Behind the scenes of Act of Faith with Caspar Ryan!

Behind the scenes of Act of Faith with Caspar Ryan!

It is the opening week of Act of Faith (April 11-20 – opening April 12) and Realwheels Theatre have been hard at work getting everything ready!

Caspar Ryan, the Director Mentee and Slide Show Designer for Act of Faith, is here to share the excitement with us, and take us behind the scenes!


The date is April 9. It’s the fourth day of tech week. Pressure is high but the air is filled with magic and optimism. Our set is freshly built and it is grand. 


Set Designer David Roberts and Director Rena Cohen

Tech week is where the production really blossoms. Light and sound can turn everyday moments into theatrical wonders. I cannot get over the experience in the room. Thoughtful designers are bringing to life our director’s vision, which I am so fortunate to have been included in developing. I feel blessed. I am captivated.


Danielle Klaudt, our Actor playing Faith, and Stage Manager, Michael “Brooksie” Brooks

Theatre is alive. It is organic, growing and taking in a new breath each and every night — yet always with the same intentions. We cannot guess how audiences will react to our choices. But we dream big and we are hoping for a beautiful connection.

The props add detail to the world that can bring life to the characters and their interactions. Check out the props table backstage! Each item tells a story and is part of a story. It looks really complicated at a glance, but sharp minds track them all.


Props Table #2 and Props Table #1

Wheelchair movement is also part of Realwheels storytelling. Realwheels Theatre seeks to explore the disability experience in everything they do. In Act of Faith the wheelchair dance bridges a gap between dream and reality.


Directing Mentee, Caspar Ryan, and Dance Captain, Harmanie Taylor

The day ends with Thank you’s all around!

Thank you, from each of us to all of you.


Caspar Ryan is the Director Mentee and Slide Show Designer for Act of Faith. He has been with Realwheels for eight years as a videographer and performer. His media group, Caspar Ryan Film, has carved out a niche creating video for Miss World Canada and non-profit organizations. Act of Faith is his first opportunity to be part of the directing process for a theatrical production.


Act of Faith runs April 11-20 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online, or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

CREEPS is “…ferociously funny”

CREEPS is “…ferociously funny”

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Winner of the Chalmers Award and the New York Drama Desk Award, David Freeman’s savage wit and uncompromising dialogue will hold you spellbound!

What 1971 play is recognized among theatre insiders to have changed Canadian theatre forever?  If you guessed David Freeman’s CREEPS, you’re right!

Realwheels Theatre, the company that brought you the Jessie Award-winning production of “Whose Life is it Anyway?” (The Cultch 2014 season), and winner of the City of Vancouver’s 2015 Award of Excellence, returns to the Cultch Historic Stage with this outstanding new production of CREEPS.

Running Dec 1- 10, 2016, CREEPS tells the story of four disabled men hiding out in the toilet of a ‘sheltered workshop for cerebral palsy victims’.  There to dodge their condescending supervisor, the men escape the mundane activities (folding boxes, sanding blocks), designed to ‘occupy their idle hours, and vent their disdain for their institutionalized environment and the charities that support it.  

While sheltered workshops were a progressive idea at the time, with the intention to rotate people through as they increased skill levels, many participants – like the characters in CREEPS – ended up spending most of their adult lives in the programs.

Freeman was one of the first writers to put his own voice – a Canadian voice – on the stage in the early 70’s.  Freeman lived with cerebral palsy and wrote CREEPS on a typewriter that he operated with a mouth-held stylus.

Reviews of the play were unanimously electrifying:

ferociously funny,

“...Freeman treats his people as people, showing how in their world there is humour in abundance, and things can be hugely comic.”

…Freeman handles his material triumphantly.”

May all playwrights be as talented as Freeman.”

For the first time in the play’s history, CREEPS is being performed by an integrated cast.  Of the seven professional actors, three are actors who live with disability.  Realwheels’ production of  CREEPS will give audiences a rare glimpse into the lived experience of disability, filtered through a 1970’s lens.   Don’t miss it!

Creeps runs from Nov 30– Dec 10, 2016 in the Historic Theatre. Two-for-One special ticket price for International Day of Disability on Sat. Dec 3 at 8 pm. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363

*Please call box office to book if seating accommodation is needed (Wheelchair, PCA, ASL, audio description)

Recap: The 32nd Annual Jessie Awards!

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The 32nd Jessie Award Nominees!

The Commodore Ballroom was filled with theatre folk on Monday, June 23 to celebrate the end of another fantastic Vancouver theatre season at this year’s Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards. The room was loaded with beautiful people, great speeches, and drinks!

A huge congratulations goes out to all the winners and nominees. Some of these people may seem like familiar faces from our 13/14 season! Here’s a quick recap.

The photos are provided by @JessieAwards and @UITATheatre

LARGE THEATRE

Floyd Collins by Patrick Street Production
Jeff Harrison – Outstanding Lighting Design (This is also the first Jessie received by a show at our York Theatre)

SMALL THEATRE

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James Sanders receiving the award on behalf of his dear friend Bob Frazer!

Whose Life Is It Anyway? by Realwheels Theatre
Bob Frazer – Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role
Adrian Muir – Outstanding Lighting Design

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Drew Facey giving his speech after receiving an award

Penelope by Rumble Theatre
Drew Facey – Outstanding Set Design

Uncle Vanya by Blackbird Theatre
Marti Wright – Outstanding Costume Design

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Patrick Sabongui accepting the award on behalf of his Jason Rothery

Inside The Seed by Upintheair Theatre
Richard Wolfe – Outstanding Direction
Jason Patrick Rothery – Outstanding Original Script

Philip Birkby (one of our fantastic on-call electricians!) – Significant Artistic Achievement

THEATRE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES

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The outstanding design team from Jack and the Bean

Jack and the Bean by Presentation House Theatre
Graham Ockley (one of our regular on-call electricians) – Outstanding Design

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The fantastic Brian Cochrane receiving his award

One of our box office staff members Brian Cochrane received the Ray Michal Prize for Most Promising New Director!

Our Executive Director, Heather Redfern, gathered with other members from the arts community attending the Magnetic North Festival in Halifax to cheer for The Jessies

Our Executive Director, Heather Redfern gathered with other members from the arts community attending the Magnetic North Festival in Halifax to cheer for the Jessies

Nominations for the 32nd annual Jessie Richardson Awards

It’s that time of  year again – Jessie Award season! The nominations for the 32nd annual Jessie Richardson Awards were announced this week, and four productions from our 13/14 season have been nominated! The Jessie Awards celebrate and promote the outstanding achievements of the Vancouver professional theatre community. Congratulations to all the nominees, we can’t wait to hear the results! The shows from our 13/14 season that got nominated are listed below in their respective categories.

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Whose Life Is It Anyway? – Realwheels Theatre

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role – Small Theatre
Bob Frazer, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Realwheels Theatre

Outstanding Performance by and Actress in a Supporting Role – Small Theatre
Jennifer Lines, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Realwheels Theatre

Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Small Theatre
Kyle Jesperson, Penelope, Rumble Theatre

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Uncle Vanya – Blackbird Theatre

Outstanding Lighting Design – Small Theatre
Adrian Muir, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Realwheels Theatre
Alan Brodie, Uncle Vanya, Blackbird Theatre

Outstanding Set Design – Small Theatre
Drew Facey, Penelope, Rumble Theatre
Jergus Oprsal, Inside The Seed, Up in the Air Theatre
Pam Johnson, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Realwheels Theatre

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Penelope – Rumble Theatre

Outstanding Costume Design – Small Theatre
Marti Wright, Uncle Vanya, Blackbird Theatre
Drew Facey, Penelope, Rumble Theatre

Outstanding Direction – Small Theatre
John Cooper, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Realwheels Theatre
Richard Wolfe, Inside The Seed, Up in the Air Theatre

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Inside The Seed – Up in the Air Theatre

Outstanding Production – Small Theatre
Inside The Seed, Up in the Air Theatre
Whose Life Is It Anyway?, Realwheels Theatre

Significant Artistic Achievement – Small Theatre
Inside The Seed, Up in the Air Theatre

Outstanding Original Script
Jason Rothery, Inside The Seed, Up in the Air Theatre

To see a full list of the nominations, visit the Jessies website. The awards ceremony will take place on Monday, June 23 at the Commodore Ballroom. For tickets, click here.

The Inspiration Behind ‘Whose Life Is It Anyway?’: An Interview with James Sanders

The Cultch is happy to host Whose Life Is It Anyway? by Brian Clark, the latest production by Realwheels Theatre, now playing until March 22! The show has  already gotten great reviews! Fun Fun Vancouver said the play “will entertain you, but more importantly, challenge you”.  This is part two of our interview with  James Sanders, Founding Artistic Director of Realwheels Theatre, about the inspiration behind Whose Life Is It Anyway?

Your current production Whose Life Is It Anyway? is about a sculptor who, paralyzed from the neck down after a car accident, fights for the right to die. I understand that you have a personal connection to this play. Can you tell me more about why you wanted to produce it?

It was one of the pieces of film that I researched to see what stories were being told about disability. It greatly inspired me to see a high lesion quadriplegic fighting for the right to die. I cheered on his victory even though it meant his death because, to me, it was a victory about personal rights and, essentially, the right to live seemed extremely powerful at the time. At that point I was 21 years old and not age-appropriate to do the story. Flash forward to 2010 and I revisited the notion and decided that it was the right time the stage this production. Little did I know the incredible relevance that it would have this day in the community of people who are fighting for these rights on a daily basis.

Bob Frazer is playing the sculptor who is paralyzed in the play. This is also his third show with Realwheels Theatre. Could you tell me more about his connection with Realwheels Theatre?

Bob and I have been dear friends for almost 25 years. We have intimate knowledge of each other and it was a conversation on my balcony about the pursuit of excellence in theatre that would inspire us to create Skydive. Bob has been involved in every one of our professional productions and, I hope, will continue to be engaged with Realwheels Theatre for years to come in some capacity or another. I have been in many positions where I have had to trust Bob implicitly with my life. This, again, is one of those times. I trust Bob to accurately represent disability with the genuine craft of acting that will hopefully become another one of Bob’s great performances in his overall body of work.

What are you hoping audiences will take away with them after seeing Whose Life Is It Anyway?

Perhaps a moment to consider their own relationship with death, the difficult challenges facing its inevitability and the opportunity, if it presents itself, to have a choice in the last matter of time. It is hopefully going to be a conversation starter and an opportunity for people to consider their present beliefs and ways to challenge them. On a side note, I hope that the presence of the character with a disability will serve, in some capacity, to bring the audience closer to the disability experience when they encounter disability in their day-to-day lives.

Whose Life Is It Anyway? runs at The Cultch until March 22, 2014 at 8 pm in the Historic Theatre. Tickets are from $18 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 604. 251. 1363 or online.

An interview with James Sanders about his theatre company, Realwheels Theatre

The Cultch is happy to welcome Whose Life is it Anyway? by Brian Clark, the latest production by Realwheels Theatre, to the Historic Theatre this week! In anticipation of opening night, we had the opportunity to talk to James Sanders, founding Artistic Director of Realwheels, about the company’s mission and vision.

Realwheels is a professional theatre company that creates and produces performances that deepens the audience’s understanding of the disability experience. Could you tell me a little bit about the origins of Realwheels?

The origins of Realwheels go back over 20 years. It was when I was researching the body of work in film, television, and theatre that either employs actors, directors, writers, and/or producers with disabilities or stories that contains disability in their subject matter. I discovered hardly anything that was worth reproducing, save for a few gems here and there. I decided I was going to dedicate a section of my career to authentically representing disability and thus Realwheels was born. “Real” meaning authentic and “wheels” figuratively describing disability. Or something like that.

Since its founding, Realwheels has produced two original shows, Spine and Skydive and has a show in development. On top of that the company is also  active with the weekly community project Wheel Voice. How have all these different projects shaped the direction of Realwheels?

I believe Realwheels is driven by artists with vision and the voices from the community calling out to participate. And each has informed and inspired the other. The artists engaged in Skydive and Spine were greatly inspired by relationships around disability and that informed the scripts. The community artists saw these shows and many of them were then inspired to be engaged in the arts in some capacity. This engagement with the community has further inspired artists and production personnel to incorporate some of the values and relationships they have witnessed within the community of people with disabilities and to place it within their own work and/or the context of a new professional work. I believe this forms a very unique way of empowering and inspiring individuals and communities that will further reach out to the general public.

It feels like Realwheels operates at an intersection of two communities, the professional theatre community Vancouver as well as the disability community of Vancouver. What are the challenges and rewards of bring these two communities together?

Perhaps the greatest challenge is the language around describing professional and community work. I believe all of Realwheels’ work is professional and community driven, whether it is a national tour with $1 million budget or a community project that empowers non-artists to tell their stories. It’s all the same to me and I don’t think it’s really an issue that worries me too much. Many people have advised me that a company should not try to do both professional and community work but, again, I try not to differentiate between the two that much.

Whose Life is it Anyway? runs at The Cultch from March 11 – 22, 2014 at 8 pm in the Historic Theatre. Tickets are from $18 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 604. 251. 1363 or online.