In Sip & Scripts, audience members are invited to sit back and watch or, for the more adventurous, read supporting roles along-side the professional actors from City Stage New West.
In Sip & Scripts, audience members are invited to sit back and watch or, for the more adventurous, read supporting roles along-side the professional actors from City Stage New West.

Created in response to the growing evidence of isolation in modern urban communities, City Stage New West and the Anvil Centre will once again present its Sips & Scripts series through 2019.

Born out the Vancouver Foundation’s 2017 report citing Vancouver as one of the loneliest cities in Canada, City Stage New West artistic director Renee Bucciarell and board president Dr. Christopher Walmsley, a former professor of social work and author of related topics, took a look at possibilities for 2019 that might make their community just a little more connected.

“Our audience-participation reading of A Christmas Carol last year was such a success, to a degree that surprised us,” says Bucciarelli in a media release. “Virtual strangers who had never done anything like this before were thrilled, and wanted to know when the next one was going to happen.”

Aided by a grant from the City of New Westminster, Bucciarelli and Walmsley approached the City’s arts programmer, Hannah Bennett, to see if their mission to do a free series of audience-participation plays, looking at socially-relevant topics, might work at the Anvil Centre. For Bennett, given the success of the December program, it was a no-brainer.

This year’s series will feature three once-censored comedies dealing with women’s sexual and financial agency. And while the issues explored in this era of #MeToo are taken seriously, organizers point out the plays, spanning 2,300 years, also manage to be very funny.

The final performance of the year will be a reappearance Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in a family-friendly show.

Each of the programs in the 2019 will allow audience members to simply sit back and watch or, for the more adventurous, read supporting roles along-side the professional actors from City Stage New West. Each reading will be followed by a talk-back session, examining the play’s censorship and social impact.

The first reading of the 2019 series will feature Aristophanes’ steamy, once-banned Lysistrata (Apr 26). In this ancient story originally performed in 411 BC, Greek and Spartan women join forces to drive their warring men wild by enacting a universal sex strike to end the war. Banned in American until the 1930’s, it was more recently the inspiration for Spike Lee’s 2015 film, Chi-Raq.

Future readings include Mae West’s Sex (Jun 14), George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession, (Oct 11), and the family-friendly holiday edition of A Christmas Carol (Dec 19).

As with last year’s December show, in which mulled wine was served alongside Dickens, each reading will feature its own signature “sip”.

All events are free to attend (ages 16+ only, with the exception of A Christmas Carol), but due to limited seating registration is strongly recommended.

For more information or to register to attend, visit citystagenewwest.org or anvilcentre.com.