Touchstone Theatre announces Artistic Director Katrina Dunn will leave the company at the end of the 2016/17 Season

February 10th, 2016

Touchstone’s long-time Artistic Director Katrina Dunn has announced that the upcoming 2016/17 producing season will be her final with the company. 2016/17 will be her 20th season for Touchstone, and a fitting milestone to pass the torch to a new artistic leader. The search for the new Artistic Director will begin immediately, with the hiring process taking place over the summer of 2016. The plan is for substantial overlap of the incoming and outgoing ADs over 2016/17, to ensure a smooth transition for the company.

Katrina Dunn headshot cropped to shape

The fifth Artistic Director of Touchstone, Katrina’s many accomplishments over her tenure have had a substantial impact on Touchstone, as well as on the Arts in Vancouver in general. Taking over the company in 1997, she seeded more new play development at Touchstone. These efforts led to the premiere of Kevin Kerr’s Unity (1918) in 2001, which went on to win the Governor Generals Award for English Drama in 2002, as well other fine plays such as Shawn Macdonald’s Prodigal Son in 2006 and Janet Munsil’s Influence in 2008. In 2003 she co-founded the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival with Norman Armour, which has gone on to become one of Vancouver’s signature Arts events. In 2008 she launched Touchstone’s Flying Start program (with Playwrights Theatre Centre and the Firehall Arts Centre), which is unique in Canada and gives development and a premiere production to a new local playwright. In 2011 she created In Tune with the Arts Club Theatre Company’s Rachel Ditor, to forward the cause of the Canadian musical. In 2014, through her collaboration with the leaders of PuSh, DOXA and Music on Main, Touchstone found a new home at The Post at 750, a multi-disciplinary creative hub in the heart of Vancouver’s downtown.

She has been nominated seven times for Jessie Awards in Outstanding Direction for Touchstone shows, winning once for her work on Michael Healey’s Kicked in 2001, and once for her co-direction of Judith Thompson’s Palace of the End in 2009. In 2010 she was thrilled to receive the Bra D’Or Award from the Women’s Caucus of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, for promoting the work of women playwrights.

Katrina said of her departure, “I have one of the best jobs in Canadian theatre. It’s been a pleasure to program for Touchstone, and to help the company grow in collaboration with the amazing artists, staff, and board members who have given so much of themselves over the years. I can’t wait to watch a new vision usher the company into its fifth decade of production.” Katrina is planning to pursue freelance work, graduate studies, and increased family time after her departure from Touchstone.

Touchstone’s Board of Directors is leading the search process and garnering input from representatives of the local theatre community. The job posting can be found on Touchstone’s website at www.touchstonetheatre.com/staff-board. The closing date for the search is April 30th 2016.

FOR MORE INFO, PHOTOS, INTERVIEWS
PLEASE CONTACT: ANNIE JANG, MARKETING AND ADMINISTRATIVE COORDINATOR
PHONE: 604-709-9973 ext. 103  EMAIL: admin@touchstonetheatre.com

Congrats to the 2015 Winner of Touchstone’s Studio 58 Scholarship!

January 5th, 2016
Jessica Wagstaff

Jessica Wagstaff, photo by Pink Monkey Studios.

Touchstone is thrilled to congratulate the most recent winner of the Studio 58 Touchstone Theatre Scholarship – Jessica Wagstaff. Jessica says: “it means so much to me to be recognized for my progress and growth in this program . . . This scholarship allows me to not worry about my finances as much and really focus on my schooling and doing the best work I am capable of“. Thanks Jessica – we love actors!

The first in our 40th Anniversary Stories, early Touchstoner Jon Loptson give us a classic “trying to get the set through the theatre doors” story

December 11th, 2015
John Taylor in The Unseen Hand (618x800)

John Taylor brandishing a gun in The Unseen Hand

A short tale about the mounting of The Unseen Hand at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.

The loading entrance to the Cultural Centre in 1978 was 2 double doors, but importantly, they were offset. They were not in alignment and there were 3 or 4 steps up to the landing. I’m not sure, but I think it was John Carral who found an old rusting torpedo back forty something shell of a car – Pontiac or Oldsmobile and had it delivered to the back yard of the house I was renting. I had done a rough measurement and said words to the effect – oh yeah, no problem, we’ll be able to get it in. I hired a welder to cut the car – basically in half – though not quite, more ¾ and ¼. Then I bolted the two sections together and towed it, using my car. I had asked a few of the guys who were working on the show to help with the load-in. The Unseen Hand card We built a wooden ramp up the steps and I used my car to push it up. I unbolted the section which had previously been cut and then we tried to push it through the doors. If those doors had been in a straight line, it would have been a piece of cake. For what seemed like hours, but was probably much less, everyone was sweaty and annoyed and saying, “No way! Not going to fit!” I told everyone to go away, have a break and let me think. I realised that the wheel studs were the only thing that was stopping us. I unbolted the rear axle from the chassis and dropped the car on an old creeper trolley I had. (A creeper trolley is a flat wheeled platform that mechanics use to roll under a jacked up car.) Well, heck, we rolled that baby in and never touched the sides. Once in I re-assembled the beast and from the audience you couldn’t tell that it was ever in pieces, I rigged up a battery for the headlights and we were good to go, as the car was really the centrepiece of the set. I took a series of black and white photos of us trying to wrestle the car in – for the lobby display. Captions being: can they do it? with us victorious in the end!

Jon Loptson crop-Jon Loptson

Listen to Audio Documentation of our public event with Jordan Tannahill

August 28th, 2015

Thanks to everyone who came out on July 30th to our event at The Post at 750, “An Interview with the Unimpressed: Jordan Tannahill’s Multi-Faceted Artistic Practice” presented by Touchstone Theatre and the PuSh Festival and co-hosted by Artistic Director Katrina Dunn and Club PuSh Co-Curator Tim Carlson. Touchstone audiences will remember him as the playwright of Late Company, which is being remounted as part of the 40th Anniversary Season, and the 2014 recipient of the Governor General’s award for drama. He has been described by the Globe and Mail as “… the poster child of a new generation of (theatre? film? dance?) artists for whom “interdisciplinary” is not a buzzword, but a way of life.” Jordan is based in Toronto and his work runs the gamut: creating short films and media installations, running the renowned alternative arts space Videofag in partnership with William Christopher Ellis out of a storefront in Toronto’s Kensington Market, producing work with Erin Brubacher via their theatre company Suburban Beast, and developing new plays for Canadian Stage, UK’s Panic Lab, Necessary Angel/bluemouth inc. and the National Theatre School of Canada.

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In addition to having talent to burn, Jordan is a quick-wit and warm-hearted as you’ll hear as you listen the interview with Katrina and Tim. Jordan also read from his new book Theatre of the Unimpressed: In Search of Vital Drama recently published by Coach House Books. The Globe and Mail called it “…essential reading for anybody interested in the state of contemporary theatre and performance,” and described by Tim on July 30th as “a tough love survey of where Canadian theatre is in the here and now.” For his book, Jordan interviewed dozens of personalities – artists, audiences and laypeople alike – a few of whom were referenced and in the room when he read.

Katrina with New Musicals in New York

June 17th, 2015

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In October of 2014 I ventured to New York City to attend the 26th Annual NAMT (National Alliance for Musical Theatre) Festival of New Musicals, and the organization’s fall Conference. I am new with this organization, which primarily has American membership. But I was not the only Canadian there – a small but illustrious team of canucks was soaking up the energy there too – Mitchell Marcus, Robert McQueen, Ray Hogg, and Michael Rubenfeld to name a few. The whole event was impeccably organized and housed in the several venues of New World Stages. Eight new musicals were on offer, in compressed 45 minute staged reading showcases, cast with and directed by Broadway’s finest. All the showcases were in the day, as many of the performers were playing in shows around town. The skill level on display was superb and the content wide ranging. My personal favourite new work was Stu for Silverton (Book by Peter Duchan, Music and Lyrics by Breedlove) – the true story of America’s first transgender mayor (of Silverton, Oregon) and the community that elected him. The Conference followed the Festival directly. The keynote speaker was composer Jason Robert Brown, who spoke to the amassed musical theatre producers about the pitiable designation of musicians in the theatre as second class citizens. It was somewhat humorous, but definitely designed to provoke. Other topics of discussion at the Conference focused on things like economic models for developing new work, and diversity (or lack thereof) in musical theatre. Throughout Canadians like Michael Rubenfeld (The Canadian Musical Theatre Project) and Ray Hogg (Rainbow Stage) seemed to play a seminal role. In my very little free time I managed to catch the new musical The Fortress of Solitude at the Public Theatre. This is the endearing adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s music-geeky novel about 1970s Brooklyn, with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, and book by Itamar Moses. I thought it was excellent work. I sat behind the musical director who was in the pit conducting to three video cameras that streamed her instruction to the band behind the set. Awesome.

-Katrina

Studio 58 Scholarship Winner Announced

March 23rd, 2015
John Cook

John Cook

Touchstone is happy to announce that John Cook is the winner of the Touchstone Theatre Scholarship at Studio 58, which is given annually to a student that has shown exceptional progress. John started acting at the age of 16 at Manitoba Theatre for Young People. In the years after he formed the urban indigenous theatre company, also called (urban it). In November 2010, he won Best Actor at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco for his performance in a modern aboriginal version of Of Mice and Men. While still at Studio 58 John was one of a group of actors that participated in Touchstone’s Scene/Change online project. Check out his work at http://www.scenechangetheatre.ca. Big Congrats John!

The Road Forward Re-invigorates 1960′s Activism

February 3rd, 2015
Photo of Chief George Manual, courtesy of Doreen Manual, Constitution Express

Photo of Chief George Manual, courtesy of Doreen Manual, Constitution Express

In what promises to be an inspiring and uplifting music-theatre production, red diva projects director Marie Clements, Tuscarora musician Jennifer Kreisberg, and an all-star cast of First Nations singers have taken their inspiration from the pioneering Native Brotherhood of B.C., which actually won some of its battles against the systemic discrimination practiced a half-century ago.

Don’t expect a polemic, however: the organization’s story will be told primarily through projected visuals, while Clements and Kreisberg’s songs will focus on the positive.

“I really want audiences to take away the essence of our theme song, ‘The Road Forward’. It’s like a wiping-of-the-tears ceremony, in my opinion,” Kreisberg says, in a telephone interview from New Britain, Connecticut. “There’s got to be a new paradigm, and we have to start looking at the planet as a planet.”

Read the whole Georgia Straight article here: http://www.straight.com/arts/809471/push-festival-shows-look-back-different-sides-60s

Late Company Wows Critics and Audiences

November 26th, 2014

BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW AT

tickets.thecultch.com

(458x640) Kerry Sandomirsky-Daniel Doheny-Katharine Venour in Late Company_Photo by Tim Matheson

Kerry Sandormirsky (front), Daniel Doheny & Katharine Venour. Photo by Tim Matheson.

Late Company runs until this Sunday! Don’t miss your chance to see this play by Jordan Tannahill – a riveting story with powerful performances that you don’t want to miss.

Wednesday, November 26 – Sold Out!

Thursday, November 27, 8pm

Friday, November 28, 8 pm

Saturday, November 29, 2 pm & 8pm

Sunday, November 30, 2 pm

 


“Every so often you meet a play…that brings you to your knees. This is Late Company.”

Sasha Singer Wilson, PRISM MAGAZINE

Written by creative powerhouse Jordan Tannahill, the story is remarkably contemporary. As we reckon with the powerful tragedies of Amanda Todd, Rehtaeh Parsons and Jamie Hubley (whose 2011 suicide was the jumping off point for the play), we are forced to question our complacency regarding the young people in our communities and all that they face. How can we support the next generation? In programming Late Company as their season opener, Touchstone Theatre grants us the opportunity to engage with the transcendental power of storytelling. It’s messy, it’s painful, it’s funny and, slowly, sorrow is spun to healing right before our eyes.READ MORE.


Late Company, deftly directed by Dunn, is excruciatingly good theatre: it feels like open heart surgery. Bravos all ‘round…”

Jo Ledingham, VANCOUVER COURIER

I commend Touchstone for bringing this important play to Vancouver, and have no doubt that Late Company will have life across the country for years to come. I encourage you to book your tickets quickly and if you have a teenager in your life, consider bringing them with you. Late Company is sure to crack open meaningful conversations that are difficult to have. Bring a tissue. You’re going to need it.READ MORE.


“Everyone in the five-person cast is excellent.”

Colin Thomas, GEORGIA STRAIGHT

Gerry Mackay’s Bill is just the right combination of decency and belligerence. Katharine Venour’s Tamara broke my heart in her attentiveness to Curtis. And Daniel Doheny is spot-on as the boy: an adolescent jumble of awkwardness, intelligence, and regret.READ MORE.


“This is a must-see play… You won’t be disappointed.”

Ed Farolan, REVIEW VANCOUVER

Damn good actors–Daniel Doheny, Michael Kopsa, Gerry Mackay, Kerry Sandomirsky and Katharine Venour. And hats off to Katrina Dunn for a fine production. The intimacy of the Cultch Studio gave everyone a sense of intensity because of the closeness of the actors to the audience. Accolades to Set Designer Pam Johnson for a magnificent set and kudos to the other members of the production staff: Costume Design by Amy McDougall, Lighting Design by Adrian Muir, and Sound Design by Scott Zechner. We felt like we were right there feeling the raw emotions oozing out of these actors.READ MORE.

Check Out Our Behind-the-Scenes Video for Late Company

November 19th, 2014

Announcing Our 2014/2015 Season

September 26th, 2014