Delinquent Theatre premieres Never The Last

Next week, Delinquent Theatre opens the emotional world premiere of Never the Last, as part of the SeeMore Theatre Series at Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex. 

Anton Lipovetsky, Christine Quintana and Molly MacKinnon. Photo/Art by Bold Rezolution Studio.

Inspired by the life story of Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté, an enormously innovative early twentieth century composer, the drama follows her 10-year marriage with the celebrated expressionist painter Walter Gramatté. Set to a live score of Eckhardt-Gramatté’s solo violin works, the multimedia presentation blends movement and text to tell a heartbreaking tale of adventure, poverty, and strife.

“As a strongly female-driven theatre company, it is vital for us to honour and share the stories of innovative women artists who blazed the trails before us. Especially those whose art has been forgotten or obscured due to discrimination based on gender and class,” says Christine Quintana, Co-Artistic Director with Delinquent Theatre and co-creator of Never the Last. “Eckhardt-Gramatté’s determination, adversity, and triumph in the face of tragedy is profoundly inspiring to us. In telling her story and lauding her rarely performed — but undeniably brilliant — body of work, we are honoured to share a narrative that pushes against society’s limitations for women — especially those in leadership positions — and rejects status quo.”

Molly MacKinnon as the Creator/Violinist Photo: Christine Quintana

Created by acclaimed playwright and actor Christine Quintana and violinist Molly MacKinnon, Never the Last was conceived out of MacKinnon’s curiosity with Eckhardt-Gramatté. During her research, MacKinnon discovered that many of Eckhardt-Gramatté’s innovative and experimental works were nearly lost in her male-dominated field before her immigration to Canada in 1950. MacKinnon approached Quintana with a vision to create Never the Last and help bring this gifted female composer’s tremendous life and legacy to the forefront.

Directed by award-winning Laura McLean and choreographed by Kayla Dunbar (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Arts Club Theatre Company), Never the Last is a music / theatre hybrid expressed through Eckhardt-Gramatté’s 10 solo violin caprices — poetic expressions of her visceral and dramatic relationship with her husband, expressionist painter Gramatté.

Performed by MacKinnon, Quintana, and Anton Lipovetsky, the love story unfolds in Berlin, 1919, where violin prodigy and composer Sophie-Carmen meets Walter, a German painter and war veteran in poor health.  Sparks fly and their resulting love affair spans 10 years, four cities, and numerous artistic successes and failures, all underscored by MacKinnon performing Eckhardt-Gramatté’s violin compositions. Fusing a classical music performance, movement, and text, Never the Last is an artistic expression of the enormities of loss and the complexities of love.

Following Gramatté’s death in 1929, Eckhardt-Gramatté later remarried art historian Ferdinand Eckhardt and eventually immigrated to Winnipeg in 1953. The musician’s legacy and work is preserved through the work of the Eckhardt-Gramatté Foundation in Winnipeg which provided the background biological information, recordings and documents that helped form Never the Last.

Delinquent Theatre’s  Never the Last, runs April 9–20, 2019, as part of the SeeMore Theatre Series at Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex, 823 Seymour Street. For more information visit delinquenttheatre.com

Pi Theatre opens the Canadian Premiere of Hir

Pi Theatre’s Hir. l to r: Jordan Fowlie, Andrew Wheeler, Victor Dolhai, Deb Williams. Photo: Emily Cooper

Just as the American Thanksgiving brought families together, laying bare all the dysfunction, family drama, laughter and love that accompanies holiday get togethers, Pi Theatre opens, Hir, a darkly comic exploration of family.  The Canadian premiere of acclaimed American playwright Taylor Mac, Hir runs until December 8, 2018, at Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex. The production explores the dynamics of a suburban family dealing with PTSD, identity crises, and gender politics in a realistically comedic fashion.

“Hir is an outrageously provocative play in the rich tradition of black comedies centered on the dysfunctional American family,” says Pi Theatre Artistic Director Richard Wolfe, who also directs the work. “Mac’s take-no-prisoners satire of family dynamics is very much of our time, interrogating the bumps of transition that we are experiencing as the world turns away from a Western-centric hegemony. Hir examines the conflict between our need for safety and our desire to risk it all to find a better, truer way to live — no matter the collateral damage to those we love. Each of the characters in the play is undergoing profound transformation, just as we are feeling colossal shifts in our cultural and political landscape. Hir puts a deliciously caustic bow on all of it.”

Pi Theatre’s Hir Jordan Fowlie and Victor Dolhai
Photo: Emily Cooper.

Called an “audacious and uproarious black comedy” by The New York Times, the play follows the dishonourably discharged Isaac, returning home from the battlegrounds of Afghanistan to find an equally embattled homefront. His father, Arnold, has suffered a stroke and been rendered incapacitated; his mother, Paige, is finally out from under the thumb of her violently domineering husband; his younger sibling, Max, is a transgender teen out to destabilize the patriarchy. The confluence of Arnold’s disability and Max’s coming out has turned Paige toward a radical feminism that sees her refusing to clean the house in an act of unbridled defiance. She exacts revenge on her husband for years of verbal and physical abuse, humiliating Arnold by force-feeding him estrogen, dressing him as a wild drag clown, and putting him in diapers. While Hir is a manic, absurdist tragicomedy, it is also a wake up call about the need for honest communication. 

Directed by two-time Jessie Award-winning Richard Wolfe, Hir features an extraordinary cast of accomplished performers from across Canada.
Hir is now onstage at
Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex, 823 Seymour St, Vancouver. Tickets are on sale at pitheatre.com/hir

The Ridiculous Darkness descends on Annex Theatre

Until November 19th, the Annex Theatre is home of The Ridiculous Darkness, an ambitious work adapted from an award-winning German radio-play.  A mash up of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocolypse Now and in turn its source material The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.  Now set in Afghanistan, the satirical outline takes on modern racial and social stereotypes.

photo: Wendy D Photography

Being a radio script leaves producers Alley Theatre and partners Neworld Theatre open season to create the world in which this off-beat satire exists on paper, the result is Ridiculous by name and ridiculous by nature.  Although the storyline follows the actions of German Military Officer Pellnerin and his boat pilot Stefan Dorsch secret mission to find the rogue Colonel Deutinger in the depths of the Afghan wilderness,  the production often veers off course to tackle local social issues and breaks the 4th wall to introduce other local cultural collaborators.

photo: Wendy D Photography

The production comes off as a random collection of thoughts loosely strung together by the Afghan adventure.  Envisioning it like a old-school radio serial; each episode includes a brief tale of action-adventure, a cultural interlude and a social commentary, helps to makes some sense of the eclectic 2 hours.  And like a radio play, the 6 core actors play all the characters, interchanging parts like a game of musical chairs.

photo: Wendy D Photography

Like its collaboration of thoughts, The Ridiculous Darkness co-producers Alley Theatre and Neworld Theatre and the core 6 players bring together an impressive collaboration of other local arts and cultural groups; Theatre Terrific, Tetsu Taiko, RealWheels Theatre, Richmond Youth Honour Choir, Downtown East Side Street Market Society, Downtown East Side Vendors Collective, Afghan Benevolent Association of BC, and East Van Powwow all contribute to the show at times packing 40+ people onstage.

The Ridiculous Darkness opened to a sold out audience at Annex Theatre on Remembrance Day, and closes on November 19th.  Visit Alley Theatre and Neworld Theatre online for more information and tickets.  Note: November 17th will be ASL interpreted 

Pi Theatre presents Long Division

Remember when we were children in math class and wondered how math would relate to the real world? Long Division, is a play that seeks to show us how math works its way into every aspect of our lives.

Melissa Oei, Linda Quibell, Anousha Alamian, Jay Clift, Nicco Lorenzo Garcia (photo: David Cooper)

From April 26th to 30th, Pi Theatre presents a remount of Peter Dickinson’s Long Division, at the Annex Theatre. Directed by Pi Theatre’s Artistic Director Richard Wolfe with choreography by Lesley Telford and a musical score by Owen Belton, the work combines multimedia and physical theatre to explore the mathematics of human connection.

“Math is a secret language hidden in plain sight. So much of what we see in the world around us

– traffic patterns, the growth of plants, our ubiquitous mobile devices – are governed by logic and patterns that can be expressed purely in numbers,” says Richard Wolfe.

Long Division’s story revolves around seven diverse characters who are traveling to a downtown bar on the occasion of a complicated anniversary. Despite their eclectic backgrounds, the Venn Diagram of their lives overlap in a singular, unresolved traumatic event that binds their pasts together.

Long Division is a play about the search to discover and understand all of the profound and painful ways we are tied to one another. In life, as in math, it is often difficult to see the patterns that link us, or the connections we make until we experience them from different angles.

This bold and innovative work demonstrates how the seven characters need each other, the audience, and a healthy dose of mathematical history and theory to find the answer to the question they all share.

Long Division runs April 26 – 30, 2017 at Annex Theatre, 823 Seymour Street. Tickets are available online at pitheatre.com/tickets