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In Memoriam: Louise Bentall

Thursday, March 30th, 2017


It is with great sadness that we announce today the heartbreaking news of the death of our dear friend and colleague, Louise Bentall. Louise passed away suddenly on Saturday March 25, 2017. We are stunned and devastated by this significant loss, and our thoughts are with Louise’s family and friends.

Louise was a fixture at Touchstone since 1998 and a most valued leader and mentor in her various positions with us. Most recently, she was our Bookkeeper, and held the position of General Manager for several years prior. Louise was an extraordinary force behind Touchstone, bringing us a wealth of knowledge through her decades of experience in the Arts, unparalleled financial acumen, and dedication to Touchstone’s endeavours. Louise was instrumental in helping us weather difficult times, from funding fluctuations to human resource transitions. Touchstone flourished and grew in large part due to Louise’s many contributions to our organization.

Louise also played a vital role in the planning and development of our shared rehearsal and administrative space The Post at 750, and the formation of the 110 Arts Cooperative with our partners PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, DOXA and Music on Main. Louise was a significant player in the vision and development of this facility that we all call home, and this achievement is demonstrative of Louise’s enormous contributions to not only Touchstone, but the Arts community of Vancouver.

Louise was an extraordinary woman who was loved by all who worked with her. She was a rock in our organization on which we came to rely. She was wise and insightful, always ready to provide sound advice with a thoughtful approach. Louise went above and beyond the call of duty, and was one who never expected or desired credit—truly, Louise was a hero behind the scenes. We will not only remember all the incredible contributions she has made to Touchstone, but also the one-of-a-kind friend and colleague we had in her. Louise was a joy to be around. We will miss everything about Louise, from the light and laughter she brought to the office, to the jingle of her jewellery as she walked. The office will not be the same without her, but we will draw strength and inspiration from her memory.

This is truly a great loss to Touchstone Theatre and our community as a whole. Though Louise will be profoundly missed by the countless people she has touched, her legacy will live on in the lives and art of her many friends and family members.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Louise at the Vancouver Rowing Club, 450 Stanley Park Dr., on Sunday April 9th. Doors will open at 12pm with the formal celebration to start at 1:30pm, followed by wine and mingling.

In lieu of flowers, donations will be accepted in Louise’s honour by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada at Cards for the family with remembrances of Louise are appreciated and can be mailed to
856 East 14th Ave., Vancouver, BC V5T 2N6.

Announcing Our Interim Artistic Director and New Artistic Associate!

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

We are so excited to be announcing two new additions to the Touchstone team! Amiel Gladstone ​joins us as ​​Interim Artistic Director​, and will remain in his role ​until the start of Roy​ Surette’s tenure​ in July of next year.​ Amiel’s long history with Touchstone and his breadth of experience make him a welcome addition as we transition to a new era​​.​ ​Through the BC Arts Council Early Career Development program, Naomi Vogt will be coming on board as A​​rtistic & Production Associate​ for our 2017 projects including development of her solo work. Please join us in welcoming them both!​ ​

AMIEL GLADSTONE – Interim Artistic DirectorAmiel-Gladstone-photo-cropped

I am very proud to be joining the Touchstone team of Laurie-Ann, Annie and Naomi. I have a long relationship with the company, and gratitude to my colleagues Katrina and Roy, both of whom have been supporters of my work for many years. I was previously Artistic Associate at the Belfry during Roy’s tenure and I look forward to ushering in the next phase at Touchstone with him.

Amiel Gladstone is a West Coast based writer and director, who has worked across the country for companies such as Alberta Theatre Projects, Arts Club, Acting Up Stage, Belfry, Caravan Farm, Centaur, Citadel, Factory, Firehall Arts Centre, National Arts Centre, Pacific Opera Victoria, Solo Collective, Touchstone Theatre, Theatre Replacement, Theatre Conspiracy, SKAM, Vancouver Opera, the Playhouse, PuSh Festival, as well as internationally in the United States, France, and Romania. Most recently, Onegin (Arts Club), Craigslist Cantata (Arts Club / PuSh), East Van Pantos  #1 and #2 (Theatre Replacement / Cultch), Are We Cool Now? (Western Canada Theatre / Cultch), Little One (Alley Theatre / Firehall), Dark Sisters (Vancouver Opera).

NAOMI VOGT – Artistic & Production AssociateNaomi-Vogt-photo-cropped

​”I feel so fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to support the work of Touchstone in this season of transition and discovery. I imagine these coming months will pose many important questions to the entire management team about how to proceed as we shift under the weight of important new expectations and challenges, and I am very grateful to be a part of these conversations (and to develop new muscles alongside the entire Touchstone crew). I have worked with Touchstone in the past and witnessed first hand the remarkable competency and commitment it takes small theatre companies to operate smoothly, and I am so excited to return to assume greater responsibility and make a larger contribution, both as an artist and administrator. I will spend a healthy portion of the next few weeks before I return determining the best way to utilize my time with my brilliant mentors Roy Surette and Amiel Gladstone. I also would like to extend my dear, dear thanks to Katrina Dunn.

Naomi is theatre-maker with a love of coastal communities and efficient public transit. She has spent the last few months exploring the East Coast, performing in the Keith’s Brewery Theatrical Tour in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Recently, she performed in the sold-out run of Babelle Theatre’s production of Movements 1 and 2. Select credits include: Faroe Islands (Dirt Road Productions), The Fourth Graders Present an Unnamed Love Suicide (Rumble Theatre) and Ubu Roi (Theatre at UBC). In various capacities, she has worked with Touchstone Theatre, Rumble Theatre, the Arts Club, Mortal Coil Performance Society, The Cultch, and many other theatre companies and presenters. She is also a host of The Storytelling Show, a Vancouver Coop Radio program that features female storytellers. She completed her BFA in acting at UBC.


Announcing Roy Surette as Touchstone’s New Artistic Director

Saturday, September 17th, 2016


Touchstone Theatre is thrilled to announce the appointment of Roy Surette as incoming Artistic Director.

The Company’s President Pamela Hawthorn spoke on behalf of the Board of Directors, saying: “Roy is one of Canada’s most respected Artistic Directors and it will be marvelous to welcome him back to the West Coast as a vital part of the Touchstone team.” Former Artistic Director Katrina Dunn added: “What Roy manifested in his early career was a huge boon to Touchstone and Vancouver theatre. In this unique story of leaving and return I believe we will see the company evolve to new levels of artistry and success.”

In the early 1980′s Roy was Associate Artistic Director for Carousel Theatre in Vancouver and Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops, B.C. He became the Artistic Director of Touchstone Theatre in 1984, directing many award-winning productions including Whale Riding Weather, Lion in the Streets, When We Were Singing, The Three Penny Opera, and The Number 14. Roy became Artistic Director for Victoria’s premier company, The Belfry Theatre, in 1997. There, Roy directed over twenty-five plays including productions of Mary’s Wedding, Homechild, A Perfect Ganesh, and Picasso at the Lapin Agile. In November 2007, Roy began his tenure as Artistic & Executive Director of Montreal’s flagship English language company, Centaur Theatre. For Centaur, Roy directed many innovative, challenging, acclaimed productions, several of which were huge box office successes of world premiere productions including The Saint Leonard Chronicles, Schwartz’s: The Musical, Last Night at the Gayety and Triplex Nervosa. Roy has directed at the National Arts Centre, The Shaw Festival, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Prairie Theatre Exchange, Alberta Theatre Projects, Axis Theatre, The Arts Club Theatre Company, Carousel Theatre, The Kay Meek Centre, The Globe Theatre, Melbourne, The Kings Theatre, Glasgow, The National Theatre School, UBC, U Vic, and Studio 58.

Roy issued a statement about this exciting appointment: “Although I have not lived in Vancouver in almost twenty years I have always considered it my home and am thrilled with this opportunity to return to the city and to the artistic community where I began my life in the theatre. To return to Touchstone is a huge gift and I am awed. I have immense respect for this dynamic and audacious company and the vital role it plays in Vancouver and the nation’s theatre ecology, and I love the myriad of ways Touchstone has evolved, matured and focused during Katrina Dunn’s impressive tenure. I adore the resilient and hugely talented West Coast artistic community, its collaborative spirit and incredible creative resourcefulness. I am very excited to begin interacting with Touchstone’s excellent staff, board and audience and to immerse myself into an innovative theatre scene that is dear to my heart. In case you can’t tell–I am looking forward to this new adventure, to returning to BC…and to enjoying ocean waves and mild winters!”

Currently finishing the 2016/17 season as the Artistic and Executive Director of the Centaur Theatre, Roy will return to family and friends in his home town of Vancouver, BC to assume the position at Touchstone full-time as of July 2017.

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

Tuesday, 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

Friday, 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

Friday, 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.


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

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015


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.


Studio 58 Scholarship Winner Announced

Monday, 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 Big Congrats John!

The Road Forward Re-invigorates 1960′s Activism

Tuesday, 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:

Late Company Wows Critics and Audiences

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014


(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…”


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.”


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.”


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.