The Cultch presents world premiere of Children of God

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In Corey Payette’s powerful new musical, the children of an Oji-Cree family are sent to a residential school in Northern Ontario. This is a story of redemption: for a mother who was never let past the school’s gate, and her kids, who never knew she came. Children of God offers a thrilling blend of ancient traditions and contemporary realities, celebrating the resilience and power of the Indigenous cultural spirit. Inspired by First Nations music, Payette’s moving score also includes echoes of Broadway masterpieces. Continue reading

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Taking Off premieres at Belfry Theatre

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From February 21 to March 12 the Belfry Theatre will present Taking Off, a brand new play written and performed by Deborah Williams and directed by James Fagan Tait.

Life seems like one big To Do list for Minnie: a middle-aged, middle class, mildly medicated mother, wife and self-employed “daughter for hire.” What she needs is a weekend away with her BFF.

“Deborah Williams played dear, sad Sonia in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and is one of the writer/performers of Mom’s the Word. This is the first play that Deborah has written on her own and we’ve been involved in the script’s development for a couple of years. I programmed this play because it speaks to our audience, and it speaks with Deb’s wry, sardonic sense of humour, and her enormous heart.” Michael Shamata

Deborah is an insightful performer and writer known for her dark eye for comedy. She is a graduate of the acclaimed Studio 58 acting program in Vancouver, and has worked on stages across the country for the past 20 years.

Her television credits include two seasons of writing and performing comedic monologues for Life Network’s “Family and Friends”, CBC’s “Spilled Milk” and “Becoming My Mother” for the CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival. Deborah is the host of The Flame storytelling series in Vancouver and at the Belfry.

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Mouthpiece features two strong women in this bold, dynamic performance

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Mouthpiece follows one woman, for one day, as she tries to find her voice. The push and the pull, the past and the present, the progress and the regression: this is the inner conflict that exists within a modern woman’s head. Interweaving a cappella harmony, dissonance, text and physicality – Mouthpiece is a harrowing, humourous and heart-wrenching journey into the female psyche. Continue reading

The Cultch presents The Fighting Season, an investigation on the Afghan War through the eyes of 3 Canadians

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“The world needs to understand what happened over there.” Inspired by his father’s deployment in Afghanistan, Sean Harris Oliver’s searing new play investigates the Afghan war through the eyes of a Canadian field medic, a doctor, and a recovery room nurse. Continue reading

James & Jamesy make a splash with O Christmas Tea

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James and Jamesy have come to Maple Ridge to round out their British Columbia tour of O Christmas Tea. The 17-time ‘Best-of-Fest’ winners from theatre festivals across North America invite audience members of all ages to join them in their action-packed quest to save the world from drowning in tea. It’s an imaginative, funny journey but it occasionally fell flat.

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Hidden scares in the UBC Botanical Gardens

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Imagine you’re walking in the woods with 13 other people: all holding flashlights, all silent and scared, knowing someone is coming after you. That’s pretty much what you get from ITSAZOO’s newest production, Hidden. Continue reading

Fight Night questions the democratic system through audience participation

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fight-night-roman-sarah-eechautFive performers. Five rounds. Your vote. One survivor. But does your vote really matter?

Fight Night tested audiences on what they most want in a candidate: someone honest but erratic, a hero of a hostage situation, or maybe attractive but manipulative. We were given all these options through many polls and votes, but in the end I was left feeling a bit out of the loop. This wasn’t improv, so how much did our votes matter? Were they even counted at all? Continue reading

Bard on the Beach begins their 27th season on June 3rd

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Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival begins its 27th season in Vanier Park on June 3, with an exciting lineup of plays, concerts and special events. All tickets for Bard on the Beach are currently on sale for the 2016 season, which runs from June 3 to September 24.

The Festival’s summer-long celebration of Shakespeare starts with ROMEO AND JULIET on the BMO Mainstage, with Kim Collier (Hamlet, 2013) returning to Bard to direct this timeless romantic tragedy. It alternates with Bard’s Jessie Award-winning 2012 production of THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR. This huge audience favourite is full of high-spirited comedy and live performances of classic 60s popular music. Johnna Wright is back to direct, this time on the BMO Mainstage, along with many of the original actors.

On the Howard Family Stage, in the Douglas Campbell Theatre, two of Bard’s best-known and award-winning actors make their Bard directorial debuts. Bob Frazer directs the tragedy OTHELLO, setting the play’s jealousy and manipulation amidst the racism and violence of the American Civil War. Lois Anderson directs a mythical and exotic setting of PERICLESShakespeare’s adventurous tale of a hero’s quest to find love, family and the meaning of life.

Special Events for the 2016 Season:

  • Bard-B-Q & FireworksSaturday, July 23Wednesday July 27 & Saturday, July 30 @ 5pm – includes play, dinner, on-site entertainment including a world-champion pipe band, and exclusive fireworks viewing. Tickets from $95
  • Chor Leoni: Mane Stage: Mondays, June 20 & 27 @ 2pm & 7:30pm
  • Wine Wednesdays: July 13, August 10 & September 7 @ 6pm. $21 (must purchase play ticket for same evening).
  • Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at Bard: Mondays, July 11 & 18 @ 7:30pm
  • Opera & Arias: The Magic Flute: A costumed concert staging; Mondays, August 29 & September 5 @ 2pm & 7:30pm
  • Exploring Shakespeare Talks: Delve deeper into each play’s story and background with Simon Fraser University’s Paul Budra. Saturdays, June 11 and 25July 16 and August 13 @ 11am
  • Salon SeriesNew this season, behind-the-scenes panel discussions. July 18August 29 and September 5 @ 7pm
  • Talkback Tuesdays: free post-show discussions following Tuesday performances in both theatres. July 5 – August 30
  • Family Nights: Lively pre-show activities, family package pricing available: July 6, August 3 and August 31 @ 6pm

Tickets for Bard on the Beach’s 27th season are on sale starting April 6. Ticket prices for 2016 include all applicable fees and taxes and begin at $20. Early booking is recommended for best seat selection; note many performances sell out in advance. The full performance schedule, site information and play and special events details are on the Bard website at bardonthebeach.org. To book tickets, order online through the Bard website or call the Bard Box Office at 604-739-0559 or (toll free) 1-877-739-0559.

Victoria Shakespeare Festival Presents Where There’s a Will

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2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and the beginning of his legacy to the world. Craigdarroch Castle and the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival (GVSF) celebrate this historic anniversary with Where There’s a Will, February 17-21 and 24-27 at 8pm.

Where There’s a Will is a celebration of the greatest English dramatist in song, verse and cake. Meet the celebrity superstars of the 15th century, such as Elizabeth I, Christopher Marlowe, Anne Hathaway, and of course, Bill himself. Afterwards, the audience will have an opportunity to recite a favourite line or couplet as part of “We are Shakespeare”, a global video project initiative launched to celebrate the Quadricentenary.

The Castle’s magnificent rooms and landings serve as perfect settings for this historical romp. See the actor who first played Hamlet, Richard Burbage, struggle in rehearsal; hear Shakespeare’s bitter rival, Christopher Marlowe, hurl insults; and witness a special appearance by a Britain’s favourite time traveller and his cohort.

The script is a collaboration between Castle favourite Giggling Iguana Productions founder Ian Case, and GVSF Artistic Director Karen Lee Pickett. “We are thrilled to be back in the Castle! There will be sonnets, songs, and a few surprises,” says Pickett, “and at evening’s end, sweets will be served in the Castle’s magnificent Dining Room – the perfect way to end an anniversary celebration!”

Where There’s a Will features a plethora of artists from the Festival’s talented pool of directors and actors, including Cam Culham (Cock at Theatre Inconnu and two seasons with GVSF), Chris Gabel (“Pick of the Fringe” Award-winning Paper Street Theatre and Atomic Vaudeville), Susie Mullen (August: Osage County for Langham Court and four seasons with GVSF), Griffin Lea (The Rocky Horror Show for RKO productions and Cabaret for Langham Court), and Candace Woodland (Rocky Horror and four seasons with GVSF). The show is directed by Geoffrey Davidson and runs February 17-21 & 24-27 at 8pm at Craigdarroch Castle, 1050 Joan Crescent.

Information and tickets are available online at http://www.thecastle.ca and by phone at 250-592-5323. Reservations are required. Tickets are $30 general admission and $28 for Castle Members (prices include HST) and include coffee, tea and dessert service. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

Joan MacLeod’s The Valley is Topical and Emotionally Gripping

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Especially pertinent at the moment, The Valley by Victoria’s Joan MacLeod struck a nerve with the audience to create a touching, emotional journey.

Inspired by real events, this play takes larger social issues of mental health and the relationship police have with the public and breaks it into four specific stories. It manages to condense the emotional rollercoaster of two separate relationships into a spectacular two hours. Both humorous and thought-provoking, The Valley is dark and moody in the best way possible, revealing in its portrayal of the human condition.

Each of the characters have likeable qualities mixed into their troubled backgrounds and problematic traits. Along with tight dialogue and fast-paced set changes these actors manage to capture all of their emotions and display them all so honestly. It was amazing to live their breakdowns with them, and experience the cathartic release as issues resolved. The mind of depressed teenager Connor spawned imaginative and dark worlds in the mountains, and the heavy scenes of his depression were mirrored in the painted backdrop surrounding the characters. Although initially this isn’t apparent, as we delve deeper into everyone’s stories it becomes gloomier and more relatable, reflecting their emotions from every direction.

Leaving the theatre, I felt emotional and introspective. It’s a must watch for everybody who can in Victoria. The Valley plays February 2 through 28, and tickets can be purchased at 250-385-6815 or online at tickets.belfry.bc.ca.