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.
TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival (Oct 2-12) is bringing together artists of all different kinds – comedians, circus performers, drag artists, and more – but we are particularly excited to introduce you to some of the musicians that will be honoring us by taking over our stages during the festival!
Juno nominated Silla and Rise blend Inuit throat-singing and futuristic dancefloor beats. Their breathtaking sound garnered them Juno nominations for Indigenous Music Album of the Year, and Indigenous Music Award for Best Inuit, Indigenous Language, or Francophone Album, in 2017 for their self title debut album: Silla and Rise.
This group is gaining major momentum in Canada and internationally. If Tanya Tagaq says, “Pay attention” you just know they are a group you don’t want to take your eyes off!
Silla and Rise’s brand new album, Galactic Gala, was just released on October 5, and it is INCREDIBLE! Listen to, and purchase, the album here!
Jerilynn Webster, aka JB the First Lady, is a member of the Nuxalk & Onondaga Nations. She is a Vancouver-based hip hop and spoken word artist, beat-boxer, cultural dancer, and youth educator. With four studio albums under her belt, JB sees her songs as a way of capturing oral history, and isn’t afraid to write lyrics that speak to challenging subjects like residential schools and missing and murdered Indigenous women.
We are so lucky that the co-curator of TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival, the incredible Corey Payette, will be taking the stage on the closing night of the festival with a transformative evening of music from his award-winning and critically-acclaimed musicals–featuring songs and stories from Children of God, Les Filles du Roi, plus a sneak peek of the new musical, Sedna.
Corey Payette is proud of his Oji-Cree heritage from Northern Ontario, and has worked across Canada as a playwright, actor, composer, and director. He is the Artistic Director of Urban Ink (Vancouver, BC).
Corey Payette Musical Songbook plays at the Historic Theatre on October 12 at 7 PM! FEATURING: Corey Payette, Michelle Bardach (singer), Chelsea Rose (singer), Sean Bayntyn (piano), Molly MacKinnon (violin), John Kastelic (viola), Doug Gorkoff (cello).
The Cultch staff are excited for TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival!
It is that time of year again! Time for you to hear from a few of our staff about some of the shows they are excited for in our 19/20 Season. This year we are featuring shows from our inaugural TRANSFORM: A Cabaret Festival!
I am a huge stand-up comedy fan, and I’m really excited about Steph Tisdell’s show Identity Steft. She recently took the Edinburgh Fringe by storm, and has been named the rising star of Australian comedy.
It really makes my heart sing to see artists from diverse backgrounds using laughter to stand up to white supremacy and the patriarchy. That takes incredible courage and awe-inspiring skill. I can’t wait!
Paul Phalen, Business Development & Hospitality Manager.
There is so much to see in the festival, but these two shows, I will not miss!
I can’t wait to see The Women of Comedy! These amazing funny women are the best in the country, and it also features the smart and funny Steph Tisdall of Australia.
Martha Chavez, the “Grand Dame” of Canadian comedy, who is featured on CBC`s Debaters and Because News, is hilarious and makes me howl with laughter. Nour Hadidi‘s dry sense of humour makes me wish I was her best friend, so I could laugh with her everyday!
Local comedy writer and performer Erica Sigurdson, has become a favourite on CBC`s the Debaters and will have us all laughing all the way to the bathroom!
Our Sunday morning Family Drag Brunch and Dress up, is a chance for parents and kids to have dress-up fun together, and learn that there is nothing too silly or fun when it comes to drag.
Parents and kids will have lessons in fashion, make up and presentation, and be a part of a family drag runway show judged by kids. Enjoy a great breakfast and have fun with the whole family!
This show is so exciting to me because every child is an individual, and allowing them to express themselves in their own way opens the doors to so many amazing adventures in learning, for both the child and the parent.
We don’t often present music as part of our season, and though theatre is usually my art of choice, I am really excited to hear some incredible music on our stages.
Leela Gilday is a Dene artists from NWT, and she has recently release a new album, North Star Calling, which she says is about “facing your fears, standing in the pain, and living with courage, boldness and joy.” I have been listening to it, and it is incredible! PLUS – she is performing Sandy Scofield and M’Girl – whose performance at Main St. Car Free Day was one of the highlights of my summer!
I have always been so in love with throat singing, and Silla and Risecombine throat singing with dance floor beats. From what I have seen, they are incredible live performers, and their music is so amazing, that I just know their show with JB the First Lady is going to be sooo fun!
PLUS – Silla and Rise are releasing their new album, Galactic Gala, on Oct 5, five days before they hit our Historic stage. Talk about timing!
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 Festivalwill bring together over 50 Indigenous and non-indigenous performers—comedians, musicians, burlesque performers, drag artists, and more.
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 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
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
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 showSteph 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.
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
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).
In preparations for Feminist Karaoke, Cultch staff dish about their karaoke favourites!
Julia Croft wants you to sing along!
Power Ballad, from New Zealand’s Julia Croft and Nisha Madhan (Jan 22-26), is part performance piece, part feminist rant, AND part karaoke party! On Friday, Jan 25, the party will continue after the show, when Julia invites Cultch patrons to join her for Feminist Karaoke — a completely free Femme Series event!
The buzz in the Cultch office is palpable—we are a karaoke loving bunch! Here are a few karaoke favourites—and a couple karaoke memories—from some of the staff, to help you get in the mood for Jan 25.
Chelsea Isenor, Marketing Manager
Favourite Karaoke Song: Total Eclipse of the Heart. I don’t really have the vocal chops to sing it well, but it is so fun to belt out. It’s even better if you have a duet partner, but I have been know to sing both parts!
Kelly Barker, Artistic Associate
Karaoke Memory: I sang “I Love Rock and Roll”, by Joan Jett, at my sister-in-law’s wedding, and it was so terrible that the host of the wedding (it was at a small inn in the Okanagan) told me, the next morning, that it was, “the worst thing he’d ever heard”. My mother-in-law apparently has it on video—and I’ve refused to watch it.
Louise Chapman, Development Associate
Karaoke Memory: It’s not a particularly interesting story, but it’s my only personal karaoke experience!
I do not have a good singing voice, so I have only done karaoke once in my life! I was 19 and travelling in Japan with my friend Mariesha. We went along to a karaoke place and got a little room with some people from out hostel. I drank a lot of plum wine (delicious!) and sang Umbrella by Rihanna. A good memory.
Another time, I was staying in a village on a tiny island in the Philippines, where the local fishermen would gather at night to drink rum and sing karaoke. Their singing filled the tropical night air.
Leslie Dos Remedios, Sales Associate
Favourite Karaoke Song: I actually have a running list of karaoke songs on my phone – like when I’m in a store and hear a song I love, I put it in my phone just so I’m not at a loss in those times I’m flipping through a karaoke binder, not at my full capacity and about to make a questionable adult decision.
Some of my faves to sing are:
I Love Rock and Roll by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
Wannabe by The Spice Girls
Since You’ve Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson
Very eclectic, I know, but such good guilty pleasures!
We wanna know your karaoke favourites—come sing with us!! Feminist Karaoke with Julia Croft is a FREE Femme Series event on January 25, 2019, at 9PM.
Power Ballad runs until Jan 26 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or call The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.
The Femme Series is generously supported by the Charlotte and Sonya Wall Arts Fund.
A Note from Julia Croft | Power Ballad Creator/Performer
Power Ballad is a living, breathing, and demonic little show that we are absolutely delighted to be presenting in Canada for the first time.
This work is the second in a trilogy of feminist works that we created. Power Ballad was inspired in part by the misogynistic train wreck that was the 2016 US election and the implicit gendered narratives that were played out in the politics and media of that time and continue to ripple through our lives and our culture. It was also inspired by a lifetime of personally feeling the ways in which language was used against me as a woman and the ways I felt (and still feel) that language can be an impossible bind.
Over the course of making the show, the concept of language began to also stand in for all those other seemingly immovable patriarchal structures we are all trying to live within or against. They seem permanent but they aren’t – things could be different. While making this work I thought often of the famous Ursula Le Guin quote “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.” This work is about finding the cracks where resistance can begin.
This show started to become a small rally cry – or at least my own attempt to begin to understand what a resistance could look like and my reminding myself of the importance of being hopeful.
Then as we began rehearsals for the show millions of women around the world marched collectively as part of the Womens’ March. And then we had #metoo. And Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette. And a million other acts of resistance both big and small seem to be appearing every day. And I feel in my gut that things are shifting. Maybe the revolution has already started.
Either way, it is my great joy to be in a room with you all while we sing our hearts out.
Power Balladruns Jan 20-26, at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or call The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.
It’s party time—time for good music, good laughs…and great food!
Photo by Ankita Singh
The holidays may be over, but the party is only getting started! Coming Jan 15-Feb 3 to the Vancity Culture Lab, Mrs. Krishnan’s Party is a play that takes place at Onam. Have you heard of Onam? It’s a Hindu harvest festival, and it could be the craziest party of them all! Onam celebrates the annual return of the beloved King Maveli to his people. King Maveli was defeated and pushed into the underworld by the gods, but because he was so beloved, he was granted the wish to return to his people once a year. The celebrations for Onam can last up to ten days!
Every great celebration needs great food, and Onam is no different! In fact Onam is know for its good eats—and there are a lot of them:
An example of an Onam Sadhya
All together there are 11 essential dishes which have to prepared…[The]Traditional Onam Sadya (feast) meal comprises of different varieties of curries, upperies – things fried in oil, pappadams which are round crisp flour paste cakes of peculiar make, uppilittathu – pickles of various kinds, chammanthi – the chutney, payasams and prathamans or puddings of various descriptions. Fruits and digestives are also part of the meal. The food has to be served on a tender Banana leaf, laid with the end to the left. The meal is traditionally served on a mat laid on the floor. A strict order of serving the dishes one after the another is obeyed. Besides, there are clear directions as to what will be served in which part of the banana leaf. – www.onamfestival.org
In Mrs. Krishnan’s Party, Mrs Krishnan is surprised to find that, unbeknownst to her, her boarder, James, has filled her stock room with 100 guests expecting an Onam party (the audience members are the guests!). She is forced to throw an Onam party on the fly. And my oh my, what a party it will be!
And, because every good party needs food, food there must be. Mrs. Krishnan saves the day and makes a delicious daal for everyone to enjoy—yum! We just know you are going to want to know the recipe for this feast.
Here is the recipe for Mrs Krishnan’s Pepper Dhal, as prepared in the play:
Mr Krishnan is forced to throw the party of her life!
James looks on excitedly as Mrs Krishnan prepares the daal
Some helpful guest got roped into helping
500g pink lentils
1 litre of boiling water
3 chopped tomatoes or half a tin
2 Tbs of rice bran oil
1 small onion chopped
2 gloves of garlic
1 dried red chilli
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp white pepper
Put lentils, tomatoes and bruised whole cloves of garlic into a large pot of boiling water and simmer till lentils are soft (15-20mins).
Stir occasionally to stop from burning. 5 minutes before lentils are ready, heat oil in a frying pan and add onions and sauté till translucent.
Add all the spices except white pepper and salt to the onions and stir for a minute.Tip the onion spice mixture into the pot of lentils and simmer for five minutes.
Add salt and white pepper. For added deliciousness, add a dash of white vinegar and a big knob of butter right at the end and sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander. Yum!
Mrs. Krishnan’s Party runs Jan 15-Feb 3, at the Vancity Culture Lab. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363