Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Erla Faye Forsyth Joins JUDAS Cast!!!

Wonderful late-breaking news! Long-time Pacific Theatre company member Erla Faye Forsyth has agreed to play Henrietta Iscariot (Judas' mom) in THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT, which opens a week from tonight! Great rejoicing around PT - that girl is much loved.

Quick rundown of some of Erla's roles at Pacific Theatre...

Pacific Salt Company
Voice Of The Prairie
Traveler In The Dark
The Foreigner
Howard Buys A Motorhome
Holy Mo!
Lettice & Lovage
The Farndale Christmas Carol
Driving Miss Daisy

How great to have her back! First show we'll have done together since 1996. Butch and Henrietta, together again at last.

Reason To Subscribe #6: PASSION is Critic's Pick!

Jan 27 - Feb 6

"Theatre Critics' Picks: Curtains Rise on Strong New Works"
Colin Thomas, The Georgia Straight

In this spectacle from New York — presented in Vancouver by Pacific Theatre and the PuSh Festival of the Performing Arts — director Reid Farrington deconstructs Carl Theodor Dreyer’s classic film THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC. Solo actor Shelley Kay interacts with images of film performer Maria Falconetti, which are projected onto parchment screens that hang from ropes and hooks, making moving sculpture. The Draw: The staging. The audience stands for this show, jostling in a small area surrounding the performer like witnesses at the saint’s burning. Target Audience: People who want to experience the best of New York—without paying the airfare.

AND..... Let me encourage you to buy an Everything Pass this season, if only because it entitles you to see any PT show as many times as you want! For PASSION, that means you could book your tickets for a 7:00 performance, experience the astonishing intensity of this 35-minute compression of Dreyer's masterwork, then immediately book your FREE tickets for the 9:00 showing, grab a coffee on Granville with friends to debrief what you've seen, then head back to the theatre for another encounter with Joan of Arc - and stick around after the show to talk with creator Reid Farrington! Now THAT'S an evening of theatre!

One more thing. The 2010 PuSh Festival will also feature a screening of the complete film THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, featuring the premiere performance of a live score created for the work by Vancouver composer Stefan Smulovitz. The concert/screening will be held at Christ Church Cathedral Thursday, January 28 at 8pm - the night after we open THE PASSION PROJECT on the Pacific Theatre stage. This is an extraordinary opportunity to view this seminal work - often considered the great masterpiece of silent film - through two distinctly modern (post-modern?) lenses.

Man, we live in a great city!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Soul Food: Judas, Antichrist, Lot's Wife - do we see a theme?

With PRESENCE behind us and JUDAS opening at Pacific Theatre next week, life at PT is exhilarating and rewarding. And it's not just our stuff that swells the Soul Food buffet! Anthony F. Ingram is in FROZEN (closing Saturday), Kirsty Provan is in LOT'S WIFE, Craig Erickson is about to launch a Shakespeare class, and there are Abendmusik Vespers this weekend.

On the movie front, the Vancouver International Film Festival launches this Thursday with Lars von Trier's latest kick in the head, ANTICHRIST. If time allows, I'll be posting more about VIFF at soulfoodmovies. (And with THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO new on Criterion, I should mention a series on director Whit Stillman I've posted at Filmwell - recently named among the Top 100 Film Studies Blogs!)

That's not all, there's more Soul Food comin' right up! Mike Mason's astonishing new novel for young adults, THE BLUE UMBRELLA, hits stores in October - I held a copy in my hands just yesterday, and the publishers have done a glorious job! Not to be outdone, Bob Dylan is releasing a Christmas album (!) Oct 13, and Rickie Lee Jones' Balm In Gilead has an Oct 10 release date. And - very excited about this! - Michael Hart has a retrospective CD on the way entitled So Far So Good, with a release concert Oct 17 - just check out the 100% cool cover art! (Word about that concert: on bass will be Miles Hill, who played on many of Michael's recordings over the years: he'll be flying back to Vancouver for the concert, on a break from touring with... Van Morrison! Sheesh.)


But let's get back to Pacific Theatre.

I'm going to make a very serious request of you. Would you please subscribe to Pacific Theatre this season? Of course I'd always love you to buy season tickets, but let me tell you why this is an urgent need right now.

This summer, $72,500 of anticipated income was cancelled or deferred, leaving us in a very tight spot this fall. Pacific Theatre will survive - we always have, this is a calling not a hobby - but we haven't ever before faced this sort of shortfall. We'll survive, but it's very much up to our community - our audience, the people who love the work we do, the people who believe Vancouver needs a theatre like ours - to determine in what form we move forward. Without you doing what you can right now, Pacific Theatre will look very different in six months or a year's time.

We have the most loyal and generous donors of any theatre I know: truly, other companies and funding agencies marvel at the unheard-of degree to which our audience supports us financially. But we're not intending to find our way out of this current situation by asking everyone to donate more money: we know, a lot of charities are in this bind, and your giving resources are being stretched to the max. Instead, we want to earn our way out of this predicament: we want to do what we do best, which is put on shows that change people's worlds.

I'm personally asking you to subscribe to our 2009-2010 season - which I consider to be the finest line-up of theatre we have ever offered. Right on the heart of our mandate, our 26th season offers the most extraordinary range of material imaginable. From the 20th century's most widely-read children's classic (with adult-scaled theology) to musical theatre to performance art out of New York City to my own Vancouver-based play that ran Off-Broadway last year, this is the quintessential Pacific Theatre season.

How can you help? Come and see shows. That's all we ask. But don't leave it until halfway through the run of something that may or may not be written up in the newspaper to make your decision: if you subscribe now, our shows will be in your calendar NOW. And... Pacific Theatre will know in advance that we have the funds we'll need to make it all possible.

I'm not kidding. If we can double the number of subscriptions we had last year, we'll make it intact. It's up to you.

The mainstage season starts next Wednesday.

Ron Reed,
Artistic & Executive Director, Pacific Theatre
Head Chef, Soul Food Vancouver

Reason To Subscribe #5: CHRISTMAS PRESENCE

Almost always sells out (indeed, the three performances on the Pacific Theatre stage are almost sold out already), and it's subscribers who snap up all the tickets! Everyone's favorite, the "un-slickest" Christmas Show in town... subscribers get the first crack at tickets and the best deal! Specific performers are yet to be announced, but you know what you'll be getting: a night of beautiful music, readings, poetry, and stories filled with what is commonly referred to as the "true" spirit of Christmas. If this isn't already one of your holiday traditions, then you'll want to make it one.

For a bit of an idea of what's in store, here are set lists from CHRISTMAS PRESENCE past...

In The Valley | 2007 2006
On The North Shore | 2007
In The City | 2007 2006

Oct 1-18: Kirsty Provan in LOT'S WIFE

A couple seasons back, Kirsty Provan was a Pacific Theatre apprentice - you saw her in Stones Throw productions of Tina Teeninga's original scripts, and she played Joseph in REMNANTS: A FABLE. As soon as she left us, Kirsty started her training at Vancouver's first-rate professional actor training program, Studio 58. (Alums include Erla Faye Forsyth, Anthony F. Ingram, Kyle Rideout, Evangela Dueck, Kyle Jesperson and many more familiar PT faces.) Well, she's in the performance years of the program now, and you can see her in this one - which is of Soul Food interest for more reasons than just the PT tie-in...

October 1 - 18, 2009

An epic journey
Written and Directed by James Fagan Tait with Itai Erdal

Set Design by Naomi Sider
Costume Design by Nancy Tait
Lighting Design by Itai Erdal

Photo Credit: Lindsey Angell as ‘Ashgirl’ and Luc Roderique as ‘Prince Amir’ in The Ash Girl.

What really happened in Sodom and Gomorrah? Long time collaborators, Itai Erdal and James Fagan Tait explore this question and the fascinating story of Abraham in their new play Lot’s Wife. Set at a time when the major religions of the world were not yet formed, Lot’s Wife is an opportunity to renew a connection to these biblical stories that are the backbone of modern civilization. Erdal and Tait bring an infectious enthusiasm and unique cultural mix to this work. Lot’s Wife is sure to be a fantastic journey that will throw a fresh light on history and contemporary society.

Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, Peter Brooks' Mahabarata and the ritualized theatre of Ariane Mnouchkine are all inspirations for the staging of Lot's Wife. This compelling story unfolds in a world of great beauty and simplicity created by the accomplished design team of Naomi Sider, Nancy Tait and Itai Erdal.


PACT writes BC

The Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, a national organization, has become alarmed at the British Columbia government's gutting of cultural funding in our province - measures which are not being undertaken by any other government in Canada, however hard hit by the current economy. Here's a look at their letter to our Premier.

Oct 3/4: Abendmusik Vespers

I had the opportunity to trot out my dog and pony show about "Oblation" at Rosie Perera's church a week ago, and while we were chatting she mentioned Abendmusik Vespers, contemplative services featuring a sixteen voice choir under the direction of Andrea Siemens. The description of the services sounds fantastic, and dang, you know those Mennonites can sing! Here's the rundown.
The Abendmusik Vesper Choir is an ensemble of 16 singers from the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. The choir gives evening services at Thanksgiving, Advent and Lent where we provide an opportunity to worship and meditate with music, spoken word and silence. Please feel free to bring friends who might appreciate this type of music and this opportunity for reflection -- no applause, no sermon, no announcements.

Thanksgiving Vespers
Abbotsford: October 3, 2009
Vancouver: October 4, 2009

Advent Vespers
Abbotsford: December 5, 2009
Vancouver: December 6, 2009

Lenten Vespers
Abbotsford: March 27, 2010
Vancouver: March 28, 2010

All services are at 8:00pm


Emmanuel Free Reformed Church
3386 Mt. Lehman Road

Knox United Church
5600 Balaclava Street

More information about the Abendmusik Vesper Choir can be found here, though the schedule on the website hasn’t been updated yet for the 2009-2010 season.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Arts Summer School 2010, Regent College

A sneak peek at Regent's tentative Summer School offerings in the arts. As always, a rich banquet!

Jeanne Murray Walker is a widely produced playwright as well as a celebrated poet, and Pacific Theatre has been involved with development workshops on a number of her plays. Bruce Marchfelder, a very fine film-maker (whose work has been singled out at the Cannes Festival!), is a brilliant and inspiring teacher, looking in detail at films in a way that opens the eyes and brings deep theological insight: I've wanted desperately to take one of his classes for years, and - so long as they're not on a night when I'm onstage in GODSPELL - I'm going to do everything I can to be in on this one. Begbie's theology of the arts - actually, theology through the arts - is absolutely inspiring, a thorough-going amalgam of sacramental and Reformed positions that is deeply satisfying. And Bruce Kuhn? A superb actor, who's worked at the renowned Actors Theatre of Louisville, and even on Broadway - Regent is blessed to have him!

I should also mention Loren and Mary-Ruth Wilkinson's "food course," which they host at their home on Galiano Island. I have friends who've taken the course in the past, and it is wonderful, even life changing. That course and the rest of Regent's summer school offerings are tentatively listed here.

Sep 24-26: Set List for PRESENCE

The readings on Thursday and Friday were much the same those for the Saturday night show on the North Shore, as listed here, with a few variations which you'll find at the bottom of this post. What I can't remember for sure are the songs that were featured those two nights, but you'll find the performers listed here, with links to their music.


Hugo | from God's Man In Texas by David Rambo

MERCY OF GOD | russ rosen

Listening | by David Rambo

MYSTERY | kevin gau

Prayer | from The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs

SIT DOWN | russ rosen

The most beautiful thing I've ever filmed | from American Beauty by Alan Ball

NEAR SLEEP | anna vandas

Church | from Teaching A Stone To Talk by Annie Dillard

FIVE MORE HOURS | nelson boschman

* intermission *

LOVELY | russ rosen

It's my corner, after all | from Smoke by Paul Auster

CRACKS | kevin gau

Dead In Six Months | by Kevin Kelly, from This American Life #50: Shoulda Been Dead

MY NAME | anna vandas


SOMETHING NEW | anna vandas

The Afterlife | by Billy Collins

ALL THE GOOD | kevin gau



rick colhoun | drums
kenton wiens | drums
becca robertson | bass


On Thursday and Friday night we also had...

A Summer in the South & The Journey Home | by Carolyn Arends, from Dancing With Angels

Mom and Dad | by Mike Mason, from Practising The Presence Of People

On Retreat | by Luci Shaw

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Oct 17: "So Far So Good" Michael Hart CD release concert

Michael Hart brought out a fantastic new tune last night at PRESENCE, and closed the night with a swampy treatment of his marvelous "Let Not This World" - with the Neil Young-inflected "Desire" in between, and a Beatles cover slipped in behind the Kevin Kelly reading: "Once there was a way to get back home..."

Michael Hart is celebrating 25 years in music with a special CD release concert...
Sat Oct 17, 8pm
St. James Hall | 3214 West10th Ave

Stellar band includes
Graham Boyle - drums
Miles Hill - bass
Spencer Capier-strings
Ken Cormier- piano

Tickets $15 | 2 tickets for $25 if you invite a non-church friend
To order: 604 767-5127 |

"It’s going to be a hoot!"

Sep 26: java, jazz & blues at HT

Last minute note about shenanigans - tonight - at Holy Trinity...

Stephanie Oakes September 26 at 9:39am...

hope that you are enjoying the amazing weather!

java, jazz and blues has finally arrived.
reminder that doors open at 8pm and cover is only $5!

if you are still debating whether or not to come... the answer is obvious... gather up your favorite friends and head over to 12th and Hemlock for a night of fun. your ears and tummy will thank you.

already have other plans tonight... stop by for a little while to chow down on amazing $1 refreshments ranging from mouthwatering brownies to gooey cinnamon buns while listening to some local, super talented, jazz and blues musicians.


*snap snap..*


Java, Jazz and Blues
snap your fingers and sip some joe
Host: Stephanie Oakes
Saturday, September 26, 2009
8:00pm - 11:00pm
Holy Trinity
12th Ave and Hemlock
Vancouver, BC

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sep 26: Voices for Bulembu Benefit Concert, The Canadian Tenors

Oh my! Scott Campbell sent me this note back early in the month, and I wanted to post it here, but things got away on me. Now the concert's almost upon us, and it comes to me that this never got Soul Fooded! A pity. Hopefully it's not too late for some of you to rearrange your schedules and take this in: some art for you, and some money for a fantastic undertaking in Africa. Here's Scott...

Happy September.

As the transition from summer to fall begins and we all look ahead to the coming weeks, I invite you to make plans to join me Saturday, September 26th at the Chan Centre in Vancouver for the Voices for Bulembu Benefit Concert featuring The Canadian Tenors and special guests. The concert is the public event in a weekend dedicated to raising funds and awareness for Bulembu and the result of months of planning by the Bulembu team. I know that tickets are selling well and so I wanted to be sure you had a chance to purchase seats before they sell out. Tickets are $46-$52 and are available through Ticketmaster. More information on the concert is available at For information on the transformational work taking place in Bulembu visit

I hope to see you on the 26th.

Until then, all the best,

Scott D. Campbell
Director of Fundraising and Communications

Bulembu Foundation
c +778.846.9458

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reason To Subscribe #4: Full WARDROBE!

Six years ago, our production of THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE played for 22,000 people at the Norman Rothstein Theatre. Now we're bringing it home to the Pacific Theatre stage, and in our intimate setting this year we can make room for only 5,000. As a subscriber, you'll be guaranteed your favourite seats.

Pacific Theatre's remarkable two-actor adaptation retains all the magic of the enchanting C.S. Lewis novel, which has been rated the best-loved and most widely-read children's novel of the twentieth century. For good reason - a profoundly insightful story of sacrifice and redemption, and the finest expression of the "baptized imagination" of its author, the book holds as broad an appeal for adults as it does for children.

A massive large-cast version of this story with all the theatrical tricks we could muster wouldn't engage the imaginations and hearts of an audience in the powerful way of the original story. This adaptation, utterly faithful to the novel, places its story firmly in the imagination of the audience, wrapping them in the wonders of the tale as they work together with the actors to create the world of Narnia.

Don't worry: nothing gimmicky. You stay in your seats, and nobody waves a magic wand and asks you to imagine that you're a tree. But as Lucy and Peter, reunited in Uncle Digory's house several years after their Narnia adventures, remember together the story of their time in the land where "it's always winter but never Christmas," the viewer is drawn into the world of their story as powerfully and irresistably as the two Pevensie children.

What a joy is was In 1998 to see four- and five-year-old children leaning forward in their seats, utterly enraptured from start to finish. To talk to their big brothers and sisters at intermission, as engrossed in the sheer adventure of the tale as thoroughly as the little ones. To read letters and emails from their parents (and other grown-up children!) who had been moved to tears by the power of this deeply True tale. Our Vancouver premiere featured Anthony F. Ingram and Miriam Brown (now Miriam Gutierrez), a production so popular that we chose to remount it in 2003, this time at the Norman Rothstein Theatre. Morris Ertman directed Anthony F. Ingram and Tiffany Lyndall Knight in the production that was seen by 11,000 patrons at our weekend and evening performances, and I helmed the daytime cast featuring Julia Mackey and Paul Moniz da Sa (who won a Jessie award for his performance) - they played for an additional 11,000 school children from all over the Lower Mainland and even Washington State.

Anthony F. Ingram, Tiffany Lyndall Knight

This year Kerry Vander Griend is in the director's chair, chosen for the wonderfully theatrical and entertaining vision he brought to such PT shows as CHICKENS and THE FARNDALE CHRISTMAS CAROL - also, he's got two kids of his own! And you'll be wowed by the chemistry between cast members Donna Lea Ford (you've seen her in CARIBOO MAGI and THE NERD) and Kyle Rideout (HALO, BEGGARS, FARNDALE, and a long list of Bard and Playhouse productions) - just watching them in auditions was a thrill.

We really do encourage you to take out a season subscription this year, so you don't miss even the shows with hard-to-get tickets. Subscribe now, the shows are already marked on your calendar, and other things just fit around those amazing evenings of theatre. Wait to pick up tickets one show at a time, they'll pass by - or be sold out - more times than not.

Book yourself a trip to Narnia - a return to your own childhood, a journey of the imagination, an encounter with "a deeper magic."


To subscribe...
call our box office: 604.731.5518
download a subscription form to mail or fax
email us for help:

Dec 6: Christmas at the Chan Centre, TWU Choirs

Hands down, the most glorious Christmas event in the city. (Now, the coolest Christmas event in the city is CHRISTMAS PRESENCE, but this is undoubtedly the most glorious. And anyhow, CHRISTMAS PRESENCE doesn't open til a week later...) Tickets go very fast.

Tickets are on sale now.

Christmas at the Chan Centre
Sunday, December 6 at 2:30 pm
Chan Shun Concert Hall
Presented by Trinity Western University Choirs

Wes Janzen, conductor and Artistic Director

With full orchestra plus
Langley Fine Arts School Senior Choir, Jim Sparks director
Pacific Mennonite Children’s Choir, Kim Janzen and Sonja Fast directors

Glorious singing, symphonic carol arrangements, Christmas carol sing-alongs, Bach Christmas highlights and more.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Reason To Subscribe #3: Your theatre needs you!

Okay, we'll admit: we're facing some pretty severe financial challenges at Pacific Theatre. We're not exactly fighting for our life - rest assured, we'll keep the doors open - but maybe it's about right to say it's the fight of our life. But we've decided, rather than ask everybody for donations - the same "everybody" who's being asked for more donations by all the other arts groups and charities and schools and other panhandlers who are also in tough times - we've decided to focus on getting our friends to come visit us. Do yourself a favour - subscribe to our best, most soul-sustaining season ever! Do us a favour - fill our seats, and help us keep the lights on!

If we can double our number of subscribers this season, we'll be fine. If the people who've seen our shows and loved them and told themselves "I need to come to the theatre more often!" would take the step of subscribing this season... If folks who've subscribed in the past and taken a break from season tickets in the past couple seasons would renew... We would earn our way through these challenging times, and instead of wearying our loyal friends with a "Brother can you spare a dime" litany, we'd be enriching their lives and building for the future. Like we've done for 25 years.

Skip this next paragraph if you've had enough belly-aching about financial hard times. But I know some of you want to know exactly how Pacific Theatre is faring in this present economy, so... Tough summer. A long-time corporate supporter had to cut our summer funding in half, from $15,000 to $7500. A wonderful local foundation which has provided corporate sponsorship for two of our mainstage productions and intended to do so annually could not send us their usual $10,000 summer grant because their investment revenue had flattened due to the worldwide economy. A local company that's very close to us raised their funding from $15,000 to $20,000, which is wonderful: unfortunately, that money will arrive in $5,000 instalments through April. Similarly, Canada Council increased our annual support by $5000, but instead of $25,000 in July we received $15,000, with the balance not coming until November. The individual donor who pledged to match all our donor revenue through to the end of August pulled his support: a shock, because we did have a written commitment for that money, but clearly he had pressing reasons: another $25,000 lost. We were also optimistic, after receiving a detailed letter of suggestions from B.C. Access following our unsuccessful first application in 2008, that this year's request would be granted: we asked $70,000, tentatively budgeted for $25,000. All new and one-year gaming applications have been refused. We also applied to Gaming (the only provincial source for capital funding) for $20,000 for desperately needed theatre renovations: same answer. And our request for summer funding to Cultural Spaces Canada to replace a lighting board on its last legs and renovate our sagging seating has been deferred to November. Looking to the future, North America's largest municipal foundation, The Vancouver Foundation, who faithfully fund us every second year, had to decline our request for $15,000 toward REFUGE OF LIES: their grant revenue is derived from interest on investments, and the cupboard is bare. The budget of the BC Arts Council is being slashed to about 10% of current levels over the next two years: presumably, the $25,000 we receive annually will shrink to less than three grand. Bottom line: this summer alone, $72,500 of customary revenue lost or deferred, plus $95,000 of hoped-for funding no longer available or deferred. An astonishing set-back for a theatre of our size: rather suddenly, our September cupboards are pretty darn bare.

No despair. For 25 years, Pacific Theatre has weathered many such storms, and kept on producing plays to feed the souls of our audience. We've got theatre artists who are determined to create theatre, and - thanks to Holy Trinity Anglican Church - we've got a theatre to do it in. Our core staff - Alison, Frank, me - were galvanized through the challenges this spring brought us, and with the addition of Andrea Loewen as our idea-brimming, new-media-savvy publicist and Cindy McPherson as our crackerjack new "Business Nerd" (her preferred title), as well as four energized new apprentices, it's full speed ahead.

Now all we've got to do is sell those tickets.

If you're as old as me, you maybe took typing class in high school. (If you're as old as my daughters, you were probably born typing - if "LOL" and "ROTFL" count...) I remember one excercise Mr Desaulniers drummed into us, clattering away on our Selectric keyboards: "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party." (Heck, my fingers remember it even now, as I type on this little silver slab of computer). To update that 35 years, let me rephrase: "Now is the time for all good fans to come to the party!"

Please subscribe. If your schedule changes and you can't make your night, subscribers get to change nights for free as often as they want. If there's a show that's not your style, give the tickets to somebody: you'll make your friends very happy, and win more fans for our theatre! Get the Everything Pass, and see any show as many times as you like! (See PASSION PROJECT at 7:00, immerse yourself in 35 minutes of NYC performance intensity, then immediately book your tickets for the 9:00 show, hit a Granville Street cafe for coffee and art talk, then see the show again at 9:00 and glory in its richness and spiritual impact. Share in the excitement of an Opening Night subscription - stay for the reception, eat goodies, meet the actors, schmooze with the creative team. See ten different shows of every kind - comedy, musical theatre, drama, edgy new stuff and beloved favourites, family fare and blow-the-walls-out innovation, readings and music and premieres and Christmas and....

PRESENCE (this week! Musicians! Plays, novels, poems, stories - Nick Hornby, Douglas Coupland, Mike Mason, Annie Dillard, A.J. Jacobs, Brother Lawrence, more!). THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT (if live theatre was baseball, this would be the All-Star Game!). THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE (our most popular show ever - back in the intimacy of Pacific Theatre). CHRISTMAS PRESENCE (always sold out in advance - to subscribers!). THE PASSION PROJECT (only 40 tickets per performance, part of the Cultural Olympiad! and PuSH Festival!). I WAS MEANT FOR THE STAGE (a celebration of the theatrical life). REFUGE OF LIES (the Vancouver premiere of my best play, fresh from its Off-Broadway run!). SIDESHOW (gut-busting comedy improv for the whole family). GODSPELL (Singing! Dancing! Sheep! Goats! "Prepare Ye!")

If there was a Canada Soul Food Guide, regular visits to Pacific Theatre would ensure a hearty and well-balanced diet, exceeding Recommended Daily Allowances in all categories.



To subscribe...
call our box office: 604.731.5518
download a subscription form to mail or fax
email us for help:

Starts Oct 15: Study Shakespeare with Craig Erickson!

A core member of Pacific Theatre's loosely defined acting company, you've seen Craig in GOD'S MAN IN TEXAS, GRACE, and in numerous leading roles at Bard On The Beach and indie productions like Jack Paterson's Shakespeare shows at Jericho. He also teaches acting at TWU, and is an inspiring, inspired teacher. I strongly suggest you give these classes a shot!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sep 22 - Oct 3: Anthony F. Ingram in FROZEN

shameless hussy productions presents
By Bryony Lavery, Directed by Renée Iaci
September 22 - October 3, 2009 VANCOUVER PREMIERE

"A big, brave, compassionate play about grief, revenge, forgiveness and bearing the unbearable." - New York Times

One evening ten-year-old Rhona goes missing. Her mother, Nancy, retreats into a state of frozen hope. Agnetha, an American academic, comes to England to research a thesis: "Serial Killing—A Forgivable Act?" Then there's Ralph, a loner who's looking for some distraction. Drawn together by horrific circumstances, these three embark on a harrowing, strangely beautiful and cathartic journey. Angry, humane and compassionate, Frozen is an extraordinary play that entwines the lives of a murderer, the mother of one of his victims and his psychologist, to explore our capacity for forgiveness, remorse and change after an act that would seem to rule them out entirely.

(Stage Management by Lois Dawson!)

2 for 1 & $5 Students: Sept. 22, 23 & 29,
Opening Night: Thurs. Sept. 24,
Matinee: Oct. 3 @ 2pm,
Curtain: Mon. - Sat. @ 7:30 pm nightly, Tickets:
Box Office: 604.822.2678 | More:

Reason To Subscribe #2: JUDAS = Butt-Kickin' Theology!

Halfway between Heaven and Hell, in a place called Hope, history’s most infamous sinner stands trial. In a court room that’s as much ghetto as gospel, the witnesses are called – Mother Teresa, Pontius Pilate, Sigmund Freud, a foul-mouthed Saint Monica, a high school football coach, a handful of Jesus’ disciples – to decide eternal questions of forgiveness, mercy, and eternal damnation. Wildly funny, scathingly provocative.
October 7-17

To subscribe...
call our box office: 604.731.5518
download a subscription form to mail or fax
email us for help:

If you've read the cast list, you already have thirteen compelling reasons to subscribe: the most amazing roster of Vancouver's A-list actors you're likely to see on one stage. (At least, on one stage that's 20 feet square!). Katharine Venour and Sarah Afful (NEWLY ADDED TO THE CAST!), Michael Kopsa, Bob Frazer, Alexa Devine, Anthony F. Ingram, Denis Simpson, Dawn Petten, Camyar Chai, Susan Hogan, Marcus Youssef, Kevin McNulty... (And I'm in it too.) And now I can also add our new apprentice Benjamin Miller to the list. We'll have ourselves a time! (Did you see 12 ANGRY MEN? Then you'll remember the extraordinary experience of witnessing a staged reading such as this one: a stage jam-packed with professional performers working in the moment, scripts in hand - the marvel of seeing those scripts all but disappear as theatrical discoveries are made moment-to-moment in front of your eyes.)

Another reason I could have mentioned (but won't) is that this play is funny. Funny, funny, funny. F U N N Y. I saw a production in Orlando in June, and I howled. Embarrassingly. Barked, snorted, guffawed, eeked. It's brash, in your face, smart as hell ("smart as purgatory?"), I-can't-believe-I'm-laughing hilarious. Until it breaks your heart.

But those AREN'T the reasons I'm going to trot out today. Because you've already heard those ones. What I'm going to dangle in front of you today is... Theology.

Oh my gosh. Your head will spin. All your qualms, questions, ponderings, doubts and frustrations about heaven and hell, damnation and salvation, the Synoptic Problem and the eternal communion of the saints and sinners... It's all here.

Director Stephen Drover and I are each devouring copies of "A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas, and Life's Big Questions" by James Martin, SJ. Father Martin is a priest in a New York parish who one day found himself on the other end of the phone line with Sam Rockwell, whom he'd never met. (You know, Sam Rockwell. Matchstick Men, Heist, Galaxy Quest, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Frost/Nixon, Moon, Lawn Dogs, Box Of Moonlight, Basquiat, Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - he played Zaphod Beeblebrox). "I'm playing Judas in this play. Can you answer a few questions?"

Then it was Stephen Adley Guirgis ("the best playwright in America under forty" - New York Times). Then Philip Seymour Hoffman (I won't bother listing his credits, except to say he was working on CAPOTE at the time). Then Eric Bogosian. Then the rest of the members of LAByrinth, New York's most exciting theatre company.

So Martin was invited to become the "theological consultant" for THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT in the six months of its development that led up to its New York premiere. In fact, he was eventually invited to join the company: not as an actor, but as something of a priest-in-residence!

His book, a memoir of sorts, is jam-packed with personal anecdotes, New Testament history, lively theology, and the awestruck musings of a backstage priest who's new to the world of live theatre. A wonderful read! I've ordered five copies to share around, and CAN'T STAND THE THOUGHT THAT ANYBODY WILL MISS A PLAY SO RICHLY THEOLOGICAL, SO WILDLY ENTERTAINING, SO PERSONALLY CHALLENGING AND SO SPIRITUALLY MOVING.

It runs only two weeks. Ten performances. By the time reviews run in the papers, it may be too late to get a ticket. PLEASE don't miss it!


And here are a few pages from "A Jesuit Off-Broadway" - not the theological part, but a beguiling introduction.

Click on pages below for larger image...

For further reading, a significant portion of the book is posted at Google Books.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reason To Subscribe #1: PRESENCE Next Weekend!

On the eve of the launch of the season that I personally consider our most exciting season ever - I know that sounds like hype, but look at the line-up and decide for yourself - we're working hard to make sure people don't miss a minute. So over the next ten days we'll be giving you... Ten Reasons To Subscribe To Pacific Theatre's 26th Season.

To subscribe...
call our box office: 604.731.5518
download a subscription form to mail or fax
email us for help:

Reason number one to subscribe - and to subscribe NOW! - is to experience our first "non-Christmas CHRISTMAS PRESENCE" in years.

No time to waste: three nights only, Thursday and Friday (Sep 24/25) at Pacific Theatre, Saturday (Sep 26) on the North Shore. These events are always amazing - and probably our best-kept secret. (So let's break it, shall we?) I'm not just selling here, these are often our hottest ticket, and many sell out - crazy, seat-of-the-pants mash-ups of music, scenes and monologues from plays, stories, poetry, humour, reminiscence, different every night. At Christmas, obviously, the gig is all about the season, but these non-seasonal ones are fantastic freewheeling opportunities for our astonishing line-up of musicians to cut loose, and for me to bring you some new spoken word treasures. The latest in a glorious series that includes PASSION, TESTIMONY and CONFESSION.

Normally we don't say in advance who's playing what night - mostly because things change at the last minute and we don't want anybody disappointed! But for PRESENCE we're making an exception - no idea why. Check out the list of who's performing when below to be sure you don't miss your favorite artists.

Carolyn Arends is a long-time Pacific Theatre favourite, with a huge and enthusiastic international following. What's new this fall is that Carolyn is fresh from the recording studio, laying down tracks for a new album! Rumour is that Thursday night she'll be performing several of those for the first time in public! And she'll be joined by mando man, fiddle fellow, guitar guy Spencer Capier (COTTON PATCH GOSPEL, DREAMS OF KINGS & CARPENTERS, etc.)

Pictured above with his band ("The Left" - part of The Peak's Performance Challenge), Kevin Gau is brand new to the Pacific Theatre stage! Our musical director and resident jazz pianist Nelson Boschman is pretty stoked: "Kevin is the front man for THE LEFT - a great new addition for the PT roster. I've known him since he was about 10...amazing talent, great voice, hard worker, sweetest guy on the planet. He knows Jer & Sher and a few other regulars. THE LEFT won the CFOX Seeds competition a few years ago and are now working on a pretty major studio project. Check out their stuff!"

Anna Vandas. Wow. Check out my enthusings from late August, when I first learned of some of the new artists who'd be joining us. Anna's magical video speaks for itself!

Also raved in that previous post is Peter La Grand, whose songs have been sung at PT shows before (though not by Peter - he's that highly-regarded a songwriter), and who shared the concert stage with Miriam Jones early this summer, but who makes his PT Season debut with PRESENCE. Fun moment in the office yesterday: I get an email from Peter and tell Andrea I'm forwarding it to her so she can get him some promo materials for the show, and one of our new apprentices goes "Peter La Grand? Peter La Grand? I listen to him all the time on web radio! He's got this amazing song about Judas they're always playing. That Peter La Grand? Whoa." So here's a link to some PLG internet radio...

I'm out of time, so it's up to you to click on the links below to find out more about Russ Rosen, Michael Hart, Jonathan Anderson (of Jonathan, Inc), Sheree Plett, Jeremy Eisenhauer (JESUS MY BOY), and our amazing house band...

Thu Sep 24
Anna Vandas
Carolyn Arends & Spencer Capier
Peter La Grand
Jonathan Anderson

Fri Sep 25
Sheree Plett
Jeremy Eisenhaur
Michael Hart
Anna Vandas
Peter La Grand

Sat Sep 26
(ON THE NORTH SHORE! Sutherland Church, 630 E 19 St, N Van))
Kevin Gau
Russ Rosen
Anna Vandas

The Band
Becca Robertson (bass)
Brett Ziegler (keyboard)
Rick Colhoun (drums)
Kenton Wiens (drums)
Nelson Boschman (piano)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Boring, Terrible Stuff: BC Arts Still Under Seige

A snapshot of the financial challenges Pacific Theatre, along with the rest of British Columbia's arts community, is facing at present.

Back at the end of August, British Columbians were shocked to learn that the Liberal government had slashed all Access BC funding to arts groups in the province. (Access BC distributes the revenues from gaming in British Columbia: since this policy was instituted, gaming has become the de facto source of funding for arts groups in our province, taking the place of any increase to the BC Arts Council during those years). Less than a week after this announcement, the government partially reversed its decision, choosing to honour its written commitment to groups which had been provided with three-year funding commitments, but still falling far short of it's commitment to direct at least one third of revenues from the "social ill" of casinos and other gaming to "socially beneficial" organizations such as arts groups. But single-year recipients and new applicants (such as Pacific Theatre) remain completely frozen out of this funding stream.

On other fronts, the news is equally bad. At present, the Liberal government intends to slash funding to the BC Arts Council, the key provincial body responsible for managing arts funding (see figures below). British Columbia already has the lowest level of support for the performing arts of any province in Canada, and even in the face of serious economic difficulties in provinces such as Ontario, no other Canadian province is resorting to a reduction in arts spending to deal with present fiscal challenges. Even the federal Conservatives strengthened their support to the arts during 2009, extending for three years their increased commitment to the Canada Council For The Arts. Mr. Campbell stands alone.

It is true that current economic realities call for sacrifices from every sector. But a detailed statistical analysis of the provincial budget reveals that these devastating cuts to Provincial arts funding massively exceed the cuts to funding in any other sector: "There are 114 items in the budget with expenditures of $1M or higher. Arts & Culture funding moves from the 57th highest expenditure at 19.5M in 2008/2009 to the 100th highest expenditure in 2009/2010 with less than 3.7M in funding. When the 114 expenditures are ranked by gain or loss, the picture becomes even more clear. With a loss of more than 80%, Arts & Culture suffers the second worst cuts - with the worst being another Arts-related line item (BC Arts & Culture Endowment Special Account)!"

Click on chart for large format view

Diane Brown of Ruby Slippers (who directed our premiere of CARIBOO MAGI) has written clearly and passionately about the current realities, and suggests steps forward. While her company's multi-year funding was restored, she continues to advocate for fair treatment of other organizations, and to call for some sort of sustainable plan for arts funding in our province.

Here's Diane...
We are artists, cultural workers and supporters of a civil society, and we call on all those who believe in the value of arts and culture in our communities. Join us in bringing public attention to the recently announced, brutal cuts to our sector by the BC government.

Despite recent announcements reinstating funding to multi-year clients of Gaming grants, funding to the arts and culture sector has NOT been restored; the provincial government is planning to cut over 80% of what has consisted of only 1/20th of 1% of the provincial budget.

According to our most recent sources, 85%-92% of core provincial funding for arts and culture will be cut by 2012, from both tax-based and non-tax-based [gaming] streams. The arts and cultural sector is bearing the brunt of discretionary cuts compared with other areas. During this economic crisis we are willing to make reasonable sacrifices, but cannot accept outright decimation of the sector.

Total support for arts and culture organizations in BC from 2008-2012, including all sources (Gaming, BC Arts and Culture Special Endowment, Direct taxpayer investment) are:
2008/2009 – 47.8 million
2009/2010 – 42.219 million (as of February)
2009/2010 – 23.075 million (suddenly, as of September)
2010/2011 – 3.749 million (not including Gaming funds)
2011/2012 – 3.675 million (not including Gaming funds)

No other province in Canada has reduced support for the arts sector, a sector that, according to government statistics, produces significant returns on investment. This is a sector that creates both social and economic capital. The arts are a critical part of many stimulus strategies being enacted around the world.

Most Western governments are recognizing the importance of investing in the Arts and Cultural sector as part of economic stimulus that creates jobs, attracts skilled workers and entrepreneurs, supports cultural tourism, and which lies at the core of the Creative Industries such as Film, Media, and Design. Investing in the arts and culture is investing in our future.
  • Every dollar invested by the provincial dollar in the arts and cultural organizations returns between $1.05 and $1.36 directly to provincial treasuries through tax revenues (Ministry of Tourism, Culture & The Arts)
  • The City of Vancouver concluded that every dollar spent on arts and cultural activity by the City resulted in almost twelve dollars in economic activity (2007 Cultural Plan)
  • BC has the largest percentage of its labour force in arts occupations from among the 10 provinces (Hill Strategies)
  • The BC arts, culture, and heritage industries generate 80,000 jobs in the Creative sector and $5.2 billion annually (Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture Service Plans)
  • UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta ) suggests that the cultural sector will grow by 4% between 2009 and 2013 - double the estimate for the rest of the economy
  • The second pillar of the Olympic Games is Culture; maintaining investment in the sector will allow BC to fulfill its commitments to the Winter Games and to meet its related goals of increasing Cultural Tourism and leaving a legacy in communities across the province.

Write to your MLA describing why culture matters to you. Encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to do the same. Be civil and passionate. Most elected officials are people in our communities who are trying to do a good job, and need to be reminded about what is important to us. Help us remind them.

Write to your MLA
Write your City Councillors
Write the Premier's office -
Write the Minister of Finance -
Write the Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts -

Connect with your local arts and cultural organizations to volunteer or make a donation.

Visit the Alliance for Arts and Culture website to keep informed and connected.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Oct 10: Rickie Lee Jones, "Balm In Gilead"

"Rickie Lee Jones has been a restless artist since her debut album in 1979. This fall, she releases her twelfth album, Balm In Gilead (Oct 20), a collection of originals that continues in the same spiritual vein as her last record, Sermon on Exposition Boulevard." New Yorker

"Balm in Gilead is an extraordinary collection of emotionally powerful, texturally rich and endearing songs, many of which have been 'incubating' with Jones over the last several decades.
This record is unique because most of it was written over the last 20 years," she says. "All the other records, I've written in a year or two or three after finishing the previous one. This one has threads from many, many years. Some were just written recently, most were finished recently but started a long time ago. 'Wild girl,' for example, which ended up being about my daughter, was started before Flying Cowboys, and it was waiting all these years to finish. For me, the album feels close to a debut, because the only time you ever have to spend all these years writing a song is your first record, right?
Balm in Gilead's songs flow easily through its roots and soul fabric; it reflects the lifetime work of a woman, whose very name is a genre. She's joined on the record by Ben Harper, Jon Brion, Vic Chesnutt, Bill Frisell, Victoria Williams and Alison Krauss among other highly talented friends."

"The song Rehab is possibly inspired by American playwright Lanford Wilson’s own Balm In Gilead, a 1965 production that centres on a New York café that plays host to thieves, heroin addicts, and male and female prostitutes. And, of course, given the biblical nature of her last work, The Sermon On Exposition Boulevard, the relevance of the album title to the Book of Jeremiah is clear."

Oct 13: Bob Dylan Christmas Album

"Bob Dylan will confound both his fans and his detractors with Christmas in the Heart (Oct 13), a collection of traditional holiday songs that will benefit the hunger charity Feeding America." New Yorker

"The collection will feature holiday standards including Must Be Santa, Little Drummer Boy, Winter Wonderland and Here Comes Santa Claus.” Rolling Stone

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mike Mason Website Launch! "The Blue Umbrella" Coming Soon!!

Wowie Zowie! On the eve of the release of his remarkable new book "The Blue Umbrella" (coming in October), local writer Mike Mason has just launched a new website, and it's swell. ("Purveyor of fine sentences" indeed!)

How about this? The new site's got...
"A trailer of The Blue Umbrella!
An audio interview!
Slide show!
Tons of pix just like in a glossy magazine!
Exclusive Web Only material!
Unpublished short stories!
Blog Page!
Excerpts from 2 books-in-progress!
And much, much more!"

Lots of Pacific Theatre / Soul Food connections here. I met Mike back in the earliest days of PT's history, through Loren Wilkinson at Regent College. We became friends, and collaborated on turning his book of short stories "The Furniture of Heaven" into a theatre piece. "Furniture" was one of our first Emerging Artist showcases, featuring - can you believe it! - Lucia Frangione (ESPRESSO, CARIBOO MAGI, CHICKENS, HOLY MO, etc, etc - at that time our first PT apprentice), Craig Erickson (before theatre school, Stratford, Shaw, Bard On The Beach, or GOD'S MAN IN TEXAS, GRACE, etc, etc), Anita Wittenberg (before I AM THE BROTHER OF DRAGONS, Chemainus Theatre, AGNES OF GOD, MOURNING DOVE, etc, etc), Karen Ydenberg (before she was an opera star), John Hetherington (DRAGONS PROJECT, etc) and Andrea Smith (YOU STILL CAN'T, WRINKLE IN TIME, and half a zillion other Stones Throw shows). Crazy.

Mike and I ended up in a writers group together - still going strong - and fellow WG member Tim Anderson (DREAMS OF KINGS AND CARPENTERS) not only designed Mike's new website, but helped us choose one of my photos for the cover of the reissued book - which tickles me to no end. (I'll put up the alternate cover ideas over at the Oblations blog - again, lots more threads leading back to Pacific Theatre or our writers group).

But what's most exciting in all of this is Mike's new book, "The Blue Umbrella." (Who knew novels had trailers? Love the narrator!)

Mike's been mostly known for his non-fiction, books like the classic "The Mystery Of Marriage," "Practising The Presence of People" (hoping to coax Mike into reading an excerpt at PRESENCE), "Champagne For The Soul," "The Gospel According To Job," and lots more. But a few years ago he returned to his first love and started work on a novel. Our writers group was frankly astonished: Mike's writing is always strong, but this book is truly something remarkable. The story is gripping, the prose is extraordinary: I think this book is going to be read by a lot of people, for a long time. After hearing it grow, chapter by chapter, over the months and years, I can't wait to hold the real thing in my hands! And settle in to read it all over again.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sept. 14th: Collier, Young, Conway Memorial Fundraiser

Frequent PT performer Julia Mackey (last seen in HOLY MO) is putting on her stellar one-woman show JAKE'S GIFT to raise funds for the Collier, Young, Conway Memorial Fund. It's an absolutely beautiful show, and for a fantastic cause. Don't miss it! Please check out to learn more about the fund.

Jake's Gift
The Cultch (1895 Venables St.)
Monday, Sept. 14th at 8pm

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Province Without Art

People are gathering at the Art Gallery today, dressed in grey, to protest the chaos in BC's provincial arts funding. In case I don't make it - not sure I have any grey in my closet - here's the word from film maker Steven Soderbergh...

"I want to thank anyone who spends part of their day creating. I don't care if it's a book, a film, a painting, a dance, a piece of theatre, a piece of music. Anybody who spends part of their day sharing their experience with us. I think this world would be unliveable without art . . . Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for this."

Steven Soderbergh, Oscar acceptance speech

Rory Holland comments on the arts in BC

The Arts
Rory Holland, An Examined Life

Maybe, by mistake, Colin Hansen, the Finance Minister in BC did the Arts community a favour this week by drastically reducing their funding in this budget and his promise to pretty much cut funding in the future.

By doing so he has forced the issue for us, the citizens of this province.

Everywhere you go in British Columbia Art is all around. Artists, working for often less than minimum wage, labour on our behalf through words, pictures, music, or movement trying to decipher and communicate meaning. Art is not the message, but the messenger.

Without the voice of the messenger what happens?

The thing about Art is that it’s quiet. It just goes about its business with little fanfare. Everyday thousands of British Columbians experience some form of art public or paid for. What impact does that have on their workplaces, or their families, or their interactions at the grocery store?

We might only realize its importance in its absence.

Since the funding cuts were made public the protest has not come from us, who benefit from the art, but from the artists themselves. Who is standing with them? Are we implicitly agreeing with the government through our silence?

Colin Hansen has come out of the closet and boldly stated what has been the underlying, disappointing truth. We don’t value art.

Auditions for Doerksen musical, PRODIGAL GOD

A number of PT actors have been involved over the past few years in workshops developing Brian Doerksen's new musical, PRODIGAL GOD - Morris Ertman, Katharine Venour, Craig Erickson, Thomas Gage, moi. Now they're shooting for a premiere during the Olympics, and auditions are on...

Friday, September 04, 2009

Sept. 10-20: The Saddest Girl in the World

Former Pacific Theatre apprentice Tina Teeninga will be performing her own one-woman show THE SADDEST GIRL IN THE WORLD at the Fringe! Co-directed by Dirk VanStralen (who you may have seen in THE WOODSMAN) and Kathy Parsons (A BRIGHT PARTICULAR STAR), this is one to watch! Check out her press release below...

IN SHORT: Natya dreams of far-off homeland. Ava dreams of jewels. Laura dreams of joining the corporate ladder. 10 characters and one actor showcase a gem of a story about immigration, ethnic misconceptions, and the follies of the big city. Runs: September 10th-20th, Carousel Theatre’s Studio Space. For tickets e-mail or visit Vancouver Fringe Festival Box Office.

««««! Teeninga holds our attention with her talent alone.” (WFP)
Winnipeg critics and audiences alike praise Otherwise Productions’ The Saddest Girl in the World

Vancouver, BC - September 10th-20th, as part of Vancouver International Fringe Festival

The Saddest Girl in the World received multiple accolades from critics at its world premiere in Winnipeg:««««! Teeninga accomplishes an impressive feat… she expertly delineates the two characters, switching between them every few minutes….she wrings actual suspense from her humanistic story and displays a poet's gift for simile…she holds our attention with her talent alone” (Winnipeg Free Press). ««««! Teeninga moves effortlessly from optimist to pessimist to realist, trading accents almsot by the minute. A journey worth taking" (Winnipeg Sun).

Audience members also responded with enormous excitement: “"If you're interested in experiencing a masterfully crafted story, or you simply want to see a talented performer at work—engaging the audience and making it look easy—then I highly recommend this one. Don't miss it!" (Cory Wreggitt). "Teeninga's creative energy brings to life the beauty of innocence, the pain of experience, and the reality of cultural tensions. Very engaging!!" (Loewen).

This touching, hopeful piece is co-directed by Dirk VanStralen (The Woodsman, Cariboo Magi) and Kathy Parsons (A Bright Particular Star), who also dramaturged the play.