Introducing the Comedians of TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival!

Comedians poised to take over the York stage – with laughter!

We are so excited to launch our 2019/20 season with a brand new festival to enliven all of our venues every fall. This inaugural year of TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival will bring together over 50 Indigenous and non-indigenous performers—comedians, musicians, burlesque performers, drag artists, and more.

On Friday, October 4, and Saturday, October 5, some of the funniest comedians we know are taking over the York in a side-splitting night of comedy – BONUS – they are all kick-ass women!

Hosts of The Women in Comedy, Katey Hoffman and Cheyenne Rouleau

Hosted by Cheyenne Rouleau and Katey Hoffman (familiar to Cultch audiences from sold-out Cultchivating the Fringe hit, The After After Party), and featuring Canadian Comedy Award winner Martha Chaves, Australia’s rising Indigenous comedy star Steph Tisdell, Toronto-based comedian Nour Hadidi, and beloved local comedian Erica Sigurdson, we just know The Women of Comedy will be filled with fun and fierce belly-aching laughter.

Need a good laugh before the festival starts? We have your hook up here!

MARTHA CHAVES

Martha Chaves is a busy comic! She is a Nicaraguan-Canadian, fluent in FOUR languages (English, Spanish, French, and Italian), and does stand-up in all four! Chaves came out publicly in 2009, and has since been very outspoken in her comedy around the realities facing LGBTQ+ people of colour. Her infectious candid style, her captivating stage presence, and her gift to relate to a wide range of audiences grant her numerous presentations at comedy festivals around the world. www.marthachaves.com

PLUS – Martha Chaves is also performing in both Opening Night Bash performances!

NOUR HADIDI

Nour Hadidi is a Toronto-based standup comic and writer, born and raised in Jordan. She has appeared at Just For Laughs, Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Kevin Hart’s LOL Network, and CBC’s The Debaters. Last year she filmed a half hour comedy special for Comedy Central in the Middle East. Nour has written for CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and Comedy Network’s The Beaverton.  www.nourhadidi.com

PLUS – Nour Hadidi is also part of the two Opening Night Bash performances!

STEPH TISDELL

Steph Tisdell is steadily becoming one of the biggest names in the Australian Comedy Scene and has been collecting awards, rave reviews, and critical acclaim while selling out runs at the Sydney Comedy Festival and Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Steph is a proud Indigenous woman and is making a fast rise as one of Australia’s funniest Indigenous comedians, putting her in a unique position to encourage other Indigenous artists to come forward and showcase why they’re the funniest race in the world. www.stephtisdell.com

PLUS – In addition to being a part of The Women in Comedy show, Steph Tisdell is also presenting her show Steph Tisdell: Identity Sheft, is going to be a part of the Opening Night Bash performances, AND is offering a workshop on Oct 3 (3 pm) for people to learn how to use comedy as a coping mechanism and a diplomacy tool. 

ERICA SIGURDSON

Local Vancouver comedy gem, Erica Sigurdson is best known for her rapier wit on CBC Radio’s smash hit The Debaters, as well as her numerous television appearances on both CBC and CTV. She is one of Canada’s most beloved comedians, but also beloved around the world, having performed in Iceland, Singapore, Thailand, England, The Philippines, Afghanistan.

As a story-editor Erica has written for CBC’s Mr. D and CTV’s Corner Gas Animated as well as numerous pilots. Erica won a Leo Award for co-writing the 21st Annual Gemini Awards. www.ericasigurdson.com


TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival runs in all three Cultch venues, Oct 2-12, 2019. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

EARLY REVIEWS: Fight Night is “unlike any piece of theatre I’ve ever seen”

img_7365Fight Night opened last night at The Cultch’s Historic Theatre and audience members and critics are abuzz!

Reviews

“Invigorating…it is subversive and shocking. It is also very, very real” – Mark Robins, Vancouver Presents

“Cast your votes for actors in this clever deconstruction of election systems” – Georgia Straights, 6 Things To Do in Vancouver

“They were manipulating the hell out of me and I loved it…I recommend this show” – Colin Thomas, Colinthomas.ca

“Part TheatreSports and part Survivor…it offers a lot to think about.” – Jerry Wasserman, The Vancouver Sun

“The most fun I’ve had at a participatory theatre show…thrilling, innovative, and one of the most intelligent works I’ve seen in a long time.” – Tessa Perkins, Center Stage

Social Media

“It was a crazy opening night, and UNLIKE ANY PIECE OF THEATRE I HAVE EVER SEEN. This crew from Belgium have crafted an AMAZINGLY THOUGHT PROVOKING PIECE of theatre” – Tetsuro Shigematsu

“Fascinating theatrical event from Europe. LIKE NOTHING YOU HAVE EVER SEEN. Audience interaction that makes you giggle and worried at the same time” – David C Jones

“I saw Fight Night last night and it was an incredibly fun and engaging evening. And not in a 90s improv pulled up on stage to be embarrassed way.

The house lights were up for a lot of the night, people were chatting with their neighbours and the audience ultimately decides the outcome. If you’re at all curious about voting, strategy, alliances, judgement and how the power of them work alone and in combination – then go and see this show.

I was shocked, appalled and delighted so many times over and I’m definitely going to see it again.

With an 85 min running time, its definitely a punch of fun not to be missed!” – Kim Harvey

“THE MOST ENGAGING PIECE OF THEATRE I’VE SEEN. Fun as hell study on the deep dark corners of democracy” – Joel Ballard @jphballard

Fight Night plays at The Cultch (1895 Venables St, Vancouver) from October 18-29. Plus, tonight (Wednesday, October 19) a special edition of Fight Night will incorporate the US presidential debate in a pre-show debate party in the lobby. Visit https://thecultch.com for tickets and information.

A closer look at Blackbird Theatre’s production of ‘All That Fall’

We are thrilled to welcome Blackbird Theatre back to The Cultch for the first ever Canadian production of All That Fall! The show is running from Dec 29, 2014 until January 24, 2015 at The Cultch’s Historic Theatre.

For more than 50 years, no one was able to obtain the rights to produce Samuel Beckett’s radio play for the stage. Beckett insisted that it was meant to be heard. As he said, “it is a text written to come out of the dark.” However,  in 2012 Beckett’s estate allowed theatrical staging of the script. The show premiered in London and the next year in New York. The reception was overwhelmingly enthusiastic!

Now the focus is on the Canadian premiere! After a sold out and highly praised run of Uncle Vanya in 2013, Blackbird Theatre has been given the rare opportunity to present All That Fall for the first time in Canada. Can you imagine a better way to start the new year on the right foot?

“Beckett at his most Irish and accessible”Michael Billington, The Guardian

“You’re unlikely to find a more salty or succinct embodiment of his fathomless sense of humor”Ben Brantley, New York Times

“The play reveals a different side of Beckett’s artistic personnality. Yes, it’s bleak but it also genuinely funny, with lots of jokes… There is also a mystery at the play’s heart which, as in a thriller, is only resolved at the very end”Charles Spencer, The Daily Telegraph

Check out Artistic Director’s Notes by John Wright here:

Irish playwright, novelist and poet Samuel Beckett was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. For most of his working years he lived in Paris, writing in both English and French. Waiting for Godot (written in 1948 and first staged in 1953) brought him international acclaim. In 1969 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

All That Fall was written in 1956 and broadcast by the BBC the following year (the title comes from Psalms 145:14 – The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all thos that be bowed down). It was not a commissioned script; Beckett preferred to complete a work before accepting any obligation to submit it. He refused all requests (even from Laurence Olivier and from Ingmar Bergman) to allow stage performances of All That Fall, insisting that it was meant to be heard. “It is a text written to come out of the dark,” he said. Just recently Beckett’s estate has permitted stage productions, but only if presented as a radio play, and in 2012 and 2013 it premiered in London and New-York.

Blackbird’s production grew out of our interest in producing two of Beckett’s one act plays with Duncan Fraser and Lee Van Paassen – Krapp’s Last Tape and Rockabye – as additions to our regular season. When All That Fall became a possibility I approached Duncan (whose radio experience was extensive) about directing the play and after a preview performance in May for our supporters it became our choice for the 14/15 season.

This production of All That Fall could not have been presented without the substential support and encouragement of The Cultch. Many thanks to Heather and her staff for making possible the staging of this unique modern classic.

All That Fall runs from Dec 29, 2014 – Jan 24, 2015 in The Cultch’s Historic Theatre. Tickets from $19 and are available online, by phone at 604 251 – 1363, or in person at our box office at 1895 Venables Street.

A Global Success! Patrick Ehrenwirth shares behind-the-scenes insights into the dazzling production, LEO!

By Sarah Cruickshank

Tobias Wegner in Circle of Eleven's LEO, winner of the Best of Edinburgh Award.

LEO, the jaw-dropping, gravity-defying production from Berlin-based theatre company Circle of Eleven, is coming to The Cultch! In its last stop on a whirlwind world tour, this remarkable production of physical theatre will leave you not knowing which way is up and which way is down!

We caught up with Circle of Eleven’s Marketing and PR Manager Patrick Ehrenwirth to find out more about LEO, and how it feels to be part of a production that’s enjoying global success.

SC: As the Marketing and PR Manager at Circle of Eleven, what are some of your responsibilities when touring a show like LEO?

PE: The first step in the creation phase of a touring show is to find a show title and to develop artwork that comes with the show. We usually do this in a small team which involves the key creatives, Circle of Eleven’s artistic director, and myself. We provide a full marketing package to the venues where our productions play. This includes show texts, a press kit, photos, a trailer, and the art work for the posters, flyers and ads. So, the first round is always a busy period with photo and video shootings and a lot of copywriting. Once a show is on tour, the respective marketing and PR team and I are planning press calls, interviews, TV gigs and advertising campaigns. Every city and every venue is different when touring a show; that’s why my job never gets boring!

SC: For those who may not be familiar with this type of performance, can you explain the concept of physical theatre?

PE: Physical theatre is a broad term for performances which convey drama or an actual story by primarily physical means, that is, the body. This idea allows a variety of genres to happily mingle, from mime to contemporary dance, from circus to performance art. You will notice when watching LEO that the show requires a lot of different skills from the performer. Besides being an excellent and strong acrobat, he also has to be a good dancer, actor, mime, and he has to be able to play an instrument.

Tobias Wegner stars in Circle of Eleven's LEO, which plays at The Cultch until Dec 15.

SC: What are some of the challenges in presenting a show with no words?

PE: The beauty of a nonverbal, visually captivating production like LEO is that it leaves a lot of space for personal interpretation. But at the same time, it’s also a challenge when marketing a show because you don’t want to give too much away. My experience is that visitors see so many different things in LEO, whether it is a situation in their own life or that of a friend or something entirely different. Theatre is a universal language, but it talks to everyone in a different way, so to speak. So for me the challenge is to keep that door, that personal access open for everyone.

SC: LEO has been called the anti-gravity show. How does performer Tobias Wegner make it look as though he’s floating in the air?

PE: LEO is based on a brilliant stage concept which actually involves two scenes: A box with the performer in it, and right beside it, a projection of this room turned by 90 degrees, so what is the floor in real life becomes the wall in the projection. The illusion is even enhanced by a fantastic lighting design, surreal animations and a visionary video design. But above all, it is Tobias’s talent and stamina that make his movements seem weightless. When Tobias developed the show together with director Daniel Brière, they’d been experimenting a lot with different movements and sequences to see which would work both in the projection and on stage. But even now, Tobias and the creatives keep inventing new elements, which they add to the show. On a technical level, the show is playing with people’s perception, and at a certain point, you won’t realize which postures are actually difficult or even impossible in real life.

SC: LEO has toured all over the world including places like the USA, Poland, Germany and Iran. What does it mean to come to Vancouver and perform on The Cultch stage?

PE: The Cultch will be LEO’s last station before going on a well-deserved Christmas holiday, and it is also the last stop on this 2012 world tour, which started in New York. This run is quite special. I know that Tobias Wegner and the crew are excited to be in Vancouver, and to perform at The Cultch, especially because its programme is so varied and interdisciplinary, just as LEO is. Unfortunately, I don’t get to tour with the crew, and to be honest, I envy them a little that they are travelling to a city that has been rated among the most liveable cities in the world!

SC: LEO is so popular that you’ve had to train two additional performers for tour dates in 2013. How does it feel to be a part of a show that’s enjoying this much success?

PE: Of course, it makes us all very proud! I’ve seen the show develop from a comedy act that Tobias Wegner created for our production called myLIFE, to a touching one-hour show that won three awards and played off-Broadway. Whether it be the USA, Iran, Zimbabwe, or Canada – regardless of the cultural background, people just love the show, that’s just amazing. But it’s not only the success as such but the feedback that we get that is very rewarding. I’ve seen people crying during the show simply because they were so moved by it. Others told me with a big smile on their face that LEO was the most beautiful piece they ever saw. It is a great feeling to be part of a team that makes this happen.

SC: What can an audience member expect to take away after watching LEO?

PE: For me personally, it is the simple realization that life is full of surprises – or rather chances you can take – and the conclusion that, no matter how trapped you might feel in certain situations, there is always a way out. But as I said, I’m sure everyone will find his or her own story in LEO!

LEO runs at The Cultch December 4 – 15. Tickets start at $17 and are available online at tickets.thecultch.com, by phone at 604.251.1363, or in person at 1895 Venables St