An Interview with Jenn Sungshine of Our City of Colour

Jenn Sungshine

Jenn Sungshine photo by Rebecca Blisset

March is shaping up to be a colourful month here at The Cultch. We are presenting two critically acclaimed plays, The Gay Heritage Project and Ga Ting, which both deal with issues related to the QTIPOC (Queer,Transgender, Indigenous, People of Colour) community. We had a discourse with Jenn Sungshine who works for our Ga Ting Community Partner, Our City of Colour, about her involvement in various organizations and the QTIPOC community in general.

About Jenn: Jenn Sungshine  facilitates with creativity and social justice media to evolutionize and revolutionize QTIPOC visibility and community-based work through Our City of Colours ( Community Partner for Ga Ting), Love Intersections, Out in Schools and the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia.

 

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1. What are your thoughts on the importance of organizations helping out the artistic community though presentations such as Ga Ting and other GLBTQ plays like The Gay Heritage Project?
Community partnership between organizations in the artistic community helps to facilitate a sense of connectedness through shared experiences. We all want to see ourselves reflected in the stories that are being told, outside of our own little silos. There is a sense of proud recognition and relatability when we can see ourselves represented in nuanced and three dimensional roles as they relate to race, gender, sexuality, culture and all of the intersecting experiences. I find this especially important through art because the ground upon which we walk and play and live our lives has the potential to be bigger and far more interconnected in an isolating city like Vancouver.

2. You mention the acronym QTIPOC. Would you mind explaining exactly what this means?
QTIPOC stands for queer, trans, indigenous people/person of colour – it’s a mouthful isn’t it? And why not? We are complex beings. We are cutie-pocs.

3. What is your involvement with The Pink Line and can you expand more on this initiative?
I’m the facilitator for The Pink Line, which is a new community-engaged theatre initiative created to foreground the stories of members in the LGBTQI+ communities, told in their own words. Our focus this year will be racism within the queer community. Participants will be drawn from the many racial and ethnic groups that make up Vancouver’s LGBTQI+ community. Chris Gatchalian, artistic producer at The Frank Theatre graciously asked if I would be interested in facilitating conversations around race and racism. It runs deep, like the microaggressions that we experience on a daily level.

4. You are a busy individual involved with many organizations that deal with important social issues. Do you think that Vancouver is more welcoming of people with alternative lifestyles than other cities around the world?
I don’t like to compare cities. It’s a dangerous road to go down on so I will only speak to my own experiences here. I think Vancouver is actually a relatively conservative city in terms of the actual minutiae of social interactions that people engage in and how they are subtly encouraged to express themselves creatively. Perhaps due to the scarcity of communal spaces and housing, Vancouver can sometimes seem quite stifling and full of unacknowledged competition.
That being said, Vancouver prides itself on embracing “diversity”. To me, the concept of “alternative lifestyle” is a relative one depending on sub/cultural connections as well as personal predilection and interests — from music to dance culture to food to activism — it’s very sceney here. Of course, like any city Vancouver has its own narrative. One that I find resonates with certain lifestyles and practices while not with others. I have my ups and downs with this city for sure but I have to remind myself everyday of how lucky I truly am to live here.
Lastly, I do think that we glorify busy-ness and quite frankly I am busy because I need to survive, not because I really want to be. Can I retire with cats yet?

5. How do you feel the Out in Schools program is succeeding in its mission? What more do you feel that our national, provincial, and local government can do more to promote the program? What can the community do?
Brandon Yan, my brilliant successor at Out in Schools can speak far more profoundly in all the ways that Out in Schools is succeeding in its mission! Personally I would love to see a SOGI policy at all levels of governance. While I do think tremendous strides have been made in classrooms here and certainly Out in Schools has played a hand in that, the work is far from over!

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The Cultch presents The Gay Heritage Project March 2 – 19 and Ga Ting March 8 – 19. To purchase tickets click here. Get your tickets before it is too late!

Ga Ting weaves a powerful and emotionally-charged story about an immigrant Chinese couple trying to come to terms with the death of their son, Kevin. When they invite Kevin’s Caucasian boyfriend for dinner after the funeral, the evening devolves into a fiery cultural and generational clash.

“Ga Ting isn’t just about being gay, but about parents getting to know your children and children sharing themselves with their parents…Go see it. Take your parents” — GayVancouver

Thoughts on Vancouver’s Gay Heritage by Kevin Dale McKeown

McKeown2Kevin Dale McKeown, then and now, was the Georgia Straight‘s first LGBT columnist.

In preparation for The Gay Heritage Project we reached out to Kevin Dale McKeown, The Georgia Straight’s gay news columnist from 1970 – 1975 and currently writing for the online publication Xtra. Here are his thoughts on gay heritage.

Vancouver’s queer community has a long and rich heritage, much of it preserved in oral histories (and barroom gossip) from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, some found in early newsletters of the Association for Sexual Knowledge (ASK) in the sixties, and then, beginning in the 70s in sometimes excruciating detail in my weekly column, “QQ Writes …. Page 69”, in the Georgia Straight, and in subsequent periodicals such as Your Thing, The Gay Canadian, and Angles, all precursors to the appearance in 1993 of Xtra West. There have been many milestones in that history, some of them global, some national, and many less well remembered moments in our own city.

My own appearance in a publicly circulated newspaper was a milestone of sorts, and the founding of Vancouver’s Gay Liberation Front (GLF), the efforts to desegregate our “men only” clubs and bars, the legal struggle of the Gay Alliance Towards Equality (GATE) against the Vancouver Sun over its refusal to publish classified ads with the word “gay”, the public rallies and protest during the 70s, and the first Gay Unity March in 1978, which evolved into today’s annual Pride parade are all top-of mind when I think of our heritage and history.

 

The founding of many organizations, especially the drag community’s Dogwood Monarchist Society, which helped rally our community during the terrible plague years during which AIDS took so many of our friends and loved ones, were milestones worth noting.

The opening of a pioneering gay and lesbian bookstore, Little Sisters, in 1983 and their subsequent legal fight with Canada Customs over our right to import and read books that were meaningful to us … there was a milestone!

Yes, we’ve come a long way and made a lot of progress. But I feel that our “community” is now in a challenging period where we are questioning the need for identity politics and squabbling within our ranks over issues that would have seemed irrelevant forty years ago. There is still work to do, and we need to preserve our history so that future generations remember their roots, how hard we fought for what we have, and realize how easily it could all be lost to us if we do not continue to stand together.

We have many allies now we didn’t have before. And we can work together with other marginalized groups to continue to push for advances on all fronts. But ultimately I believe that it is up to us to support and care for our own, and I think that begins with educating and supporting the next generation, and the one after that.

Speaking of identity politics, I dislike both the catch-all use of the word “queer” to represent our community, and the ever-morphing alphabet soup we’re burdened with today.

I’m all in favour of the use of a new acronym, which comes to us out of the London queer community, GSD, for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Doesn’t “GSD community” say it all, without putting anyone’s nose out of joint?

I look forward to hearing more about the history and heritage of the GSD community across Canada through The Gay Heritage Project, and sharing some of my own stories at the opening reception. –Kevin Dale McKeown

gayheritge_HomepageHeader_v1-01About The Gay Heritage Project: Three of our country’s most gifted creator/performers set out to answer one question: is there such a thing as gay heritage? In their search, they uncover a rich history not often shared and shine new light on contemporary gay culture. The result is a hilarious and moving homage to the people who came before us and the events that continue to shape our lives.

The Daisy Theatre’s Ronnie Burkett said we would be crazy not to program this show! “Celebratory, upbeat, and deeply moving” — Toronto Star

The Gay Heritage Project runs from March 2nd – 19th at The Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street, Vancouver. Tickets are available from $20. To purchase tickets click here

 

 

Hansel and Gretel: An East Van Panto ends our hugely successful 2015 season!

Dawn Petten and Maiko Yamamoto (front) as Hansel and Gretel with Caitlin Goruk, Allan Zinyk, Carly Pokoradi, Josue Laboucane, and Lillian Doucet-Roche; photo Emily

Photo by Emily Cooper

Thank you to everyone who made Theatre Replacement`s Hansel and Gretel: An East Van Panto a huge success. Charlie Demers` witty script, Veda Hille`s campy songs, and the superb acting, directing, and set design, made it one of the best Pantos yet.

But there is not much that can be said that will top what loyal audience members and media outlets have been saying.

It wouldn’t be the holidays without a little pantomime. Now on its third year, East Van Panto has proven itself a seasonal tradition” — Erika Thorkelson, The Vancouver Sun

Super-silly and with more puns than Vancouver has rainy days, Hansel and Gretel: An East Van Panto shifted the Grimm’s fairytale from Germany to Vancouver East. We booed, we cheered and you can, too”-  Jo Ledingham , Vancouver Courier

Had such an amazing time at @TheCultch watching #eastvanpanto! Amazing talent from a cast who truly love what they do! Thank you to them!!!” – Lavina Goossen @lavinahgoossen

We`re thrilled that the incredible year was also recognized by the critics on their year in review lists.

1)  The Vancouver Sun (5 out of 10 picks were Cultch productions!)

2)  Westender

3)  Georgia Straight critic Colin Thomas`s blog

4)  Vancouver Courier

Thank you to all the folks that made 2015 a memorable year for The Cultch and we hope that you will allow us to make your 2016 as memorable as we navigate the Global cultural landscape to bring these gems to East Vancouver.

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!

REVIEWS:

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

ONLINE BUZZ:

“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!

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Heather Redfern rocking out with auctioneer David C. Jones

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MCs Margaret Gallagher and Fred Lee addressing the attendees

There was some great entertainment throughout the evening

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

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

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

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

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Members of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre giving us a smile

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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:

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Kaha:wi Artistic Director leads the participants

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

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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!

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

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But even into the lobby as well!

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

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The view from above

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The set is starting to rise!

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Do you perfer the orchestra view

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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!

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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

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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.