Everything you never knew about Titus Bouffonius!

Photo of Peter Anderson by Tim Matheson

We’re getting excited about the world premiere of The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius, by Rumble Theatre opening on Nov 23.

This production is a brand-new play from Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Colleen Murphy and it’s a grotesque “bouffon” re-telling of Shakespeare’s most gruesome tragedy, Titus Andronicus.

Now, if you’re familiar with the original play, it won’t surprise you to learn that this version is also full of murder and other dastardly deeds.

Here’s a brief (tongue-in-cheek) synopsis of the play:

Pretty much sums it up!

About her play, Colleen Murphy says, “In the cack-up of the 21st century, clowns are more suitable to my adaptation of Titus Andronicus because they bring a primal urgency to a story that both begs to be taken seriously and begs not to be taken seriously. A bunch of poverty stricken clowns from the gutters acting out their grief and rage at the world; mocking everyone else at the same time”.

“Bouffon”  is a modern French theatre term that was re-coined in the early 1960s by Jacques Lecoq at his L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris to describe a specific style of performance work that has a main focus in the art of mockery.

“The difference between the clown and the bouffon is that while the clown is alone, the bouffon is part of a gang; while we make fun of the clown, the bouffon makes fun of us. At the heart of the bouffon is mockery pushed to the point of parody. The parody isn’t directly offensive with regard to the public; there is no deliberate intention to mock. Bouffons come from elsewhere.”- Jacques LeCoq

We can’t wait to see what Rumble is cooking up. It’s sure to be a provocative and boundary-pushing night at the theatre!


The Society for the Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius runs from Nov 22 – Dec 3 at the Cultch’s Historic Theatre. Tickets are from $22 and can be found here.

Partnering with Whistler Brewing

The Cultch is proud to have had Whistler Brewing as a partner since the 2011/2012 season. Our patrons know that they can enjoy a quality beverage at any of our performances and can always look forward to the rotating seasonal beers. Megan McKay Hall, Key Account Manager at Whistler Brewing, shared with us a little history of the company and what it’s like to partner with The Cultch.

Greg Armstrong-Morris (Broken Sex Doll) and a friend enjoy some Whistler Brews at the reception.

Greg Armstrong-Morris and Dustin Freeland (both from Broken Sex Doll) enjoy some Whistler Brews at the reception.

Can you tell us a little bit about Whistler Brewing and its history?

                The Whistler Brewing Company is celebrating its 25-year anniversary this month! The brand was born a long time ago, but the real success of the brand has really happened in the past 8 years when consumers started to support local, craft brewers much more. We welcome everyone to visit us at our tap house and brewing facility in Function Junction, Whistler anytime. We love to show off what we do and introduce people to the faces behind the brewery. We are one of BC’s oldest craft brewers, and are proud of the history and evolution of the brand from 1989 until now – big changes in the look of the brand, how and what we brew and the people behind it all.

Where do you get your inspiration for the seasonal brews?

                We have our Brew Master, Joe Goetz, as well as our head brewer in Whistler, Matt Dean, who come up with the recipes for each brew, but it really is a team effort. Many people within the company weigh in and provide ideas for both recipe ideas and the story that goes along with that recipe. Brand development is a lot of fun, and it’s very cool to be able to put forth suggestions that may end up as a finished product. A lot of the brand inspiration comes from the area in and around our home in Whistler – Whiskey Jack Ale pays homage to the Whiskey Jack bird found in the alpine, Paradise Valley Grapefruit Ale gets its name from the Paradise Valley area outside of Squamish, and Black Tusk Ale takes its name from the famous Black Tusk peak in Garabaldi Provincial Park to name a few references.

As a company that is 100% BC owned and operated, is supporting other local businesses something that is important to you?

Absolutely! Supporting other BC businesses is, and always has been, a top priority. The general public is demanding the support of BC business and community more and more each year. It used to be that you couldn’t find a lot of local business to support and everyone was buying imported food, clothing, liquor, and the like. Now, it’s rare not to see businesses supporting each other on a daily basis and we definitely see that reflected in everything we do from sales to support at festivals and industry events.

How has your relationship with The Cultch been beneficial to Whistler Brewing?

                It’s been a great opportunity to showcase our products to the theatre community in east Vancouver and beyond. The people who are enjoying shows at The Cultch are obviously wanting to support local arts and their community, and a partnership with a BC craft brewer pairs well with this!

Can you tell us about Whistler Brewing’s role in supporting The Cultch? How did this partnership take shape?

                The opportunity came up to work with The Cultch for the 2011/2012 season and we jumped at it! As a company, we have always been a big supporter of the arts; whether it be live music festivals, visual arts, or performing arts. This is partially because of those who work within the organization and what we like to do in our extracurricular time, but also because the arts help to form communities and bring those communities together for common enjoyment. The Cultch has been such a pleasure to work with, and the people involved have always been so wonderful and pleasant.

Whistler Brewing is located in Function Junction in Whistler, they offer tours and tastings and have an excellent tap house. Join us at The Cultch or the York Theatre and enjoy a Whistler Brew on tap.

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Veda Hille Launches Love Waves at the York Theatre on May 28!

veda_hille_love_waves (1)Fresh from creating and performing in the homegrown hit musical Onegin, our favourite Vhine Und Szong  and East Van Panto songstress is back to celebrate the release of her new album: Love Waves.

We were lucky enough to chat with Veda about her album and upcoming concert!

Hi Veda! Many Cultch audience members were first introduced to your work and style through the clever musical mash-ups that characterize The East Van Panto. You are also well known in Vancouver for productions such as Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata and Onegin. Would you say that your work in the theatre has influenced this album?

Veda Hille: I have loved becoming part of Vancouver’s theatre scene over the last 10 years. I do think that work has influenced my personal songwriting. I have way more vocal things going on in the songs, and I often take on characters in a way that I never did before. For example, in Eurydice I sing the parts of both Orpheus and Eurydice. I also took more time with this album; in theatre you often work on a show for 3 years or more before it is ready. I decided to try that with Love Waves, and I think the album benefited from a really long slow process.

What can long-time fans of your music expect from this album? Are there any new elements that you were particularly excited to explore?
VH: I wrote these songs with producer John Collins in mind. He’s great on synths and beats and all these pop elements, and so I wrote songs that would work with that kind of treatment. I would say that the production feels like a pretty new kind of sound for me, but I think the songs at their core are still in the realm that I’ve inhabited all my life.

Can you tell us a little bit about the meaning behind the title of this album?
VH: Love Waves are a certain kind of seismic activity, discovered by the scientist Arthur Love. They ripple sideways through the ground, and are really good at knocking down buildings. I couldn’t resist that name, of course.

You have credited a number of artistic influences ranging from Bowie to Eno to The Carpenters to Eisler and Brecht. I have to ask – which artists are you currently listening to?
VH: I always love that question. It is what I ask other people all the time. I move pretty slowly on albums. Right now the ones I turn to most are Bowie’s Blackstar, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, and Sufjan Steven’s Carrie and Lowell.

Anything else you would like to share about this album or the concert at The York on May 28?
VH: I’m so excited about this show. The band is sounding great. I feel like I haven’t done a major concert in Vancouver in years; maybe that’s true. I keep doing all these other things! Which are also fun, but still. I am very keen to have the chance to be deeply and happily myself onstage with so many friends around.

Want a sneak peek of Veda’s fabulous new album?
Check out this review by Andrea Warner for CBC music
Keep up-to-date with the latest news on Veda Hille’s website
Love Waves: Veda Hille Album Release Concert
May 28, 2016 at 8PM
York Theatre
19+ Event

An Interview with Jenn Sungshine of Our City of Colour

Jenn Sungshine

Jenn Sungshine photo by Rebecca Blisset

March is shaping up to be a colourful month here at The Cultch. We are presenting two critically acclaimed plays, The Gay Heritage Project and Ga Ting, which both deal with issues related to the QTIPOC (Queer,Transgender, Indigenous, People of Colour) community. We had a discourse with Jenn Sungshine who works for our Ga Ting Community Partner, Our City of Colour, about her involvement in various organizations and the QTIPOC community in general.

About Jenn: Jenn Sungshine  facilitates with creativity and social justice media to evolutionize and revolutionize QTIPOC visibility and community-based work through Our City of Colours ( Community Partner for Ga Ting), Love Intersections, Out in Schools and the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia.

 

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1. What are your thoughts on the importance of organizations helping out the artistic community though presentations such as Ga Ting and other GLBTQ plays like The Gay Heritage Project?
Community partnership between organizations in the artistic community helps to facilitate a sense of connectedness through shared experiences. We all want to see ourselves reflected in the stories that are being told, outside of our own little silos. There is a sense of proud recognition and relatability when we can see ourselves represented in nuanced and three dimensional roles as they relate to race, gender, sexuality, culture and all of the intersecting experiences. I find this especially important through art because the ground upon which we walk and play and live our lives has the potential to be bigger and far more interconnected in an isolating city like Vancouver.

2. You mention the acronym QTIPOC. Would you mind explaining exactly what this means?
QTIPOC stands for queer, trans, indigenous people/person of colour – it’s a mouthful isn’t it? And why not? We are complex beings. We are cutie-pocs.

3. What is your involvement with The Pink Line and can you expand more on this initiative?
I’m the facilitator for The Pink Line, which is a new community-engaged theatre initiative created to foreground the stories of members in the LGBTQI+ communities, told in their own words. Our focus this year will be racism within the queer community. Participants will be drawn from the many racial and ethnic groups that make up Vancouver’s LGBTQI+ community. Chris Gatchalian, artistic producer at The Frank Theatre graciously asked if I would be interested in facilitating conversations around race and racism. It runs deep, like the microaggressions that we experience on a daily level.

4. You are a busy individual involved with many organizations that deal with important social issues. Do you think that Vancouver is more welcoming of people with alternative lifestyles than other cities around the world?
I don’t like to compare cities. It’s a dangerous road to go down on so I will only speak to my own experiences here. I think Vancouver is actually a relatively conservative city in terms of the actual minutiae of social interactions that people engage in and how they are subtly encouraged to express themselves creatively. Perhaps due to the scarcity of communal spaces and housing, Vancouver can sometimes seem quite stifling and full of unacknowledged competition.
That being said, Vancouver prides itself on embracing “diversity”. To me, the concept of “alternative lifestyle” is a relative one depending on sub/cultural connections as well as personal predilection and interests — from music to dance culture to food to activism — it’s very sceney here. Of course, like any city Vancouver has its own narrative. One that I find resonates with certain lifestyles and practices while not with others. I have my ups and downs with this city for sure but I have to remind myself everyday of how lucky I truly am to live here.
Lastly, I do think that we glorify busy-ness and quite frankly I am busy because I need to survive, not because I really want to be. Can I retire with cats yet?

5. How do you feel the Out in Schools program is succeeding in its mission? What more do you feel that our national, provincial, and local government can do more to promote the program? What can the community do?
Brandon Yan, my brilliant successor at Out in Schools can speak far more profoundly in all the ways that Out in Schools is succeeding in its mission! Personally I would love to see a SOGI policy at all levels of governance. While I do think tremendous strides have been made in classrooms here and certainly Out in Schools has played a hand in that, the work is far from over!

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The Cultch presents The Gay Heritage Project March 2 – 19 and Ga Ting March 8 – 19. To purchase tickets click here. Get your tickets before it is too late!

Ga Ting weaves a powerful and emotionally-charged story about an immigrant Chinese couple trying to come to terms with the death of their son, Kevin. When they invite Kevin’s Caucasian boyfriend for dinner after the funeral, the evening devolves into a fiery cultural and generational clash.

“Ga Ting isn’t just about being gay, but about parents getting to know your children and children sharing themselves with their parents…Go see it. Take your parents” — GayVancouver

Century Song: Five reasons you need to see this groundbreaking show

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 Century Song, presented with the PuSh Performing Arts Festival, is one of the most unique shows of The Cultch’s 15/16 season! The multimedia show provides a thrilling look at 100 years in black  history from a women`s perspective. The piece, a “music recital” study of ephemeral aspects of the Black Canadian experience over the past century, is completely wordless. The story is a survey from servitude to sexuality; pop culture to protest. Here are five reasons you should watch this groundbreaking piece of art. For an interactive experience click here.

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  1. Black History Month:  With February being Black History Month, Century Song provides a great opportunity for  Vancouver audiences to educate themselves, from a Black woman’s perspective, about Canadian Black history. Here’s what Ross Manson, Director of Century Song, says about this dynamic, “I learned the distinction between white and black feminism in my research into the 1970s. White feminism called for equality. Black feminism called for justice. The difference is vast. In short – I learned that as a country there is much under the surface of our history that most of us aren’t aware of. And so the question formed: why does what is taught in our schools omit so much?_MG_7652
  2.  Modern Dance: Neema Bickersteth and choreographer Kate Alton (Dora Award winner and K. M. Hunter award winner) co-created a unique body of modern dance movement featured heavily in Century Song. Alton creates thought-provoking, emotionally engaging theatrical dances that are as much explorations of the mind as of the body, working with writers, directors, and vocal coaches to develop inter-disciplinary performance works that pack an intellectual and emotional punch._MG_7774C
  3. Classical Music: The performance utilizes the UBC Opera-trained and Dora Nominated Neema Bickersteth on vocalise (wordless vocals) and music by some of the past 100 years’ most adventurous composers– 1912: Sergei Rachmaninoff (Russia); 1935: Olivier Messaien (France); 1950: John Cage (USA); 1978: Georges Aperghis (Greece); 2012: Reza Jacobs (Canada); 2016: Piano, Gregory Oh (Canada) and 2016: Percussion, Computers, Composition, Music Co-Direction, Debashis Sinha (Canada)._MG_6798C2
  4.  Innovative Video: The show’s projections were made by Germany’s fettFilm known for their innovative video production. By combining video with other media the video artists Momme Hinrichs and Torge Möller primarily create multifaceted works of art which do not merely decorate the stage or coexist with it but instead blend various artistic levels.They develop and realise their ideas, from the initial stage to the final presentation, in close cooperation with directors and artists. For amazing video of the performance click here. _MG_7291 - Copy
  5. Internationally Acclaimed Theatre Company:  Century Song has been developed by the Toronto-based, international award-winning performance company, Volcano Theatre, in partnership with Crooked Figure Dances, and the Moveable Beast Collective with direction by Dora Award-winning director Ross Manson. “One of those companies that every great theatre city needs – bold, experimental, and bubbling with ideas.” – Toronto Star

Century Song is at The Cultch’s  Historic Theatre until February 6. Tickets are from $20. Get your tickets here.

Images:  Photos of Neema Bickersteth by John Lauener

Leftovers, An Interview with Charles Demers

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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.

Join the Volunteer Receptionist Team at The Cultch!

Want to see some of the hottest shows in Vancouver for free? Want to show your love for one of your favorite East Van arts organisations? Well what are you waiting for?!? The Cultch is looking to expand our Volunteer Receptionist Team and we want you to apply.

Our Volunteer Receptionists are often the first person people will encounter as the “face of The Cultch”! You will play a key role overseeing all aspects of administration during office hours and gain valuable administration experience. Answering phones, data entry, filing, and marketing duties are just some of the things you’ll handle. Candidates must have a good working knowledge of both spoken and written english.

Our volunteers at The Cultch see some of the best theatre, music, dance performances that Vancouver has to offer plus you get free tea/coffee, ticket discounts, and chances to win assorted door prizes.

We enlisted Mona, one of our volunteers since October 2013 to tell you why she likes to volunteer at The Cultch.

What is your favorite memory about volunteering with The Cultch?

Working on the Internship Manual for Volunteers, investigating the office processes, getting to know the admin staff and their roles, and orientating new volunteers.

What is your favorite show you have ever seen at The Cultch?

The Daisy Theatre. No, actually it was a couple of years ago-Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Why should you volunteer at The Cultch?

It’s fun. The admin staff is very appreciative so you feel like part of a “team”. You get to see what goes on in the background before a production. You get to practice your office skills. You get complimentary tickets to the Historic Theatre events and you get to work in an office with a magnificent view!

Interested? Contact Cindy Reid, Managing Director, at 604.251.1766 x 112, or email your resume to cindy@thecultch.com