the two generations of men that were ravaged by two world wars, it’s also important not to forget the women – who weren’t just left behind, but who were fighting battles of their own.

Marija Rudzites, my Grandmother, was imprisoned in a Nazi labour camp at the age of 17 near Riga, Latvia. When she spoke about her time there, which wasn’t often, she remembered pushing what little food she had through a barbed wire fence into the hands of the starving children in the concentration camp on the other side.

Upon her release, when Latvia was “liberated” from Nazi rule by the Soviets, she was given a choice: stay or leave. She, alone, chose to leave. She walked across war ridden Eastern Europe, leaving her entire family behind. She spent her days trekking across the continent for months on end; she spent her nights sleeping in fields and barns in the dead of winter, avoiding air raids that lit up the night sky like fireworks. I don’t know much about what else she faced on this journey, as she didn’t speak about it much, but I’m sure the horrors that I can picture don’t even begin to come close.

When she finally arrived at her destination, England, she was alone in a country where the language was not one of the three others that she spoke. After securing a job working in a hospital kitchen, she began to study. Before long, she hadn’t just mastered this new language; she had also been appointed one of the top nurses in the hospital. She returned to Latvia once, just before I was born. I am told that as soon as she got off of the plane, she knelt on the floor and kissed the ground – so grateful to have finally come home.

Photo by Emily Cooper

It’s not often that we hear the stories of the women that lived through these wars. We often forget to consider our grandmothers just as deserving of hero status as our grandfathers. People find it unusual that the events that take place in Three Winters are being told by women, when all the experiences were had by men. But the women were there too. Women lived and died too. Besides, at the end of the day when all the men were gone, who was left behind to tell their stories?

A time for Remembrance: Three Winters captures the defiance of the human spirit

A time for Remembrance: Three Winters captures the defiance of the human spirit

Louise Chapman, Cultch Development Associate

This November The Cultch is presenting the Ceasefire Series: an exploration of war to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice of WWI. The series features three unique shows that explore the causes, effects, and traumas of war from different lenses; one taking place during WWI (SmallWaR), one taking place during WWII (Three Winters), and one taking place in contemporary times (The Believers Are But Brothers). We hope you will come and enjoy all three!

Our Development Associate, Louise Chapman, had the opportunity to hear the early read through of Three Winters. She responded by writing this post.

After seeing any of the shows in this series, if you would like to share your reflections, memories, or stories, please email us at outreach@thecultch.com


 

Playwright, Amiel Gladstone revisits the site of his Grandfather’s internment

Part of the Ceasefire Series, Three Winters is a based on the true-life experiences of Playwright and Director Amiel Gladstone’s Grandfather in Stalag Luft III, a World War Two Prisoner of War (POW) Camp. Stalag Luft has become one of the most infamous POW camps of the war, mostly due to the escapes engineered by the Canadian, US and British soldiers held there.

Three Winters is set against the backdrop of the famous escape, but the real focus is the plays that the soldiers perform in the camp. Men in Stalag Luft were sent plays by the Red Cross which they staged in the camp, providing a creative space to escape to during the long months of incarceration.

The 1963 film with Steve McQueen immortalized the escape efforts of the prisoners in Stalag Luft III

 

I’m from the UK and growing up, every Christmas I would sit down with my Grandpa and watch the The Great Escape, an iconic 1960s movie based on the Stalag Luft story. We’d laugh at the jokes, whoop at Steve Mcqueen’s motorbike stunts, and hum the theme song for days afterwards.

My Grandpa was in his early twenties when World War Two started. He lost his best friend, watched his city turn to rubble in the Blitz, and experienced the brutality of the army. Like many people who have experienced war, he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and had nightmares into his nineties. Yet he found humour in the darkest of memories and would wistfully recall dances, dates with barmaids in towns he was stationed in, and one boozy night when he slept through a bomb blowing the roof off the house was staying in.

I’ve found this same humour in other people of my Grandpa’s generation. My friend Helma, now in her nineties, lost both her brother’s in the conflict. She still cries with laughter when telling stories of how, in occupied Holland, she would win local potato peeling competitions. Even friends who lived through the more recent Gulf War in Kuwait will share hilarious anecdotes of people escaping whilst hidden in boxes of underwear drenched in pungent fish sauce.

The characters in Three Winters, performed by an all-female cast, have the golden glow of youth that tinged my own Grandpa’s memories. They banter, they joke, they dream of the future and their sweethearts back home. In a world where millions are suffering and dying and their own fates are so uncertain, they explore morality and humanity in the form of theatre. Three Winters captures this defiance – to laugh and dream and live in the face of hopelessness.


Three Winters runs Nov 7-17 at the Historic Theatre. 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.

Thank you to our Cultch audiences for a triumphant close to our 16/17 Season!

Thank you for a wonderful 16/17 season!

What an amazing year it has been! The 16/17 Season was one of The Cultch’s most successful thanks to the continued patronage of all of our amazing supporters!

With 21 theatrical shows in our three venues, as well as countless amazing rental and festival shows; 11 Gallery shows; plus three nights of great music including, The Sicilian Project, DakhaBrakha, and the inaugural East Side Live, 16/17 was a great season for us, and we are so glad that you joined us for it!

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We had many grand adventures together; here is a look back at a few of the many highlights:

We joined together to watch a version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night completely in Hindi (Piya Behrupiya).

Piya Behrupiya

Photo by Company Theatre

We saw paper fights break out between audience members and bendy contortionist performers (The Pianist)…maybe we threw a few pieces ourselves…

‘The Pianist.’ Photo by Roaming the Planet

We saw the dawn (dusk?) of a new era in US politics ushered in as we sat in the dark Historic Theatre and did a little voting of our own (Fight Night).

Cast of Fight Night

Together we raised money for Cultch Connects, bringing over 1,200 people into the theatre who might not be able to attend otherwise; including families who are struggling to make ends meet, caring for a child with a serious illness, or who are new to Canada.

Cultch Connects brought over 1,200 people to the theatre with your help!

We joined together with our friends and families to make the fourth installment of East Van’s favourite holiday tradition the biggest selling show in The Cultch’s history! (East Van Panto: Little Red Riding Hood) Go Panto Go!

YAY Panto! Photo by Emily Cooper

We celebrated the powerful work of creative women for an entire month during Femme February!

Femme February included Mouthpiece, NeoIndigenA, am a, and the book launch of Girl Positive

We chuckled, chortled, and cackled together as we paid tribute to the 30+ year legacy of a local restaurant with a big heart, while singing along to catchy hits like ‘Testosterone’ and ‘Let a Girl Eat’ (Elbow Room Cafe: The Musical).

Elbow Room Cafe: The Musical cast members sing ‘Testosterone’. Photo by Tina Krueger Kulic

We spent time with old and new friends as we gathered to watch some of The Cultch’s favourite performers like: Esme Massengill, Mrs. Edna Rural and everyone’s favourite flightless fairy -Schnitzel (The Daisy Theatre).

No one is immune to the cuteness of Schnitzel! Photo by Alejandro Santiago

We felt the spray of ice on our faces as we gathered on the ice of Britannia Ice Rink to see Vertical Influences.

Audience members sit on the ice during Vertical Influences. Photo by Roaming the Planet

We mourned together as we watched heartbreaking and poignant Children of God, and then we sat together in the theatre to discuss how to respond to the dark legacy of residential schools.

Children of God cast members lead a discussion after the opening night performance. Photo by Roaming the Planet

And, after so many shows and fabulous events – we joined together to share meaningful conversation over many a glass of wine!

Sharing a drink with friends in the York Theatre. Photo by Roaming the Planet

We would love to hear some of your favourite memories of the 16/17 season; what are your favourite moments? 

Don’t forget to buy your subscription for our 17/18 Season soon. Shows are already filling up, get the best seating while you can! Click here for the full lineup.

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

Box Office Summer Hours:

Monday- Saturday: 12-4pm

Sunday: Closed

Also, open 2 hour prior to all performances