March 2nd, 2015

 the frank theatre company logo


How does one reconcile queer sexuality and Christian faith? Is there room for both in our contemporary society? In an age when gay rights are on the upswing, yet conversion therapy still exists – where gay marriage is embraced in over seventeen countries, yet homosexuality is punishable by death in seven and illegal in seventy more – never have these questions been more immediate. the frank theatre company, in association with St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church and Third Street Theatre, presents The Aspect of Eternity – a play-reading series that explores the middle ground between two often opposed perspectives: being queer and loving God.



The Book of Esther- by Leanna Brodie

It’s 1981, and everything is about to change. Inside a downtown apartment, two out-and-proud urban queers square off with two evangelical Christian farmers. What could they possibly have in common? Her name is Esther, she is 15 years old, and she has just run away from home…


Oblivion- by Jonathan Brower

Oblivion is set in a world where a vaccine has been created to eliminate our brain’s capacity for faith and spirituality. After Tim undergoes conversion therapy, this vaccine could be his only way to deal with his mental and emotional well-being. Turmoil ensues when he realizes getting the vaccination puts his relationships, beliefs, and entire life history in jeopardy.


Featuring some of the Vancouver’s finest actors: Chris Lam, Shawn MacDonald, Adele Noronha, Todd Thomson, Pippa Johnstone, Kevin Kraussler, Lisa Cooke Ravensbergen and Luc Roderique.



Dates: The Book of Esther: Tuesday March 10th | Oblivion: March 12th

Time: 7pm both nights

Location: St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church, 1012 Nelson St., Vancouver

Tickets: Admission is by cash donation at the door (minimum suggested donation of $10)

*ASL interpretation provided at both readings.


ABOUT THE FRANK: the frank theatre company is Vancouver’s professional queer theatre. The company’s vision is a world where sexual and gender diversity is embraced and accepted everywhere and by everyone. To actualize this vision, the company’s mission is to produce text-based, language-driven, queer-themed stories for live theatre.

For more information:


Five Women Wearing the Same Dress Review

March 2nd, 2015

By: Keara Barnes

 Five bridesmaids, five identical dresses, five vastly different women.  ‘Five Women Wearing the Same Dress’ focuses on five bridesmaids on the day of a mutual friend’s wedding. The funny thing is, none of them is actually friends with the bride…

How differently each one of them wears their dress; conservatively, bitterly, sarcastically, optimistically, dramatically- while each character is highly developed and drastically different from the next. The comedic and dramatic moments of the play hinge on these conflicting characters, their interactions at times poignant and sweet yet melodramatic and catty…sometimes within the same scene.

The script is about so much more than the dresses they wear. It’s about life, about being a woman, about disappointment in love and relationships, about expectation and hope, about sexuality, and about friendship. The charisma and chemistry between the actors is palpable, unforced and engaging. The interactions and stories discussed feel real, as if you are overhearing old friends from high school.

Staged in a bedroom with the various characters flitting in and out, the intimacy of the set mirrors, the intimacy of the characters conversations; stories and secrets are spilled and comfort and support are provided. Each is fighting their own battle in some way, struggling to find where their individual ideals and attitudes fit in within the world.

If you’ve ever been a bridesmaid and hated it, if you’ve ever had your heart broken, or you are simply looking for five talented young women(and one man) to entertain you, go and see this show.

‘Five Women Wearing the Same Dress’  closed on March 1 at Studio 1398.

Directors Notes-Don’t Start a Theatre Company?

March 2nd, 2015

I was at a meeting recently where a senior Artistic Director asked, “Why are we not seeing the growth of the next generation of theatre companies like we did in the mid 1990’s with the Electric Company, Boca del Lupo and Neworld?” A younger director agreed, saying, “There is a generation of artists whose voices are not being heard.”

I took a very unscientific look back at the history of professional theatre in Vancouver, and the companies that remain active today.

Here is a list:

  •  The Arts Club was founded in 1964.
  • In the 1970’s, Théâtre la Seizième, Green Thumb Theatre, Carousel Theatre,  Axis Theatre Company and Touchstone Theatre came into being.
  • Between 1980 and 1983 Vancouver Theatresports League, the Vancouver Fringe Festival and The Firehall Arts Centre were launched.
  • In 1989 & 1990 Ruby Slippers Theatre, Bard on the Beach and Rumble Theatre were founded.
  • Neworld Theatre, the Electric Company and Boca del Lupo emerged between 1994 and 1996.

While a smattering of companies have emerged since 1997, it is in fact hard to see a “cluster” similar to those identified above.

This brought to mind an article I originally read in 2011 titled Please, Don’t Start a Theater Company! It was recently brought back to my attention by Jan Derbyshire and it is well worth another look.

The author, Rebecca Novick, states that between 1996 and 2011 the number of non-profit theater companies in the United States doubled, while audiences and funding shrunk. She believes that the “company” model for theatre production is “fossilized.” She asks, “What if new companies instead combined successful art-making with visionary ideas about different organizational structures?”

The article quotes The Hewlett Foundation’s Marc Vogl, “Funders have been in service of perpetuating the structure we know. But focus on the work has to come first.” This reminded me very much about some of the language being used by the Canada Council as they make a significant shift in how they fund the arts.

The question, “Why are we not seeing the growth of the next generation of theatre companies like we did in the mid 1990’s?” has me also asking: Are we actually seeing less work than we did in the 1990’s? Are we really missing a generation of artistic voices? Or is the generation that has come into the Vancouver theatre scene since the millennium just telling their stories in new ways?




Invitation to International First Nations/Aboriginal/Indigenous Artists with Disability for United Nations Display

February 18th, 2015


Expression of Interest in an exhibition which is proposed to be displayed at the United Nations in New York from December 2015. The works of First Nations/Aboriginal/Indigenous artists with disability will appear alongside and compliment the exhibition ‘Unfinished Business’.


About the Project

Each of the ‘Unfinished Business’ project participant’s stories are complex and intertwined with Australia’s political and social history, which has resulted in today’s unacceptably high rates of disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities. The Unfinished Business exhibition was launched in September 2013 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, then Director General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, and Peter Woolcott, Australia’s Ambassador to the United Nations. The work was displayed to coincide with the 24th Session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a body within the Office of the High Comissioner for Human Rights. The project was supported by the First Peoples Disability Network and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, through the Australian Mission in Geneva. In December 2013 the exhibition was displayed at the World Health Organisation Headquarters in Geneva. Unfinished Business was a part of Australia’s official contribution to the United Nations 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Persons. This was supported by the Australian Government through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program, an initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

 Link to the submission form which appears on the website for the ‘Unfinished Business’ project.


Contact Belinda Mason with any further questions.

 Belinda Mason



The Goodnight Bird Review

February 18th, 2015
Written by: Victor Ayala
The Kay Meek Centre is a beautiful space that was used to its fullest for Colleen Murphy’s ‘The Goodnight Bird’, a co-production between Centaur Theatre Montreal and the Kay Meek Centre. It is directed by Roy Surette.

We are in the condo of an affluent couple who have been together for decades, painstakingly recreated and subtly lit to immerse us in the reality of the location, giving permission for the story to take more extreme turns. At the outset an argument is in progress, seemingly as old as their love, over keeping the bathroom clean. There is a warmth and a familiarity between these two, an aspect of the relationship well represented by the actors, Nicola Cavendish and Chris Hunt. We are led to believe that things would continue this way interminably, were it not for the possibly high, possibly schizophrenic homeless man that breaks in looking for a bandage, played by Graham Cuthbertson. Through his environmental idealism (he wants to liberate the trees on the roof from their cement pots) the couple is forced to look at their established patterns and reconsider if this marriage is what they really want. It’s hard to talk about the play without spoiling some surprises, so be warned…

I felt myself experiencing a lot of empathy for the husband in this story. He has recently recovered from a heart attack and is still on medication when we first meet him. He works hard, hoarding money for a retirement that he means to put off as long as possible. Maybe that makes him boring, but I felt really bad for him when his wife decides she is more interested in the vagrant than she is in him. She leaves him alone so she can liberate trees and explore the ravine with this stranger, meanwhile her husband almost suffers another heart attack from the stress of waiting for her. After decades of love together, I would hope my (hypothetical) partner would have more loyalty or, well, love, than to leave me the moment another offer comes along, but I suppose that’s part of the uncomfortable reality this play explores, even through the comedy. And it’s not like things turn out great for her either. She wants to run away, she frantically wants to give up all the comforts of her current life for a fantasy filled life living amongst nature and constant adventure, but those days have passed. And the man that wandered in, in the middle of the night, the goodnight bird, will not return. I’m not sure anyone is happy at the end of the story. Maybe they’ve just matured to a point where they can make the right compromises.
The script itself is witty and charming and outrageous in a well tempered balance. There are artifacts of the French collaboration, such as the line, “Did you swallow a clown?” which help to place us in the right setting. At least it reminded me where we were, anyway. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience that kept me engaged throughout, but also had the effect of making me think about the narratives of love and romance we all grow up with. What does a successful marriage look like? Is it better to follow your heart on a whim, or stick with the one you’re with? What is happiness, really? And although I personally wasn’t really ready to contend with those big questions on that particular Tuesday night, I can certainly appreciate a story that sticks with you in that way.
It seems “The Goodnight Bird” has closed, but, hey, if you’ve got nothing better to do, why not fly over to Montreal where it’s playing from February 24 to March 22nd? Or, you know, you can be boring and stay here. But tell a friend out East. This is definitely more there than a simple comedy.

PuSh Festival Continues to Exceed Expectations in its Second Decade

February 18th, 2015


The 11th  annual PuSh International Performing Arts Festival took place across Vancouver from January 20 to February 8, 2015. Building on a decade of growth and achievement, the 11th annual edition of the Festival was a remarkable start to a second decade. At the conclusion of the three weeks of performances and celebrations, PuSh Festival Artistic and Executive Director Norman Amour says, “This has been a year of new beginnings: a new managing director at the helm, new co-located administrative and festival production facilities in the heart of downtown Vancouver. We animated new performance spaces from the Vancouver Playhouse, to the Fox Cabaret and the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza. Equally impressive were our new presenting and community partners who joined us in realizing our mission, including the CBC, Vancouver International Children’s Festival, Green Thumb Theatre, Alliance Française, the Vancouver Lookout, Other Sights, Burrard Arts Foundation, rEvolver Festival, and Georgia Strait Alliance. These are only a few of the extraordinary additions to our community of supporters. This marks the beginning of a brand new decade for PuSh. Already deep into planning for 2016, we look to carry forward this momentum with an even more ambitious level of excellence, artistic innovation, and audience and community engagement.”


Following her first PuSh Festival experience, Managing Director Roxanne Duncan, who joined the organization in June 2014, says, “What an astonishing journey PuSh has been on this year. In December we moved into our new office space at 750 Hamilton Street, and only a few weeks later we launched the 11th annual PuSh Festival, which was an unqualified success. The talent and stamina of our outstanding staff, the dedication of our amazing Festival volunteers, and Vancouver’s hearty appetite for bold performance are what keep PuSh going—and will continue to propel us through our next decade.”


Overview of the 2015 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival:


• There were over 250 performances and events at 17 venues across Vancouver over 20 days.

• Total attendance numbers reached almost 28,000, with an average house capacity of 87% for performances and over 90 sold-out events.

• The Festival included: 22 Main Stage shows spanning theatre, dance, music and multimedia performance, including four sold-out performances of the wildly popular Quebec circus show Séquence 8; 18 PuSh Conversations with artists pre- and post-performances; three weeks of startling, experimental performances at Club PuSh; a free film series; the PuSh Assembly for arts industry professionals; Patrons Circle donor events; dinner/theatre packages with Dine Out Vancouver and much more!

• A total of 200 artists presented work from  Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, and the United States.

• PuSh hosted American choreographer Emily Johnson as the 2015 Artist-in-Residence, in the creation spaces of PuSh’s new office facilities.

• 400 Four- and Six-Show PuSh Passes sold out to eager PuSh audience members.

• More than 450 young people aged 16 to 24 registered for the PuSh Youth Passport program, allowing them to see select shows for $5 a ticket.

• Over 200 tickets were given out for free or at reduced prices through the Accessible PuSh program, including tickets to Aboriginal community groups and people with accessibility considerations.

• A dedicated roster of over 170 volunteers worked more than 2,200 hours in support of the Festival, plus 75 volunteer community dancers who rehearsed for three months to perform Le Grand Continental ®.

• PuSh’s dedicated Patrons Circle donors contributed over $24,000 over the course of the Festival.


The next edition of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival takes place January 19 to February 7, 2016. Programming will be announced in early November 2015.

Arts Club Theatre Company presents: Sister Judy

February 16th, 2015


By Shawn Macdonald


February 26–March 21, 2015

Revue Stage

Media opening: Wednesday, March 4


PREMIERE The world of Sister Judy (Jenny Wasko-Paterson), a popular university theology professor, is rocked when a brilliant new student (Lili Beaudoin) challenges her notions of love and devotion. What is driving the student’s relentless pursuit of the truth? As Judy unravels, so does the story of her past, revealing old wounds, and new fears.


“The inspiration for this play initially came after I read Tom Harpur’s book The Pagan Christ which questions the existence of the historical Jesus. I imagined what it would be like for someone whose faith is connected to the literal accounts of the gospels to have that paradigm shaken,” said playwright Shawn Macdonald. “During the development process, the play has become less theological and more personal and focuses on the sacrifices that Sister Judy has made in order to live within the church as a cleric. The play unpacks the way we think about love, both as a spiritual concept and an individual act. I’m excited about telling a story where the clergy are real people with regular lives and doubly excited to be collaborating with my colleague from Green Thumb Theatre, Patrick McDonald, who will direct the play, and this wonderful cast.”


Shawn Macdonald is an award-winning playwright and actor. His play Prodigal Son won the Jessie Award for Outstanding Original Script in 2006, and his play Demon Voice was produced by Touchstone Theatre in 2009. He co-wrote the comedies World’s Greatest Guy and Fear Knot (with Gary Jones) for the Arts Club, and Sister Judy, was commissioned as part of the Arts Club’s Silver Commissions Project. Shawn is the Program Leader/Instructor of Arts Club’s LEAP (Learning Early About Playwriting) program and the Artistic Associate at Green Thumb Theatre for Young Audiences where he produces and directs the annual collective creation for teenagers, The Edge Project.


Starring Lili Beaudoin, Mike Wasko, Jenny Wasko-Paterson Director Patrick McDonald Set Designer Ted Roberts Costume Designer Darryl Milot Lighting Designer Martin Conboy Stage Manager April Starr Land Apprentice Stage Manager Fernanda de Maio Teixeira



The Arts Club Theatre Company, founded in 1964, is the largest not-for-profit organization of its kind in Western Canada. Led by Artistic Managing Director Bill Millerd and Executive Director Peter Cathie White, it offers professional theatre at three venues—the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, Granville Island Stage, and Revue Stage—as well as on tour throughout the province.










The Jessies Seek Your Input!

February 16th, 2015

The Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards Society is seeking consultation with its members and the community at large regarding changes to better reflect Vancouver’s rapidly-changing theatre industry.  Please visit the survey for more information and to share your thoughts.

Click here to take the Jessies Structure Survey.



The Firehall Celebrates International Women’s Day With ribcage

February 16th, 2015


ribcage: this wide passage reveals little-known queer story in Canada’s history


To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Firehall Arts Centre presents Toronto artist Heather Hermant’s show ribcage: this wide passage (March 3 – 8) which tells the startling true story of the first Jewish woman to land in Canada. Esther Brandeau arrived in Quebec in 1738 passing as a Christian male labourer who went by the name Jacques La Fargue and was outed on both counts and brought before the authorities. As Jewish migrants were forbidden at the time, she was ejected from the country.


In this beautifully poetic and moving interdisciplinary urban ink production, Heather Hermant brings to life the historical archives that illustrate Brandeau/La Fargue’s journey with haunting video installations, breathtaking live music composed by Jaron Freeman-Fox, and a powerful performance.  She weaves together a living archive that “breathes, it grows, it sings, it is physical in this room.” – CBC Radio


As a queer artist and academic who is currently completing a PHD on Brandeau/La Fargue, Hermant reads this little-known chapter in Canadian history as a queer story about displacement and identity. “It resonated with me as a female. I read it as a queer story. Imagine a young woman in the 1700s who  worked for five years as a young man. You don’t live that life and not be transformed in your relations with other people,” says Hermant.


In the show, the past collides with the present as Hermant, also descended from Jewish Diaspora who migrated to Quebec, enters into the story as both a poet and archivist investigating and questioning the meaning of history, memory, loss, and belonging that arise from the archives on Brandeau/LaFargue.


The piece was workshopped with a gallery installation performance at the Tremors Festival in 2010.

ribcage: this wide passage is an urban ink production presented by the Firehall Arts Centre. Written and performed by Heather Hermant, Directed by Diane Roberts, Original Music composed by Jaron Freeman-Fox and performed by Elliot Vaughan.



Heather Hermant is an interdisciplinary poet and artist who has spent the past decade researching and performing the Esther Brandeau story. Fruits of this labour include: ribcage: this wide passage, translated to French by Nadine Desrochers as thorax : une cage en éclats; the one-to-one performance Aujourdhuy / This Day, 1738, presented by Rhubarb Festival, Toronto, and internationally; and a PhD in The Netherlands, nearing completion. Heather was Associate Artist at urban ink from 2007-2014. Recent work includes queer slow dance with radical thought at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives for Rhubarb Festival 2015, and a poetry collection from CUE, Vancouver. Heather teaches Community Arts at York University, Toronto.



2015 Community Arts Grants (formerly Community and Neighbourhood Arts Development grants)

February 16th, 2015
Guidelines and application forms are now available for this annual grants program, which supports a diverse range of publicly accessible arts and cultural activities which celebrate Vancouver’s diverse communities and neighbourhoods. The program aims to support projects that:
  • Increase public participation and engagement in arts and culture
  • Recognize and strengthen the role of artists in our communities
  • Activate Vancouver neighbourhoods, communities and public spaces
  • Strengthen community connections and celebrate Vancouver’s diversity
Detailed grant program information and guidelines can be found on the City of Vancouver’s website:
To obtain an application form, please contact staff as indicated in the guidelines to determine eligibility at least two weeks prior to the application deadline (i.e. March 4, 2015).