A conversation with Paneet Singh, Writer/Director of A Vancouver Guldasta!

A conversation with Paneet Singh, Writer/Director of A Vancouver Guldasta

Paneet Singh. Photo by Pardeep Singh Photography

The Cultch is excited to once again partner with Diwali in BC. This year we are co-presenting two shows, The Believers Are But Brothers ( Oct 30 – Nov 10, Vancity Culture Lab) and A Vancouver Guldasta (Oct 2 – 21, Vancity Culture Lab). A Vancouver Guldasta, written and directed by Paneet Singh and produced by South Asian Canadian Histories Association (SACHA), opens next week and we couldn’t be more excited. We chatted with Paneet Singh, and he gave us a little background about the show.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a playwright and filmmaker based out of Burnaby. I absolutely love history, and especially the history of the local South Asian community. A lot of my work is around examining intimate stories that happen within large-scale events, much like the story in A Vancouver Guldasta. I also work in admin and am part of the instructional staff at Arts Umbrella, working mostly out of the Surrey locations. Above all else, I love storytelling. I consider engaging with story to be a large part of my professional and personal life, as well as my spiritual journey – and really the only way in which all of these aspects of my life can intersect. I also like to make a lot of jokes. Usually when I shouldn’t be making jokes. I thought that was important to share.

Where did you get the idea for A Vancouver Guldasta?

About a decade ago, a friend of mine gave me a VHS tape that he had gotten from his uncle which contained a ton of local and newscasts from 1984 immediately after the invasion of the Golden Temple. I was so moved by the content and I knew that there was a story to discover around it. I played with it in many ways over the past few years, eventually discovering that the story would be well-served to be told in a way which captured that trauma is shared across generations and cultures – from there, A Vancouver Guldasta was born.

Is it true that the word ‘Guldasta’ means ‘bouquet’? Can you explain what the significance of the word Guldasta is in the context of A Vancouver Guldasta?

Yes, it does! Guldasta means ‘bouquet’ in a few languages from South Asia, including Punjabi, Hindi, and Urdu. The title is meant to reflect the make-up of many Vancouver neighborhoods that many of us grew up in, where families weren’t just those who you were biologically related to, but also became those who you shared a living space with, and interacted with everyday. It speaks to this being a story experienced in a space which appears to be a Punjabi space, but is actually intercultural. ‘Guldasta’ is also a term used in Indian classical music to refer to a composition that is made up of contrasting musical measures – but I won’t go too far into it, as that’s explored in my favourite scene of the show!

The Golden Temple, also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib (“abode of God”) or Darbar Sahib, (Punjabi pronunciation: [dəɾbɑɾ sɑhɪb], “exalted holy court”), is a Gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India. Credit Wikipedia

The invasion of the Golden Temple is a significant event in the Punjabi community. Were there difficulties writing about such a significant period of time, one that is so firmly cemented into people’s minds? How did you overcome these?

The biggest challenge comes from the fact that it’s in the lived experience for so much of the community. Even those of us who didn’t live through it personally, feel the tremors of its impact and have inherited the trauma from those around us. Furthermore, the politics of 1984 form the basis of politics today within the community. Most people want to examine one or the other – the politics, or the trauma. I feel as though the two are so heavily intertwined, to really unpack either you need to see how they intersect, and that’s what forms the basis of this piece. You can approach the politics and trauma in a sensitive manner if you put a face and experience to them. I did a lot of research, observation, and consultation in order to ensure that there was a truth and sensitivity behind every distinct voice that is reacting to this catastrophic incident.

What can you tell us about the characters in the play?

They’re so different from one another, but I think you can really believe them to be interacting the way that they do. They’re funny, they’re bold, they’re dynamic, and they’ve all got something to say – but, perhaps they’re still discovering the right way to say it. I don’t want to get too much into each character individually, but the thing that surprises me most about this show is that an audience member will often say that a particular character reminds them of themselves, but they really found themselves listening to the character who was opposed to them – to me, that’s really exciting because it means that there’s a strong thesis and antithesis being examined and there’s a compelling enough argument to draw the attention of otherwise unwilling ears.

Lou Ticzon as Andy, Gunjan Kundhal as Niranjan, Parm Soor as Chattar, and Arshdeep Purba as Rani. Photo by Pardeep Singh Photography

We are so excited to have A Vancouver Guldasta in our Culture Lab; the last time it was presented, the stage was set in an actual Vancouver Special, the location that the play is set. How did you manage creating a stage inside of a home? What are you looking forward to about having it in our Culture Lab?

Typical Vancouver Specials. “Vancouver Specials have similar floor plans with the main living quarters on the upper floor and secondary bedrooms on the bottom, making them ideal for secondary suites.” Credit Wikipedia

It was tough staging it in that space, but I was stubborn! I knew that I wanted to experiment with that location the first time we put it up, just because there’s so much gravitas with this particular story in that space which is, in other regards, so infamously humble and common. We had three rows of bleachers built into the room and squeezed in 25 people, crammed in shoulder-to-shoulder, to watch this show that was entirely lit by practical lighting, and had all the sound coming out of the television set. It wasn’t glamorous, but it really forced you into the world of the characters, and audiences really responded to it.

I’m twice as excited now because we get to bring that experience into the Lab. We’re playing with the audience’s seating arrangement, we’re playing with projection, and we’re playing with some of that good ol’ 80s technology to really make it as much of an experience as it was in the house. It’s fun re-imagining it in this space – it feels like a whole new production. I have been approaching it creatively not in a way in which I’m trying to get the Lab to become that living room, but rather respecting the Lab for what it offers, and discovering how these feelings translate in this new space, for a larger audience.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the production?

I am really struck by how much this show strikes a personal chord with so many audiences – Sikh, South Asian, Vietnamese, Vancouver residents, and those who fit into none of the above, have all said they found a story in this story that resonated with their own personal experience – and I love that. Experience and empathy lies at the heart of much my work, and A Vancouver Guldasta is no exception, so I really want to invite folks into this intimate space to spend time with this family. Certainly a unique family – but still one that’s perhaps not so far-from-home.


A Vancouver Guldasta runs Oct 2-21 at the Vancity Culture Lab. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Announcing the 2018 rEvolver Festival Mainstage!

Announcing the 2018 rEvolver Festival Mainstage!

Two actors perform Shakespeare’s Macbeth without words. A local artist steps into the radical headspace of a suicide bomber. A real-life scientist takes you through the history of women being f&*$ed over for centuries. Two people find love.

Upintheair Theatre is thrilled to be back at The Cultch for the 6th annual rEvolver Theatre Festival. rEvolver runs from May 23th – June 3rd, presenting new work by Vancouver and Canada’s most exciting up and coming performers and theatre creators. Past rEvolver Festivals have included world premieres of hit shows such as Jordan Hall’s ‘Kayak’, Delinquent Theatre’s ‘Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical” (which featured as part of The Cultch’s 2015/16 season) and Mind of a Snail’s gorgeous shadow puppetry in ‘Caws and Effect’.

This year’s programming represents the rich diversity of voices, aesthetics, and styles among Vancouver and Canadian emerging professional theatre makers. The programmed artists are tackling big issues – inequality, climate change, sexual abuse and consent, violence, the impacts of colonialism. They are doing so in unexpected ways, using wit and humour, intelligence, music and the power of bodies in motion to look for ways to move out and forward, and to bring light into the darkness. Join us in seeing all that this incredible community of artists has to offer.

Got to revolverfestival.ca for all the information you need!

Mily Mumford in Distractingly Sexy. Photo by Cal Wood

MAINSTAGE SHOWS:

FREE EVENTS:   

  • The Somewhere Cedar (Micro Performance by Jess Amy Shead, Vancouver)
  • Asking Alice (Micro Performance; Little Mountain Lion Productions, Vancouver)
  • Plunge in collaboration with Resounding Scream Theatre (Vancouver)
  • Updrafts Reading Series featuring new works by emerging playwrights
  • The Speakeasy (Friday’s: late night cocktail hour in the Greenhouse)

Excited by what you see? There are a number of different ways you can purchase tickets!

Carmine Santavenere in Fuchsia Future. Photo by Elliot Vaughan

  1. With the 6-show flex pass, the passholder can see up to six individual shows, take five friends to one show, or any combination in between!
  2. If you can’t see 6 shows, you can still save by purchasing a 3-show pass instead!

And of course, individual tickets are available both through The Cultch’s Box Office and at the door.

A Q&A with Kevin McKendrick and Lindsey Angell about BUTCHER

A Q&A with Kevin McKendrick and Lindsey Angell about BUTCHER

Butcher, an edge-of-your-seat thriller from award-winning Canadian playwright, Nicolas Billon, opens March 21 at the Historic Theatre, and runs until March 31.

Early Christmas morning, on the doorsteps of a Toronto police station, Inspector Lamb discovers an unlikely bundle; a drugged and abandoned old man, who doesn’t speak any English, dressed in a strange military uniform. Atop his head a Santa hat, and around his neck a business card impaled on a butchers hook with the words, “Arrest me,” scrawled on it. Inspector Lamb begins an investigation into the identity of the stranger that will forever tie together the lives of four people: a lawyer, a translator, the stranger and the inspector.

 

We connected with Director, Kevin Mckendrick, and performer, Lindsey Angell, to ask them a few questions about bringing the hit show to The Cultch stage.

What excites you most about bringing Butcher to The Cultch stage?

Lindsey — Butcher has managed to get under my skin and I think it will truly draw our audiences in as well. It is deceptive and sneaky and even oddly charming at times, but be careful, you might get *hooked*…hehehe.

The Cultch has partnered with Amnesty International as a Community Partner for Butcher. Our Community Partners offer us the opportunity to spread the word about important issues at the same time as helping us spread the word about our shows. Knowing what you do about Amnesty International, do you feel that it is a good fit? Why?

Kevin — I think it’s an excellent partnership because Amnesty International wrestles with the issues in Butcher every single day. In her forward to the play Louise Arbour, a former Supreme Court of Canada justice, and former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda said, “When can victims find peace when justice is elusive?” and  “Can offenders find closure if punishment is not extended to them?” Are these not huge questions for our time? Real peace and closure, it is often said, can only come from forgiveness. It falls to organizations like A.I to help us find our way through these tangled questions.

Why do you think Butcher has hit such a chord across Canada since its debut?

Lindsey — Butcher is brave. It does not choose sides or lead its audience in any way. That kind of experience in live theatre is rare and exhilarating.

In an ideal world, what would you like audiences to take away with them after seeing Butcher?

Kevin — One of my mentors, the playwright  John Murrell, impressed upon me the idea that theatre must be provocative, yet entertaining. It’s a maxim I try to apply to every play I work on. I want audiences leaving Butcher at The Cultch to feel we exceeded their expectations. I want them to be  thrilled and moved by the experience. To be glad they left the comfort of their home to take in a play. And I want them to leave the theatre arguing about the themes of justice and revenge. The best theatre serves to help us strengthen our society by spurring us to make changes.

You have put together an all-star cast of performers and creators for this production. Lindsey, what do you think Butcher offers actors that other plays may not?

Lindsey — Butcher is unlike any show I have done before. I have spoken in dialects and even other languages but never have I been given the gift of learning an invented language (playwright, Nicolas Billon, had two linquistics professors from the University of Toronto invent the language of ‘Lavinian’ specifically for this play). This story is incredibly mysterious and the characters are fighting fiercely for what they need, creating a tension I have yet to experience on stage. That’s about all I can say without spilling any spoilers.

Butcher has some very serious themes — justice, revenge, forgiveness — Have there been many discussions during rehearsals? Do you think it will stir up debate with audiences?

Lindsey — Of course! We have turned this play over and over, hashing out the ideas and the arc of the story. It is our hope that the audience will discuss the piece passionately afterwards, not only the themes but their own personal response to the ride.

Is there anything else about putting on Butcher that you would like to say a few words about?

Kevin — I have been so fortunate to have this opportunity. To work on this fine Canadian play with this outstanding team of collaborators. And it is very gratifying to us to have The Cultch recognize the importance of Nicolas Billon’s play and afford us the opportunity to share it with Vancouver audiences.

Thank you Kevin and Lindsey!

To read more about Butcher check out this great article from the Vancouver Sun, a Q&A with Peter Anderson.


Butcher runs March 20-31 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.


Written by: Nicolas Billon

Starring: Peter Anderson, Lindsey Angell, Noel Johansen, and Daryl Shuttleworth

Director: Kevin McKendrick

Artistic Associate: Christy Webb, Set Designer: David Roberts, Costume Designer: Jenifer Darbellay, Assistant Costume Designer: Alaia Hamer, Lighting Designer: Michael Hewitt, Original Music and Sound Design: Keith Thomas, Stage Manager: Joanne P.B. Smith, Makeup Consultant: Miss Nikki Ying, Student Apprentice: Leah Read

Official Website: www.butcherplay.com 

Announcing the 2017 rEvolver Festival Mainstage!

A man stuck in a London train station. A live game show. A cardboard puppet sci-fi western. A live drag attari video game musical. An embarrassing birthday gift. A Spanish Vampire bar. A bespoke handmade book. The meaning of love.

Upintheair Theatre is thrilled to be back at The Cultch for the fifth annual rEvolver Theatre Festival. rEvolver runs from May 24th – June 4th, presenting new work by Vancouver and Canada’s most exciting up and coming performers and theatre creators. Past rEvolver Festivals have included world premieres of hit shows such as Jordan Hall’s ‘Kayak’, Delinquent Theatre’s ‘Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical” (which featured as part of The Cultch’s 2015/16 season) and Mind of a Snail’s gorgeous shadow puppetry in ‘Caws and Effect’.

This year’s programming represents the rich diversity of voices, aesthetics, and styles among Vancouver and Canadian emerging professional theatre makers. Join us in seeing all that this incredible community of artists has to offer.

Got to revolverfestival.ca for all the information you need!

MAINSTAGE SHOWS:

FREE EVENTS:

  • Habitats Isabelle Kirouac & Nayana Fielkov (Vancouver)
  • Plunge in collaboration with Resounding Scream Theatre (Vancouver)
  • SHINY Kelly McInnes (Vancouver)
  • UPDRAFTS Reading Series featuring new works by emerging playwrights

Excited by what you see? There are a number of different ways you can purchase tickets!

  1. With the 6-show flex pass, the passholder can see up to six individual shows, take five friends to one show, or any combination in between!
  2. If you can’t see 6 shows, you can still save by purchasing a 3-show pass instead!
  3. And of course individual tickets are available both through The Cultch’s Box Office and at the door.

Q&A with The Dancers of Damelahamid: Cultch Artist-in-Residence

As part of their artistic residency here at The Cultch, the Dancers of Damelahamid are currently workshopping their upcoming production, ‘Flicker‘. We chatted with Margaret Grenier, Executive and Artistic Director of the Dancers of Damelahamid, about the role of dance in her heritage, the power of reconciliation through art, and the creative process of workshopping a new performance.

Hi Margaret! Can you tell us a little about the Dancers of Damelahamid? 

The Dancers of Damelahamid are an Aboriginal dance company based in Vancouver, BC. Our mandate is to advance the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the art, history, language, and traditions of First Nations’ culture through story dance and song; to educate the public about and increase cross-cultural understanding of First Nations’ heritage through dance performances at festivals, in educational institutions, and at other venues and public spaces; and to advance education by providing instructional workshops on traditional First Nations’ dance to students at elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools.

What role does dance play in your heritage?

Dance plays an integral role in our cultural heritage. It is an intergenerational practice, strengthening ties between elders and youth. The art form carries forward language, story, song and dance as well as being a platform to share from as a community and on many levels.

What is Gitxsan masked dance?

Dance on the Northwest coast has always brought together all aspects of coastal art. The masks, as well as the narratives portrayed through movement and song support the underlying story and themes. The art form is a reflection of a way of understanding and seeing the world, indigenous to our home territories.

Gitxsan songs and dances were banned by the Canadian government for several decades. The Dancers of Damelahamid emerged, in part, as a response to this – to ensure that the Gitxsan heritage was preserved and not lost. What role can art play in reconciliation and healing?

Storytelling through movement has been an integral part of defining our unique identities as indigenous peoples on the Northwest coast. There is a healing authority to the dances. Through continual and dedicated practice we strengthen our ability for reconciliation within ourselves as well as offer this understanding through performance. Therefore our collective consciousness can move forward, bridging our differences and celebrating our distinct identities.

Your upcoming production, ‘Flicker’, is a part of The Cultch’s 15/16 season. Can you describe the show?

Flicker is an innovative dance piece by the Dancers of Damelahamid in collaboration with multi-media artist Andy Moro that combines Northwest coast graphic designs with projected environments. Vividly rich imagery represents the ‘spirit world’, the mystical realm portrayed through Gitxsan masked dance. Just as light shimmers, Flicker represents the moments through which one can cross space and time, as the dancers journey in and out of the ‘spirit world’ of their ancestors.

In creating a new work during your residency here at The Cultch, what has your creative process been like?

It has been an intensive creative process and a wonderful opportunity to bring together the multilayered aspects to the production, making for a very full and productive month. We have worked for a year to prepare for the residency, beginning with a short research residency last summer at The Cultch. All aspects of the production are coming together from the choreography and song composition, the regalia and set creation, as well as the supporting soundscape, video projection, and lighting design.

‘Flicker’ will be on at the Historic Theatre May 25 – 29, 2016.

For more information about the Dancers of Damelahamid, visit their website: www.damelahamid.ca

Q&A | A fascinating talk about The Duchess with director Sarah Rodgers

It’s been a long time coming for Ruby Slippers Theatre, but after first workshopping it in 2009, The Duchess a.k.a. Wallis Simpson finally makes its west coast professional premiere tonight at The Cultch!

With all the time and effort that has gone into creating this excellent piece of work, we wanted to share what’s in store for everyone. We took a chance to talk with Director Sarah Rodgers and got her thoughts on about this exciting production and fascinating woman!

Wallis Simpson was certainly a controversial figure when you look at some of the stories about her. What is your opinion of her?

I grew up in a British family with a real Royalist for a mother so it was ingrained in me that Wallis Simpson had ruined the Royal Family and had taken away the most beautiful matinee idol Prince England ever had – my mother remembers listening to the abdication speech with her family and crying and crying. It wasn’t until years later when I started to read up about Wallis that I grew to truly admire her for her moxy and ambition and wit. I think she was a very charming and intelligent and strong woman and contrary to what is thought she didn’t encourage or want the King to abdicate. She is a fascinating, formidable woman and has intrigued generations of people.

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Wallis was a woman who was incredibly confident and who was in many ways, the most visible woman in the world, and certainly one of the most influential. So how important was it to get the casting right?

I worked very hard to get all the casting pitch perfect. Whenever I am dealing with people from history vs. fictional characters, I work very diligently to find an actor who really can embody the person – spirit and speech and physicality. I am thrilled with the entire cast – everyone is pitch perfect – and we have had some great fun bringing in age and ethnicity and yet somehow everyone is absolutely bang on. We have an Asian Nazi and an Iranian Bertie and one of the eldest members of the cast playing a young Princess Elizabeth (Queen Mum) and yet when you see it – you will not be able to imagine anyone else in the roles – they are all perfection.

What kind of balance is there between fact and theatre in this piece?

The writing of this piece is filled with style and wit and magic realism. It is not in any way like so many of the British mini-series that have filled masterpiece theatre Sunday nights for years. Linda Griffiths has a terrific imagination and great style – she brings a highly stylized vision to the play – the characters are arched and bigger than life and yet she actually brings a great deal of fact and historical tidbits into the piece. Anyone who knows the true anecdotes of this love story and the real history will really enjoy the little in jokes and facts sprinkled throughout the play amongst the crazy humour and sexy fun.

What do you hope audiences will take away from The Duchess?

I hope that the audiences will enjoy the theatrical feast we are offering them: all the great music and dancing I have incorporated into the play but ultimately I really do hope that people will like Wallis and walk away with sympathy and understanding of this complicated and wonderful female figure.

Are you excited the show is playing at The Cultch?

I am thrilled to be bringing this piece to The Cultch – I could not think of a more apt venue to create this world in: a world that offers Art Deco and a time of great indulgence and jazz and champagne. This lovely older venue with its balcony and gorgeous hardwood floors and intimate setting is the perfect venue – fit for a Duke and Duchess!

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The Duchess a.k.a. Wallis Simpson runs until April 18 at the Historic Theatre. Tickets start from $19 and are available on our website or by calling the box office at 604-251-1363.

Q&A | A hilarious, and slightly morbid, interview with Famous Puppet Death Scenes’ Judd Palmer!!

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Judd Palmer is one of the founding co-artistic directors of the Old Trout Puppet Workshop!

After doing a lot of globe trotting, The Old Trout Puppet Workshop has returned to Vancouver bringing back their smash hit, Famous Puppet Death Scenes!

To celebrate their return, we took  time to ask The Old Trouts some questions about their renowned production. We were fortunate enough to get some very interesting answers from Co-Director Judd Palmer.

After doing a lot of travelling around the world, how does it feel to be back in Vancouver?

We’ve been to some pretty wild places over the years, places where “puppeteers” aren’t exactly “welcome,” but Vancouver is one of the places we fear most. The last time we were here the entire team was mauled badly by a guy with a beard who was freakin’ on some kind of fierce medical marijuana, and we’re haunted by that night even now. But even though we’re deeply terrified of your city, we know we’ve got a job to do, and we’re going do it, no matter what the long term emotional cost.

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What should people who have never seen Famous Puppet Death Scenes be expecting?

They should expect… the unexpected. Get it? I know – how can you expect the unexpected? That doesn’t make any sense at all. And yet somehow it does. It makes so much sense. That kind of sense/nonsense thing is what we like to call the Wow Zone. Which is another thing you can expect. You can expect to get a one-way ticket to the Wow Zone.

What does that mean? The Wow Zone? I guess it’s a personal thing. Everybody’s Wow Zone is different. If your own intimately guarded secret Wow Zone involves a cavalcade of puppet demises, then you’re one of the people we’re talking about when we say that you can expect a one-way ticket to the Wow Zone (or “WZ,” as we like to call it for short, although actually when you say it out loud it takes longer than just saying Wow Zone – way too many syllables in the letter W. It’s a letter, not a word, right? Hey W: why don’t you take a cue from B? Or F? Or N? Or actually all the other letters?) – where was I? Right: if your own personal WZ involves enjoying a sophisticated evening of relentless puppet tragedy, then you’re one of the people we’re talking to when we say this show is a one-way ticket to your WZ. If your WZ is more about hot tubs and flan or whatever, fine, the show won’t get you anywhere near your stupid WZ. Get out of my face, hot tub & flan guy.

For people who are coming to see the show again, is there anything new for them?

Depends on how much they remember. For me, personally, it’s all new all the time, but generally I can’t remember what I had for breakfast. Plus, we’ve been changing the show constantly as we perform it, honing it, perfecting it, tossing our artistic integrity out the window by sycophantically changing it in hopes that people will eventually like it, going for the laugh when we should be letting the deep stuff sink in, ruthlessly replacing puppets that won’t stop crying ‘please don’t make me do this anymore.’ Point being: it’s actually changed a great deal since the last time it was in Vancouver. In fact, the very first time we did this show, it was at the PuSh Festival, and it was a total train wreck. Now we mostly get through the whole show without anybody getting hurt, at least, so that’s a pretty big leap forward right there.

How exactly can you promise to cure the fear of death?

Actually you’ll come out of the show just as terrified of death as you’ve always been. Maybe a bit more. But you just can’t sell a show by saying it’ll make you rock back and forth in a corner moaning, overwhelmed by the certainty that your unpeaceful demise is imminent. So we tell a little tiny white lie there.

Death

 Is there one scene that you think stands above the rest?

To me, the best puppet death scene is the scene that we haven’t written yet.  Isn’t that beautiful? But also sad. I guess for now we’ll have to settle for the ones that have already been written… the second best ones. Sorry.

Are you happy/excited to be playing the show at The Cultch?

I’d say we’re both happy AND excited. So happy/excited would be a great way of putting it. The Cultch is an amazing organization; pretty much the only thing that sucks about it is that it’s in Vancouver, where none of us live. Thank you so much, Cultch, for having us.

FPDS

Famous Puppet Death Scenes runs until April 19 at the York Theatre. Tickets start from $19 and are available on our website or by calling the box office at 604-251-1363.

March Mayhem: A month in photos

We’re only a quarter of the way through 2015 and it’s already been a VERY busy year. We’ve barely had a moment’s rest in March, there was so much happening! Here’s just some of what went on:

The biggest event we had this month was our annual fundraising gala, in which we celebrated the Celtic Spirit of Ireland!

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Heather Redfern rocking out with auctioneer David C. Jones

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MCs Margaret Gallagher and Fred Lee addressing the attendees

There was some great entertainment throughout the evening

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You couldn’t turn around without seeing someone doing something!

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We had two great openings, first with Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s TransMigration:

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Kaha:wi Dance Theatre Artistic Director Santee Smith with Heather Redfern

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Cultch Ladies: Caitrin Innis (Development Coordinator), Zoe Forsyth (Concierge and Volunteer Coordinator), Nicole McLuckie (Director of Patron Development) and Cindy Reid (Managing Director)

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Members of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre giving us a smile

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Kaha:wi Dance Theatre giving us… something else

And then we had Obaaberima from Buddies in Bad Times, which the audience enjoyed talking about post-show

Kaha:wi Dance also hosted a Pow Wow Boot Camp:

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Kaha:wi Artistic Director leads the participants

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It wasn’t all fun though, as we said farewell to our fantastic Senior Design and Web Coordinator, Isa Chernets

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We did get a lot of puppy love though, as we welcomed Murphy to The Cultch family!

And to end March, we have a little tease for what’s coming up in April, as the Famous Puppet Death Scenes set was loaded in yesterday!

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There are so many crates, they’re not only over flowing outside…

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But even into the lobby as well!

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It’s a lot of work, putting a set together

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The view from above

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The set is starting to rise!

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Do you perfer the orchestra view

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Or looking down from the balcony?

It was a pretty packed month, and we can’t wait for what’s next! Remeber you can always check out our Flickr page for more great photos! Be sure you come down and join us so you don’t miss any of the fun!

Heather Redfern on why you need to see Obaaberima!

With Obaaberima opening tonight there’s a lot that we could say about it, but it might be best to share why The Cultch’s Executive Director Heather Redfern chose to program the show for the season:

Heather

Obaaberima is a play and a performance that lifted my soul. It made laugh, it made me cry, and in Obaaberima, orange really is the new black.

Its universal themes about freedom of expression and embracing our differences, about not being perfect, about telling the truth to ourselves resonated really deeply with me. And I know they will for you too.

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Tawiah M’carthy is amazing, a true rising star. The man not only embodies the characters, he dances them! I love to discover new talent and everywhere the play has been performed there have been wild standing ovations.

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Cultch audiences deserve to see the best work in the country and that is exactly what Obaaberima is! It won three Dora Awards in Toronto last year and just played to rave reviews at the National Arts Centre.

I can’t say it enough: do yourself a favour, and GET to this show.

_W0A2095Obaaberima runs from March 24 – April 4 at the Historic Theatre. Tickets start from $19 and are available on our website or by calling the box office at 604-251-1363.

CADRE Opening Night Photos + Reviews!

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Richard Jordan, Fezile Mpela, Criss Henderson, Omphile Molusi, Lillian Tshabalala, Rick Boynton, Barbra Gaines

Last Tuesday, The Cultch hosted the Canadian premiere of Cadre, presented with Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Richard Jordan Productions Ltd in association with the Market Theatre of Johannesburg.

This story of a South African freedom fighter during apartheid is extremely powerful and is blowing audiences and critics away.

Fezile Mpela, Lillian Tshabalala, and Omphile Molusi

Fezile Mpela, Lillian Tshabalala, and Omphile Molusi

Check out some of the reviews here:

If you want theatre that grabs you by the throat, brain and/or balls – if you want theatre that shows you a life and world that is likely beyond your imagining – if you like to feel things and be moved by live performance, then you should see this play!” — David C. Jones, OUT TV

Scars of apartheid offer intense audience experience” —Erika Thorklenson, The Vancouver Sun

Hits home because it’s so relevant in Canada…skilled and important. It’s a postcard we should be grateful to receive” —Colin Thomas, The Georgia Straight

A devastatingly powerful piece. Cadre reminds us of the real price of freedom” —Mark Robins, Vancouver Present

Be sure to see this powerful and emotional performance before it closes! Here are some photos of our opening night reception. All photos were taken by our volunteer photographer, WendyD.

Omphile Molusi and Heather Redfern

Omphile Molusi and Heather Redfern

Guest enjoy drinking in the Founders' Lounge

Guests enjoy drinking in the Founders’ Lounge

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Criss Henderson, Barbara Gaines, Richard Jordan, Rick Boynton, Borja Brown, Heather Redfern, Nicole McLuckie, Cindy Reid

Cadre runs until March 8 at the Historic Theatre. Tickets start from $19 and are available on our website or by calling the box office at 604-251-1363.