SmallWaR Creator’s Notes

Valentijn Dhaenens, the creator and performer of 2016’s hit BigMouth, returns to the York Theatre stage with his new work, SmallWaR. Read on to discover the inspiration behind the companion piece to a show The Georgia Straight called “a mind-blowing celebration of the power of the human voice.”

BigMoutH (pictured above) was a smash hit of The Cultch’s 2015/16 Season

Photo by Inge Lauwers

SmallWaR Creator’s Notes by Valentijn Dhaenens

The idea for SmallWaR was born while touring BigMouth. I soon felt the urge to make a companion piece dealing with the reverse side of those historical speeches. In contrast to BigMouth’s sensational speeches, dynamic rhythm and mankind trying to be God, SmallWaR is about the small victims, the paralyzing standstill, and the trauma of being stuck in the mud. I grew up in the area of Flanders Fields in the early 1980’s and remember playing on those impressive Canadian, Australian, and British cemeteries. Once in a while, schoolmates living on farms would still find bomb-shells while playing on the ploughed fields of their family. I’ve always been fascinated by the First World War as a symbol for war in general. It was the first industrialized war – war as we still know it today. Tanks were invented, air bombing played a new crucial role, lung-hitting gas introduced first weapons of mass destruction and the ripped apart victims of it all allowed surgeons to experiment with the first plastic surgery.

SmallWaR became the necessary sequel to BigMouth. More than 80% of the speeches in BigMouth are directly or indirectly linked to events that led to war. Nevertheless, they’re speeches with wonderful words, where heroism is emphasized. Leaders try to convince the masses to go to war, then they praise the ones who died and pretend to be grieving with their families. While performing BigMouth, I felt more and more obliged to show the other side. There are millions of people who suffered the consequences of what was being said in those speeches. I felt the urge to tell these stories.

Photo by Inge Lauwers

The First World War proved to be the perfect backdrop to tell these stories. Not only because of the 14-18 commemorations. The First World War was the mother of all modern wars. It was the first time that killing had been industrialized. Modern warfare took shape back then and has barely changed since. And to me, after months of reading on the subject it seemed the most useless and meaningless of all wars. Its cause was preposterous – as if the world just felt like fighting. What most struck me in lots of soldier’s diaries was the difference between the sheer excitement and optimism about entering the war and then not much later the total horror of being stuck in the muddy trenches, fearing to die.

There has been so much literature, movies, poetry, and documentaries on the topic of war. As a theatre-maker, I felt compelled to explore the strongholds and laws of this medium in contrast to the other arts. Rather than depicting battle or reconstructing history, I found an opportunity to make an emotional reflection on the trauma and the repetitiveness of war, concentrating on the deadlock instead of the action. To whisper in fear as not to scream for blood.

SmallWaR runs at the York Theatre from November 6th-11th as part of The Ceasefire Series, an exploration of war to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WWI. To learn more about The Ceasefire Series and to get your tickets to SmallWaR click here.

SmallWaR image credit Daily Dolores


SmallWaR runs Nov 6-11 at the York Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Our 17/18 season takes its final bow – thank you for making it so much fun!

Our 17/18 season takes its final bow – thank you for making it so much fun!

With the closing of Bears we have officially finished our 17/18 season — and what a season! Thank you for taking the journey with us, and making our 17/18 season our most successful one to date.

The cast of Bears gets a well deserved standing ovation! Photo by Roaming the Planet.

With 21 theatrical shows across our three different stages, three great Soft Cedar shows (and more to come!), partnerships with some of the most amazing companies in Vancouver and around the world, and a million amazing memories, it has been a busy year, and we can’t help but get a little nostalgic. Take a peek at a few of the great curtain calls from the season — we bet you can’t help but get a little nostalgic too!

And now it is your turn — take a bow — we couldn’t do any of this without you! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!


 Don’t forget to buy your subscription for our 18/19 season soon. Shows are already filling up!

Thank you for choosing to make The Cultch, and the arts, a part of your life!

Rave Reviews for Hot Brown Honey!

Rave Reviews for Hot Brown Honey!

Have you seen Hot Brown Honey yet? Audiences are going wild for this smash-hit from Australia!

Check out some of the amazing things Vancouver reviewers have had to say about it:

“Is it empowering, exuberant, rousing, fun? Hell, yes. It’s also the show that the world needs right now – has needed for some time, but man, the time is ripe for it” — Marsha Lederman, The Globe and Mail

“Part hip hop concert, part pep rally, Hot Brown Honey is a loud, proud evening of consciousness raising; a series of lessons on race and gender that says you can have your revolution and dance to it, too” — Jerry Wasserman, Vancouver Sun

Hot Brown Honey throws a female-powered dance party that’s well worth joining…What a party!” — Kathleen Oliver, The Georgia Straight

“With its mix of burlesque, circus, dance, beatboxing, and hip-hop, on the surface Hot Brown Honey is like a really great variety show. Layered with the politics of gender, race and colonialism though, it becomes so much more” — Mark Robins, Vancouver Presents

Weave Image By Dylan Evans

Hot Brown Honey is more than a show, it is an embodiment of sexual liberation, a celebration of matriarchal ideas and a call to action for a better tomorrow through education and awareness of inherent societal privilege and racial divides. It’s not like anything you have ever seen” — Penny Warwick, Two Cents & Two Pence

Hot Brown Honey is visually mind-blowing with a whole load of talent on stage…There’s singing, dancing, rapping and costumes changes that leave your head swiveling”— Jo Ledingham, joledingham.ca

“Hot Brown Honey is a MUST SEE for EVERYONE… You will leave this show buzzing with energy and ready to rain fire on the patriarchy” — Maddison Miller, The Vancouver Arts Review

“If you enjoy shows that are sassy, sexy and have a social conscious this is definitely for you” — John Jane, Review Vancouver

“It’s raunchy, colourful, mind-boggling and fun” — Entertainment Vancouver

Hot Brown Honey runs at the York Theatre Jan 9-27. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Hot Brown Honey is heating up Manchester!

Hot Brown Honey is heating up Manchester!

We are getting so excited! Hot Brown Honey has begun their #WorldPollinationTour, and Vancouver is on the flight path! From Jan 9-27, these fierce females will be taking over the York Theatre with their fun, fabulous, and patriarch-smashing hit!

As we speak Hot Brown Honey is heating up Manchester. The reviews are buzzing in and they are GREAT! Take a look:

— Make Noise! —

Hair Image By Dylan Evans

★★★★★ “Unlike anything you will have seen before… Smoking hot. If fighting the power is this much fun, we should all get on board and rock the boat a little bit.” – Frankly My Dear

★★★★★ “Busty Beatz [and] Lisa Fa’alafi have created a truly ground-breaking production unlike anything you’ve ever seen before – but will definitely want to see again… An empowering must-see performance full of laughter, joy and truth that is entirely faultless.” – Upstaged Manchester

★★★★★“The Honeys force us on this side of the world to think about the impact of our colonial past that is still having an impact today, centuries after the first colonialists spread their poison across the Pacific region.” – North West End

★★★★★ “A triumph of a show… Fast-paced, sexy, hilarious, and the all-female cast are a seriously talented and fierce bunch… But it’s more than just good entertainment value, behind the glitz of the huge golden beehive and the sassy dance routines there’s an important message which seeks to confront and challenge our perceptions of racial stereotypes and sexism.” – Northern Soul

★★★★ “A brave, and thought-provoking show… If you fancy something a little different this festive season: a show with plenty of attitude and sass then Hot Brown Honey is the show for you.” – The Reviews Hub

“Fearless, resolute and downright entertaining… The women of Hot Brown Honey simultaneously raise the roof and your consciousness.” – Circles & Stalls

“The[se] luscious ladies leave the audience on their feet shaking their booties to some sweet tunes… It creates such a party atmosphere… A celebration… The exact type of excitement and energy that could begin a revolution.” – Culturebean

Hot Brown Honey is not trying to encourage or give space for reflection and debate, but rather to utterly subvert the patriarchal world view and to urge action. Subtlety is not the path to revolution.” – Unrestricted Views

“A flamboyant evening of cabaret entertainment… Fighting the power never tasted so sweet… Just brilliant, a complete blast from start to finish.” – The Greater Manchester Reviewer

Hot Brown Honey runs at the York Theatre Jan 9-27. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Rental availability at The Cultch!

Check out our 2017 rental availability by clicking the image above

The Cultch is a supportive rental facility for dozens of local performing arts and community groups. Last year alone, we welcomed 79 different companies who hosted 99 different events. All together they put on 267 performances plus 119 days of rehearsal! Companies who have called The Cultch home include Blackbird Theatre, the Vancouver Fringe Festival, Unpintheair Theatre, Standing Wave, the Talking Stick Festival, and Touchstone Theatre. We have also been host to dozens of meetings and conferences, book launches, lectures, and play readings, and even a wedding! Check out our rental availability above or email rentals@thecultch.com or call 604.251.1766 x. 107 for more information.

Portraits in Motion: “A gentle and thoughtful reflection about the fleeting nature of the moment…”

Portraits in Motion: “A gentle and thoughtful reflection about the fleeting nature of the moment…”

We are thrilled to partner with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival to co-present Portraits in Motion. Back by popular demand, Volker Gerling’s unique flipbook-cinema presentation shares the stories and images of the people he encountered while walking over 3,000 miles around Germany. Portraits in Motion will run January 24-26 at the York Theatre.

Volker Gerling on the Development of Portraits in Motion:

During my time as a student of film at the Academy, I understood that my passion was not for the big screen movie or television, but for a very special small form of film I called photograph flipbook cinema. In my flipbook films I mainly work with documentary portraits of people. The 36 images that my films are made of would run by in about one and a half seconds of ordinary cinema or television, but in a flipbook movie they can be repeated at will, you can see the gaps between them, and you can unconsciously try to fill these gaps. In this form, these pictures gain their own very unusual power and poetry.

Photo credit: Susanne Schüle

 

In summer 2002, I took an old wooden kitchen tray and made it into a simple hawker’s tray. There was room for six flipbooks on it. I hung a sign on it, saying: “Please visit my traveling exhibition. I walked through the city of Berlin and showed people my flipbook movies. Sometimes I changed the programme. I screwed an empty honey jar underneath the hawker’s tray so that visitors could pay a symbolic exit fee.

After I had been showing my flipbook cinemas in this way for almost a year, I came to realise that people have a need for “small” and “simple” stories. I decided to travel. I wanted to know how people outside the city would react to my films. I wanted to make new flipbook movies. I bought myself a new pair of walking boots and set off. I did not want to miss anything along the way, so I chose to go slow, on foot. I took my hawker’s tray with me and showed my flipbook movies to people by the wayside and over their garden fences. In the evenings, I went into pubs and restaurants and I visited village parties. I did not take any money with me. I slept in my tent and lived only from whatever people gave me. Sometimes they gave me money as a symbolic fee when they had seen my small show of flipbook cinemas, or they often gave me something to eat.

My journeys are reminiscent of the days when cinema itself was itinerant, when projectionists would move from town to town and there were no movie theatres. My own form of wandering cinema also creates a link between the ways in which my films are seen and my own way of travelling. The rhythms and the sense of time are comparable – just as visitors to my flipbook movies can view them at their own speed, my walking is based on my own rhythm and speed.

In my flipbooks, I am interested in the gaps between the images and everything that gets lost when you leaf through them quickly, and when I am walking I am interested in the gaps between the cities that you would normally speedily cover by car, train or plane. I am interested in what happens by the wayside; whatever you can never see when you travel quickly. I am interested in the people I meet when I am on my way. What are their lives like? What is important for them? What stories do they tell me, the stranger? How do the people in all the different towns, gardens and villages I pass through react to my art?

Today I can look back at 3,000 miles of walking, mainly in Germany, and nearly a year on the road in total spread across more than 10 years. Again and again I experience the excitement and the surprises of setting off without knowing what will happen next. I remain true to the principle of my very first walk – I take no money. I finance my journeys by showing my flipbook cinemas that I carry on my hawker’s tray. Old faces and old stories lead me to new faces and new stories. My exhibition is renewed.

In 2005, I began to show my flipbook movies in a stage show, Portraits in Motion. On stage, I use a video camera to project my movies onto a big screen. For a brief moment, the people in my flipbooks come to life. They are so real that sometimes you feel you have known the people in them for years. I tell their stories and tell of my own big, small, serious and bizarre encounters. My show is a gentle and thoughtful reflection about the fleeting nature of the moment and what it means when people meet each other. 

Every year I walk, so every year my show develops at the leisurely pace of a walker.

Volker Gerling

Portraits in Motion runs Jan 24-26, 2017 at the York Theatre. Tickets from $20. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363

OPENING NIGHT PHOTOS: The Daisy Theatre and An East Van Panto at The Cultch and York Theatre!

Its been a busy month at The Cultch (Vancouver) as we opened Ronnie Burkett’s The Daisy Theatre as well as Theatre Replacement’s Hansel & Gretel: An East Van Panto!

Ronnie Burkett, a Cultch favourite, kicked things off on Dec 2 at the Historic Theatre with the third installment of The Daisy Theatre – which marked his 200th performance of the show! Theatre Replacement soon followed with the opening of Hansel and Gretel: An East Van Panto on Dec 4 at the York Theatre, which the Georgia Straight described as a “phenomenon.” Here are some of our favorite snap shots from the both nights:

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Tickets are still available for both shows but some nights are already SOLD OUT. Click here to buy now and secure the best seats.

It’s the York Theatre’s two-year anniversary! Share your York story!

YorkBlogThe two-year anniversary of the York Theatre is this Sunday, December 6! To celebrate we’re sending the call out to you – our friends and supporters – to submit your personal York story. Tell us about a gig you saw back when it was a concert venue, or a show you saw when it was known as the Little Theatre, or any other story –past or present – about the York. If you submit a story, you will be invited to an exclusive Cultch Rental’s Department and Heritage Vancouver Society event this February! Plus, submit your story by Dec 11 and you’ll be entered to win two tickets to the opening night of Leftovers at the York Theatre on Jan 26.

To submit your story please email marketing@thecultch.com with the subject line ‘York Memory’ or leave a comment below. Your personal story may be used in future promotional materials. Please be assured, that we would only list your first name and omit any identifying details. Do let us know if you don’t want yours included!