A Q&A with Joyce Lam, founder of VACT!

A Q&A with Joyce Lam, founder of Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (VACT)

In Vancouver, we are thrilled to have access to such a great range of theatre. One of the companies we are so lucky to be able to partner with is Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (VACT). As we gear up for our 2018/19 season we are getting more and more excited about VACT’s The Ones We Leave Behind, Oct 24–Nov 3, at the Historic Theatre. We had a quick conversation with Joyce Lam, founder of VACT to chat about VACT, Asian Canadian Theatre, Crazy Rich Asians, and The Ones We Leave Behind! 

You founded VACT 18 years ago; can you explain what the impetus to start it was?

VACT was started 18 years ago because I loved attending theatre and it bothered me that there were no Asian Canadian stories or any Asian Canadian actors/characters on stage when Vancouver had a large population of Asian Canadians.  When a friend told me he had actually enjoyed an Asian American Fringe show at a BYOV, I thought it was a shame that more people didn’t get to see it and I decided to invite that show back to Vancouver.  We sold out the show and found a “starving” paying audience for contemporary Asian Canadian stories and actors.

What makes VACT unique in Vancouver, and in the world?

At first, VACT, was a stepping stone to assist Asian Canadian actors to gain more acting experience/skill in order to level the audition process in getting acting roles. Playing significant complicated characters would be instrumental in developing the actor’s talents. Also developing Asian Canadian stories was invaluable to showcase how an underrepresented group was seen in Canada without stereotypes from other mainstream shows. VACT was also unique in seeking out material that reflected specifically on the North American Asian experience—how we live here today and how our cultural heritage played a role in our collective identity as a North American.

Since leaving VACT you have moved on to many other exciting projects; do you feel that VACT has continued on with the mission and mandate that you initiated true to your initial goals?

VACT has continued with the mission and even surpassed its original goals by raising it to a professional theatre company that showcases Asian Canadian stories with Asian Canadian actors locally to expanding its audience nationally and hopefully internationally.

I understand that you recently organized a group of people to go see the new movie Crazy Rich Asians. The movie is making major headlines right now for being the first Hollywood movie in 25 years to have an all Asian cast. How did you like the movie?

I loved the movie, Crazy Rich Asians!  Before viewing it, I was secretly praying that it would have a good story, good acting & direction. After seeing the film, I realize my fears were needless. The acting was excellent, the story line was exceptional as the “ending” surprised me (and I don’t get surprised often).  The direction was the perfect combination of romance, comedy and timing.  What was surprising was that although I went to see it to support Asian American actors, it was a very good universally romantic comedy on its own merit that anyone (mainstream) could identify with. It was a significant rom-com because for the first time, I saw a romantic lead Asian male who was attracted to an Asian female and how each character brings their cultural backstory with them which I could identify with.

Do you think that theatre is ahead of film in representing underrepresented and marginalized groups? Behind?

I believe theatre is way ahead of film in representing underrepresented and marginalized group in a “real” sense because theatre is less expensive to produce and it develops a grass root foundation (locally) in acting and stories. Film is near impossible to penetrate without Asian representation in the decision makers.  For instance, Kim’s Convenience started as a Fringe Show, then Theatre Show and now a TV show.  These actors are now transitioning to film.  In theatre, it is more forgiving to show stories outside of the “mainstream” audience and to reach out and tell individual stories of marginalized groups and make the characters believable and not stereotypical.  With this realistic portrayal, audiences members will appreciate the story.  Hopefully through inclusive theatre, we learn and eventually bring societal tolerance.

The Ones We Leave Behind. Photo by Ray Shum. Photo Design by Terry Wong.

This fall, from Oct 24-Nov 3, we will be presenting, with VACT, Loretta Seto’s The Ones We Leave Behind. Are you looking forward to seeing it? What makes it exciting to you?

Yes, I am excited to see Loretta Seto’s The Ones We Leave Behind, as I am a fan of her other show Dirty Old Woman plus the fact that it is a female Asian Canadian playwright. I don’t usually research shows I see so that I don’t know what it is about.  I like to be surprised when I am watching the show.   I do love the title of the show, very intriguing.  With the fact that it represents three underrepresented components:  females, Asian Canadians actors, Asian Canadian stories in theatre …. I am highly anticipating its opening and wishing it box office success.


The Ones We Leave Behind runs Oct 24-Nov 3, 2018 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Staff Picks #2: 2018/19 Season shows that we don’t want you to miss!

2018/19 Season shows that we don’t want you to miss!

The second blog post in a summer series featuring some of the 2018/19 shows that our staff just cant wait for! Read the first post here!


Lee Newman, Assistant to Head Front of House Manager / Volunteer Coordinator. Still photo from Parlour Panther music video by Grace Gadston at Jaunty Media

Lee Newman, Assistant to Head Front of House Manager/ Volunteer Coordinator, Dakh Daughters, Jan 15- 19, 2019

I am so excited for Dakh Daughters, starting January 15th at The York Theatre, part of the Femme Series. They bring this thrilling and captivating power to their performance that I LOVE. I am fascinated by how modern musicians perform, because these days the performance component is often much more than just people with their instruments. The Dakh Daughters use theatrical elements with their bodies, their voices, their instruments, their costumes, and the lighting, all in a uniquely bold and gritty style to create an unforgettable performance! And this I just got from the youtube clip on The Cultch’s website! I cannot WAIT for the live version.


Natalie Schneck, Development Associate. Photo by Tiana He

Natalie Schneck, Development Associate, This Duet We’ve Already Done (so many times), Nov 27 – Dec 1, 2018

I am excited for This Duet We’ve Already Done (so many times). For me, Frédérick Gravel’s work always feels like a sexy rock show with sophisticated themes woven throughout. I often sense a tension between power/persona and vulnerability. Both Frédérick and Brianna are charismatic performers and I am curious to see the energy that’s created when they work together.

 

 

 


Meghan Robinson, Rentals Sales Manager. Photo by Tiana He

Meghan Robinson, Rentals Sales Manager, NASSIM, May 7 – 19, 2019

I can’t begin to describe how excited I am to have Nassim Soleimanpour at The Cultch. His production “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit” was one of the most powerful pieces of theatre I have ever seen. It established my passion and adoration for the theatre. I have faith that “Nassim” will have a similar affect. I have no doubt that it will both connect audiences, and blow them away, from the moment the script is taken out of its envelope.

 

 


Leslie Dos Remedios, Sales Associate. Photo by Tiana He

Leslie Dos Remedios, Sales Associate, The Ones We Leave Behind, Oct 24- Nov 3, 2018

I’m excited to see The Ones We Leave Behind. It’s been so rewarding seeing VACT, Loretta and the entire creative team develop this show for over a year. It’s also great to have an ensemble show from VACT on The Cultch stage – we get to be a place where underrepresented voices have a platform to tell our stories.

 

 

 


Single tickets go on sale July 16, but you can purchase a subscription today to save! Save 20% with our Choose 5 subscription package or 25% with our Choose 8 subscription package! This season, the more you see, the more save. You’ll enjoy an exciting roster of artists and programs, from the best seats in the house.

FLASHBACK: It has been an exciting month at The Cultch!

FLASHBACK: It has been an exciting month at The Cultch!

October flew by! The start to our 17/18 season was a huge success and a real blast! We opened four shows: The Goblin Market, 1 Hour Photo, Encounter, and HONOUR: Confessions of a Mumbai Courtesan. Thank you so much to all of you who attended one (or several) of these amazing shows! We are feeling nostalgic already, so here is a little flashback!

Here are some shots from a few of our opening nights:

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THE GOBLIN MARKET was the very first show of our season, and a big hit with our audiences!

“Breathtakingly beautiful. Heart-stoppingly romantic. Stirringly erotic” — Jo Ledingham, joledingham.ca

The Goblin Market dazzles”- Kathleen Oliver, The Georgia Straight


1 HOUR PHOTO was a beautiful tribute to the life Mas Yamamoto

“Wrestling with questions of life and death, 1 Hour Photo is most heartfelt in its exploration of Yamamoto’s life. Ultimately, we are all a little better off for his willingness to share it through Shigematsu” — Mark Robins, Vancouver Presents

1 Hour Photo animates an extraordinary life with vivid props and projections…the play is a buffet of sensory textures” — Kathleen Oliver, The Georgia Straight


ENCOUNTER was an amazing way to kick off Diwali in BC; a tribute to indigenous peoples history around the world.

“It is no wonder they have gained their reputation as the best physical theatre out of India—the clarity of the physical storytelling from this accomplished company is absolutely expert” — Elizabeth Holliday, SAD MAG

“The show is affecting” — Lincoln Kaye, Vancouver Observer


HONOUR: CONFESSIONS OF A MUMBAI COURTESAN, also a part of Diwali in BC, is a one woman show raising money and awareness for women and children trapped in cycles of sex trafficking.

“I don’t often stay for the talkback sessions after a show but this one was fascinating and added immeasurably to the tremendous pleasure I got from the performance…Dipti Mehta is, as well as a scientist and a social activist, a very fine storyteller” — Jo Ledingham, joledingham.ca

Honour: Confessions of a Mumbai Courtesan, is ambitious, smart, and a masterclass in character work” — Andrea Warner, The Georgia Straight


THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO MADE IT SUCH A GREAT MONTH HERE AT THE CULTCH!

There are more than 18 shows remaining in our 17/18 season — Don’t miss them!

The Goblin Market and 1 Hour Photo are opening The Cultch’s 17/18 season!

The Goblin Market and 1 Hour Photo are opening The Cultch’s 17/18 season!

Next week we welcome two shows to our stages (The Goblin Market at the York Theatre and 1 Hour Photo at the Historic Theatre), and we couldn’t be more excited. It seems we are not the only one. Vancouver critic, Colin Thomas gave us a shout-out in his blog, Vancouver Greenroom:

“There are two piping hot shows sitting on the windowsill this week. They both open next week in venues operated by The Cultch” — Colin Thomas, colinthomas.ca

Want to know more about these shows? Read some of this great press before you see the shows!

The Goblin Market is a contemporary circus re-telling of Christina Rossetti’s poem, following two sisters, their temptation, sacrifice and eventual salvation. Delicious circus is precariously balanced with gritty performances and candid story telling.

“‘Goblin Market’ gets standing ovations everywhere it travels to around the globe. And seeing it within the intimate confines of the York should be eerily, mind-blowingly fun.” – Janet Smith, The Georgia Straight Editor’s Choice

Read ‘Five reasons to check out Goblin Market’ in The Vancouver Sun

1 Hour Photo is the story of Mas Yamamoto, a man whose life was swept up by the major currents of the 20th century. Written and performed by Tetsuro Shigematsu, 1 Hour Photo is a moving portrait saturated with the most vivid colours of our times.

“We’re trying to deepen the experience of listening by allowing the audience to look at different things to enable their imaginations to take flight”— Tetsuro Shigematsu, in interview with The Vancouver Sun

“…on a certain level I just wanted this ritual to continue—to sit at the knee of an elder and be transported to the past”— Tetsuro Shigematsu, In interview with The Georgia Straight

 


The Goblin Market runs at the York Theatre Oct 3-14. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

1 Hour Photo runs at the Historic Theatre Oct 3-15. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Join us for our Season Kick off Dance Party on Wednesday, October 4 starting at 9:30pm! Everyone welcome! Vancity Culture Lab, 1895 Venables St

SNEAK PEEK: BEHIND THE SCENES OF 1 HOUR PHOTO!

Sneak Peak: Behind the Scenes of 1 Hour Photo!

We are getting closer and closer to the start of our 17/18 season. 1 Hour Photo opens on October 4, in the Historic Theatre!

Written and performed by Tetsuro Shigematsu, 1 Hour Photo is the story of Mas Yamamoto, a man whose life was swept up by the major currents of the 20th century. From growing up in a fishing village on the banks of the Fraser River, to being confined at a Japanese Canadian internment camp during World War II, to helping build the Distant Early Warning Line in the Canadian Arctic during the height of the Cold War, 1 Hour Photo is a moving portrait saturated with the most vivid colours of our times.

If you are like us, you can hardly wait to get a taste of this new show by critically acclaimed VACT. And so here to the rescue, we have a few little glimpses into the behind the scenes world of 1 Hour Photo; just a little taste to wet your appetite!

Check out this great interview that Mark Robins of Vancouver Presents did with Tetsuro (and a few unsuspecting crew members) onsite at the rehearsal hall at PTC Test Kitchen.

And here are a few behind-the-scenes photos taken during the creation of 1 Hour Photo:

1 Hour Photo runs at the Historic Theatre Oct 3-15. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.