Transform: A Cabaret Festival Takes Over The Cultch

The Cultch 2019/2020 season will kick off next week with a revolutionary new festival co-curated by Corey Payette (Artistic Director of Urban Ink) and Heather Redfern (Executive Director of The Cultch). Transform: A 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

This inaugural year will bring together over 50 Indigenous and non-indigenous performers—comedians, musicians, burlesque performers, drag artists, and more. This varied group of multi-disciplinary performers take over The Cultch’s three theatres, including its lounges and lobbies from October 2-12, 2019.

Around the world, cabaret festivals emerged as a raucous and exhilarating way of expressing uprising during periods of change. “It’s been a platform for political discourse and for engaging in deep conversations all around the world,” says festival co-curator, Corey Payette. “It’s also a space where people can push the boundaries of what is considered acceptable in the mainstream.” Transform: A Cabaret Festival is inspired by a bold new concept to bring radical and lasting change to live performance in these unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. “I think that reconciliation is a really difficult subject matter, because we are not as far along as we should be,” says Payette. “What I know for sure, is that artists are always the ones to lead the way.

Transform: A Cabaret Festival – Virago Nationi

“You name it; it’s going to be part of the cabaret festival,” says festival co-curator Heather Redfern.  From Cirque Transforming (a night of circus performance), to Drag Transforming (a night of drag performance), to The Women of Comedy (featuring Martha Chaves, Steph Tisdell, Nour Hadidi, and Erica Sigurdson), The Cultch’s spaces will be alive with every imaginable type of show. Other not-to-be-missed events include Virago Nation: Stripping for Sovereignty (Vancouver’s all Indigenous Burlesque troupe), The Darlings (Vancouver’s multidisciplinary non-binary drag show), Journey to South Asia & Beyond (a collaboration with Diwali in BC), Family Drag Brunch and Dress Up (hosted by Peach Cobblah and Isolde N. Barron), African Village Experience (hosted by Jacky A Yenga), Where the Two-Spirit Lives (Marshall Vielle’s one-person show), and The Flame: Cabaret Edition (Vancouver’s favourite storytelling series).

Transform: A Cabaret Festival – Peach Cobblah & Isolde N Barron photo: Shimon

A cabaret festival would not be complete without plenty of great music and Transform: A Cabaret Festival will spotlight musicians such as Leela Gilday, Silla and Rise, JB the First Lady, M’Girl, Sandy Scofield, Veda Hille, and Corey Payette. In addition, festival participants are invited to join artists and VIPs each night at a festival club night, a creative space for festival artists to collaborate and test out exciting new and developing material, while enjoying the beats of DJ Kookum and DJ Skylar Love.

Transform: A Cabaret Festival takes over The Cultch Historic Theatre, York Theatre and Vancity Culture Lab October 2 to 12, 2019. Full line-up details and tickets are available online at transformcabaret.com

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