The Cultch Announces a Dynamic 2019/2020 Season

This week, The Cultch announced its 2019/2020 season, which will welcome new initiatives, familiar faces, and as always exciting local, national, and international artists. 

Executive Director, Heather Redfern, has programmed 16 productions—plus a new festival—to fill The Cultch’s three stages from October to May, a new holiday show (Holiday at the Elbow Room Café), and three other local world premieres (KurokoKismet, things have changed; and East Van Panto: Pinocchio). “It’s all about experiments. It’s all about trying new things,” says Redfern. “And, for me, from a curatorial perspective, it’s really about how many voices we get, how many artists do we get to hear from? And there’s going to be a lot!”

The 2019/2020 season will kick off with a revolutionary new festival co-curated by Corey Payette (Writer, Director, and Lyricist for Children of God) and Heather Redfern. Raven Transforming Cabaret Festival will contain performance in a multitude of disciplines—dance, music, comedy, burlesque, theatre, etc.—and include a wide variety of Indigenous, local, and international work.

Raven Transforming – Quelemia Sparrow photo: Emily Cooper

In addition to dance performances in Raven Transforming Cabaret Festival, there will be two world-class dance productions on the Historic stage. Montreal’s’ Tentacle Tribe will redefine contemporary hip-hop in Ghost; and Dancers of Damelahamid, creators of Flicker, will return to the Historic stage with another contemporary reflection of Indigenous identity, Mînowin.

Some familiar faces return to The Cultch with their latest shows. Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (VACT) premieres Kuroko, written by Tetsuro Shigematsu, while puppetry virtuoso Ronnie Burkett brings his newest Forget Me Not—and an opportunity for patrons to hold a one-of-a-kind hand puppet—to a secret location for an entire month in early 2020. In addition, Neworld Theatre will present The Boy in the Moon (in partnership with Rare Disease Foundation), based on Ian Brown’s memoir of life with his son Walker, and Theatre Replacement will present MINE, a collaboration between Maiko Yamamoto and her 11-year-old son. Two esteemed Canadian actors, Jonathon Young and Amy Rutherford, take the stage in Hannah Moscovitch’s Infinity (Volcano Theatre).

Back for a fourth year, the Femme Series will present shows from four fierce feminist companies throughout January and February. New Zealand’s The Dust Palace (creators of  The Goblin Market) bring The WonderWombs, which will kick off the series, followed by Musqueam playwright Quelemia Sparrow’s O’wet (directed by Kim Senklip Harvey), The Chop Theatre’s KISMET, things have changed, and 2018 Cultchivating the Fringe winner BIG Sister (Rapid Pitch Productions).

Briefs: Fez Fa’anana photo: Kate Pardey

The Cultch continues its ongoing partnerships with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and Diwali in BC. Savage Society’s O’wet and KISMET, things have changed (The Chop Theatre) will be presented in partnership with PuSh, and Jivesh Parasram’s Take d Milk, Nah? will be part of this year’s Diwali in BC. A new partnership, with DanceHouse, will bring the multi-disciplinary Unikkaaqtuat (The 7 Fingers (Montréal), Artcirq (Igloolik), Taqqut Productions (Iqaluit)) to the Vancouver Playhouse. In addition, the recurring partnership with Zee Zee Theatre will bring in Briefs (from the producers of Hot Brown Honey), as well as a wild new holiday show for adults, Holiday at the Elbow Room Café.

Theatre Replacement’s beloved holiday tradition East Van Panto is back for a seventh year. Marcus Youssef and Stephen Drover, writer and director of last year’s hit East Van Panto: The Wizard of Oz, come together again with this year’s East Van Panto: Pinocchio, starring Pippa Mackie as the title character.

With so much to see, The Cultch’s three venues (Historic Theatre, York Theatre, and Vancity Culture Lab) will be the places to be this 2019/20. Season Subscriptions are on sale now, with single show tickets to come, visit thecultch.com for more information

Throne and Games – The Last Laugh at VTS

This week it’s been difficult to avoid talk about the Lannisters, Starks, and Targaryens. Vancouver TheatreSports is jumping into the pop culture battle with their own unique show Throne and Games – The Last Laugh.

A satirical parody, loosely based on the wildly popular HBO’s TV series of a similar name. This instalment marks the last ‘season’ in VTS’ comedy trilogy, which began in 2015 with Throne and Games – Laughter is Coming and continued with Throne and Games – A Chance of Snow in 2016.

Starting April 26th, Throne and Games – The Last Laugh will feature some familiar characters along with a myriad of unexpected plot twists as suggested by the audience. Because of this key element, no two performances can be the same. As in its TV inspiration, the audience has no idea what to expect next…and neither do the VTS master improvisers.

With a new scenario mapped out by popular ensemble members Graeme Duffy and Denise Jones, a murderous cast of characters, an innovative set by Mo Sherwood and more plot twists than the original TV show, this all-new VTS production comes with a severe hilarity warning: attendance could lead to sore sides from laughing.

Vancouver TheatreSports’ Throne and Games – The Last Laugh runs at The Improv Centre on Granville Island every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30pm from Friday, April 26 to Saturday, June 15, 2019. Ticket prices start at $10.75 and are on sale now at www.vtsl.com.

Come see for yourself which of the characters will have the last laugh and sit triumphant on the Iron Throne?

DOXA Documentary Film Festival reveals 2019 line-up.

This week, DOXA Documentary Film Festival, announced its 2019 festival line-up. Western Canada’s largest documentary Film Festival, returns to Vancouver for the 18th annual festival May 2 through May 12, 2019.  Committed to cultivating curiosity and critical thought, DOXA will bring 82 films (shorts and features) from across Canada and around the world, to Vancouver screens, representing some of the very best in contemporary documentary cinema. 

Because We Are Girls

On May 3, DOXA kicks off with Baljit Sangra’s courageous new film Because We Are Girlswhich celebrates the strength of sisterhood in the face of profound pain and trauma. Because We Are Girls tells the story of three sisters from a conservative Indo-Canadian family coming to terms with the sexual abuse they faced by an older relative beginning in their childhood years. Vancouver-based Sangra explores the impact of sexual abuse on a family, turning her empathetic lens on intimate moments as they process and heal. 

Postings From Home

On May 4, DOXA hosts a special live documentary presentation Postings From Home by Toronto-based filmmaker Kelly O’Brien. O’Brien has taken the collective sharing of one’s personal life — now habitual on social media — and combined it with the 20th-century tradition of a family slideshow to create an emotionally affecting live performance. 

nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up

The gala screening of nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up on May 8 marks the 10-year anniversary of DOXA’s Justice Forum, a series aimed at creating space for open dialogue. Few events in recent Canadian history have sparked as much media attention, outrage, and horror as the death of Colten Boushie, a young Cree man from the Red Pheasant First Nation who died after being shot in the head on Gerald Stanley’s farm. Indigenous filmmaker and scholar Tasha Hubbard goes beyond the headlines to present a detailed examination of race relations on the prairies. 

Closing the festival on May 11, Hepi Mita’s Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen is a tender posthumous tribute to his mother Merata Mita, the first M?ori woman — and one of the first Indigenous women in the world — to write and direct a narrative feature film. DOXA is exceptionally proud to close the festival with this extraordinary film about a visionary artist, activist and mother. 

Between these special features and events, DOXA 2019 packs its eleven days with curated collections, industry events, films, talk-backs, panels, parties and much more

DOXA Documentary Film Festival runs May 2–12, 2019, at The Vancouver Playhouse, VIFF’s Vancity Theatre, The Cinematheque, The Post at 750, Museum of Vancouver, SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. Find the full DOXA line-up and purchase tickets online at doxafestival.ca

Picks of the Week – April 10, 2019

April showers continue to be upon us but let’s make the most of the bounty of spring entertainment in this week’s picks

Glory pic: Barbara Zimonick

Hockey: At Gateway Theatre, Glory the story of women’s hockey in the 1930’s, continues until April 13.

Blossoms: The city is in bloom as swaths of Cherry Blossoms paint the town pink, celebrate them all during the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival until April 28th.

Orchestra: The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s Spring Festival brings two performances to the Orpheum this week, Revolutionaries: Stravinsky, Prokofiev & Shostakovich on April 12, and Visions of Joy: Beethoven’s 9th on April 13

Nisei: Continuing until April 13th, The Firehall Arts Centre presents the eye-opening, award-winning play The Tashme Project: The Living Archives which tells of the lives of the Nisei (2nd generation Japanese/Canadians) from being a child of the internment camps to post-war and beyond.

Okanagan: On stage at The Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, until April 21, The Orchard (after Chekhov) is Chekhov’s  The Cherry Orchard, but told through the lens of a Punjabi-Sikh family in the Okanagan Valley. 

Out: Until May 4th, at The Arts Club Granville Island Stage, Bed & Breakfast is a comedy about “being out,” skeletons in the closet, and finding a place to call home.

Accessible: The Cultch Historic Theatre welcomes Realwheels Theatre’s Act of Faith a multi-disciplinary premiere by one of Canada’s foremost playwrights, Janet Munsil April 11 – 20.

Never The Last – Anton Lipovetsky, Christine Quintana and Molly MacKinnon. Photo/Art by Bold Rezolution Studio.

Bio: Delinquent Theatre presents the emotional world premiere of Never the Last, as part of the SeeMore Theatre Series at Vancouver Civic Theatre’s Annex until April 20th.

Handel: To end the Pacific Baroque Orchestra’s season, Early Music Vancouver presents Handel’s regal compositions, Coronation Anthems, and Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne in a performance Sunday April 14th at the Chan Centre

Water: Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in downtown Vancouver presents the new exhibit, qa? y?xw – water honours us: Womxn and Waterways until October 2, 2019

Dance: DanceHouse welcomes the Canadian premiere of MOMIX : Viva MOMIX, on April 12 & 13, at the Vancouver Playhouse. 

Jack & the Magic Bean pic: Emiliano Leyva

Marionetas: North Vancouver’s Presentation House Theatre and Mexico’s Marionetas de la Esquina present Jack and the Magic Bean, at Presentation House Theatre from April 11th to 28th

Gaita: The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UCB presents the sounds of the Cristina Pato Quartet on April 11th in the Chan Shun Concert Hall. 

Pop: Friday night, April 12, Michael Buble returns to his hometown stage for a performance at Rogers Arena in support of latest album, Love

Drag: Sunday at The Vogue Theatre, don’t get mad, get everything when the First Wives Fight Club, a musical mash-up of First Wives Club & Fight Club brings RuPaul’s Drag Race superstars; Brook Lynn Hytes, Raja, Ginger Minj and Peaches Christ

Vancouver Opera Festival brings Fairytales & Fables

Vancouver Opera has revealed details for the third edition of its annual Festival.  Themed Fairytales and Fables, Vancouver Opera has curated nine days of voice, music, theatre and visual arts for all ages.

The Festival opens on April 27th with performances of the mainstage operas. Rossini’s much-loved La Cenerentola (Cinderella) kicks off the day with a 2pm matinee at the Vancouver Playhouse. Gounod’s masterpiece, Faust will be at 7:30pm at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The celebration continues with a series of programs, panels and performances daily until May 5th.

Festival highlights include the world premiere of Brian Current’s The River of Light in co-production with the Vancouver Bach Choir on May 3 for one performance only. One of Canada’s outstanding composers, Brian Current conceived this large-scale oratorio for chorus, soloists and orchestra in a multi-movement composition.

On April 28th,  from 10am to 5pm, the Vancouver Opera invites audiences of all ages to its Festival Open House; a full day of free community stage performances, workshops and activities. Watch a live circus spectacular from CircusWest at šx???ex?n Xwtl’a7shn (formerly Queen E Theatre Plaza), take part in a backstage tour of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, enjoy performances by the Roaming Diva, visit the Patio Bar, join talks and panel discussions and participate in VOF ArtWalks. 

The CBC Chamber Music Series returns to CBC Studio 700. These short, original chamber music concerts performed by members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra and Chorus and invited guests feature music inspired by Fairytales and Fables. Artists will include the Bergmann Piano Duo, members of the Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program, and members of the Standing Wave Ensemble.

Vancouver Opera presents Opera Off Site on May 1st ; pop-up performances at the Main Street Brewing Company and a screening of the 1926 black and white film adaptation of Faust at the Fox Cabaret featuring live accompaniment and a special presentation of Fenlon & Fenlon featuring soprano Rachel Fenlon.

“Our Festival is evolving to be an inclusive event showcasing the finest work of Vancouver Opera as well as many of our community partners” says Vancouver Opera General Director, Kim Gaynor. “We hope to make opera more accessible by breaking down the perceived barriers to attending and inviting everyone to take part in the celebration.”

The Vancouver Opera Festival Fairytales and Fables takes place at various venues April 27th to May 5th, 2019. For full details and ticket information visit vancouveropera.ca

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

The Tashme Project: The Living Archive brings history to the present

Tonight, The Firehall Arts Centre opens an eye-opening, award-winning play The Tashme Project: The Living Archives, on stage until April 13th.         

The play Created and performed by Julie Tamiko Manning and Matt Miwa, The Tashme Project: The Living Archives traces the history and common experience of the Nisei (second generation Japanese Canadians) through childhood, internment in Canada during the Second World War, and post-war resettlement east of the Rockies. The Nisei, now in their 70s and 80s, were children at the time of internment and their stories of adventure and play are presented in sharp relief with the more common internment narratives of hardship and justice.

Created from twenty interwoven interviews with Nisei from Toronto, Hamilton, Kingston, Montreal, and Vancouver. The Tashme Project: The Living Archives moves from voice to voice and story to story with fluidity and with a purposeful and constructed gracefulness. The actors portray the voices of both men and women interviewees as they seek a deep emotional and spiritual connection with the stories of their elders, breathing new life into these memories.

The Tashme Project: The Living Archives highlights the Nisei character, language, spirit and story. Bringing to light this part of Canadian history, that is often kept in the dark, is an incredibly topical reminder of cultural division in the current social and political environment.

The Tashme Project: The Living Archives plays at The Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova St, from tonight, Tuesday, April 2 to Saturday, April 13, 2019. Tickets and information available online at firehallartscentre.ca