The Inspiration Behind ‘Whose Life Is It Anyway?’: An Interview with James Sanders

The Cultch is happy to host Whose Life Is It Anyway? by Brian Clark, the latest production by Realwheels Theatre, now playing until March 22! The show has  already gotten great reviews! Fun Fun Vancouver said the play “will entertain you, but more importantly, challenge you”.  This is part two of our interview with  James Sanders, Founding Artistic Director of Realwheels Theatre, about the inspiration behind Whose Life Is It Anyway?

Your current production Whose Life Is It Anyway? is about a sculptor who, paralyzed from the neck down after a car accident, fights for the right to die. I understand that you have a personal connection to this play. Can you tell me more about why you wanted to produce it?

It was one of the pieces of film that I researched to see what stories were being told about disability. It greatly inspired me to see a high lesion quadriplegic fighting for the right to die. I cheered on his victory even though it meant his death because, to me, it was a victory about personal rights and, essentially, the right to live seemed extremely powerful at the time. At that point I was 21 years old and not age-appropriate to do the story. Flash forward to 2010 and I revisited the notion and decided that it was the right time the stage this production. Little did I know the incredible relevance that it would have this day in the community of people who are fighting for these rights on a daily basis.

Bob Frazer is playing the sculptor who is paralyzed in the play. This is also his third show with Realwheels Theatre. Could you tell me more about his connection with Realwheels Theatre?

Bob and I have been dear friends for almost 25 years. We have intimate knowledge of each other and it was a conversation on my balcony about the pursuit of excellence in theatre that would inspire us to create Skydive. Bob has been involved in every one of our professional productions and, I hope, will continue to be engaged with Realwheels Theatre for years to come in some capacity or another. I have been in many positions where I have had to trust Bob implicitly with my life. This, again, is one of those times. I trust Bob to accurately represent disability with the genuine craft of acting that will hopefully become another one of Bob’s great performances in his overall body of work.

What are you hoping audiences will take away with them after seeing Whose Life Is It Anyway?

Perhaps a moment to consider their own relationship with death, the difficult challenges facing its inevitability and the opportunity, if it presents itself, to have a choice in the last matter of time. It is hopefully going to be a conversation starter and an opportunity for people to consider their present beliefs and ways to challenge them. On a side note, I hope that the presence of the character with a disability will serve, in some capacity, to bring the audience closer to the disability experience when they encounter disability in their day-to-day lives.

Whose Life Is It Anyway? runs at The Cultch until March 22, 2014 at 8 pm in the Historic Theatre. Tickets are from $18 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 604. 251. 1363 or online.

Insights from the creative minds behind ‘Me So You So Me’: Tiffany Tregarthen & David Raymond

The Cultch is happy to be presenting the unique dance piece Me So You So Me by Out Innerspace until Mar 1, 2014.

Want to learn more about the creative process and influences behind the show? Check out the interview with creators Tiffany Tregarthen and David Raymond below!

I understand that Me So You So Me was highly influenced by the music of the renowned percussionist Asa Chang from Japan. Could you tell us how you discovered his work, and how it came to influence your dance piece?

We first were introduced to Asa Chang’s music in 2006 at the same time that we were living in Antwerp and creating the building blocks for our collaboration as Out Innerspace. Japanese percussionist Asa Chang founded the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra and later joined programmer and guitarist Hidehiko Urayama and tabla player U-zhaan to create genre defying music with a portable sound system called Jun-Ray Tronics. The percussive patterns of Japanese and English text with Indian tabla and experimental electronic sound production is composed meticulously in a way that transcends borders and predisposed ways of telling and listening to stories through music. The female and male text have an incredibly intricate rhythmic relationship that is conceptually rich and otherworldly.  We were blown away and collected every Asa song we could find.

Where did your inspiration for Me So You So Me come from?

Me So You So Me is plucked from our daily life as a couple, re-imagined through an eclecticism of hand-picked cultural, aesthetic, popular and personal influences. We collaged everything from the family dog, Popeye, Astro Boy, Araki Nobuyoshi, as DNA for our characters, as DNA for dance making. We watched a load of cartoons specifically for the accepted violence, animated psychosis and extreme story telling. Everyday we closed our eyes and listened to Asa’s music and described to each other what we felt and saw and everyday these emerging alter-egos invaded our domestic performances as a couple. Eventually even brushing our teeth and arguing became outrageous and therapeutic acts of dance research.

Can you describe how you worked in the studio, the methods you used?

In studio we pursued an almost dogmatic application of music in hopes that it would challenge us to create new movement vocabulary pushed by the unpredictability, density and richness of Asa’s composition. This extreme dedication to the music was at times a downright exhausting process but it asked us to focus deeply on the places and ways we find inspiration, the methods we use to take inspiration into creation, and the way we express and embody the result. We rely heavily on our contrastive voices and rigour to stretch our instincts and foundations and to commit to our imaginations. It was important to us to never once stop considering the body as an unlimited and unchartered resource for the music and our ideas to be physical.

How did you decide on the title for the show?

We wanted to challenge ourselves to expose real content of our relationship through loveable and lethal beings; caricatures of our inner monsters, children, animals…to show the ways we are most different or alike. We asked ourselves How do you see me? Who do I want to be to you, with you, for you?…and with a little help and time we titled the work Me So You So Me.

Will this experience change the way you create dance pieces in the future?

We were thrust into a new level of experimental and inventive territory by committing so wholly to the music and it has changed the way that we continue to make dance. Though we won’t always use music this way, we are thriving on the shared research process and language it has opened up to us.

Me So You So Me by Out Innerspace runs at The Cultch from until Mar 1 at the Historic Theatre. Tickets are from $18 and can be purchased online http://bit.ly/MAaAvA, or by calling the box office at 604.251.1363.

Love to perform? Seeking performers for this year’s IGNITE! Youth Festival!

“You can time travel through wonderland, but you can’t wonderland through time travel…”

 
Get ready because this year, IGNITE! Youth Festival is all about wonderland! For one whole week in May (May 2nd-10th) youth will take over The Cultch and transform it into what has become Vancouver’s largest youth driven festival!
To help bring the wonderland alive, The Cultch’s Youth Panel is looking for talented performers of all kinds ages 13-24 to audition. No wonderland is complete without the wild and wacky, beautiful and graceful, bizarre and a little ugly, the amazing, the heroic, the new, the old… well really anything at all!

So if you have an idea of a real slam-bang performance, come out to the auditions. You can meet The Cultch Youth Panel, show them a little of what you can do and have a real fun time. We asked Mati, Clare and Mark of The Cultch Youth Panel for their thoughts on the upcoming auditions:

What are you excited to see at auditions?

“All the new and original acts, hopefully something that I wouldn’t have thought of, and maybe some familiar acts from previous years!”-Mati

“Everything! Last year was my first time on Panel, and while I didn’t know what to expect from the auditions, I was totally blown away. And it looks like it’ll be even better this year!”- Clare

“I’m optimistically looking forward to seeing acts I would never thought I would like, but will immediately adore. Last year, we had an acrobatic act that completely blew me away. Before that I’d never had much interest in that kind of performance. I’m excited to see what I will get introduced to this year.”-Mark

Who do you hope shows up?

“Anyone and everyone, the more the better! Some cool bands would be wicked fun!”-Mati

“Ringo Starr and David Bowie. But they’re probably a little too old…
I’m looking forward to seeing all of the auditions, but especially the people who are doing something out-of-the-box. I want to see people with acts that I’ve never even imagined seeing!”-Clare

“I’d like to see some more electronic musicians audition simply because it’s always fascinating to see how they each work their live setup, which are incredibly varied. Also: interpretive dance.”-Mark

What would be the craziest coolest act you could imagine?

“I’d love to see a Mindless Self Indulgence cover band, that performs only in their underwear”-Mati

“Something with streamers and balloons and trapezes and magic. Like if Harry Potter was riding a unicycle. With balloons.”-Clare

“A domesticated penguin improv jazz ensemble.”-Mark

Anything else you want us to know about IGNITE this year?

“Come to auditions, come to our shows, stalk our website, stalk us!”-Mati

“Just that it’s going to be super rad! I’m getting really excited — last year’s festival was great, but this year’s is going to be EVEN BETTER.”-Clare

It’s going to be rowdy. Wear protective sunscreen and make sure you have an alibi.”-Mark

To sign up for your audition, email auditions@igniteyouthfest.ca by February 24. Auditions will be held March 8 and 9 at the Russian Hall. Can’t wait to see you there!

A one-on-one with The Rap “Guy” From Evolution

Two weeks ago, Baba Brinkman was speaking at the Nelson Arts Festival in New Zealand. Last week, he was a guest speaker at the University of Alabama as part of their ALLELE Lecture Series. The week prior he was busy participating in the 10th Annual World Wilderness Conference in Spain, and last month he performed at Universities all over the UK, as well as at MIT as part of their public science engagement lecture series. Needless to say, Brinkman is a busy man. However, this doesn’t come as a surprise; with 14 lit-hop (literary hip-hop) albums under his belt, Brinkman is one of the only rap-artists who has had their work peer-reviewed by scientists, or who has been commissioned to write an album for the NYU Stern School of Business. Brinkman’s love of words comes from a Masters Degree in Medieval and English Literature from the University of Victoria, where he focused on the relationship
between epic poetry and contemporary hip-hop culture. Since graduating, Brinkman has been touring the world performing his unique blend of theatre and rap, on topics from Beowulf and Gilgamesh to political revolution and evolutionary psychology.

For only a few more days, The Cultch is lucky enough to have Baba home to perform his latest show, The Rap Guide to Evolution. The ground-breaking show was first presented, and awarded for best new theatre writing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2009. The show is inspired not only by evolutionary scientists and theorists such as Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins, but also by the history of hip-hop culture itself and the role that individual selective process, especially with the advent of new technologies, takes in defining the path of a cultural phenomenon.

We were lucky enough to be able to ask Baba a few questions:

I suppose my first question for you is simply how you ended up where you have ended up; rapping about science, economics, psychology , and or ancient literature is not a common career path. Was this something that you have been interested in from a young age, or a skill you accidentally happened upon?

In my teens I wanted to be a writer, but didn’t have a clear idea of what sort, whether journalism, novelist, playwright, etc – I just knew I was good with words and wanted to use that skill. I pictured traveling around the world, composing new work in diverse locations, and making a living from my wits. At nineteen I started writing rap rhymes and was very quickly drawn into the art form. I had been listening to rap since age eleven but hadn’t written any raps of my own. It wasn’t long before I was bringing science and literature references into my rhymes, which seemed natural to me because I was a university student at the time so I was immersed in the world of ideas. Finding an audience for that concept took some time, but I pretty much live like I pictured, traveling, writing, performing, and getting paid to do so.

So would you say you entered hip-hop through academics, or did you find academics through hip-hop?

I was a rap consumer from a young age, but not a participant. Once I started writing and performing I got into the culture more heavily, freestyling at house parties, rapping at open mics, and signing up for freestyle battles. But at the same time I was always academic-minded. I decided my best contribution to hip-hop culture would be to push its boundaries and build bridges to other cultures and art forms, so I focused my English Lit degree on the parallels between hip-hop poetics and traditional English literary poetics. Once my energies were channeled my grades got a lot better, and so did my lyrics, so you could say I found academics and hip-hop independently, but I only got
fully engaged with each by merging them.

What inspires the topics for your productions? You have written about such a variety of themes – where do you begin? Where did the impulse to write The Rap Guide to Evolution come from? Are you ever commissioned to write raps about topics you have no interest in?

People suggest new topics to me all the time, but not all of them take hold. Most of the time I just go “yeah, sounds interesting” and don’t follow up. But with the The Rap Guide to Evolution,  I was very keen as soon as the idea came up. It helps that it was a paid commission of course, because with money on the table you can put other work aside and give a project the time it needs. I have pretty wide interests so no, there isn’t a topic I’ve written about on commission that I’m disinterested in. Then again, I have a lot of creative leeway so I can put an interesting twist on pretty much anything.

The projects either start with an idea, some underlying deep connection or tension I see that I want to explore in the writing, or else it starts with a challenge, someone hiring me or recruiting me to write something, prompting me to hunt for ideas to accomplish the task. I tend to gravitate towards subjects where there’s a disconnect or gap that I think I can bridge, like the perceived inaccessibility of medieval literature vs the actual appeal of the stories, or like the scientific consensus around evolution that is still rejected by major sectors of the population. The surprise and friction that lives in those kinds of spaces is my main attraction.
 
Lastly, you have travelled all over the world presenting your work. What have been some of the most surprising responses to your shows you have received?

I’ve had all kinds of negative responses, from creationists offended on behalf of their religion to feminist social constructivists offended on behalf of women to white liberals offended on behalf of black people. The show brings an evolutionary perspective to all of those subjects: race, religion, gender, and not always in a politically-correct way. Then again, I think everything in the show is scientifically defensible, and it was written to be strategically provocative, not for the sake of being offensive but for the sake of causing people to rethink their assumptions and question the basis of their beliefs and taboos. So in a way none of the negative responses are surprising. The most surprising response was having a New York theatre company offer to produce the show for a major Off-Broadway run, and having it run for five months and get rave reviews. I can’t say I expected that when I started writing the show!

The Rap Guide to Evolution is playing at The Cultch until November 10 in the Historic Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online at: https://thecultch.com/tickets/ , or by calling the box office at 604.251.1363

 

VOLUNTEERS WANTED: HOTTEST LIVE ARTS VENUE IN VANCOUVER

Would you like to see shows for free at what the Vancouver Sun has called the ‘hottest live arts venue on the West Coast’?

Located in East Van, The Cultch is looking to recruit new members for its top-notch Usher Team. We are looking for reliable folks that are 16 years or older who are friendly & outgoing, who have a sense of humour, and give great customer service. You should also have good english comprehension.

Our Usher Team is the front line of service Tuesday through Sunday at any of our three theatres. Welcoming guests, ripping tickets & answering questions are just a few of the things you’ll handle on your 3-4 hour long shift. Any customer service or ushering experience you may already have will only enhance the whole experience! We’re looking for members who can commit to 2 shifts per month.

Ushers at The Cultch see some of the best theatre, music & dance performances that Vancouver has to offer plus you get free tea/coffee, ticket discounts and chances to win assorted door prizes.

If this sounds like your kind of team, fill out an application here and Jenn Graham (Volunteer Coordinator) will be in touch to arrange an interview.

The Cultch’s Guide to the Fringe: 6 ways to make the most out of the Vancouver Fringe Festival (Sept 5-15)

The Historic Theatre will be a main stage venue at this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival

Here at The Cultch, we’re getting prepared for one of the biggest arts festivals around: the Vancouver Fringe Festival! With over 90 performances, the festival promises to be a crazy, 11 days, jam-packed with titillating performances. And this year, The Cultch is uber excited to be one of the main stages in the festival! In its third year of involvement with the Vancouver Fringe Festival, The Cultch will show eight performances as a main stage plus four additional presentations as a BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue).

With so much to see and experience, it might be a little daunting for a newcomer. So, we’ve put together a little guide for those of you who have always wanted to check it out, but never knew quite how to go about it. We have all the information you need to get the most out of your Fringing experience. Consider the Fringe your oyster…with these 6 easy steps!

1. Pick up your Fringe program guide. (Click here to access an online version) Figure out what shows you want to see. Shows are arranged in the program by time and date, as well as by venue. Find shows that suit your taste, budget, and schedule. Check out pages 50 & 51 to choose from one of the exciting shows playing at the Historic Theatre at The Cultch! Performances range from burlesque dancing, to solo musicals, and, of course, good-old-fashioned theatre!

The Cultch is featured on page 50 & 51 in this year’s Fringe Festival program guide

2. Diversify. Think of the Vancouver Fringe Festival as a tapas menu of theatre. Find some shows you’re naturally drawn to, but also try a couple that may be a little out of your comfort zone. The Fringe Festival is all about stepping into new experiences via the theatre, so why not try something different? If you love musical theatre, The Cultch mainstage performances are sure to be treats for you. Come to see La CravateBleue (a solo musical play about a man who sacrifices stability for his love of music) and Watering Hole (a contemporary dance performance about the community of the local bar). Then try something that you’ve never seen before. Bursting into Flames is a refreshing comedic play about a man who finds himself with the rest of eternity to spend in heaven.

‘Watering Hole’ will be playing at The Cultch’s Historic Theatre

3. Watch the previews. If you have the time and $10 – come to watch quick previews of all 91 shows at Fringe-For-All: a two hour extravaganza in which each show has 2 minutes to captureyour interest. Whether it narrows down your choices, or makes it harder to decide – it’s bound to be entertaining! Thursday, September 5 at 10 pm at Performance Works.

A shot from last year’s Fringe For All | Photo provided by the Vancouver Fringe Festival

4. Talk to the volunteers. While you’re waiting in line, or near any of the Fringe venues, you might see some friendly Fringe volunteers. Don’t be shy – ask them what their favourite shows are! Volunteers get to see many shows for free. Be sure to ask them which shows are selling out (those are the ones to get $3 advance tickets for.)

5. BringYourOwnVenue (BYOV) shows. Don’t just stick to the mainstage shows. There are several shows that are near the main stage shows, and in unorthodox spaces. Often, these can be the most intriguing. Explore theatre outside of the theatre. Check out what sorts of compelling shows we have lined up here at The Cultch this year.

Rodney DeCroo stars in ‘Allegeny, BC’ (BYOV presentation)

 

6. Vote for your favourites! The Fringe Festival is an interactive experience. You’ll receive a ballot after every show. Rate the shows you saw, and cast your ballot! Your favourite play could just be chosen as The Pick of the Fringe (to be announced at The Fringe Awards Night on September 15 at 9:30 pm at Performance Works). Additionally, stay tuned for which performances are chosen for the Cultchivating the Fringe Award. Every year, The Cultch invites its favourite Fringe performance to be a part of the season for the following year. Last year the award was given to Underbelly, and the show is going to run in March 18 to 30 this upcoming season.

Heather Redfern (The Cultch’s Executive Director) presents last year’s Cultchivating the Fringe Award to ‘Underbelly’

 

The Cultch has an eclectic main stage and BYOV line up for the festival – something for everyone! This is also the perfect opportunity for a fun family outing. A couple of the mainstage performances, La Cravate Bleue and Bursting into Flames are to be enjoyed by all ages. Additionally, several of our BYOV shows (including Underneath the Lintel) also allow admission for all ages.

The Vancouver Fringe Festival runs from Sept 5-15 with select shows playing at The Cultch’s Historic Theatre and Vancity Culture Lab. Tickets available online at vancouverfringe.com

Hello my name is Chris MacDonald: Sales Manager of The Cultch

‘Hello My Name Is…’ is a new profile series on The Cultch blog. Each post will feature a staff member, volunteer, subscriber, or community mover and shaker. 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!

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Celebrating a Season of Queer “Cultch-er!”

Celebrating a season of queer “cultch-er!”

With Vancouver Pride approaching, it seems the appropriate time to take a look back at The Cultch’s colourful 12/13 season.

Many proud representatives of the LGBTQ community took to the stage last year, sharing a myriad of voices and stories. The list includes Miriam Margolyes, sole performer (of 23 characters!) in Dickens’ Women, Evalyn Parry singing tales of bicycle led revolution in SPIN, and of course Cameron Mackenzie and Dave Deveau (or, as you may know them: Isolde N. Barren and ‘The Baddest Bitch Peach’ Cobblah) took us on a wild ride through Vancouver’s Drag Herstory in Tucked and Plucked.

Miriam Margolyes, the 69-year-old British lesbian actress, starred in The Cultch's presentation of Dickens' Women

In addition, one of the best attended gallery events of the year was the opening gala of photo-based artist SD Holman’s show Butch: Not Like the Other Girls. Holman’s images, each a stunning portrait of a different self-identified butch model, decorated The Cultch’s lobby this April.

Opening night of SD Holmon's exhibition 'BUTCH: Not like Other Girls'

Not unique to this year’s IGNITE! Youth Festival was Fruit Basket, a cabaret of performances created by youth around the themes of sex, gender identity, sexuality, and sexual orientation. This year’s show was comprised of The Magic Spells, Saul Chabot, Dörothy Griffith, Ruby Slickeur, Sahara Hildebrandt and Leroy and The Lovebots. Included in the process was a workshop with Evalyn Parry, as well as the Gender Blender, a youth-led forum on sex and identity…facilitated by all the smoothies you can drink, of course (oh, and a professional facilitator from Out in Schools )!

Brendan Agnew a seasoned member of The Cultch's Youth Panel

We had the chance to talk with seasoned Youth Panel-er Brendan Agnew, to ask him a few questions about his experience on the panel, and his views on queer theatre for youth in Vancouver.

Tell me a bit about yourself and how you got involved in the IGNITE! program and Fruit Basket specifically.

I am going into my grade 12 year at Templeton Secondary and have been very involved in their Theatre program. I also play piano, but really fell in love a few years ago with the backstage side of things, particularly stage management. I hope to do a BFA in theatre.

When I was in grade 9, some of my friends in higher grades were on the Youth Panel, and told me a bit about it and encouraged me to come to the festival. So I dragged some other friends to go see it. It was a good festival, but I left thinking “it would be so much better if I helped organize it.” It also seemed like a fantastic concept, kids organizing their own arts festival. So in Grade 10, I joined the youth panel, and one committee, the one organizing The Olivia Project, which is a multi-disciplinary devised performance created by young artists. We group together youth who do different types of art (say filmmaking, dancing, visual art, etc) and give them three weeks to create an original ten minute piece combining their arts.

In grade 11, I did Youth Panel again, but also added the Fruit Basket committee to my schedule. I’d already attended two Fruit Baskets, and knew it was a great supportive environment for queer and allied youth. I identify as a gay male, so I also felt close to the subject matter that way. What I found cool about Fruit Basket is that it is a queer show geared directly towards youth. There are many queer/sex related shows in Vancouver, but very few, if any of them, are youth focused. A lot of them require you to be over a certain age.

What kinds of shows or programs would you like to see more of in Vancouver to fill this void?

I think it’s important to recognize that queer doesn’t just mean drag, sex doesn’t just mean stripping or burlesque. These are huge topics that can be explored in all kinds of ways, and it can easily be done in a way that’s accessible to youth.

Floyd Cariad Van Beek in 'Fruit Basket' 2013

So specifically, the kinds of shows I’d like to see would be featuring young people of non-straight sexual orientation in cute romances, coming out stories or other plots. It would also be fun to see adaptations of traditional plays (Shakespeare, for instance) to a queer setting.

I saw a fantastic play called The Silicone Diaries by Nina Arsenault (performed at The Cultch in February 2011). It was an autobiographical work telling the story of her transition from man to woman. It was phenomenal, and even though it wasn’t targeted at youth, didn’t feel “adult exclusive.” More programming like that (accessible to all ages) would be great-things kids can drag their parents to, which can then spark discussion. That’s what I think good art does, after all: it makes you think about things a little deeper/differently, and that thinking transforms into conversation.

Nina Arsenault, star of 'The Silicone Diaries,' meets with The Cultch's Youth Panel

It would also be nice to see more young artists use their art as a means of expressing their sexuality. A lot of Fruit Basket performers (we love them dearly) are either queer artists doing thoroughly mainstream art, or people doing sexual dancing/stripping/burlesque/drag performance. While that’s all great, I think there’s a need for content that delves a bit deeper into what it means to be queer.

I heard that part of your involvement in Fruit Basket meant you had the opportunity to take a workshop led by Evalyn Parry. What was that like?

One of the unique things about the IGNITE! Youth Festival is the workshops. We have two types: “external” workshops, which are open to the public, and geared towards youth; and “internal” workshops, which are exclusively for youth panel members. Evalyn Parry was one of our internal workshops, and was centered around writing. The first part was a Q&A discussion about her, her artistic process, and her show SPIN, which most of Youth Panel had been invited to see. The last part was an extremely compressed version of the writing workshop she does. The primary focus was on MC acts, which are for the most part written by the youth panel, although a lot of the discussion and writing exercises applied to all sorts of other things. Evalyn Parry is a very neat person, and learning from her was an amazing experience.

Evalyn Parry ,star of 'SPIN,' meets with the Youth Panel

Queer artists from many backgrounds helped make last season at The Cultch a resounding success. If you are looking for another opportunity to celebrate before next season begins, or you are looking for an event to kick-start your Pride Week, join us in the Vancity Culture Lab for the Genderfest Launch Party on Thursday, July 25 at 8 pm. Head to http://www.genderfest.ca to find information about the event, and how you can participate in the event’s photo collaboration.

Hello my name is… Nena Pierre: (Volunteer) Volunteer Coordinator and Usher

‘Hello My Name Is…’ is a new profile series on The Cultch blog.  Each month we’ll feature a staff member, volunteer, subscriber, or community mover and shaker. 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!

Last year, 114 volunteers contributed over 4492 hours to The Cultch in both our theatres and admin office! Many of these amazing people have been with the theatre for years, including Nena Pierre who’s been volunteering at The Cultch for the past four years.

Nena Pierre (Volunteer Usher and Admin Assistant)

Q: Well hello there. Who are you and what do you do at The Cultch?

Hi, I’m Nena and I volunteer here as an usher and at the reception desk!

Q: What inspires you?

Anyone doing their thing with sincerity and passion.

Q: Why do you volunteer at The Cultch?

It’s part of my neighborhood, and community.  I love the closeness and immediacy of live theatre – what the performers and audience bring to any show.  Volunteering here gives me a chance to witness this all the time.  I’ve seen so many great shows here and I have loved feeling even just a small part of it all.

Nena inside the Historic Theatre

Q: Favourite show you’ve ever seen at The Cultch?

A:  So hard to pick just one… I love puppetry and feel really excited when Old Trout Puppet Workshop or Ronnie Burkett are bringing a show to The Cultch. This year I saw Loon at the Fringe, then Grim and Fischer at The Cultch by WONDERHEADS Theatre and now I’m a big fan of them too.

Q: Favourite place to eat on the Drive?

A:  Once again sooo hard to say just one place – coffee is my sustenance!  I get all my beans from Continental and like to stop in at Turks now and again.  Turks stovetop is heavenly….

Q: What’s a typical day like volunteering at the front desk?

A:  Do I dare say quiet and calm and sometimes fun…?  Jenn G ( Head FOH Manager) and Ricky ( Marketing Coordinator) will make sure I keep busy!

Nena has been volunteering at The Cultch for the past 4 years

Q: What’s a typical night like ushering at The Cultch?

A:  Depending on how many shows are going on that night it can be anywhere from fun to slightly mad!  The other volunteers are great to get to know and work with.  Then there’s always a bit of excitement getting everyone settled into the show.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about the theatre scene in Vancouver?

A:  There are so many great theatre festivals all year long and the Vancouver theatre scene is anything but dull.  There is always something to suit anyone’s tastes or sense of curiosity and adventure!

Looking to gain valuable work experience in a Historic Theatre? We’re always looking for a friendly and organized arts-loving person to manage our front desk! Click here for position details and how to apply.

Cultch Staff Picks: Favourite shows from the 12/13 season (part 1)

 

The Cultch’s 12/13 Season closed on June 2 with a sold-out run of Mump & Smoot in Something, bringing to an end another spectacular season of theatre, dance, and music.

At this time, we would like to extend a huge thank you to our donors, sponsors, and continued subscribers. Your support allows The Cultch to consistently deliver the best the contemporary arts have to offer!

To celebrate the end of our 39th season, we decided to ask a few Cultch staff members to share some of their favourite shows from the past season! Here’s part 1 of our 2 part feature.

 

By far the most memorable show for me this season at The Cultch was Blind Date.  An improvised blind date with Mimi the sexy French clown and a different unsuspecting audience member each night!  Rebecca’s courage, comedic talent, and quick wit were really put to the test and she pulled it off every time.  As the venue technician for the run of this show, I had the special privilege to see it every night for three weeks.  I’ve seen more shows than I can count in my career, and this one truly kept me fully engaged, literally on the edge of my seat, at every moment.  Everyone has eavesdropped on the couple having their first date at the table next to you at a restaurant, but I had the voyeuristic pleasure to see the whole date unfold 18 times.  Many times, Mimi said that her goal was to help the guy be “the romantic hero”, and she always did, even though it sometimes seemed impossible.  The dates were awkward, outgoing, reluctant, charming, shy, funny, quiet, drunk (!), open, nervous, older, younger (his real first kiss on stage at The Cultch!); such a variety of wonderful, real, characters.  It would have been so easy to just make fun of these men, but instead Rebecca (and co-stars Bruce and Jamie and sound improviser Sean) coaxed nervous volunteers into endearing dates, and brought us along for the ride.  I would love to see this show another 18 times!

LEO – It was succinct, entertaining, moving and embraced the digital change (or at least experimentation) in theatre. It incorporated multi media, physicality and music to bring the audience into a different reality. I found it pretty emotional as well, which I’m not sure was the intention, but it spoke to me on the themes of new beginnings, fear, and the excitement of the unknown. 

White Rabbit Red Rabbit – This show had a really weird premise which I thought was going to be self indulgent and boring, but I was totally surprised. I felt incredibly engaged and curious throughout the performance. I still don’t know if I “got it” in the sense of the intellectual ramifications it poses about society and isolation. But I was left with a feeling of empowerment that all barriers to assuage the turmoil of the human experience can be traversed through art.

The 2013/14 season begins this September with Rumble Theatre’s production of Penelope. Don’t forget to subscribe to our 2013/14 season and stay tuned for part 2 of The Cultch staff’s 12/13 season highlights!