Bombay Black returns to the Vancouver stage

In a change from the festive fair on most stages around town, next week The Firehall Arts Centre presents Bombay Black.  

Running December 5 to December 15, 2018, the play by the award-winning novelist and playwright Anosh Irani was heaped with praise during its 2017 production at Vancouver Fringe Festival.

Bombay Black : Arshdeep Purba
Photo: Raymond Kam

Bombay Black is set in the bitter reality of present-day India. The iron-willed Padma (Jessie Award nominee Nimet Kanji) takes money from men who watch her daughter, Apsara (rising star Arshdeep Purba), perform an exotic dance. When a mysterious blind man named Kamal (Jessie Award nominee Munish Sharma) arrives for an appointment, his secret threatens to change each of their lives forever.

Bombay Black (l-r) Munish Sharma & Arshdeep Purba
Photo: Raymond Kam

Directed by Mumbai-born, multiple award-winning Indo-Canadian producer Rohit Chokhani, Bombay Black features a poetic text, bold theatrical imagery and a gritty twist. In a first, Vancouver Arts stalwart Chokhani has reimagined Irani’s work to present the play from the perspective of a blind man. An earlier version of this production, which was Chokhani’s directorial debut at the 2017 Vancouver Fringe Festival, enjoyed a sold-out run and received the Pick of the Fringe Award.

Donna Spencer had this to say about the production, “As Artistic Producer of the Firehall, I have always been excited about supporting the work of artists from diverse cultural backgrounds and providing opportunities for emerging directors to have their work seen. Rohit Chokhani’s production of Bombay Black provides just that opportunity to showcase his work as a director and to introduce the creative team and actors in the work to our audiences.”

Anosh Irani’s Bombay Black runs at The Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova Street, Wednesday, December 5 to Saturday, December 15th, 2018.

For showtimes and tickets visit firehallartscentre.ca

Picks of the Week – November 28, 2018

The last week of November and the first weekend of December brings us a plethora of festival fun to entertain the whole family.

Pride: Catch the follow up to Pride & Prejudice with Miss Bennet : Christmas at Pemberley at The Arts Club Granville Stage until December 30

Date: Until December 30, spend your date night watching Blind Date at The Arts Club Goldcorp Stage, each night is a unique show as a new audience member is the date in each show.

James & Jamesy – O Christmas Tree

Whimsy: The award winning duo, James & Jamesy’s O Christmas Tree brings their physical comedy to Massey Theatre on December 1st, with a Christmas cuppa brimming with holiday cheer, and much more.

EnemyThe Enemy at The Firehall Arts Centre is a topical, contemporary interpretation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, running until December 1, 2018

Jazz: Tyrant Studio’s Friday Jazz enjoy the New Orleans style sounds of Marc Lindy and Guests at the Tyrant Studio Lounge upstairs from The Penthouse

Merry Kiss-mas
VTSL

Improv: Vancouver Theatresports presents Merry Kiss-mas – an improvised holiday comedy, parodying all the inane clichés and funny, awkward moments you’d expect to see in a holiday TV special or film at Improv Centre until Christmas Eve

Lights: Friday night, catch the 12th annual light-up of the 76ft tall Vancouver Christmas Tree at Robson Square, and Saturday the annual Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Gardens opens, plus enjoy many other Festival light displays around the city

Gold: The Vancouver Canucks play host to Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday at Rogers Arena

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

Gender: Pi Theatre presents the Canadian premiere of American playwright Taylor Mac’s Hir, exploring the dynamics of a family dealing with PTSD, gender politics & more, from November 22–December 8, 2018, at Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex.

Drama: Seven Tyrants Theatre presents John Patrick Stanley’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama Doubt : A Parable from November 23 – December 14

Swing: Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox brings a vintage touch to modern pop songs at The Vogue Theatre on Saturday night

Laughs: Saturday nights Tyrant Studio’s Comic Strip brings stand-up comedy to the Studio Lounge Stage with Byron Bertram, plus James Hammond and Alex Sparling

Dance:  From Montreal Frédérick Gravel’s This Duet That We’ve Already Done (so many times) continues at The Cultch Historic Theatre until Saturday

Vancouver Christmas Market
Photo: Lindsay Elliott

Market:  The Vancouver Christmas Market celebrates its 9th year as it returns to Jack Poole Plaza, until December 24, 2018

Couture: The Vancouver Art Gallery presents Guo Pei: Couture Beyond is the first Canadian exhibition devoted to the work of Guo Pei, China’s preeminent couturière until January 20, 2019

Shopping: From the West End, to Dunbar, and Delta, Visit one of the many Christmas Craft Markets happening around Metro Vancouver this weekend

Aurora Winter Festival

Festival: Aurora Winter Festival, Canada’s Largest Winter Festival, brings a a skating rink, a tube park, light displays, Christmas Market, amusement rides, food gardens, and many more activities to Concord Pacific Place November 23 – December 30

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

10 Plays For The Whole Family This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season to gather the family together and enjoy the fun of live theatre.

Align Entertainment started the season off with their, just ended run of, A Christmas Story : The Musical. This holiday season finds theatre offering something for everyone in the family, from romance, to drama, comedy to fantasy.

Check out the list of 10 plays to find something that’s sure to please you and your family or friends this season.

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley – November 15 – December 30, 2018 Arts Club Theatre Company Granville Island Stage, 1585 Johnston Street, Vancouver
In this modern follow up to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, take another trip to Pemberley as romance and comedy mix with Christmas festivities.

Merry Kiss-mas

Merry Kiss-Mas – November 21 – December 24, 2018 – Improv Centre, Granville Island, 1502 Duranleau Street, Vancouver
‘VTS Channel’ presents Merry Kiss-mas – an improvised holiday comedy parodying all the inane clichés and funny, awkward moments you’d expect to see in a holiday TV special or film.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr – November 24 – 25, 2018 – Massey Theatre, 735 8th Ave, New Westminster
Children’s Theatre of Richmond Association presents this children’s production of Disney’s musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale.

East Van Panto – Wizard of Oz

East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz – November 28, 2018 – January 6, 2019 – The Cultch York Theatre, 639 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
East Van Panto returns for its sixth year, finding Dorothy and Toto flung to the Land of Oz in the depths of East Van

Disney’s Beauty And The Beast – December 1, 2018 – January 6, 2019 – Arts Club Theatre Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, 2750 Granville Street, Vancouver
Disney’s tale as old as time comes to life, with a song as old as rhyme, lavish costumes, lush sets and great casting in this remount.

James & Jamesy – O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tea – Various Locations including; December 1, 2018 -Massey Theatre, 735 8th Ave, New Westminster // December 10 – 11, 2018 – Kay Meek Arts Centre, 1700 Mathers Avenue, West Vancouver
The award winning duo, James & Jamesy bring their physical comedy to the regioni with a Christmas cuppa brimming with holiday cheer, and much more.

Little Dickens – December 4 – 22, 2018 – The Cultch Historic Theatre – 1895 Venables, Vancouver
Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens, finds the cast of The Daisy Theatre take on the beloved holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, in the merriest marionette mash-up ever.

It’s a Wonderful Life – December 6 – 31, 2018 Gateway Theatre, 6500 Gilbert Road, Richmond
Take a trip to Bedford Falls and watch George Bailey come back from despair to realize that it is a wonderful life.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – December 6 – 16, 2018 – Havana Theatre, 1212 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
In this lively Christmas classic, the six Herdman kids, “the worst kids in the history of the world”, take over the annual Christmas pageant, much mayhem and fun follows in this hilarious and heartwarming story.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr – December 7 – 8, 2018 – Massey Theatre, 735 8th Ave, New Westminster
Children’s Theatre of Richmond Association presents this children’s version of Disney’s beloved musical

 

PuSh Festival Debuts Its 15th Anniversary Program

This week, the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival launched its 2019 Festival Program, at a party at John Fluevog Shoes in Gastown. The 2019 Push Festival, January 17 to February 3 will mark the milestone 15th annual festival, bringing international performing arts to venues around Vancouver. Featuring 26 works from 24 companies from 13 countries — including six world premieres — this showcase of visionary collaboration and cutting-edge arts brings a welcome highlight to the winter culture season.

Lucy McCormick’s Triple Threat
Feb 2 –
Club Push at XY
Photo: The Other Richard

 “We launched in 2003 as a three-show series that drew 2,500 people to 21 performances at three Vancouver venues,” says Roxanne Duncan, PuSh Festival’s Interim Executive Director. “The inaugural festival opened a short two years later in 2005. Now as we prepare to celebrate our 15th anniversary, PuSh has welcomed more than 300,000 people to 366 productions from 30 countries.”

 Joyce Rosario, Interim Artistic Director of the PuSh Festival, adds: “Our programming ignites important, meaningful discussions about the world around us and is a reminder that we are a part of something bigger. The 15th anniversary holds personal significance to me. Not only does it mark the final iteration guided by the vision of Norman Armour, PuSh’s co-founder and former Artistic and Executive Director, but it’s also the sixth shaped by our collaboration together as a curatorial team. This year’s festival is the result of many such partnerships, amongst the intrepid team at PuSh and with our presentation partners — some of whom have been with us since the very beginning. In 2019, we bring audiences face-to-face with a broad range of thought-provoking works that subvert the dominant narrative by changing whose perspectives are centred.”

Kids by Liu Kuan-Hsiang
Jan 24-26 at Dance Centre
Photo: Etang Chen

The six world premiere performances will be presented by contemporary dance organization Company 605; boundary-breaking dance company MACHiNENOiSY; composer and musical director Joelysa Pankanea; Dora Award-winning dub poet and actor D’BI; the performers of Kimmortal & Immigrant Lessons; and Guatemalan performance artist Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa.

In addition to the world premieres, another 11 performances will be Canadian premieres, including a suite of three sound-based works from Japan by ASUNA, Marginal Consort, and Tetsuya Umeda; Dancenorth Australia featuring music from Indonesian band Senyawa; and a piece from Taiwanese choreographer Liu Kuan-Hsiang.

X Marks the Movement – Opening Night at The Beaumont Studios
Photo: Kimmortal & Immigrant Lessons

New for the 2019 season, Club PuSh, the home of the festival’s most edgy and experimental work,  will be located in multiple spaces across the city and home to Opening and Closing Night parties.

The PuSh Film Series at Vancity Theatre, presents movies perfectly paired to the program,  and PuSh Assembly will stimulate dialogue through free talks for the public and industry networking events.

To celebrate its 15th year, PuSh Festival is offering audiences a limited time offer of $15 tickets for 15 days. The 15x15x15 offer applies to the full festival program: 26 critically acclaimed works from different artistic disciplines. The 15X15X15 promotion is on now and November 30th so get your tickets at pushfestival.ca before they’re all gone.

Free Film Screening of Miscellaneous Productions “Monsters”

Vancouver’s MISCELLANEOUS Productions is a non-profit, charitable society using art as a path for social change and personal transformation in culturally and socially at-risk youth – empowering them to be fully participating citizens.

Monsters
pic Chris Randle

Last year, the company debuted, Monsters – an anti-racism, anti-bullying play with hip hop and World music and dance. Funding from Heritage Canada allowed for MISCELLANEOUS Productions to document the production on film, which is making its Vancouver debut November 8th. Screening in Canadian communities this fall, the film forms the basis of dialogues and performing arts workshops with/for culturally and socially inclusive multi-barriered youth.

Monsters is a transdisciplinary musical theatre work loosely based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It explores how and why a community creates and supports a ‘monster’, how collusion functions, and how people are often attracted to individuals with loud, brash, forceful or aggressive personalities but are unaware of how incredibly damaging they can be.

Monsters premiered in October of 2017 at the Scotiabank Dance Centre. Following the Vancouver opening of Monsters, components of the production toured to Catalonia in November 2017.

Ghosts of Productions Past
pic: Chris Randle

On Thursday November 8th, MISCELLANEOUS Productions is holding a FREE screening for the Vancouver film premiere of Monsters, at The Annex, 823 Seymour Street.  The Monsters film screening will be preceded by MISCELLANEOUS Productions’ 5-minute short film, Ghosts of Productions Past. Making its World Premiere, the short is a new and nasty feminist satire of the whiteness of the Canadian theatre scene, #MeToo, #TimesUp and the recent disturbing events at various North American theatre companies.  

MISCELLANEOUS Productions’ Free Screening of Monster, with Ghosts of Productions Past, takes place November 8, 2018 at 7pm. Doors open at 6pm, admission is free but seating is limited.  Due to scenes of violence, the screening is not recommended for children 12 or under. 

Les Belles-soeurs at Gateway Theatre until October 6th

Les Belles Soeurs:
Melissa Oei, France Perras and Agnes Tong.
photo: David Cooper

Now onstage at Richmond’s Gateway Theatre, Les Belles-soeurs (The Sisters-in-law) presents 15 women in the English language version of the gritty romp. The Ruby Slippers Theatre Production, directed by Diane Brown, was Quebec playwright Michel Tremblay’s first professionally produced play.  Les Belles-soeurs was risque and vulgar when it premiered 50 years ago, and is just as bold and topical today.

The play finds a gathering of women coming together to in the kitchen of Madame Germaine Lauzon (played with gusto by France Perras), who has won one million Gold Star loyalty stamps, to help paste the stamps into books.  M. Lauzon’s sisters, sisters-in-law, daughter, neighbours and friends arrive in varying states of excitement for the prize-winner.  Over the course of the evening, the ladies bond over bingo, men, and their mundane lives.  Boasting about her win stirs jealousy amongst the ladies, who covet Germaine’s precious win.  Gradually petty gossip,  scandal, oversharing, and clashing egos result in a tumultuous, and often hysterical, party.

When Tremblay wrote the play, during Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, telling a story about the working class, let alone 15 working class women, doing working class things was groundbreaking. Add in the fact that no topic of conversation and no language seemed to be taboo, Les Belles-soeurs set off controversy and tested the Quebec Theatre establishment.  Gender roles, control of the Church, ageism, teen-pregnancy, family-squabbles all continue to resonate today, especially topical in the #metoo era.

In this Gateway production, each of the 15 women turn in captivating performances that together becomes one of the best ensembles we’ve seen onstage in a while. While all of them are great, France Perras, Beatrice Zeilinger, Tallulah Winkelman, and Emilie Leclerc, as the sisters, stand out with the bulk of the drama. As well, Lucia Frangione as the jealous neighbour who leads the revolt against Germaine, provides plenty of fireworks and comedy.

Enjoy the drama and comedy of Ruby Slippers Theatre’s Les Belles-Soeurs at Gateway Theatre until October 6. Tickets are available online or at the Gateway Box Office now.