Q&A with The Dancers of Damelahamid: Cultch Artist-in-Residence

As part of their artistic residency here at The Cultch, the Dancers of Damelahamid are currently workshopping their upcoming production, ‘Flicker‘. We chatted with Margaret Grenier, Executive and Artistic Director of the Dancers of Damelahamid, about the role of dance in her heritage, the power of reconciliation through art, and the creative process of workshopping a new performance.

Hi Margaret! Can you tell us a little about the Dancers of Damelahamid? 

The Dancers of Damelahamid are an Aboriginal dance company based in Vancouver, BC. Our mandate is to advance the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the art, history, language, and traditions of First Nations’ culture through story dance and song; to educate the public about and increase cross-cultural understanding of First Nations’ heritage through dance performances at festivals, in educational institutions, and at other venues and public spaces; and to advance education by providing instructional workshops on traditional First Nations’ dance to students at elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools.

What role does dance play in your heritage?

Dance plays an integral role in our cultural heritage. It is an intergenerational practice, strengthening ties between elders and youth. The art form carries forward language, story, song and dance as well as being a platform to share from as a community and on many levels.

What is Gitxsan masked dance?

Dance on the Northwest coast has always brought together all aspects of coastal art. The masks, as well as the narratives portrayed through movement and song support the underlying story and themes. The art form is a reflection of a way of understanding and seeing the world, indigenous to our home territories.

Gitxsan songs and dances were banned by the Canadian government for several decades. The Dancers of Damelahamid emerged, in part, as a response to this – to ensure that the Gitxsan heritage was preserved and not lost. What role can art play in reconciliation and healing?

Storytelling through movement has been an integral part of defining our unique identities as indigenous peoples on the Northwest coast. There is a healing authority to the dances. Through continual and dedicated practice we strengthen our ability for reconciliation within ourselves as well as offer this understanding through performance. Therefore our collective consciousness can move forward, bridging our differences and celebrating our distinct identities.

Your upcoming production, ‘Flicker’, is a part of The Cultch’s 15/16 season. Can you describe the show?

Flicker is an innovative dance piece by the Dancers of Damelahamid in collaboration with multi-media artist Andy Moro that combines Northwest coast graphic designs with projected environments. Vividly rich imagery represents the ‘spirit world’, the mystical realm portrayed through Gitxsan masked dance. Just as light shimmers, Flicker represents the moments through which one can cross space and time, as the dancers journey in and out of the ‘spirit world’ of their ancestors.

In creating a new work during your residency here at The Cultch, what has your creative process been like?

It has been an intensive creative process and a wonderful opportunity to bring together the multilayered aspects to the production, making for a very full and productive month. We have worked for a year to prepare for the residency, beginning with a short research residency last summer at The Cultch. All aspects of the production are coming together from the choreography and song composition, the regalia and set creation, as well as the supporting soundscape, video projection, and lighting design.

‘Flicker’ will be on at the Historic Theatre May 25 – 29, 2016.

For more information about the Dancers of Damelahamid, visit their website: www.damelahamid.ca

The Faces of The Cultch: Lorin Ritchie – Volunteer, Subscriber and Donor!

LorenThe Faces of The Cultch…’ is a profile series on The Cultch blog where we  feature staff members, volunteers, subscribers, and community movers and shakers. Stay tuned for upcoming photos and interviews and drop us a line at ricky@thecultch.com if you have a burning question for one of our staff members or volunteers!

Lorin Ritchie is a volunteer, subscriber, and donor to The Cultch and we were so happy to chat with Lorin about her recent night out at the Bill Reid Gallery Dinner!

Every year, we hold a fabulous gala on the Historic Theatre of The Cultch. It’s a night to remember: dinner on the Historic stage, a silent and live auction, dancing, special performances, and live music. We also auction off a very special prize: dinner for you and nine friends in the Bill Reid Gallery, hosted by Martine Reid and our very own Managing Director Cindy Reid. Catered by an amazing chef, with wine pairings and a behind-the-scenes look at the gallery collection, it’s one of the most special nights of our year here at The Cultch. This year, featured artist Beau Dick also stopped by the gallery to perform for the party-goers. We chatted with Lorin, who attended this year’s Bill Reid Gallery Dinner.

The Cultch: What did you think of your first Gala at The Cultch?

Lorin Ritchie: It was marvelous! I’d never been to the Gala before and I loved that the event was in the theatre on the stage. Totally fabulous!

The Cultch: Can you tell us a little bit about your Bill Reid Gallery Dinner experience?

LR: It was amazing. I know a little bit about Indigenous art, not as much as I would like to, and to have Martine show us around the gallery was so special. It’s a beautiful gallery, the artist showed up and it was so much fun. Of course we were with a big group of friends (including my friend Nancy, who won the Live Auction prize of the Dinner!), so it was bound to be a marvelous evening. Oh, and the food was amazing!

The Cultch: You’re a huge supporter of The Cultch, Lorin, as a donor, subscriber and volunteer! What inspires you to be such a supporter?

LR: Well, I subscribe, and I am a volunteer usher and now I’m a Super Subscriber! When I was selecting my shows for the upcoming season, I added on the Super Subscriber donation ($125) because I want to contribute. The Cultch does such amazing work, and it feels nice to support the organization.

The Cultch: You attended a Super Subscriber event last year, our “Behind the Famous Puppet Death Scenes” event, which was a special post-show reception and talk back with the cast (and puppets) of the show. We have some really exciting Super Subscriber events coming up this season, and we are so excited to see you there! Is there a show you are particularly looking forward too?

LR: The Super Subscriber event was so much fun! It’s a lovely little bonus. I attended the Season Launch party and, well, it’s a hard question but I think Empire of the Son is the one I am looking forward to the most!

Thanks Lorin!

The rEvolver Festival Opens This Week!

The 2015 rEvolver Festival kicks off on Wednesday, May 20 with three local performances on the opening night of the Festival:

7.00PM Caws and Effect (Mind of a Snail, Vancouver)
Historic Theatre

Crows are re-dreaming the world. Is the future all it’s cracked up to be?

Mind of a Snail’s large scale shadow theatre production is an exploration of survival and extinction from a bird’s eye view. Funny, beautiful and unique, with handmade layered projections, puppetry, masks, and an original musical score. The story can be seen as a modern fable, a tongue-in-cheek nature documentary, or the animated dream of a sleeping bird. In 2014, Caws & Effect won Patrons Pick at the Winnipeg Fringe and Pick of the Fringe at the Vancouver Fringe Festival. More info

8.00PM Double Recessive (Jordan Lloyd Watkins, Vancouver)
Culture Lab

A blessing. A curse. A one in four chance. A people on the brink of extinction. What would you do if you were the last of your kind?
Double Recessive. “Opression. Genocide. Comedy.” is a savage comedy about an eerily familiar dystopia. Double Recessive shows us the history of the Ginger crisis, and how society reacts when a lone Red is born, years after their extinction. A nasty, seemingly extreme, look at how society deals with “the other”, everything in Double Recessive is based on real events. Double Recessive is the multi-media brain-child of creator/performer Jordan Lloyd Watkins, working with award-winning director David Bloom. More info

9.15PM Hell of a Girl (Jeff Gladstone & The Bad Ideas, Vancouver)
Historic Theatre

Hell of a Girl is a unique musical theatre experience. The story is loosely based on the myth Orpheus and Eurydice, set in a timeless world with cowboys, nymphs & demons, and told through 26 original songs. Musically it weaves together gothic country with rockabilly and swing, into a visual style drawn from German expressionism and French absurdism, and taking the audience to Hell and back again. More info

Be sure to join us in between shows for an Opening Night Reception! For more festival programming visit Upintheair’s website or The Cultch’s Online Box Office.

Next week: rEvolver Theatre Festival hits The Cultch!

2015_revolver_bannerNext week, we’re thrilled to welcome back Upintheair Theatre for the third annual rEvolver Theatre Festival. The rEvolver Festival runs from May 20-31, and is dedicated to providing presenting opportunities to emerging theatre companies both locally and nationally. Past rEvolver Festivals have included such shows as Kayak (seen at the Firehall Arts Centre in January) and Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical which played last month at The Cultch!

This year’s festival line-up reflects the dynamic and distinct work being created in the theatre community on a national level. From the comedic to the confounding, the festival will present works that explore the dynamics of human relationships, classical myth with a musical twist, modern fable, new world orders, historic journeys and elements of risk taking.

The 2015 rEvolver Festival Mainstage is:

Excited by what you see? There are a number of different ways you can purchase tickets! With the 6-show flex pass, the passholder can see up to six individual shows, take five friends to one show, or any combination in between! If you can’t see 6 shows, you can still save by purchasing a 3-show pass instead! And of course, individual tickets are available both through The Cultch’s Box Office and at the door.

Reviews for Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical!

Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical opened last week and critics and audience members are loving this indie-rock musical!

Check out the reviews below! And make sure to get yourself, or the millennials in your life, tickets before the show closes this Saturday!


You should run, not walk, to one of the most entertaining nights in Vancouver” – VanCity Buzz

You don’t have to be under 30 to get the message of this charming, compact musical romp. Anyone who’s done time as an office drone will tell you that there are certain fantasies that take over your brain, offering a respite from the seemingly unending day-to-day drudgery” – Vancouver Sun

There are laughs and smiles and the odd tear galore to come from this original score and script… This show is fresh and witty and charming and worth every minute” – Broken Leg Reviews

Hilarious and relatable…Go see this” – Room Magazine


“Y’all must see Stationary by @christinequinty & @MishelleCuttler it’s amazeballs. Full of spunk & angst & great tunes” – Josh Epstein @Josephstein1

“If you’re in #Vancouver see @delinquentheatr’s #Stationary at @TheCultch. It’s sweet AND it’s a protest against pigeon-holed adulting. Must” – Tara Pratt @tarakjpratt

Stationary by @delinquentheatr at @TheCultch is not to be missed! Humour, pathos and fantastic musical numbers – what more do you need?” – Kathleen B @kathleenbee751

“You should really go see #Stationary at @TheCultch. It’s as funny and moving as any entertainment from any medium you’ll find playing now” – Mack Gordon @mackgord

March Mayhem: A month in photos

We’re only a quarter of the way through 2015 and it’s already been a VERY busy year. We’ve barely had a moment’s rest in March, there was so much happening! Here’s just some of what went on:

The biggest event we had this month was our annual fundraising gala, in which we celebrated the Celtic Spirit of Ireland!


Heather Redfern rocking out with auctioneer David C. Jones


MCs Margaret Gallagher and Fred Lee addressing the attendees

There was some great entertainment throughout the evening



You couldn’t turn around without seeing someone doing something!



We had two great openings, first with Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s TransMigration:


Kaha:wi Dance Theatre Artistic Director Santee Smith with Heather Redfern


Cultch Ladies: Caitrin Innis (Development Coordinator), Zoe Forsyth (Concierge and Volunteer Coordinator), Nicole McLuckie (Director of Patron Development) and Cindy Reid (Managing Director)


Members of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre giving us a smile


Kaha:wi Dance Theatre giving us… something else

And then we had Obaaberima from Buddies in Bad Times, which the audience enjoyed talking about post-show

Kaha:wi Dance also hosted a Pow Wow Boot Camp:


Kaha:wi Artistic Director leads the participants


It wasn’t all fun though, as we said farewell to our fantastic Senior Design and Web Coordinator, Isa Chernets


We did get a lot of puppy love though, as we welcomed Murphy to The Cultch family!

And to end March, we have a little tease for what’s coming up in April, as the Famous Puppet Death Scenes set was loaded in yesterday!


There are so many crates, they’re not only over flowing outside…


But even into the lobby as well!


It’s a lot of work, putting a set together


The view from above



The set is starting to rise!


Do you perfer the orchestra view


Or looking down from the balcony?

It was a pretty packed month, and we can’t wait for what’s next! Remeber you can always check out our Flickr page for more great photos! Be sure you come down and join us so you don’t miss any of the fun!

CADRE Opening Night Photos + Reviews!


Richard Jordan, Fezile Mpela, Criss Henderson, Omphile Molusi, Lillian Tshabalala, Rick Boynton, Barbra Gaines

Last Tuesday, The Cultch hosted the Canadian premiere of Cadre, presented with Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Richard Jordan Productions Ltd in association with the Market Theatre of Johannesburg.

This story of a South African freedom fighter during apartheid is extremely powerful and is blowing audiences and critics away.

Fezile Mpela, Lillian Tshabalala, and Omphile Molusi

Fezile Mpela, Lillian Tshabalala, and Omphile Molusi

Check out some of the reviews here:

If you want theatre that grabs you by the throat, brain and/or balls – if you want theatre that shows you a life and world that is likely beyond your imagining – if you like to feel things and be moved by live performance, then you should see this play!” — David C. Jones, OUT TV

Scars of apartheid offer intense audience experience” —Erika Thorklenson, The Vancouver Sun

Hits home because it’s so relevant in Canada…skilled and important. It’s a postcard we should be grateful to receive” —Colin Thomas, The Georgia Straight

A devastatingly powerful piece. Cadre reminds us of the real price of freedom” —Mark Robins, Vancouver Present

Be sure to see this powerful and emotional performance before it closes! Here are some photos of our opening night reception. All photos were taken by our volunteer photographer, WendyD.

Omphile Molusi and Heather Redfern

Omphile Molusi and Heather Redfern

Guest enjoy drinking in the Founders' Lounge

Guests enjoy drinking in the Founders’ Lounge


Criss Henderson, Barbara Gaines, Richard Jordan, Rick Boynton, Borja Brown, Heather Redfern, Nicole McLuckie, Cindy Reid

Cadre runs until March 8 at the Historic Theatre. Tickets start from $19 and are available on our website or by calling the box office at 604-251-1363.

Single tickets for the new season are now on sale!

Single tickets for our 2014/2015 season are now on sale! You can book seats to your favourite shows online or by calling our Box Office at 604.251.1363!  You’ll find the full calendar for our upcoming season on our website.  Here’s a sneak peek at three of our most anticipated 14/15 shows: The Daisy Theatre, Cinderella: An East Van Panto, and Famous Puppet Death Scenes.

The Daisy Theatre by Ronnie Burkett opens our season September 23 in the Historic Theatre. This season’s edition of The Daisy Theatre will feature new variety acts and characters in addition to existing favourites! Here are some of Ronnie Burkett’s puppets in preparation!

Cinderella: An East Van Panto by Theatre Replacement will be at The Cultch from December 3 – 28, 2014. It is the perfect show to share with your loved ones, kids and adults, during the holidays! This modern adaptation of the classic tale in an East Van setting will make your whole family laugh! See below for a look at pre-production pictures from the show:

From March 31 – April 19, 2015, we will host The Old Trout Puppet Workshop with their brilliant show Famous Puppet Death Scenes! This show will make its long-waited return to The Cultch after touring the world and changing lives. Don’t miss it! Check out the video below:

These three shows are very popular and the tickets won’t last long. To avoid disappointment, book now!

The Cultch’s Not-To-Miss List: Our picks for the 2014/2015 Season (Part 2)

Last week we brought you the season highlights of three Cultch staff members: Caitrin Innis (Development Coordinator), Zoe Forsyth (Cultch Concierge), and Lisa Wu (Design and Web Coordinator). This week we continue the series by asking Ricky Choi (Marketing Coordinator), Isa Szeto (Design and Web Coordinator), and Maria Kerninon (Marketing Intern) what shows they are most excited to see next season!

IsaIsa Szeto, Design and Web Coordinator

Cadre by Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Richard Jordan Productions Ltd

This sounds like a very interesting story of watching someone’s life change when one governing regime falls and another takes its place. How much control does one have in a situation like this? It’s a universal story of wanting and dreaming of a better future.

Music Creates Opportunity by Bboyizm

Street dancing on the stage? Sign me up! I hardly ever get to see this kind of stuff live, living in Vancouver. Since I don’t have “the moves” myself, the next best thing is watch others popping, locking and rocking.

Famous Puppet Death Scenes by The Old Trout Puppet Workshop

I loved the Old Trout’s Ignorance, so I’m looking forward to this show, as I expect its going to make me think about my own mortality again, plus make me laugh at the same time (death and chuckles: a fine combo).


Ricky Choi, Marketing Coordinator

Cinderella: An East Van Panto by Theatre Replacement

I got a chance to attend a reading of this production this past June and was blown away. I feel like Charles Demers did it again, creating a witty and modern adaptation of Cinderella with an East Van twist. Everything from the cultural references, casting, and music (psst they cover Sinead O’Connor) were right up my alley.

Loon by Wonderheads

What intrigues me most about LOON is that it deals with the idea of loneliness in a unique and whimsical manner – can a man really fall in love with the moon? It’s also a show that I really want to see with my parents, as english is their second language and I feel like the production’s focus on visual storytelling will make it make it accessible for all of us to enjoy.


Maria Kerninon, Marketing Intern

Broken Sex Doll by The Virtual Stage

I have read so many positive reviews about this show and it really makes me want to see it! I really like the fact that they use electronic music to portray the futuristic setting. It makes it a very modern musical. This is a new version of Broken Sex Doll so it will probably be interesting even for people who have already seen it. I also can’t wait to see the set and the costumes!

Cinderella: An East Van Panto by Theatre Replacement

I got the chance to attend a reading of Cinderella: An East Van Panto at the beginning of the summer and it made me really eager to see the show. I didn’t think it would be my kind of humour but it was really hilarious! I can’t even imagine how amazing the show will be with the songs, the costumes, and everything else! I also love the fact that it is the perfect family show for the holidays and that both kids and adults will be able to laugh together with this modern East Van adaptation of the classic tale.


The Cultch’s Not-to-Miss List: Our picks for the 2014/2015 Season

And so it begins! The Cultch’s 14/15 season will open on September 23 with The Daisy Theatre by the renowned puppet master, Ronnie Burkett. The season will be filled with imaginative tales, creative dances, and captivating musical performances. Theatre-goers can expect to be dazzled by international artists and up-and-coming visionaries for what promises to be our best season yet! In anticipation of what looks to be an unforgettable performance line-up, we asked some of our staff members which shows they are most looking forward to seeing. Check back soon, as we will have a part two with more suggestions from the rest of our staff next week!

caitrinCaitrin Innis, Development Coordinator

The Daisy Theatre by Ronnie Burkett

I’m excited for The Daisy Theatre! I first saw Ronnie Burkett perform when he did Penny Plain in 2011 and I loved it. His puppets are beautifully made, the shows are always funny and very moving, and I can’t wait to see what new characters are coming to The Daisy Theatre this season.

Stationary: a recession-era musical by Delinquent Theatre

Stationary is another one I’m really looking forward to. I loved hearing  Christine Quintana talk about Stationary at our 2014 – 2015 Season Launch and I love musicals…like, a lot, so an indie-rock musical sounds right up my alley!

zoeZoe Forsyth, Cultch Concierge

This was excruciating for me to write. The more I thought about this question the more confused I became, for they really all are “must-see’s” for me. It sounds horribly sales pitch but this was a much more difficult question than I had previously thought. I re-watched the season video in the hopes it might help whittle down the options but it just made me realize how truly dense with awesome this season is… I’ll try to be succinct: Cadre, The Road Forward, Loon and Obaaberima – I believe these 4 shows will be exceptional. They raise important questions; maybe you think about social injustices (current and past) and emotionally I know I’ll be feeling hard as some of the content is challenging and scary (for me). I also love different medium collaborations, multimedia, and puppets which are employed in some of these. With that in mind, The Four Horseman Project looks super exciting, sort of kooky and Andy Warhol-esque with lots of animation. And I LOVE having a good laugh and a good time so Butt Kapinski, Broken Sex Doll, Music Creates Opportunity, East Van Panto, Daisy Theatre and Famous Puppet Death Scenes. Oh man, they’re all a feast for the eyes and tons of fun. However, I think three of my unexpected favourites will actually be: Motherload, The Duchess and Transmigration –  the honesty, the technical prowess and the beauty will hook me, Basically, I’m getting prepared to be blown away constantly, challenged regularly, and having a good time all the time.

Lisa Wu, Design & Web Coordinator

 Cinderella: An East Van Panto by Theatre Replacement

I loved last year’s Jack & the Beanstalk: An East Van Panto. It was good zany, heartwarming fun with awesome music by Veda Hille. It was my first pantomine, and it was tons of fun to cheer, boo, and sing along. I have to admit, I even kind of teared up a bit when the whole theatre sang Silent Night together (an adapted East Van version, no less). I thought Allan Zinyk was so hilarious, so I’m excited to see that both Allan Zinyk and Dawn Petten will be returning to star in this year’s East Van Panto again. I also loved that so many amazing surprise guests made cameo appearances. I got to see two shows where Steve Bays (of Hot Hot Heat, Fur Trade, and Mounties fame) as well as Marsha Lederman (arts writer for The Globe and Mail) made cameos. David Suzuki, Dan Mangan, and even Nardwuar made cameo appearances too. I was pretty bummed that I missed Nardwuar’s cameo – I heard he crowd surfed into the crowd. I can’t wait to see who the surprise guests will be this year and of course, I’m looking forward to seeing how the classic Cinderella story will unfold into a clever, modern, East Van tale.

Stationary: a recession-era musical by Delinquent Theatre

Stationary just sounds plain awesome. Just from reading the blurb alone, I’m sure that I’ll love it. I feel like it’s going to be like if the movie Office Space were a musical. The show has an uber talented cast: the music director, Mishelle Cuttler, did the music direction for another show I saw, Cool Beans, which I loved. Brian Cochrane works here at The Cultch and is a talented actor, director (he won The Most Promising New Director award at this year’s Jessie Awards by the way, nothing to cough at), and apparently he raps in the show. And Christine Quintana, co-creator of the show and half of Delinquent Theatre, is doing all kinds of awesome things, including being the playwright, producer, lyricist, actor, and performer in this show. So definitely looking forward to this being a smart, fun show.

Honourable mentions: The Daisy Theatre, Loon, Famous Puppet Death Scenes, and Music Creates Opportunity.