As the world marches toward the 100th anniversary of the armistice of the war to end all wars, The Cultch’s three venues will be fully immersed in a trio of shows that explore the causes, effects, and traumas of war through different lenses.
On November 11, 1918 Allied and German officials signed the armistice that would end fighting on land, sea, and air. 100 years later, as the anniversary of that armistice approached, Cultch executive director, Heather Redfern considered how she wanted The Cultch to engage with such a significant centenary. What resulted was the programming of these three distinctly different shows.
Running at its Historic Theatre, Vancity Culture Lab, and York Theatre from October 30 through November 17, the series will feature two Canadian premieres, along with a world premiere from Vancouver playwright Amiel Gladstone.
“As you watch these productions I ask you to remember, and I ask you to think about what comes next if we dare to forget,” says Redfern.
First up is the Canadian premiere of The Believers Are But Brothers (Oct 30-Nov 10) at the Vancity Culture Lab.
As part of Diwali in B.C., this contemporary piece is a high tech and interactive show about the ways modern young men, in particular, are recruited online. Allowing audiences to participate with phones in hand it is an exploration of the smoke-and-mirrors world of online extremism, anonymity, and hate speech.
“After 9/11 we had an idea that there is a problem with young Muslim men and violence, but as soon as one scratches away at the surface, we see that we have a problem with violence and young men, period,” says co-creator Javaad Alipoor.
At the York Theatre comes another Canadian premiere, SmallWaR (Nov 6-11).
This Belgian and United Kingdom co-production uses verbatim reflections from soldiers and nurses in WWI in an discovery of the human cost of conflict.
“What most struck me in lots of soldier’s diaries was the difference between the sheer excitement and optimism about entering the war, and then not much later the total horror of being stuck in the muddy trenches, fearing to die,” says performer Valentijn Dhaenens.
Finally, at the Historic Theatre comes the world premiere of Gladstone’s Three Winters (Nov 7-17).
In this fictional re-contextualization of real-life events, a troupe of seven millennial actresses perform a play about prisoners in the WWII POW camp, Stalag Luft III. With these historical events acted by modern young women, Three Winters asks audiences to question their assumptions about who we allow to play what parts and why.
“If it weren’t for their ability to make theatre, my Grandpa said he would have died in those WWII POW camps,” says Gladstone. “This play is about that reality, told with immediacy and connection.”