In the stage premiere of Michele Riml and Michael St. John Smith’s The Cull, friendships are tested, and tensions run high as Emily and Lewis celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary with their best friends.
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack. – Rudyard Kipling
While a forest fire rages out of control in the local mountains, the conversation runs the gamut from catching up on family events, reminiscing about teenage years, and debating what it means to be a “good person.” But a secret is revealed when an unexpected gift turns the seemingly civil conversation about the local wolf cull into a fierce personal argument.
“What I love about this play is its ability to reasonably pose various sides of an argument,” says the Arts Club artistic director Ashlie Corcoran. “I love seeing a good debate on stage, and this play has several of them. I also love seeing long-term friendships on stage and seeing how as humans, we can champion, encourage, and indulge those around us that we love most.”
Initially programmed for the stage as part of the Arts Club’s 2020–2021 season, the pandemic forced the company to pivot the production to an audio play. Now, just over a year later, the play will be presented as originally intended.
“Having navigated this unsettling time together, the play’s theme of community resonates more deeply now …,” says playwrights and real-life couple Michele Riml and Michael St. John Smith. “It reminds us again that theatre is always a collaborative endeavour, one that can only ever be realized together.”
“We’ve been thinking and exploring this play since before the pandemic,” adds director Mindy Parfitt. “Through staging and script workshops, the designers, actors, playwrights, and I have been given time and space to understand how the visual and aural world of the play can support the text.”
Initially drawn to its “sophisticated dialogue and spirit of incisive argument” after initially reading a draft of the play in 2018, dramaturg Stephen Drover says The Cull has emerged as “a remarkable and beautifully wrought piece of work that entertains while it challenges.”
The Cull plays the Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage from January 26 through February 26. Visit artsclub.com for tickets and information.