We asked some staff, patrons, and artists what it was they loved about The Cultch, and we were flooded with such beautiful heartfelt responses—they just warmed our hearts! It means so much to us to hear just how much you value the work we do!
Here are some of the wonderful responses of love we have gotten this week!
Pippa Mackie as Pinocchio in East Van Panto. Photo by Tim Matheson
“I love the Cultch because it brings the community together.
I love the Cultch because the arts are an essential service.
I love the Cultch because they empower me as an artist.
I love the Cultch because they bring people together.
I love the Cultch because they provide an opportunity for local artists.
I love the Cultch because without them…East Van just wouldn’t be East Van.
I love the Cultch because I have seen the impact the Panto has on audience members.
I love the Cultch.” – Pippa Mackie, local playwright & performer
“I love The Cultch because the shows I’ve seen at The Cultch are some of my most cherished memories. So it’s like the Cultch is this old friend who keeps surprising you.” – Veda Hille, local singer, pianist & songwriter
“I love the Cultch because …
it’s in my neighbourhood
it’s always felt like a second home
Len Gardiner is the world’s coolest Caretaker
it’s where I can see non-commercial art
it’s a not-for-profit
it connects me to the world
it’s the first place I saw a live show in vancouver
it used to be a church
it’s the theatre I’ve performed most in, in my LIFE!
I’ve seen about 200 shows there” – Marcus Youssef, local playwright & performer
“I love The Cultch because it is a family.” –Louise Chapman, Development Manager
“I love The Cultch because it is a place of connection in a time when connection is difficult.” –Lisa Mennell, Communications Associate
“I love The Cultch because it is a gathering place where everyone is welcomed with open arms.” –Chelsea Isenor, Marketing Manager
“I love The Cultch because when I walk through the doors it feels like a very familiar place. It feels like I’m coming home.” –Corey Payette, Urban Ink Artistic Director
“I love The Cultch for the bravery and innovation. The sense of community and opportunity to see performers extend their (and my) reach.” –Rick Barker, patron
Kit Redstone and the rest of the Testosterone cast. Photo by Luke Forsyth
“I love The Cultch because I had the great pleasure of bringing my work there all the way from London. It was and still is the most sensational venue I have ever had the privilege to work with. Located in the heart of a wonderful community, every single staff member works tirelessly to make this a really special place. I have never experienced a team so generous, fun, good natured and talented at what they do. A good venue should feel like a family working in absolute harmony, and this was my experience of working with the theatre. The work they program is bold and important – showcasing plays that entertain, delight and most importantly informs, inviting their audience into important questions raised. The theatre is in many ways the centre of a gorgeous community, it’s beating heart is a conduit to the varied voices that it brings to the stage. Without a doubt, my favourite theatre in the world.” – Kit Redstone, Testosterone writer & performer
“I love The Cultch because it’s our cultural living room where we gather and share and converse and remember. It’s this incredible gathering place for all kinds of different communities who are all passionate and devoted to the arts – patrons, volunteers, theatre makers, dance makers – it’s this amazing home for both local artists and visiting artists which is a really beautiful thing.” –Dave Deveau, Playwright / Zee Zee Theatre Associate Producer
“I love The Cultch because the crowded lobby feels and smells like one big friendly Vancouver hug.” –Amiel Gladstone, local playwright & director
“I love The Cultch because East Van is my home and the Cultch helps me better feel the rhythm of its pulse. Whenever I’m there it feels like stopping by a friend’s house. Except that friend has a really big house…but lawd do they know how to share every inch of it!” –Jivesh Parasram, Rumble Theatre Artistic Director
“I love The Cultch because it’s my home away from home – where I can spend time with my neighbours, hear their stories, and celebrate our community together.” –Christine Quintana, local playwright & performer
“I love The Cultch because it’s the place where the world comes to me.
I love The Cultch because it’s where I get to see old friends and make new ones.
I love The Cultch because this is the place where my dreams came true.
I love The Cultch because it is a wormhole that transports me across time and space.
I love The Cultch because it celebrates BIPOC and LGBTQ2SIA+.
I love The Cultch because it is where my partner and I have our dates nights.
I love The Cultch because of the people who work there.
I love The Cultch because it expands my mind as an artist.
I love The Cultch because The Cultch audience has become my audience.
I love The Cultch because Heather Redfern never panders. The work she programs is challenging, beautiful and brave.
I love The Cultch because it is a place where womens’ voices are celebrated.
I love The Cultch because its commitment to reconciliation goes beyond land acknowledgments.
I love The Cultch because it is the best thing in Vancouver.
I love The Cultch because it has been the backdrop for a thousand selfies :)” – Tetsuro Shigematsu, local playwright & performer
Don’t those messages of love just warm your heart? Thank you for all the love you give us! With your love and support we look forward to when all of this is over, and we can come together again to sit in the dark—friends, family, colleagues, and strangers—and have our hearts and minds transformed by the arts once again.
The Cultch Theatre has been recreated in Minecraft, and it is AWESOME!
This spring break we are presenting a very special show specifically for families with Minecraft* obsessed kids – Theatre Replacement‘s MINE (March 18-22, Historic Theatre).
On stage, a group of gamer/performers aged 11 to 46 enact different mother-son narratives—from the Beowulf saga, to Bambi, to The Terminator—using the video game Minecraft. Inspired by the real-life relationship between Theatre Replacement’s Co-artistic Director, Maiko Yamamoto, and her 11-year-old son, Hokuto, and his obsession with Minecraft. MINE is live-operated from start to finish, and opens us up to expansive new territories in an intergenerational performance that both interrogates and recognizes the role technology plays in our modern parent-child relationships.
The Cultch Digital Storytelling team has been busy as the bees collaborating with Conor Wylie, one of the creators of MINE, to create a fun supplementary experience for all the Minecraft, Theatre Replacement, and Cultch fans!
The Cultch bees in the game!
The Cultch bees IRL!
Come and visit a detailed reproduction of The Cultch theatre placed in the Vancouver-ish Minecraft city used as the set for Theatre Replacement’s MINE. Discover new stories told through Minecraft, explore the theatre and the city, and surround The Cultch with your own creations. Find the QR codes hidden around the real life Cultch to see the pre-show rituals of Bambi, a character from MINE. Be the first to find all 3 videos to learn the code to unlock the Chest and claim the Daily Prize!
Use Minecraft Java Edition to access our Minecraft server. Choose multiplayer, and add thecultch.apexmc.co to your server list.
Here is a sneak peek at some of the familiar Cultch spaces that have been built in the world of the game!
The Cultch exterior in the game!
The Cultch exterior IRL!
The Cultch exterior has had several updates over the years. The historic building started it’s life as a church, and has been a community arts venue for over 45 years!
The Cultch Lobby in the game!
The Cultch Lobby IRL!
The Cultch lobby is a favourite hang out spot for theatre, dance, and music fans in the city. It is also home to the Cultch Gallery – a community focused space dedicated to providing progressive art to the residence of Vancouver East Side.
The Cultch Founders’ Lounge in the game!
The Cultch Founders’ Lounge IRL
The Cultch Founders’ Lounge is a quiet and cozy spot to hang out before or after the show.
The Vancity Culture Lab (with BIG Sister set) in the game!
The Vancity Culture Lab (with BIG Sister set) IRL!
Our smallest venue, the Vancity Culture Lab, is an intimate space for powerful performance. It is also the space where we always present our Cultchivating the Fringe winners (like BIG Sister!).
Wanna see more? Let Bambi take you on a quick tour of The Cultch. He has backstage access!!
MINE, from Theatre Replacement, runs March 18-22, 2020, at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.
*MINE is not an official Minecraft product, nor is it affiliated with Mojang.
We are so thrilled to be presenting Kuroko, a world premiere from renowned playwright and performer, Tetsuro Shigematsu, Novemeber 6-17 in the Historic Theatre.
Wanna know more about the show? There are four concepts that inspired Tetsuro as he was writing—Hikikomori, Rental Families, Kuroko, and Suicide Forest. Read below to hear what Tetsuro has to say about these four concepts!
Hikikomori. Imagine going to your bedroom and never leaving. This is the phenomenon known as hikikomori. Japanese young people on the road to maturation, experience a setback: bullying, or failing their entrance exams. They retreat to their bedrooms and never leave, spending all their waking hours online, enabled by parents who don’t know what to do apart from leaving trays of food outside their doors.
Rental Families. Would you ever hire an actor to play a relative or friend in your life? How quickly would the lines blur? As bizarre as this may sound, the rent-a-family industry is a mature industry in Japan, a place where manifestations of the artificial aren’t seen as negatively as they are here.
Kuroko. Literally translated, kuroko means black child, or child of darkness, a rather poetic name for the stagehands in traditional Japanese theatre. Clad entirely in black, audiences in Japan claim not to see them, as they occupy a culturally specific blindspot, in the same way that Western audiences pay no attention to the strings of marionette puppets. The shadowy kuroko enable players to achieve feats of virtuosity, and the otherwise impossible. Is there a kuroko in your life?”
Suicide Forest.The original title for this play was Suicide Forest, We changed the title when we discovered that another play of the same name premiered in New York in March of 2019. This is an actual place in Japan, infamous for being the most popular destination for those wishing to end their life. Geologically unique, it is also an attraction for nature lovers, officially named Jukai or ‘Sea of Trees’.
Kuroko runs at the Historic Theatre Nov 6-17, 2019. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.
What have they been up to? Follow up with your favourite artists from our 2018/19 season.
The 2018/19 season has come to an end and we’re getting pumped for our 2019/20 season. But before we dive right into it, here is a look back at some of the amazing artists we got to work with this past year. A lot of them have been up to really cool things since we saw them last!
Read to see what they have been up to, and learn where you can find out more about their upcoming projects.
What a way to start off our 2018/19 season! We had so much fun having Kim Senklip Harvey‘s powerful and hilarious Kamloopa in our Historic Theatre last fall. It was an honour to have such powerful matriarchs bringing down the house each night! After leaving us, Kamloopa continued its tour, heading to Saskatchewan for a run at Persephone Theatre.
What have they been up to?
If you saw Kamloopa, you will recognize Yolanda Bonnell, who played ‘Indian Friend #1’. Bonnell is a playwright, and was recently announced to be one of 50 international playwrights chosen to be part of Climate Change Theatre Action 2019 – “a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented biennially to coincide with the United Nations COP meetings.” Follow Climate Change Theatre Action on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date.
You may have seen Kamloopa Firestarter (who wrote and directed the ceremony), Kim Senklip Harvey, when she and Pippa Mackie hosted Pitch, Bitch or Ditch, a fun Femme Series event in the vein of ‘Dragons Den’, where audience members brought their ideas for a show to the expert panel.
Keep your eyes out for follow up Pitch, Bitch, or Ditch events in our 2019/20 season.
If you don’t already follow Kim Senklip Harvey’s blog, check it out here. Kim is heading to Victoria to take UVIC’s Masters of Creative Writing program this autumn, and we can hardly wait to see the fruits of her time there.
Rhum and Clayrecently premiered a new work, War of the Worlds, a piece inspired by Orson Wells famous broadcast. They will be taking this show to Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August.
Kit Redstonehas been busy with his own projects, including a brand new collaboration with Vancouver’s own Pippa Mackie, The Fucking Garden– A wickedly dark and impishly mischievous reclamation of the Adam and Eve story. That is certainly a collaboration to keep your eyes on!
He too will be bringing a show, called Passengers, to Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer.
At the same time as we had Kamloopa in our Historic Theatre, and Testosterone in our York theatre, our Culture Lab was transformed into a Vancouver Special, as we were swept away by Paneet Singh‘s A Vancouver Guldasta – the story of a 1980’s Sikh family confronting the tumultuous events of the invasion of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, India.
FollowSACHA – South Asian Canadian Histories Association – on Instagram and Twitter to be the first to find out about any of their upcoming projects.
Jordan Hall, the writer of A Brief History of Human Extinction, continues to work in support of environmental issues. Recently she was selected to be one of 50 international playwrights for Climate Change Theatre Action 2019 – “a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented biennially to coincide with the United Nations COP meetings.” Follow Climate Change Theatre Action on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date.
Meanwhile, Upintheair Theatre’s rEvolver Festival started THIS week (May 22- June 2, 2019)! We always look forward to having this fabulous festival take over our theatres, and this year’s festival is going to be incredible. Take a look here to find out more about the lineup, and follow Upintheair Theatre on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, for lots of fun content!
We always love having VACT – Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre – with us, and last fall’s VACT show, The Ones We Leave Behind, byLoretta Seto, was such a beautiful look at the ways we isolate ourselves from those around us.
What have they been up to?
We are thrilled to have VACT with us again in our 2019/20 season. This coming November,Tetsuro Shigematsu will bring us the premiere of his latest play, Kuroko, the story of a young Japanese recluse (a Hikikomori), who meets a mysterious stranger in virtual reality, and is faced with a challenge that may, or may not, draw her into the real world.
Follow Testsuro Shigematsu on Facebook and Instagram to see up to date updates on Kuroko.
Hopefully you got out to the Arts Club’s production of The Great Leap. If you did, you would have seen Agnes Tong, who played Abby in The Ones We Leave Behind, playing the character Connie. She was also in the Arts Clubs production of Shoplifters – what a busy performer!
Keep an eye on Loretta Seto‘s webpage to stay up to date with her latest projects.
We kicked off our Ceasefire Series – three shows that explored different aspects of war, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice of WWI – with The Believers are But Brothers, Javaad Alipoor‘s play about young men and the dark web.
What has he been up to?
After stirring up Vancouver audiences with his revealing interactive show, Javaad Alipoor’s The Believers are But Brothers was adapted for television by the BBC.
Follow Gravity and Other Myths on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up to date…AND, for lots of mind-boggling photos and videos!
The second show in our Ceasefire Serieswas SKaGen Theatre‘s haunting marvel from Valentijn Dhaenen. SmallWarutilized verbatim exerts from soldiers diaries, brought to life by memorizing projections, sound, and performance, to give viewers a glimpse into the experience of war. We were honored to have SmallWar in our York Theatre during Remembrance Day, and everyone who had the opportunity to see it will likely not forget it anytime soon.
What have they been up to?
SKaGen has a long list of shows that will be playing in 2019 and 2020, including Valentijn Dhaenen’s UNSUNG, and TIL IT’S OVER – “a cross-disciplinary collaboration between SKaGeN and the American visual artist Richard Jackson on the themes of civil war, tenderness and revenge.”
Amiel Gladstone premiered Three Winters with us in 2018 – our third Ceasefire Seriesshow. An all female cast told the story of a daring escape attempt from POW camp Stalag Luft III, inspired by the real-life experiences of Gladstone’s grandfather.
What has he been up to?
In the 2019/20 Season Gladstone will be directing Tetsuro Shigematsu’s new play, Kuroko – talk about a dream team!
Currently, Amiel Gladstone is hard at work on the recently revived Magnetic North Theatre Festival, of which he is the 2019 Producer, alongside Amy Lynn Strilchuk. For more information, and for the 2019 Magnetic North Theatre Festival lineup check out their website here.
Since then Gravel has been hard at work in his exciting new role as the Artistic Director of Daniel Léveillé Danse. Even more excitingly, Gravel will be premiering a new work, a solo featuring himself, called Fear and Greed, June 1-2-4, 2019, at Festival TransAmériques (Montreal). Check out the trailer for Fear and Greed here:
The good news is that the team that brought East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz to life are teaming up again for East Van Panto: Pinocchio (Nov 20-Jan 5). Along with taking part in Climate Change Theatre Action 2019, and also having It’s a Wonderful Christmas-ish Holiday Miracle playing at the Arts Club in 2019, Marcus Youssef will, once again, take on the role of Panto playwright (busy playwright!), while Stephen Drover will return to the directors chair once again.
East Van Panto: Pinocchio will feature the amazing Pippa Mackie as Pinocchio, and is sure to be as wacky and wonderful as Vancouver audiences have come to expect.
We are doubly lucky this coming season because we will have Theatre Replacement twice! Along with the Panto, they will be bringing Maiko Yamamoto‘s story about mothers, sons, and playing Minecraft. MINE(Mar 18-22) will be “playing” (hehehe) during spring break, and is a great opportunity for parents to bring their video game obsessed children to the theatre!
We were so excited to have Ronnie Burkett’s hit, Little Dickens, back in Vancouver this past December. Ronnie is a Canadian treasure, and The Cultch brings together some of his most devoted fans year after year!
What have they been up to?
Currently Ronnie Burkett is hard at work creating his latest show, Forget Me Not, which will play in Vancouver (at a secret location!) February 4-March 1, 2020, after premiering at Luminato this summer.
We highly recommend following Ronnie Burkett on Instagram for a behind the scenes looks at all things wild and wonderfully Ronnie!
In April, Dakh Daughters Band released a new album, called Air. Listen to Air on Spotify here.
Follow Dakh Daughters on Facebook, and Instagram for all up to date information on this “freak cabaret.”
MRS KRISHNAN’S PARTY
For three glorious weeks, in January and February 2019, our entire building was filled with the incredible scent of delicious daal. Our Culture Lab was transformed into the back room of Mrs Krishnan’s dairy (convenience store), and one hundred people at a time were invited to the surprise party of the year – Mrs Krishnan’s Party. It is no exaggeration to say that The Cultch staff still misses the leftovers!
What have they been up to?
After leaving us in February, the cast and crew of Mrs Krishnan’s Party continued their tour; bringing joy, laughter, and daal to many!
Power Ballad, Julia Croft and Nisha Madhan‘s feminist performance piece was an essential part of our Femme Series this year. We had so much fun, laughed so hard, and sung our hearts out! The Feminist Karaoke Party is something we will remember for years to come, and it looks like we aren’t the only ones –
What have they been up to?
After leaving The Cultch, Croft and Madhan premiered a new work,Working on my Night Moves, in New Zealand. They will be taking this new show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer.
After leaving The Cultch, in early February, Tony, Dan, and Liz continued their tour, visiting a total of nine Canadian cities. Follow Ahuri Theatre on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with their upcoming adventures!
We will be partnering with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival again this coming season, and co-presenting Quelemia Sparrow’s O’wet(Jan 23-Feb 1, 2020), as well as The Chop Theatre’s KISMET: things have changed(Feb 4-8, 2020).
We are looking forward to working with PuSh’s new Artistic Executive Director Franco Boni.
Follow PuSh International Performing Arts Festival on Facebook, Twitter, And Instagram, and be sure to sign up for their newsletter, to hear about all the exciting things to come for the 2020 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.
What an honour it was to have Urban Ink‘s Children of God – Corey Payette‘s heartbreaking and restorative musical about residential schools – back in our York Theatre this February/March.
What have they been up to?
After leaving The Cultch, Children of Godtoured BC, opening up dialogue about Canada’s residential school system.
We are so excited to have Corey Payette again with us next season. He, and our own Heather Redfern, are co-curating Raven Transforming Cabaret Festival– a brand new festival bringing together Indigenous, and non-Indigenous performers in a multitude of disciplines to all three Cultch stages in early October 2019. Learn more about the festival here.
What a way to kick off spring in Vancouver – Hot Brown Honey returned to us this past March to turn up the heat and bring the noise!
What have they been doing?
After another hit run at our York Theatre, the Honey’s took off to smash the patriarchy in New York City!
You may or may not be aware, but Hot Brown Honey has a male counterpart – Briefs! We are so excited to have Briefs – “a glittery bomb of circus, cabaret, and boy-lesque” – join us at the end of our 2019/20 season (April 19-May 3, 2020). Here are the Honeys and the Briefs together as one big happy family!
Hot Brown Honey is always travelling the world, smashing the patriarchy wherever they go. They are going to be part of the National Art Centre’s Indigenous Theatre‘s inaugural season, May 5-9, 2020.
If you don’t follow these “Fierce Mamas” on social media you are MISSING OUT! Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find out what they are up to next!
What fun we had with Mind of a Snail Puppet Co. this past March! Our Cultchivating the Fringe winner, Multiple Organism, sold out show after show.
What have they been up to?
Mind of a Snail artists, Chloé Ziner and Jessica Gabriel, don’t seem to ever sit still! Jessica Gabriel was recently part of the inaugural HUNCH Festival, and the two of them are gearing up for Fringe season once again, and heading to Montreal!
New Cackle Sisters: Kitchen Chicken – a wild meal, prepared right before your eyes, by madcap company L’orchestre d’hommes-orchestres , as they highlighted the songs of the famous DeZurik Sisters (also known as the Cackle Sisters) – enchanted audiences at the York this April.
What have they been up to?
Since leaving us, L’orchestre d’hommes-orchestres has been touring around Canada with Kitchen Chicken. They will continue touring it, along with Tomatoes, in the coming months.
Follow L’orchestre d’hommes-orchestres on Facebook for all the madcap adventures of this daring theatrical musical troupe.
ACT OF FAITH
It was such a pleasure to have Realwheels Theatre in our Historic Theatre this April. The premiere of Janet Munsil‘s newly commissioned play, Act of Faith – inspired by the real-life experiences of a woman in the community (see below) – was a real conversation starter.
What have they been up to?
Since January this year, Realwheels Theatre have been hosting playwriting circles, facilitated by Kim Seary. Every two weeks, participants have been meeting to write, and support each other. On June 8, they will be hosting a cold reading of some of the work created during this circle. Check out the event here.
What a blast it was having a different Vancouver performer take the stage in the incredible show that Vancouver Presents called a “love letter to the audience, to the performer and at its core, a love letter from Nassim to his mother.” NASSIM was a perfect way to wrap up our 2018/29 season!
What have they been up to?
After leaving The Cultch, Nassim Soleimanpour traveled with his self titled NASSIM to Carrefour international de théâtre de Québec. On May 22 it was announced that NASSIM won an 2019 Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best Unique Theatrical Experience.
Follow Nassim Soleimanpour Productions on Facebook, and Twitter to hear the latest news!
Whoa –what a season hey?! Can you believe the incredible people who come through The Cultch’s doors? There are so many incredible artists (not to mention our patrons and donors!) changing the world!
That’s a wrap! We look forward to seeing you next season. Subscriptions are already on sale – book yours today . We look forward to seeing you at the theatre!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Children of Godis back in the York Theatre (until March 10, 2019) after a national tour, and its highly successful 2017 world premiere at The Cultch.
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 guideis 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.
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).
A conversation with Much Ado About Nothing Director, Rebecca Patterson
Previously from New York City, Rebecca Patterson is known for her inventive classical productions featuring all-female casts for The Queen’s Company (NYC) and her advocacy for diversity and gender-blind casting. As Classic Chic Productions prepares to open Much Ado About Nothing this week, we caught up with Rebecca to chat about her work and inspirations.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Born in California and raised in Western Canada, I went to Studio 58 as an actor before beginning my ongoing journey as an auteur theatre director. For the past 20 years I have been happily living and making theatre in New York City, I moved back home to Vancouver just over a year ago and am now making theatre here in addition to my work in NYC.
Can you tell us more about your work at The Queen’s Company in NYC?
Founded in 2000, The Queen’s Company is a NYC-based theatre company dedicated to the creation of inventive productions of classical plays featuring all-female casts. My work with the company weds a love of language to a love of life, weaving inspiration from history and world cultures into the fabric of each production, and is known for its exquisite use of language, bold physicality, creative storytelling and artistic playfulness. I have also been a vocal advocate for culture change in casting practices, calling for greater opportunities for classically trained professional female actors through all-female productions and gender-blind casting.
Why is gender-blind casting important?
Because it’s about humanity. It is a true reflection of our current culture where the old divisions between men and women are falling away. It is also about social justice and equal employment opportunity for female actors.
What inspires your work?
Life, and the actors I have the pleasure and privilege to work with.
What makes you most excited about being back in Vancouver?
Vancouver has become the city I went in search of, diverse, engaged, hopeful, curious. The city and the theatre community excites me, though I love the dynamic energy and drive of NYC, I miss my culture and my people, it is wonderful being back and diving into this new experiment.
What does it mean to you to be part of the Femme Series?
It means I am claiming space onstage for women and encouraging other women to do the same. This is important, we need to have our diverse voices heard and seen. It will be the journey of multiple lifetimes to undo the untold generations of female silence, to arrive at a time where equality of expression is the norm, this is why, even as women achieve more overt equality, programs like the Femme Series remain important and relevant.
What should audiences expect from Classic Chic’s Much Ado About Nothing?
Expect to be surprised.
Tell us about a woman who has inspired you.
So many to choose from! Of all the fierce females who make my day, I have to choose the French female director Ariane Mnouchkine, within the artistry of stage direction she is considered one the best, her relentless pursuit of truth and bold theatricality has been deeply inspirational and fueled my passion to create theatre.
Photo by Emily Cooper
Much Ado About Nothing runs Feb 5 to 16 at the Historic Theatre (1895 Venables Street). Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.
Check out all the songs given an East Van spin in this year’s East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz. Musical Director, and composer, Veda Hille is infamous for taking some of the most (and least) popular songs of recent decades and flipping them on their heads with new arrangements and lyrics to add a little pizzazz to Theatre Replacement’s winter tradition. Take a listen to the original songs that have inspired the music of this year’s Panto soundtrack, then come hear our versions at the York Theatre! Scroll through this awesome list of golden age videos and live performances, or check out this Spotify playlist if you’re on the go!
Gloria by Laura Branigan
Valerie by Steve Winwood
This is America by Childish Gambino
Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and The Waves
Downtown by Petula Clark
Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg
Northwest Passage by Stan Rogers
Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin
All Night by Big Boi
Ding Dong The Witch is Dead by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg
Macarena by Los del Rio
In My Feelings by Drake
Swish Swish by Katy Perry
Footloose by Kenny Loggins
Daydream Believer by The Monkees
ABC by The Jackson 5
I Want You Back by The Jackson 5
Teen Titans Go To The Movies by Lil Yachty
Ballroom Blitz by Sweet
Sweet Transvestite by Richard O’Brien
Time Warp by Richard O’Brien
East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz is onstage now at the York Theatre, 639 Commercial Drive – must close Jan 6, 2019! Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.
The story of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, is one of the best known and best loved Christmas stories. This beloved tale of redemption has been told and retold in many forms, from traditional tellings, to those that are down right brazen.
Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens, which opened this week in the Historic Theatre falls firmly in the brazen category, with beloved Daisy Theatre character—the booze loving, faded and jaded Diva—Esmé Massengill, taking on the role of legendary miser, Scrooge.
In this role, so perfectly suited to her, Esmé Massengill joins the ranks of so many other celebrities who have taken on the challenge of playing Dickens’ Ebeneezer Scrooge (we think she does it best!).
Here is a look at a few other famous faces that have taken on this legendary role. Esmé is in good company!
Alastair Sim in 1951 film Scrooge
Patrick Stewart in 1999 film A Christmas Carol
Sir Michael Caine in 1992 film The Muppet Christmas Carol
Rowan Atkinson in Blackadder’s Christmas Carol
Scrooge McDuck in 1983 film Mickey’s Christmas Carol
Bill Murray in 1988 film Scrooged
Vanessa L. Williams as Ebony Scrooge in 2000 made for TV movie A Diva’s Christmas
Little Dickens runs Dec 4 – 22, 2018 at the Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.
As Vancouver’s most diverse arts and culture hub, The Cultch brings world-class performance to our community in East Vancouver. We are a charity, and ticket income from our shows only makes up 30% of our running costs – the rest comes from the generous support of our donors, sponsors and funders. In return, we offer dynamic contemporary programming in theatre, dance, music, and the visual arts, showcasing cutting-edge national and international work.
At our core is the belief that art is for everyone, and economic background or life circumstances should never be a barrier to participation in live performance. To this end, we set up our Cultch Connects program, so that our donors could share their love of performance with everyone in our community.
Cultch Connects provides free tickets to our holiday hit the East Van Panto and other shows throughout our season to people in need. Now in its 6th year, Cultch Connects has brought thousands of people from low-income families, mental health facilities, recovery centres, community organizations and more to our shows at no cost.
We know from the messages our Cultch Connects patrons send us that this simple act makes a real difference in the lives of people who are facing difficult times, making the holiday season a little brighter for hundreds of families.
“Christmas was going to be a hard time at the transition house, but attending the Panto helped to make the holiday season better for me and my daughter. You made our holiday season special.” — Cultch Connects patron
This year will be our most ambitious Cultch Connects fundraising campaign yet. Our anonymous match-funder has once again agreed to double any gift made to Cultch Connects between now and November 30 2018, making more tickets available than ever before to people in need.
“By giving to Cultch Connects, our donors are making our theatre accessible to everyone” says Executive Director Heather Redfern. “What I love most about the program is that it is inspiring the next generation of artists, musicians, and theatre-goers, ensuring our city remains a vibrant centre for the arts for years to come. That’s pretty amazing!”
— Louise Chapman, The Cultch’s Development Associate
Would you like to support Cultch Connects? Click here to donate now!
$150 = $300 Brings a community/school group to the Panto
$100 = $200 Brings a local youth group to a Cultch show
$50 = $100 Sends a Cultch Connects family to the Panto
Do you know an organization that would benefit from this program? Let us know!