Chutzpah Festival 2019 Brings Dance, Comedy, Theatre to Fall

The 2019 Chutzpah! Festival returns at a new autumn period from October 24 to November 24, with performances at the Norman Rothstein Theatre, Vogue Theatre, Rickshaw Theatre, and The WISE Hall.

Now in its 19th year of celebrating culturally rich works in comedy, music, theatre and dance, the Chutzpah! Festival has established a reputation for presenting Vancouver audiences with new and exciting, critically acclaimed artists from all over the world. This year’s Festival will also showcase live music with film, and shines a light on artists from the U.K., Israel, Italy, U.S.A., and Canada. 

“I’m overjoyed to be able to showcase such important, illuminating, and multi-disciplinary works at this year’s Festival, and proud to have shared so much with Vancouver audiences over these past 15 years as its Artistic Managing Director,” says Mary-Louise Albert. “2019 will be my final year with Chutzpah! as I move into a new chapter in my creative and personal journey. After a 20-year career as a professional dancer I could not have landed in a better spot than here at Chutzpah! and the JCC working with so many amazing people — which allowed me the space, generosity, trust, and understanding of my ‘no holds bar’ approach to work and life — which ultimately resulted in a second career and artistic vision that I am so proud of. I look forward to sharing my last Festival with you!” 

Some of the shows included in the 2019 Chutzpah! Festival lineup are: 

Guy Mintus Trio – Norman Rothstein Theatre | October 29 | 8:00pm
Mintus is a trained concert pianist with the energy of a rock star and a jazz musician’s sense of adventure who is unafraid to throw into the mix his native Middle Eastern scales and rhythms

Sandra Bernhard: “Quick Sand” – Vogue Theatre | October 31 | 8:00pm
Performing with a three- piece band, the iconic performer will make for a fun and memorable Halloween night. 

The Diary of Anne Frank LatinX – Norman Rothstein Theatre | Nov. 6-8, 8:00pm | Nov. 8, 1:00pm | Nov. 9, 2:00pm
Chutzpah! Festival is proud to present the Canadian premiere of The Diary of Anne Frank LatinX. American-Jewish director, Stan Zimmerman, is adding a modern-day twist to the story of Anne Frank.

MM Contemporary Dance – Norman Rothstein Theatre | Nov. 1 & 4, 8:00pm | Nov. 2, 2:00pm | Nov. 3, 7:00pm
Italy’s MM Contemporary Dance Company returns to Chutzpah! with the Canadian premieres of GERSHWIN SUITES – choreographed by Michele Merola, and SCHUBERT FRAMES – choreographed by Enrico Morelli. 

MM Contemporary Dance – Gershwin Suite photo: Riccardo Panozzo

This year the Chutzpah! Festival is also paying tribute to the Jewish Community Centre and celebrating the 25th anniversary of its long-standing and renowned musical theatre summer camp created by Perry Ehrlich – Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance!; present local comedians in a comedy night of Shticks & Giggles; and host multiple workshops and creation residencies.

2019 Chutzpah Festival runs October 24 to November 24, 2019. For the full line up and tickets visit chutzpahfestival.com 

Learn about The Birds & The Bees at The Arts Club

Turkey Semen, Beekeeping, Mothers & Daughters, , One Night Stands, N.S.A. Sex are just some of the unexpected topics found in The Birds & The Bees by Mark Crawford. The Canadian comedy is filling The Arts Club Granville Island Stage with laughter.

The Birds & The Bees is really a story about rolling with the punches. We never know what life is going to throw at you, how people react to expected turns defines their character, and in the case of this play, provide plenty of laughs and heart.

Centred on the strained relationship between, Gail (Susinn McFarlen) and her newly separated daughter Sarah (Dawn Petten), The Birds & The Bees takes place in just two upstairs bedrooms of Gail’s farmhouse as Sarah tries to move home after leaving her Turkey-farmer husband. The sudden change in living arrangements through both ladies’ lives in disarray. Things are complicated further by the arrival of university researcher Ben (Christopher Allen), here to study why Gail’s honey bees are dying, something she blames on the pesticides used by her tenant farmer Earl (Tom McBeath).

The intergenerational cast of The Birds & The Bees also shows that ages is really just a number, as the characters find new life and sexual awakening in their changing circumstances. From the audience’s reaction, who could clearly see themselves in at least one of the characters, it was easy to see that embracing their sexual side, at any age, was a welcome topic. Although the play finds them in plenty of slapstick situations, the four actors brought depth and heart to these roles, showing a great connection with each other as well as, the audience.

As the action, and Sarah, moves out of Gail’s house, the play wraps up but the audience would clearly like a sequel to follow up on the further adventures of Gail, Sarah, Earl and Ben.

The Birds & The Bees runs until October 26, 2019 at The Arts Club Granville Island Stage. For showtimes and tickets visit: artsclub.com

Vancouver TheatreSports Welcomes the World of Improv

A world of laughter is coming to Vancouver from October 14 to 20 as Vancouver TheatreSports (VTS) hosts the 2019 International Theatresports Institute Conference and Festival

The International Theatresports Institute (ITI) is the largest improv network in the world, representing 90 improv companies, schools and universities from 22 countries on six continents. Every two years, ITI convenes a conference and festival that brings together improvisers from around the globe.

In addition to delegate-only workshops, the week includes more than 50 public performances in an International Theatresports Festival across three Granville Island venues – VTS’ home theatre The Improv Centre, The Waterfront Theatre, and intimate studio space The Nest. 

Currently, improvisers from as far away as India, Norway, Japan, Brazil, and New Zealand have signed up to attend the week-long Vancouver conference and perform in the Festival.

The Festival celebrates how the improv art form has evolved around the world to reflect the influences it receives from different cultural terroirs, showcasing signature shows/formats by some of the world’s leading improvisers and improv companies. 

The Toys Strike Back

One of the signature shows, The Toys Strike Back, by Norway’s Det Andre Teatret – a matinee show for families with children – creates its content from the toys that the kids bring with them to the performance. Another show, Lugares (Places), originally created by an international team of improvisers, will be directed in Vancouver by Patti Stiles (Australia) and Felipe Ortiz (Colombia).  Lugares invites members of the audience to describe a special setting and the cast creates exciting new stories and parallel worlds that will change the way we see the special places around us. For the El Jaguar Fiesta Tour of Vancouver, the audience jumps on a bus with masked Mexican luchador El Jaguar (Derek Flores, New Zealand) for a hilarious tour of the city where the focus is on fiesta, not facts. OK Tinder brings together a cast made up of VTS ensemble members and international delegates for a global take on the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of dating in the digital age. The Theatresports Summit explores the Theatresports format in the ‘four pillar’ companies – from Calgary’s Loose Moose Theatre, to variations as performed at Vancouver TheatreSports (Vancouver), Rapid Fire Theatre (Edmonton), and Unexpected Productions (Seattle). 

El Jaguar Fiesta Tour of Vancouver

“Vancouver TheatreSports turns 40 in early 2020 and we are excited to kick off our anniversary celebrations by sharing so much laughter with the people of Vancouver,” says Artistic & Executive Director Jay Ono. “It will be a fabulous opportunity for the public to see the different styles of improv as performed by the visiting delegates. Many Vancouverites do not realize that VTS is renowned globally as being a leader in the improv art form, with some of the best improvisers in the world being part of our company. It will be inspiring and instructive for all the improvisers, our own as well as the international delegates, to perform together and explore new formats and ways of playing. At the same time, the public will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see companies and improvisers who do not normally perform outside of their home country.”

For the full lineup of all the Festival shows; descriptions, locations, dates, and times visit vtsl.com/iti-conference/overview

The Shipment opens Firehall Art Centre’s Season

The Firehall Art Centre kicked off its 37th season with Speakeasy Theatre’s production of the provocative work The Shipment by Young Jean Lee.

Omari Newton opens The Shipment photo: Ryan McDonald

The play takes a look at black cultural stereotypes and makes us examine our ingrained assumptions and perceptions of race. Starting off, the first half of the show firmly places the 5 black actors in stereotypical roles; brash comedian, wannabe rapper, drug dealer, crackhead, video vixen, and more in a variety show format.

The cast of The Shipment
photo: Ryan McDonald

The opening stand-up set by Omari Newton sets the audience up for the show that’s to follow, crass, graphic, offensive and uncomfortable, his set is equally amusing and thought-provoking. Amongst the spontaneous laughs, some of the audience’s laughter sounded awkward and forced, as though they felt like they needed to laugh along to prove they were ‘woke’. Following the stand-up set the cast; Omari Newton, Kiomi Pyke, Chris Francisque, Adrian Neblett & Andrew Creightney, whip through the previously mentioned roles in a choreographed minstrel-style review. Throughout the rest of the 75 minute play, laughter mixed with uncomfortable silence, actions, setting and dialogue designed to test our preconceptions of race, even if we didn’t think we had any.

The Shipment photo: Ryan McDonald

The simplicity of the direction by Kayvon Khoshkam and Omari Newton, plus staging keeps the focus on the actors and their actions, and of course, leaves us thinking.

Challenge your own notions about race, as The Shipment continues at The Firehall Arts Centre, 280 E Cordova, until October 5, 2019. Visit firehallartscentre.ca for more information

Presentation House Theatre presents launches 2019/20 season

North Vancouver’s Presentation House Theatre (PHT) launches its 2019/20 season October 8th.

NCHEM?U?S DAY

Before the season begins visit Presentation House Theatre this weekend, for Nchem?u?s Day on September 21st. The annual free community event welcomes everyone to join in the world’s largest Slahal “Bone Game”, an ancient traditional game of the Coast Salish territory. Presented in partnership with Spakwus Slolem (Bob Baker’s Eagle Song Dancers, Squamish Nation) and Tsatsu Stalqaya (Coastal Wolf Pack Dance Group, Musqueam Nation).

The Shipment

The 2019/20 season begins with the satirical comedy The Shipment, from SpeakEasy Theatre, which tests and challenges black culture stereotypes.  SpeakEasy Theatre Artistic Director Kayvon Khoshkam says, “The play does not judge, nor does it preach, rather it invites us in to share and listen. The Shipment is raw, challenging, and incredibly funny which is a perfect fit for the style of experience we have established for the company and our audiences.

Supporting their commitment to intergenerational theatre, PHT follows with Tomson Highway’s The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito from Ontario’s Carousel Players, an indigenous play for young audiences about acceptance and belonging.

Other shows in the 2019/20 season include Jake’s Gift (Juno Productions) the poignant remembrance of the legacy of veteransthe beloved wild rumpus of Where the Wild Things Are (Presentation House Theatre)God’s Lake (Castlereigh Theatre Project), a vivid original work of verbatim documentary theatre about the strength and resilience of the people in the remote fly-in reserve of God’s Lake Narrows, Manitoba. Germany’s Hands and Feet (Theatre Wrede) joyfully invites the littlest theatre newcomers into the magical realm of sound, movement and imagination. The season ends with the delightful House of Pooh Corner (Carousel Theatre with Presentation House Theatre), a celebration of friendship at every age. 

More information and show details can be found at www.phtheatre.org. Tickets are on sale now by phone at 604-990-3474 or online at  tickets.phtheatre.org

Vancouver Fringe Festival on stage until September 15, 2019

The 2019 Vancouver Fringe Festival takes over stages around the city starting today.  With 101 shows to choose from; comedy, drama, musicals, clowns, political satire and more themes make sure that you will find some “Theatrically Delicious” performances during the Fringe run from September 5 to 15.

Vancouver Fringe Festival’s vision is “Theatre for Everyone”, and employs an everyone is welcome selection process, drawing the mainstage performances out of a hat. Giving all artists from novice performers to veteran theatre companies, an equal chance to participate, and artists receive 100% of the box-office revenue during the festival.

The Festival program is filled with amazing shows, series and events including: 

Part of the 2019 Advance Theatre Series is playwright Taninli Wright’s Sis Ne’ Bi -Yïz: Mother Bear Speaks, which was inspired by the true story of a Wet’suwet’en artist who walked across BC to empower First Nations children.
  • Advance Theatre – New Works By Women : Ruby Slippers Theatre and Playwrights Guild of Canada partnered with the Fringe to showcase dramatic readings of five new plays by diverse Canadian women playwrights.
  • Dramatic Short Works :  This year’s Dramatic Works Series artists have been mentored by Hardline Productions’ Co-Artistic Director Raes Calvert.
  • Workshops for Artists & Aspiring Artists : a series of workshops aimed to help artists develop skills including theatre, dance, storytelling and more
  • Fringe Awards : the new TD Fringe Forward Award (for works from historically marginalized communities) joins the Public Market Pick of the Fringe Awards, the Joanna Maratta Award, the BC Touring Council Award, and the Artistic Risk Award 
Pulitzer Prize finalist Madeline George’s The Most Massive Woman Wins is part of the Dramatic Works Series this year. LA Weekly calls it “a thought-provoking glimpse at … women trying to conform to society’s often unattainable image of female beauty.”


Part theatre, part party, the Festival brings music every night to the Phillips Fringe Bar located at Ocean Art Works on Granville Island. The family friendly bar is all-ages and open Saturday and Sunday afternoons too.

Following the Fringe Awards tickets will go on sale for the Public Market Picks of the Fringe and Picks Plus program. Presented by the Granville Island Public Market the Pick is your last chance to see the hottest shows of this Fringe, while Picks Plus features top picks from festivals past.  Picks and Picks Plus run September 18 – 22, 2019.  

Vancouver Fringe Festival is on, at venues across Vancouver, until September 15, 2019. With so much to see and do, you’d better visit VancouverFringe.com for program details and tickets 

Head Back To School with VTS

Those three words that every student dreads…Back To School…usually mean summer fun is coming to an end. However, this season Vancouver TheatreSports (VTS) is kick starting the fun with some back to school style laughter.

Back to School Theatresports comes to The Improv Centre on Granville Island, Tuesdays to Saturdays from September 3 to October 12.

VTS Back to School

VTS helps get you over the end of summer blues with this special improv show dedicated to school days. Back to School TheatreSports takes classic TheatreSports short form improv ‘games’ and adapts them to parody classroom clichés and cliques. Instead of a traditional TheatreSports referee, the improv comedy will be overseen by a dreaded, and very strict principal. Rule infractions can spell player ‘detentions’ and the teams of mixed student stereotypes (geeks, jocks, cool kids, etc) will be awarded letter grades by a critical panel of examiners (audience members). By the end of class (the match), only one team will reach a passing grade. 

As in all VTS shows, the characters and action are interactive as the players co-developed with the audience – taking their (sometimes wildly outlandish) suggestions to create on-the-spot, unscripted, theatrically-infused comedy. In this case, the players will be improvising using the audience’s school-themed ideas to create the scenarios like; awkward first dates, trying out for the team or cramming for exams. Regardless of whether you are/were a jock, a nerd or one of the cool kids at school, everyone will be able to relate and find something to laugh about at Back to School TheatreSports.

Back to School Theatresports plays Tuesdays to Saturdays from September 3 to October 12. 2019 at The Improv Centre on Granville Island. For showtimes, other shows, more information on Vancouver TheatreSports, and to purchase advance tickets, starting at a student-budget friendly $10.75, please visit vtsl.com.