Children of God is getting all the BUZZ!

Children of God is getting all the BUZZ! – Must close March 10!

Corey Payette’s powerful musical, from Urban Ink, about the impact of Canadian residential schools has now been witnessed by over 35,000 people on stages across the country. People can not stop raving about this play; over and over we hear, ‘must-see’, ‘essential’, and ‘vital’, being used to describe it. Check out some of the latest reviews:

Photo by Emily Cooper Photography

“Children of God truly is a must-see for all Canadians, as a lesson about the true history of our country.” —VANCOUVER PRESENTS

“A triumph of dramatic ceremony.” —BROKEN LEG REVIEWS

“Powerful, exciting and emotional.” —TWO CENTS & TWO PENCE

“If you haven’t seen Children of God yet, you should go. Yes, partly because every Canadian needs to understand the legacy of residential schools, but also because it’s an excellent script performed by top-notch double-threat actor/singers and, even when the subject matter gets dark, it’s a real treat to see them perform”—ILIVEINEASTVAN

“One of the most vital and powerful new works in Canadian musical theatre.” —MONTREAL THEATRE HUB

Social media has been lighting up with amazing personal reflections and recommendations:

“An outstanding, transformative production.” —Robert Clifton, facebook comment

“Such a powerful and absolutely moving production. A true must see!” —Joy Clifton, facebook comment

“Very powerful and effective. Bring your tissues and stay for the discussion.” —Leanne Roy, facebook comment

“A show that all Canadians should see! It is brilliant!” —Jamie Johnston, facebook comment


Children of God runs until March 10, 2019, at the York Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

A look at Canada’s residential schools

Children of God is back in the York Theatre (until March 10, 2019) after a national tour, and its highly successful 2017 world premiere at The Cultch.

Children of God a new musical written and directed by Corey Payette, Production Design by Marshall McMahen, Lighting Design by Jeff Harrison, actors David Keeley, Sarah Carlé, Michelle Bardach, Kaitlyn Yott, Cheyenne Scott, Dillan Chiblow, Aaron M. Wells, Jacob MacInnis, and Michelle St. John. An Urban Ink co-production with Segal Centre (Montreal). Photo by Emily Cooper Photography.

In this powerful musical, by Corey Payette, the children of an Oji-Cree family are sent to a residential school in Northern Ontario. This is a story of redemption: for a mother who was never let past the school’s gate, and her kids, who never knew she came. Children of God offers a thrilling blend of ancient traditions and contemporary realities, celebrating resilience and the power of the Indigenous cultural spirit.

The history of residential schools in Canada is a dark part of this country’s history. This selection from the Children of God study guide is a good starting place for those wanting to inform themselves about Canada’s past and present.

Residential Schools In Canada (Background)

The residential school system in Canada was designed to steal Aboriginal children from their home communities and forcibly turn them into Euro-Christian citizens of Canadian society. As former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s famous epithet from his 2008 apology to residential school survivors goes, the residential schools were meant “to kill the Indian in the child.”

Set up by the federal government, and primarily run by the church, the residential schools sprawled across the nation throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The last one did not close until 1996.

The system was rooted in the idea that European civilization was superior to the diverse civilizations of the Indigenous peoples, and that it was thus Canada’s moral, and God-given, responsibility to save Aboriginal children from themselves. By isolating the children from their lands, their languages, their relations, and their traditions; and simultaneously immersing them in European customs, primarily rigid gender roles, Anglo-monolingualism, and industrial vocational training, it was thought that Aboriginal communities would die out, and that a unified Canadian nation would emerge.

Archival photo

Residential schools, at their core, were built to commit what is called ‘cultural genocide’. These schools often became places where children would do menial tasks designed to keep the schools open at low cost, rather than as sites of meaningful education. It is also widely reported that these schools were sites of brutal physical, emotional, and sexual abuse against the children, often as punishment for speaking their traditional language, or trying to escape. Many children died while at these schools.

Residential Schools—Lasting Effects

As Children of God will explore, the horrible legacy of the residential school system is still felt today by many Indigenous peoples.

Many of the youth who attended residential schools not only grew up learning to hate their culture, but also grew up not learning how to raise a family, often in an atmosphere of physical and sexual abuse. This has had disastrous impacts for Indigenous communities. For many, survivors of the schools grew into adulthood lacking parenting skills, fostering another generation of children without a nurturing family environment. In many communities today, rates of domestic abuse, alcoholism, and youth suicide are high, many cases of which observers have traced back to the residential school system and the lack of self-esteem it instilled in the students. This ongoing process of undermining community well-being and cohesion, despite the schools being closed, is often referred to as intergenerational trauma.

Healing from Residential Schools

While understanding the vile history of residential schools and the lingering ramifications of this system, it is also important to pause and recognize that this trauma does not define Indigenous peoples and their communities. Many First Nations communities today are healthy and thriving, have a strong connection to their lands and traditions, and are raising younger generations that are eager and ready to continue this process.

On a national scale, it is becoming more common to talk about the residential schools in an honest way for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike—partly in thanks to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (see below)—which sought to offer space and a platform for survivors of the schools to talk about their experiences as a means of mending relations between Canada and Indigenous nations. Reconciliation politics is by no means perfect, as many First Nations are waiting for the federal government to deliver on its promise of better futures, but we now have valuable entry points into necessary conversations around what healing can look like.

Many communities that still experience the lingering impact of residential schools are taking matters into their own hands, and are looking to break cycles of intergenerational trauma through their own community-led initiatives, such as education, residential school survivor-oriented societies, and drug and alcohol intervention programs (see below).

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Findings http://nctr.ca/reports.phph

Resources on Healing and Healing Initiatives

“Healing the Legacy of the Residential Schools.” Where Are The Children http://wherearethechildren.ca/

Aboriginal Healing Foundation http://www.ahf.ca/

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society – http://www.irsss.ca/

Legacy of Hope http://legacyofhope.ca/

For more information about Children of God, and more resources, read the full study guide here.


Children of God runs until March 10, 2019, at the York Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

RAVE REVIEWS: Children of God is the show to see this year!

RAVE REVIEWS: Children of God is the show to see this year!

The cast of Children of God | Photo credit: Emily Cooper | Production design by Marshall McMahen and lighting design by Jeff Harrison

If you haven’t yet seen Urban Ink’s Children of God, make sure you book your tickets right away. Reviews are pouring in, and everyone agrees; this is an important work that is not to be missed!

REVIEWS:

“If you see one work of theatre this year, make it this one” – Marsha Lederman, The Globe and Mail

“A beautiful and very powerful moment of triumphant solidarity between the stage and audience…the kind of reconciliation this country desperately needs but hasn’t yet earned”- Jerry Wasserman, The Vancouver Sun

“This is a brave work, and a starting point for important conversations …See it.” – Kathleen Oliver, The Georgia Straight

Not a dry eye in the house, as far as I could see” – Lincoln Kaye, Vancouver Observer

Children of God will stand as a catharsis for some, an introduction for others, yet a point of connection for us all” – Chelsey Stuyt, Vancouver Presents

“Julia and Tommy’s story will break your heart. Then sort of mend it.” – Jo Ledingham

 “Children of God is necessary…Go see it.” – Colin Thomas, colinthomas.ca

“Children of God is a story of redemption…Payette’s play should certainly be seen by anyone, religious or secular, who has an impassioned sense of injustice.” – John Jane, Review Vancouver

Children of God is a powerful work of living history and it should be seen by audiences across Canada.” – Peter Dickinson, Performance, Place, and Politics

“I don’t remember the last time I saw a more incredible, moving, beautiful or powerful theatrical production” – Emme Rogers, Emmerogers.ca

“[Children of God] lifts us beyond despair with a surprise ending that inspires a communal response. If that sounds vague, it’s meant to be. See it for yourself.” – Paul Durras, Vancouver Plays

“If you call yourself a Canadian then you have a duty to see this dark but illuminating work”- Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

“It was a healing, cathartic, and powerful moment that I won’t soon forget.” – Tessa Perkins Deneault, tessaperkins.ca

“It is obvious to me that this show was created and presented in a spirit of fierce compassion and hope, as is evidenced in the writing, the direction, and the provision of emotional support workers and a talkback. As such, this show is a salve. This is the kind of healing that we need and must decidedly work to carry forth.” – Sarah Thompson, Sad Mag


Children of God runs at the York Theatre, May 17-Jun 3. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

The world premiere of CHILDREN OF GOD!

The world premiere of Children of God!

May 19th is a very special night for The Cultch. It is our immense honor and privilege to present Children of God in collaboration with Urban Ink Productions, National Arts Centre English Theatre, and Raven Theatre! After two amazingly received preview presentations (May 17-18) it is finally time to present this timely and urgent musical to the world.

The cast of Children of God | Photo credit: Emily Cooper

In this powerful musical, the children of an Oji-Cree family, Tommy and Julia are sent to a residential school in Northern Ontario. Children of God is a story of redemption: for their mother Rita, who was never let past the school’s gate, and her kids, who never knew she came.

Brother and sister, Tommy (Herbie Barnes) and Julia (Cheyenne Scott) in Children of God. Photo by Emily Cooper

It may seem like dark subject matter for a musical, but as Writer/Director Corey Payette says in The Georgia Straight“How I understand musicals to work best is they express emotions that are beyond words, so when characters can no longer speak, they sing. This felt like a perfect fit.” In fact, when you hear Corey speak about it, the more and more a musical seems like the clear choice to start a conversation about residential schools. “What I’ve been taught from the elders I’ve worked with” Corey says in an interview with The Vancouver Sun,  “is that you cannot tell a story without that story having a song. You cannot sing a song without that song having a dance. And you cannot dance without that dance telling a story. So for me, the musical form really lends itself to indigenous performance.”

Watch this video with Corey Payette as he describes the story of Children of God.

Residential schools are a dark part of Canadian history. According to Reconciliation Canada, over the course of roughly 130 years, over 150, 000 children were forcefully removed from their family homes and taken to residential schools to be re-educated and converted. Today, it is estimated that there are over 80,000 residential school survivors living in Canada. This isn’t ancient history, this is our current reality; the last residential school didn’t close it’s doors until 1996.

Study time at Native residential school, (Fort) Resolution, NWT © Public Domain Credit: Library and Archives Canada, PA-042133

Children of God demonstrates the intergeneration impact of a cultural genocide,” says Payette. “It shows how this chapter in Canadian history changed the course of lives. We hope that it will help people understand what happened. We hope that people will enter the theatre one way and leave it changed” states Corey  in an interview with BeatRoute Magazine. As Colin Thomas says in his blog, Fresh Sheet,“As Canadians, all of us are connected in some way to the legacy of residential schools. Corey Payette’s new musical, Children of God, which addresses that legacy… may be one of the most important openings we’ve seen in years.”

Cast of Children of God. Photo by Emily Cooper

Children of God may have dark and triggering subject matter, but it offers moments of hope, and it is a true celebration of the strength of our indigenous peoples.“When I spent the years meeting with survivors and their families talking about the story I wanted to tell, the thing that I wasn’t prepared for and that I didn’t fully understand was the strength it took for survivors to forgive” says Corey in a Q&A with Artslandia. “I felt those conversations changed the direction of the show to be about celebrating the strength of Indigenous peoples to overcome this tragic part of our history, and this strength is not widely reported in the media; it’s powerful and a kind of resilience that is overwhelming to imagine.”

The response we have been getting at our previews has been overwhelming. This is a powerful piece of theatre. Here is what one audience member had to say: “Last night, Brent and I went to Children of God. I was astounded by the message, the play, the actors, the lyrics, the music and the incredible way it was all combined so completely. Corey Payette and the team did an amazing job. It was so thought provoking, disturbing, shocking, and beautiful , and I left the theatre full of emotion, guilt, strength, and sadness from the resonating messages. We need to get PM Trudeau in to see it on Friday when he is in Vancouver!”

Watch this great video with Corey Payette (Meet the Creator) describing the journey of creating Children of God.

If you want to know more about Children of God you can listen to Corey Payette and Kim Harvey on Roundhouse Radio speaking with Kirk LaPointe. And dont miss this great interview with Corey Payette on The Early Edition with Rick Cluff (interview starts at 2:39:57).

Children of God runs at the York Theatre, May 17-Jun 3. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Contains swearing, sexual content, and haze.
Due to the triggering content of the performance, Emotional Support Workers will be available to provide support to audience members who may require it.

BEHIND THE SCENES – Children of God in Rehearsal

BEHIND THE SCENES – Children of God in Rehearsal

The Cultch, in collaboration with Urban Ink Productions, National Arts Centre English Theatre, and Raven Theatre is thrilled to present the world premiere of Corey Payette’s powerful new musical Children of God opening May 19th at the York Theatre!

Pulling musical inspiration from Indigenous traditions as well as Broadway hits, this musical is a timely piece that tells the heartbreaking story of the residential schools through the eyes of one Oji-Cree family. Offering a thrilling blend of ancient traditions and contemporary realities, Children of God celebrates resilience and the power of the Indigenous cultural spirit.

Writer/ Director Corey Payette and Assistant Director Julie McIsaac looking over the script. Photo by Brain Chan

The creative team, along with the cast and a whole host of support personnel, have been hard at work getting ready for next weeks opening night performance. Here are some fabulous shots  by Brian Chan from the early days of rehearsals.

Actress Cathy Elliot, who plays Rita in Children of God, wrote a powerful piece about how working on the workshop of this show impacted her life; “It gets a little difficult sometimes to remember that the word “healing” had more power before it became a made-for-tv catchword, or a politician’s promise or a meme. I have difficulty saying it. Its meaning has been worn down, polished thin through constant use. But it is the only word I can use for what I wish to attempt to describe as a monumental event that has had an effect on my life.”

We love this shot of Kim Harvey (The Cultch’s own Youth Program Manager – we are so proud!) toasting the whole team on the first day of rehearsals! Kim plays Joanna in Children of God.  A huge cheers to Children of God!

Kim Harvey makes a toast to Children of God cast and crew. Photo by Brian Chan

Children of God runs at the Historic Theatre, May 17-Jun 3. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Great Reviews for Elbow Room Café: The Musical

Great Reviews for Elbow Room Café: The Musical

Zee Zee Theatre’s Elbow Room Café: The Musical celebrated its opening on March 2 and was an unqualified success! We had an amazing evening with lots of fun!  It seems we aren’t the only ones this musical has infected with joy – take a look at these reviews and get infected with the Elbow Room Café fever!

Photo credit: Tina Krueger Kulic

“Elbow Room Café: The Musical is simply the most JOYFUL, LOVING, FUNNY show to hit the York Stage.” – Jo Ledingham

“It’s a play that is endearing, heartwarming, uproariously funny, sweet, sassy and just PLAIN FUN!” – Monika Forberger, Entertainment Vancouver

“Underneath the belly laughs and social commentary, this love letter to Vancouver is FULL OH HEART” – Carly Whetter, Vancouver Magazine 

“It is tough not to adore this HEARTFELT TRIBUTE.” – Mark Robins, Vancouver Presents

“Perhaps it’s the nostalgia, the familiarity, and the comfort that so touches the audience, much like Elbow Room Café itself.” – Ljudmila Petrovic, Sad Mag

“Anton Lipovetsky’s WONDERFUL MUSIC and lyrics were so memorable. I’ll be humming along for the next few days.” – Lauren Chancellor, The Reviews Weekly

“Elbow Room Café is a LITTLE PIECE OF JOY.” – Ed Vaughan-Hughes, Daily Hive

If you are interested in reading more reviews or you want to know how this show has developed, check out Broken Leg Reviews,  Review Vancouver and Artslandia.

Photo credit: Tina Krueger Kulic

Elbow Room Café: The Musical runs from Mar 1 – 12, 2017 in the York Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Get 15% off your food bill at the real Elbow Room Café (560 Davie St) when you show your Elbow Room Café: The Musical ticket stub!

Photo credit: Tina Krueger Kulic

“Elbow Room Café: The Musical” opens at the York Theatre March 2

Elbow Room Café: The Musical opens at the York Theatre March 2

Elbow Room Café: The Musical will celebrate its opening on March 2 in the York Theatre and will run until March 12.

Elbow Room Cafe: The Musical is a candid look inside Vancouver’s most iconic eatery The Elbow Room Cafe. Known for its raucous service, celebrity sightings, and hearts of gold, the musical will feature everything you love about Vancouver’s favourite “abuse restaurant.”  You can look forward to a healthy serving of beloved owners Patrice (Allan Zinyk) and Bryan (David M. Adams), the crazy antics of hung-over bachelorette-party guests, flashy drag queens, and lots and lots and lots of love.

“Playwright Dave Deveau and composer Anton Lipovetsky pay homage to downtown Vancouver’s legendary breakfast spot, famed as much for its food as for the sarcastic service.”  – The Georgia Straight

The Elbow Room Cafe on Davie St. has been an local favourite for over three decades. Opened in 1983 by Patrick Savoie and Bryan Searle, it has become know for being an “abuse restaurant” – one of those fun places to go to to get a little witty banter with your breakfast.

The real Elbow Room Cafe, 560 Davie St. – The inspiration for Zee Zee Theatre’s new musical

We are really excited, and it seems we are not the only ones! Elbow Room Cafe: The Musical is one of The Georgia Straight’s “spring picks”  featured in the Spring Arts Preview. Kathleen Oliver  says the draw of the show is it’s “Sassy irreverence, which creators [Anton] Lipovetsky, and [Dave] Deveau, and director Cameron Mackenzie have proven they can dish out in generous portions.”

Not only did Elbow Room Cafe: The Musical get a mention in the spring picks, it was also featured as the cover story! “You know, the place is chaotic and rhythmic and colourful and gaudy and loud. It immediately sort of lends itself to the form.” says Dave Deaveau in the article by Alexander Varty , stating why they chose to create a musical about the local restaurant.

A couple Cultch staff display the Georgia Straight cover featuring Elbow Room Cafe: The Musical

If you’re interested in hearing a little more about how this show has developed, check out this great interview with Dave Deveau and Cameron Mackenzie on Roundhouse Radio’s Janice and Corey. And if you’re a foodie, make sure you check out CKNW’s Food Glorious Food. The Podcast hosts Richard Wolak and Zahra Alani share their enthusiasm for Elbow Room Cafe: The Musical.

“After a remarkable 34-year run, Vancouver’s most deliciously theatrical experience is finally taking the stage.” The Georgia Straight

Zee Zee Theatre Playwright Dave Deveau, and actors Allan Zinyk and David M. Adams on the cover of The Georgia Straight

Get 15% off your food bill at the real Elbow Room Café (560 Davie St) when you show your Elbow Room Café: The Musical ticket stub!

Elbow Room Café: The Musical runs at The York Theatre, 639 Commercial Drive, from March 1 – 12. Tickets are available online, by phone at 604.251.1361, or in person at 1895 Venables St.

The Cultch would like to thank our Production Sponsor -TD Bank, and our Community Partner – Qmunity.