Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Opening Night Recap: Mary Walsh’s ‘Dancing with Rage’ at the Firehall Arts Centre

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

This past Wednesday night the Firehall Arts Centre was home to a packed house for the opening night performance of Mary Walsh’s one-woman show, Dancing with Rage, co-presented by Touchstone Theatre and the Firehall Arts Centre. Prior to the show the lobby was a buzz with people excited to see Mary, with many stories being shared among patrons of any times they had seen Mary Walsh in person or of course about her many various TV shows and characters. For many it seemed so unlikely that they would get to see Walsh in person, and to an certain extent, this show has had to deal with some unlikely things. After it premièred in 2012 in the storied LSPU (Longshoreman’s Protective Union) Hall in St. John’s Dancing with Rage was supposed to open in Toronto at at Theatre Passe Muraille. However she ended up being hospitalized with a case of bronchitis. After that she ended up being in a car accident with a Toronto cab crashing into her and leaving her with broken ribs. The run was cancelled. As the show made its way to Vancouver, on its tour of western Canada it was set to play a single night in Edmonton, and the set ended up going missing. No stranger to adversity, Walsh’s took to the stage and delivered an evening full of raucous laughter, with sharp barbs being mixed with an engaging narrative as she moved from one character to the next with perfection. A 90 minute showcase of one of Canada’s most talented performers. After the show finished (to a standing ovation) the excitement and energy poured out of the theatre and into the main lobby of the Firehall for a special post-show reception. There audience members shared more laughter well sampling the wonderful array of food provided by East of Main Cafe. Mary came out soon afterwards to meet some of the enthusiastic audience members sharing plenty of stories and laughs.  Here are a couple of shots from the reception. Check out the full gallery on our Facebook page here. Photos by Kerry Rae Photography.

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goPLAY Attends LEO at The Cultch – Presented With BIG Cheque

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Touchstone’s goPLAY Youth Theatre Program took in the fantastic LEO playing in The Cultch’s Historic Theatre, as part of its worldwide tour. Prior to the performance the goPLAY program was presented with a cheque for $5000 from Howard Jang of the Telus Vancouver Community Board.

Howard Jang (Arts Club Theatre) presents Touchstone Theatre’s Artistic Director Katrina Dunn & goPLAY Youth Theatre Club Members with a cheque for $5000 in support of the program, on behalf of the Telus Vancouver Community Board.

The goPLAY Youth Theatre Club program arose from Touchstone Theatre’s desire to give Lower Mainland secondary school students — with a passionate interest in theatre — exposure to the amazing range of local and touring theatre in Vancouver. The concept is to offer students the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the art form, thereby promoting theatre literacy and nurturing the creators and engaged patrons of the future.

Touchstone Theatre’s goPLAY program is still looking for youth applicants interested in fueling their passion for theatre and the arts and attending local theatrical productions for FREE! goPLAY is free to join for Lower Mainland secondary students and allows students to take in up to 15 free shows during the school year as well as giving them the opportunity to meet some some of Vancouver’s most happening professional theatre artists.

Confirmed Shows Ahead:

  • Ride the Cyclone @ Arts Club, Granville Island Stage – January 2013
  • I, Malvolio @ The Cultch, Historic Theatre – January 2013
  • Spring Awakening @ Studio 58, Langara College – February 2013
  • King Lear @ PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, The Centre – February 2013
  • Haunted @ The 2013 Chutzpah! Festival, The Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre – February 2013
  • Mother Teresa is Dead @ Pacific Theatre – March 2013
  • Twelfth Night @ Bard on the Beach – June 2013
  • Hamlet @ Bard on the Beach – June 2013

Find out more about the goPLAY program and how to apply here.

Touchstone Theatre would like to thank the Telus Vancouver Community Board for their generous support.

Workshopping Haunted

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

In mid-November the cast of Touchstone’s production of Haunted spent 2 days with playwright Daniel Karasik workshopping his already fabulous script.  It was a rich time, with some exciting exploration of the play’s themes and ideas, and some good time spent learning how to pronounce some hard Hebrew words.  We look forward to the Production Draft that will emerge from the work done, and to sharing the results with our audience during the run at the Chutzpah! Festival, from February 27th to March 3rd 2013.  It will be a great opportunity to see some of Vancouver’s best actors tackle the work of one of Toronto’s most exciting young playwrights.

Photo, left to right: Kerry Sandomirsky, Daniel Karasik, Patrick Sabongui, Carmel Amit, Kayla, Deorksen

A look at costumes in Eternal Hydra with Costume Designer Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Designing the costumes for Eternal Hydra presents an exciting challenge. The play takes place over three different time periods, each unique and different in its own way. We start with current time period where contemporary costumes are required, modern day professional look to be specific. The play then moves to a 1930’s era in Paris, back to contemporary, and finally Louisiana in 1866, which requires corsets and hoop skirts. The other challenge that is faced by the design concept of this play is that there are only four actors, each playing several parts, and each of the four has to move back and forth between the three time periods with less than a minute to change costumes. The concept that we have come up with is to add a vintage flare to the contemporary clothing that the actors will be wearing, and with a small addition of a hat or a jacket complete the final look of the period. Thanks to the trend in fashion created by the show Mad Men we can actually make the fashion of the thirties turn to a modern vintage flare, and have this challenge work with us rather than against us. The 1860’s has been a bit more difficult, but fortunately with magic of quick change we can (thanks to snaps and Velcro) make it work. We have decided to keep the color palette in gold, browns, olive greens, and burgundy, a more of a fall palette and a neutral palette. This allows for the story and the characters to stand out over the costumes.

Article written by Eternal Hydra Costume Designer Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh

Eternal Hydra is the first show in Touchstone’s 2012/13 season and plays from Nov. 1-11 at Studio 16 (1555 W 7th). Identity politics, sex and the myth of genius all figure in this thrilling look at the making of a modern masterpiece. Find out more about the show here and get your subscription to Touchstone’s fantastic 2012/13 season here.

TOUCHSTONE THEATRE’S GREAT CARAVAN FARM THEATRE – A Journal Entry

Friday, September 14th, 2012

This summer Touchstone Theatre chartered a bus and took a group of theatre lovers into the beautiful interior of BC to experience the fabulous Caravan Farm Theatre. With two members of our office having taken in Caravan Farm Theatre shows in the past, we decided we wanted to help make this completely one-of-a-kind experience more accessible to our patrons here in Vancouver. For the initiated, Caravan Farm Theatre is a professional outdoor theatre company based on an 80 acre farm, 11Km NW of Armstrong BC. Hailed as a national treasure, it is one of Canada’s premiere professional outdoor theatre companies, and has been entertaining audiences young and old, from near and far, since 1978. There is no theatre building – just the great outdoors. Productions have been staged in nearly every corner of the farm – in a field, in the pines, in the barn or the riding ring. With shows ranging from classics like Shakespeare and Brecht to original works all infused with spectacle, high drama with honky-tonk, reflecting the rural experience back to the world with sophistication, complexity, boldness and originality (oh and they use horses in every production).

Helping stir our interest in making the trip was the fact that this year’s production was The Notorious Right Robert and His Robber Bride by Sean Dixon with music by Herald Nix. Described as a rip-snorting, heart-racing comedy, the production seemed like a sure crowd-pleaser – we couldn’t wait! After spreading word to the theatre community we had a small group ready to make the trek with us. Departing on the morning of August 23rd we headed out on HWY 1 and began the 6 hour drive to Armstrong. Making a couple of stops along the way for food and refreshments, and with trekkers getting lots of reading and knitting completed en route, we arrived at the Caravan Farm Theatre. We were greeted by the friendly staff, had the opportunity to take a quick look at the grounds and to drop off trekkers who were going camp at the site.

After a stop off to get set up at a nearby bed-and-breakfast we made our way into Armstrong to grab dinner before heading back to the grounds for the show. When we returned we were blown away by the fact that the parking lot was completely packed! It was pretty close to a sold-out show that night with approx. 400 people in attendance. We picked up our tickets at a colourfully-painted Box Office and made our way in. Each Caravan production takes place on a different part of the farm. Right Robertwas set up on a wide open space where they had set up steeply raked bleachers to for the audience. With open sky above and no red curtain in sight, a simple wooden floorboard stage was constructed on the ground in front of the risers. The set was ingeniously designed so that the settings could be changed by slotting doorframes and signage into the floor and by bringing in different props and furnishings by horse! The production also involved use of the locale, the most thrilling being car chases that circled through the site and gun-fights with actors taking cover behind trees, shrubs and even the bandstand. There was even a guest appearance by a bat, which proceeded to swoop throughout the play chasing bugs. Highlighted by strong performances, with lots of physical comedy and a very unconventional love story, the show finished to an enthusiastic ovation. People drifted towards the exit, pausing to watch the horses being fed and unbridled and to thank the Caravan staff for the experience. Once the crowds had cleared, out the cast and crew and some friends capped their night with a sing-along jam session in the cook shack, featuring mandolin, guitar, banjo and even the spoons!

Trekkers staying at the Bed and Breakfast were greeted with a sumptuous morning meal and then packed their things and headed back to the farm where we were taken on a comprehensive tour of the site by Caravan Farm Theatre’s Artistic Director Courtenay Dobbie. She shared with us some of the history of the company, showed us various sites they have used for productions, The Designery – a farm studio where they design and make sets and costumes – and the small cabins that the cast and crew reside in during the run of the show. We were left with a better understanding of what it is like to run theatre outdoors on an 80 acre farm just outside of Armstrong BC.

Touchstone will be undertaking another Great Caravan Farm Theatre Trek in August of 2013, if you are interested in finding out more about that you can sign up for our e-newsletter and check out this page for details. Check out a full gallery of photos from the Trek on our Facebook page here.

Podcast with Touchstone’s goPLAY Youth Theatre Viewing Club

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

This past year at Touchstone we were very pleased to launch a new Youth Theatre Club called goPLAY. Made possible with the generous support of the Telus Vancouver Community Board the program offered 20 high school students, grades 10 ‐ 12, the opportunity to sample a broad spectrum of what Vancouver has to offer the theatre goer. We took in a wide array of theatre ‐ from classic texts to cutting edge modern plays to devised pieces. Each viewing involved an exploration of the show, its themes, history and theatrical practices as well as the opportunity to meet up with artists involved in the productions for an intimate insider’s view of the play and its process.

July saw the program’s 2011-12 season come to a close after taking in 14 total local theatrical productions. Touchstone’s Artistic Director sat down with goPLAY members Noah Feaver, Emma Lindsay & Luke McAndless-Davis to discuss the theatre season, favourite shows and performances, surprises and more. You can play/download the podcast here: goPLAY_01

Our goPLAY program will run annually through the course of the school year. From this program will come the theatre creators and the engaged patrons and supporters of the future. For more information about the program, or to secure a spot in the 2012-13 program for a young person, please contact Keegan McEvoy at keegan@touchstonetheatre.com. Teachers are also encouraged to contact us. The web page for the program is touchstonetheatre.com/goplay

2011-12 goPLAY Shows:
The Penelopiad 
by Margaret Atwood at the Arts Club Theatre
Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata by Bill Richardson and Veda Hille at the Arts Club Theatre
Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage at the Arts Club Theatre
Red by John Logan at the Playhouse Theatre
Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare at Bard on the Beach
Goodness by Michael Redhill at the Chutzpah! Festival
Almighty Voice and His Wife by Daniel David Moses at the PuSh Festival
The Idiot, Dostoyevsky adapted by James Fagan Tait at the PuSh Festival
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot by Stephen Adly Gurgis at the Cultch
Ignorance by The Old Trout Puppet Workshop at the Cultch
Westside Story by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein & Stephen Sondheim at Vancouver Opera
Jason and the Argonauts by Visible Fictions at the Waterfront Theatre
Shelter from the Storm by Peter Boychuk, Touchstone Theatre at the Firehall
The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde at the Arts Club Theatre

Many thanks to the many artists involved with these productions who took time to meet with us this year! We are very much looking forward to what the 2012-13 season will bring.

TOUCHSTONE PRESENTS : THE GREAT CARAVAN FARM THEATRE TREK

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

This summer Touchstone Theatre is chartering a bus and taking a group of theatre lovers into the interior to experience the fabulous Caravan Farm Theatre.

WHEN: Bus leaves on the morning of August 23rd 2012, we see the show that evening, and we drive back the next day.

HOW MUCH: 

$156.80 (with HST) –  includes bus travel, theatre ticket and you camp on the land (space limited)
$212.80 (with HST) –  includes bus travel, theatre ticket and you share a room in a Bed and Breakfast
$252.00 (with HST) –  includes bus travel, theatre ticket and you have a private room in a Bed and Breakfast

REGISTER: by contacting Intern Magali Page at Touchstone Theatre – 604-709-9973, or magali@touchstonetheatre.com – Register early! Space limited!

Caravan Farm Theatre is a professional outdoor theatre company based on an 80 acre farm, 11Km NW of Armstrong BC.  Hailed as a national treasure, it is one of Canada’s premiere professional outdoor theatre companies, and has been entertaining audiences young and old, from near and far, since 1978.  There is no theatre building – just the great outdoors. Productions have been staged in nearly every corner of the farm – in a field, in the pines, in the barn or the riding ring. The shows range from classics like Shakespeare and Brecht, original works like Horseplay andCowboy King. Annual productions include a Fall shadow play, a Winter one-act sleigh ride show, and in Summer, a full length musical.  Caravan’s artistic mission is to create meaningful, popular theatre for a broad and diverse audience. They wed narrative with spectacle, high drama with honky-tonk, reflecting the rural experience back to the world with sophistication, complexity, boldness and originality.

The show we’ll see is: The Notorious Right Robert and His Robber Bride by Sean Dixon, Music Written and Performed by Herald Nix. A lonesome, dusty field. The heat of the afternoon sun. A one-horse town. Gritty outlaws. A getaway car. Thundering hooves. This rip-snorting, heart-racing comedy is the story of a resourceful small-town girl who dreams of becoming a newspaper journalist. She has no means of escaping the one-horse town of Chickabiddy, BC, until… she meets Right Robert — a handsome, bank-robbing outlaw who sweeps her off her feet with his charm and wild lifestyle. Together they steal a small fortune and set out to use the money to make a better life. But when their fame runs out, and the law catches up, the road to freedom doesn’t lead where they expected.

Cancellation Policy: full refund minus a $25 administration fee up to August 9th 2012.  No refunds after August 9th, unless you replace yourself on the Trek.

Caravan Farm Theatre Logo

About Shelter from the Storm, by playwright Peter Boychuk

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Since the war in Iraq began, an estimated 200-300 U.S. soldiers have deserted their posts and come up to Canada. They had every reason to believe they would find refuge here. During the Vietnam War, fifty thousand deserters and draft dodgers were welcomed into the country with open arms. Yet war resisters from Iraq have met with a very different fate.

Rodney Watson joined the military in 2004 when he was downsized from his job. The recruiter told him his duties would be supervising a dining facility north of Mosul. When he was deployed in 2005, he found himself operating a mobile X-ray that scanned vehicles for explosives.

When I asked Rodney what made him leave, he described encountering a Iraqi civilian with a gunshot wound. Rodney pleaded over the radio for the base to send help. His requests were denied, and the man died in his arms.

In his book The Deserter’s Tale, Joshua Key describes doing house raids. His team would show up at night, arrest the men, and search the house for weapons. After one search, a Hum-V pulled up and officers emerged. They took the women into the house and ordered Joshua to guard the door. The whole time they were in there, the women screamed.

Rodney and Joshua came up to Canada and applied to the Immigration Review Board as refugees. Their requests were denied and both faced deportation. Instead of leaving, Rodney took sanctuary in First United church on Hasting Street. Joshua is still trying to appeal his decision. Other war resisters have been sent back and done time for desertion.

Shelter from the Storm is inspired by their stories. The play is being produced by Touchstone Theatre as part of the Flying Start program, a partnership with Playwrights Theatre Centre and the Firehall Arts Centre, that gives a stage to new professional playwrights. Kyle Jespersen plays Scott, a young soldier who deserts his post from Iraq and stays with a draft dodger named Rick, played by Peter Hall. Recent Studio 58 graduate Lindsay Winch rounds out the cast as Caitlin, Rick’s surfer daughter. Katrina Dunn directs and Martin Kinch is doing dramaturgy.

The play runs May 31 – June 9 at the Firehall Arts Centre, which is one block away from First United Church, where Rodney lives with his wife and son. Buy tickets here or call 604.689.0926 .

The Music In Goodness : A Journey Around The World

Thursday, March 8th, 2012


 We here at Touchstone are very excited that Volcano Theatre’s stunning production Goodness opened this week at the Firehall Arts Centre. Presented by Touchstone Theatre in association with the Firehall Arts Centre and the 2012 Chutzpah Festival, Goodness is written by award-winning Canadian playwright Michael Redhill and has been touring internationally for 7 years to great acclaim. One of the most compelling aspects to the play is its use of traditional folk songs from all around the world including Africa and eastern Europe.

We have been emailing back and forth with the show’s Musical Director Brenna MacCrimmon who is currently touring with a different production in Instabul. She joked “when I told people I was working on the music for a play about genocide there was always a look of bafflement. I suppose the first thing that jumps to people’s minds is Springtime For Hitler.” Bafflement, however is not the response of many critics who have seen this production. Toronto’s Now Magazine referenced the music in the show in their 5 star review which described Goodness as “Extraordinary… There’s not a wrong dramatic moment, including the haunting use of a cappella songs”. When the production played at the 2006 Edinburgh Fringe festival, where it won both the Edinburgh Fringe First Award and the Carol Tambor “Best of Edinburgh” Award, it also won accolades for its use of music during the production. The Scotsman in the UK called the music “an inspired, light-touch use of traditional sung laments from Africa and central Europe…” well the The Herald called the music “spine-tingling”. The music provides a hauntingly beautiful layer to the complex tapestry of the play.

We have gathered a few recordings of the Brenna MacCrimmon & cast performing music from the play as well as a video of them rehearsing a piece with Toronto performer Teddy Masuku. Take a listen!

The Cast of Volcano Theatre’s Goodness performs Tobela, a traditional folk song from Zimbawe.

2009 Cast of Goodness – rehearsal – Halala Kina (traditional song from Zimbawe)

From Goodness – SzerelemSzerelem, traditional folk song from Hungary

From Goodness – Vreme Mi Dojde, traditional folk song from Bulgaria

goPlaying with the Sharks and the Jets

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Touchstone’s new goPLAY Youth Theatre Club got thrillingly off the ground on Thursday Oct 27th, as Artistic Director Katrina Dunn took twenty high school students to see Vancouver Opera’s production of West Side Story. It began with a backstage tour of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, where we felt out the amazing acoustics in the newly renovated space, poked our heads in the orchestra pit, and learned how to watch the conductor on video feed while doing a love scene. Then two of the performers, Steven Greenfield (Touchstone’s musical director on Mimi) and David Adams gave us a short introductory on the piece: it’s twist on the Romeo and Juliet Story, it’s unique creation story, and the sensation it caused at it’s premiere. Then we tucked into our fabulous $150 seats (thanks for the amazing student discount rate Vancouver Opera!) and enjoyed the beautiful production. 38 people on stage, 30 musicians in the pit and stunning set, lights and costumes made for a treat for all. It was very interesting for all to see the mix of musical theatre performers with opera trained singers in the leads as Maria and Tony. This was only the first of many fascinating outings for goPLAY, so stay tuned for more updates.