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

West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) Fundraiser: Dickens’ Women

West Coast LEAF’s ‘No Means No’ program has reached over 3000 youth across BC

In partnership with The Cultch, West Coast LEAF is delighted to be offering a fundraiser performance of Miriam Margolyes’ play, Dickens’ Women on Wednesday, November 14 at 7pm.
West Coast LEAF is a BC-based non-profit society on a mission to change historic patterns of discrimination against women through three key areas: Public Legal Education, Law Reform, and Equal Rights Litigation. They offer programming in each of these key areas, including peer facilitated workshops like ‘No Means No’ , the Family Law Project, and litigation in specific cases that have the potential to affect the lives of women across BC. This really just scratches the surface of the hard work that West Coast LEAF does for women in our community and across BC. We are proud to have partnered with such an inspiring organisation!

A veteran of stage and screen, award-winning actress Miriam Margolyes has achieved success on both sides of the Atlantic

As for Miriam Margolyes, you may remember her from any one of her amazingly talented and oft hilarious performances in films, plays, and TV series’ such as The Black Adder, Little Shop of Horrors, Magnolia, The Vagina Monologues, Being Julia, Romeo + Juliet, and the list goes on! In Dickens’ Women she moves seamlessly from role to role depicting 23 of Dickens’ little to best known characters whom, full of life and layers, were shaped from women in his own life – women he knew, women he loved, and women he hated.

The Cultch is thrilled to be presenting Dickens’ Women from November 15 – December 1 (in addition to the November 14 fundraiser performance for West Coast LEAF) considering the combined talent and strength brought to this hilariously entertaining one-woman performance, co-written and performed by BAFTA and LA Critics Circle award-winner Miriam Margolyes. Equally exciting is that this performance Dickens’ Women is Margolyes’ Canadian premier on a critically acclaimed world tour where Dickens’ Women has been eliciting much praise from audience members and critics alike in countries including Australia, New Zealand, India and the USA.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to support an exceptional, BC-based organisation and see the Canadian premier of Dickens’ Women as they continue on their critically acclaimed world tour!

Tickets are available at The Cultch for both the West Coast LEAF Fundraiser and the Nov 15 – Dec 1 run of Dickens’ Women. Tickets can be purchased online at tickets.thecultch.com, by phone at 604.251.1363, or in person at 1895 Venables Street.

Connect with West Coast LEAF on Facebook and Twitter or visit their website for more information.

Zombie Apocalypse in Vancouver: 6 tips for survival

Theatre Melee presents a dark comedy about four strangers who make a desperate last stand as human civilization crumbles around them.

By Roanne Ward

Ah, zombies. Where would the Hollywood economy be without them? Everyone loves a good zombie flick. We know our beautiful protagonists are doomed from the start but we keep watching, flinching at every turn, anxiously awaiting the zombie to chow down on their victim’s flesh! Watching the action on film is thrilling enough, but imagine watching these events live!

Theatre Melee, with support from Rumble Productions, brings their zombie inspired production, Cozy Catastrophe, to The Cultch just in time for Halloween. Stemming from Hive 2 in 2008, Cozy Catastrophe places four young, unprepared zombie-apocalypse survivors in a tight situation, where they take shelter in an abandoned storeroom, while racking their brains on what to do.

So how does one survive a zombie invasion? Hide and hope they don’t like your particular taste of flesh? Quickly apply some make-up/dirt/blood to your face so you resemble one of them?

Here are our 6 tips for survival:

A sample zombie survival kit.

  1. Imagine a zombie invasion like you would any other big emergency– fire, earthquake, drought, floods– and get a survival kit. Please include water, dissolving hand soap sheets, beef jerky, a flash light, matches, and some reading material.
  2. Keep to the roof tops people! From there you’ll have a 75% better vantage point and everyone knows that Zombies are not very limber – heck, half of them are missing one appendage!
  3. Study zombie movies like Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead so you can pre-empt their tactics.
  4. Get a baseball bat so you can clear a path through the zombies should their numbers increase.
  5. Conserve, conserve, conserve. No one knows how long the Zombie Apocalypse will last but hey, have you EVER heard of one ENDING? I didn’t think so. Make sure you’re tight with your goods, folks. I hear Twinkies have enough preservatives to keep them “edible” for 80 years!
  6. Visit The Cultch between Oct 22 – Nov 4, check out Cozy Catastrophe, get some live advice and enjoy some fantastic local theatre!

Cozy Catastrophe runs until November 4, 2012. Tickets are $30 and are available online at tickets.thecultch.com, by phone at 604.251.1363, or in person at 1895 Venables St.

Grilling Up A Good Time at The Cultch Volunteer Appreciation BBQ!

Jenn Graham

Jenn Graham

By Jenn Graham, Head Front of House Manager & Volunteer Coordinator, The Cultch

The annual Volunteer Appreciation BBQ is a highly anticipated event in the life of The Cultch. It’s the day at the end of the season when Cultch staff get to hone their chopping skills on salad fixings and burger toppings. It’s the day that no one comes between our Marketing Manager and her role as ‘Queen of the Grill’. It’s the day when the Weather Network is the only channel worth watching. Most importantly, it’s the day we get to say thank you to everyone who has graciously given of their time and energy to make The Cultch such a vibrant community venue.

On June 2nd, we honoured the 120+ volunteers who gave their time to usher at performances throughout the past year and provided valuable administrative support in our office, as well as the numerous volunteer interns who worked in our marketing, youth and development departments. More than 3700 volunteer hours were contributed in total for the 2011/2012 season!

Lisa Snider with Jenn Graham and Rebecca Sharma

Lisa Snider with Jenn Graham and Rebecca Sharma, with the moody BBQ grill

And while the weather was a bit cooler than we’d hoped, it didn’t stop the volunteers who attended from having a fun afternoon! Guests were treated to a BBQ spread courtesy of Choices Markets in Yaletown and a plethora of prizes donated by local businesses on The Drive and numerous Cultch supporters. After the ‘Name Tag Follies’, some mingling, and a helping (or three) of tiramisu gelato, we asked one volunteer to share his memories of working at The Cultch.

A heartfelt thanks to our amazing volunteers for making our 11/12 Season a smashing success!

Jack Vickery, Volunteer Extraordinaire at The Cultch

Jack Vickery, our 12 year-old Volunteer Extraordinaire at The Cultch

Full Name:
Jack Vickery

How long have you been a volunteer at The Cultch?
Approximately 12 years. I started during the Jazz Festival in 2000.

What’s been your funniest/most amazing/weirdest moment volunteering at The Cultch?
There have been many. The one that comes up for me was the first night of the Shane Koyczan show in the Historic Theatre. Best. Rock. Concert. Ever.

What keeps you coming back to volunteer at The Cultch?
The shows, the staff, the volunteers. I have made some great friends here. And see some amazing shows. Helping the audience enjoy their evening is also fulfilling and many of them have become familiar faces.

Did you have a veggie burger or beef burger at the BBQ?
Beef

Did you win a door prize at the BBQ?
Yes I did! Two tickets to the Vancouver Aquarium.

Did you meet any new people at the BBQ?
Yep, and renewed connections with many others, including volunteers and staff.

Craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Hmmmmm . . . I will pass on this question (Jenn likes to say I have a sordid past and I do!!!)

Most anticipated show of the 2012/2013 Season?
“Mump & Smoot” and Blackbird Theatre’s “Don Juan

Due to popular demand, currently our volunteer ushering positions are full. If gaining transferable administrative office and people skills sound good to you, contact Cindy Reid, Managing Director, at 604.251.1766 x 112, or email your resume to cindy@thecultch.com.

GIANTS VI: The Finale on May 26th

GIANTS VI: The Finale


















By Nick Harvey-Cheetham
Co-Artistic Director, GIANTS Comedy

All good things must come to an end. But if you’re lucky, you can see the final installment in the GIANTS Comedy series before it’s over. Tickets are still available for the May 26th show, featuring Charlie Demers, Main Street Theatre, Graham Clark and more!

Presented in partnership with The Cultch, GIANTS Comedy brings together the very best in Vancouver comedy, showcasing creative new work from the finest stand ups, sketch groups and improv acts in the city.

GIANTS VI: The Finale

GIANTS VI: The Finale























The sixth and final show features an all-new one-act comedy, written by comedian and author Charlie Demers (CBC’s The Debaters) for Jessie Award-winning Main Street Theatre. GIANTS VI: The Finale also features an all-star line up of Vancouver comedians, including stand-ups Graham Clark and Ivan Decker, improv duo Sister Act and a special performance from Pick of the Fringe winners The Progressive Polygamists.

GIANTS VI: The Finale runs for one night only on Saturday, May 26th in The Cultch’s Historic Theatre. Tickets are on sale now from $10.

For more information on GIANTS Comedy, including videos, guest bios and more, visit giantscomedy.com.