Hong Kong Exile describe themselves as an interdisciplinary arts company. They are three emerging contemporary artists: Natalie Tin Yin Gan, a contemporary dance artist specializing in improvisation and interdisciplinary collaboration, Remy Siu, an emerging composer, and Milton Lim, a director/designer and multi-disciplinary performer. They met at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts, and they formed the company in 2011.

Hong Kong Exile are a new company to me and there wasn’t much publicity information about the world premiere of their Room 2048 run at the Firehall Arts Centre, so I had no preconceived notion of what to expect....

Michelle Lui, Milton Lim, Alex Tam_9487 credit Remi Theriault

Last night I had the pleasure of attending Ballet BC’s Program 2, a unique collection of works in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday. While it is traditional for Ballet BC’s programs to include a world premiere work, this evening featured not one, but three world premieres! All four pieces were created in collaboration with BC companies, designers and artists, in line with Artistic Director Emily Molnar’s vision of supporting the work of Canadian choreographers.

Before the performance began, Molnar spoke to the importance of unity and togetherness in the artistic community, now more than ever. Using artistic expression to bring...

Alexis Fletcher and Kirsten Wicklund in Swan by Wen Wei Wang – photography Cindi Wicklund

Freeman’s 1971 classic is well presented in the spare but perfect space of the Cultch’s Historic Theatre. Anyone familiar with early 70’s rundown institutional design and maintenance should viscerally respond with phantom aromas of the vintage nicotine colour palette and poorly maintained porcelain and badly procured paint and cleaning supplies. The set design, faithfully detailed by Lauchlin Johnston, wafts off the stage to create the perfect hopeless venue for institutional hopelessness and despair, seemingly only steps away from the realms ruled by the monarch of orderly sadism, Nurse Ratched. There is a Godot-like quality to the explorations of the...

Brothel #9 by Anusree Roy is the result of a partnership between the Diwali Festival and Touchstone Theatre, bringing a second production of this Canadian play to life, simultaneously celebrating both Canadian theatre and cultural diversity. This is true to Touchstone Theatre’s mandate to “stimulate public interest in Canadian cultural perspectives.”

I was dismayed to hear that Brothel #9 is the last production that Katrina Dunn will direct for Touchstone Theatre. Touchstone Theatre’s productions directed by Dunn have been a consistent joy to attend. Roy Surette is coming back to be Touchstone Theatre’s Artistic Director following Dunn’s 19 year reign,...

Photo credit: Tim Matheson

I make no secret of the fact that I am a huge fan of Ballet BC. I was delighted to discover Vancouver’s resident contemporary dance company when I moved here from England three years ago. Even within that short time they have grown in stature, exuding a quiet confidence in all they do. They have become highly respected by audiences, critics, and choreographers alike. The success of the company is, in large part, down to director, Emily Molnar, who skilfully broadened the appeal of Ballet BC without compromising an ounce of its artistic integrity. She has continued to push the...

photo by Cindi Wicklund

1973. Salvador Allende, Chile’s democratically elected president, beloved by the people as a reformer and nationalizer, is overthrown in a CIA-initiated coup that brings to power General Pinochet. Hundreds of thousands of Chileans, identified by the new regime as threats to the nation, communists, and dangerous radicals, are rounded up, herded into sports stadiums, threatened, jailed, executed. Many endangered people flee the country. Anywhere But Here, a new work in first draft form by Carmen Aguirre, unfolds the story from the eyes of the children of a family who fled, then split up, and what happens when some of them...

The Women of Papiyek opens with Elizabeth, Martha and Taqood naming: the naming of those who are gone but who must be remembered. Transcending time and space, the women themselves are dead but are stuck in some kind of limbo looking for a way to the next level of existence.

The Women of Papiyek recounts the story of the three women, real women who once lived in what is now called Brockton Point in Stanley Park.

It turns out that the three women are of different ages and different eras but that was difficult to determine and...

Betwen us, the Plank Review Team has seen every single show at the 2016 Vancouver Fringe Festival. Like you, we all have different tastes, so we thought a few of us would share our favourites thus far. We'll have a more complete list from the full team after the festival, but here's a little something to help whet your whistle.

If you're having trouble with the Fringe's regular website, the ticket site still seems to be working: https://tickets.vancouverfringe.com/

Julia Fox
Walk the Talk -  innovative and artsy to the max
Generation Hot Program B - 3 amazing shows in 1 about a very current...

Leaving the life of the American demimonde for anthropology, survivor guilt and Asian primates is a wild ride for Holly, the ex-showgirl turned wannabe ape rescuer. This detailed reading of Jenn Griffin’s play, The Long Call, directed by Heidi Taylor, IS a wild ride. Funny at times, touching, a little bit menacing—who is Jack, what does he really want, and how is this going to end? I found it really fascinating to be witness to the process of developing this play, as reportedly the actors had only finished a cold-reading, and sound design was ongoing improvisation during this performance....

The Nether is a delightfully textured piece about catharsis, crime and how to navigate ethics and morality when reality isn’t reality any more. It will make you feel—disgust, temptation, anger, shock, love, sympathy, sadness, horror and pleasure; perhaps all at once—and it will make you think. Is this where we’re headed in our society? What would it mean for what we call our lives? Our identities? Is this “Nether” a blessing or a curse?

Written by Jennifer Haley, the Vancouver Fringe incarnation of The Nether was produced by Redcurrant Collective, a local company including many faces that will be familiar...

Frances Koncan has written a bold exploration of white male power, residential schools and oppression, whether formally institutionalized or directly ingrained in our psyche.

As we follow our young heroine through time and space, we visit a residential school where children are stripped of everything from their clothing to their dignity and identity; a white man’s 90s basement where he holds indigenous women hostage; and a post-apocalyptic future where men are nothing more than furniture.

At first the transitions can be hard to follow between the different times and places but if you let go of your...

Two for Tea is an all-ages remount of one of the first shows that production company James and Jamesy brought to the Vancouver Fringe Festival. The company comprises the duo, Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles, and their director, David MacMurray Smith.

Before even entering the theatre it is obvious that James and Jamesy are a Fringe favourite. The ticket-holder line is all the way up the stairs out the building and down the stairs of the back porch, despite it being midday on a Sunday.

Slapstick comedy isn't my style, but the charm of these two eked a begrudging giggle (OK guffaw) out of...

Suburban Motel: Featuring Loretta is an uproarious, racy number with a dark edge. Written by adored and admired George F. Walker in 1997, the ingenuity of Featuring Loretta has been reawakened for Vancouver's annual Fringe Festival. Featuring Loretta stars a young, not so innocent, girl who runs away from her problems in an attempt to gain control of them. She no longer wants other people to make decisions for her. No one can stop her from doing what she wants, even if what she wants is to make porn.

"I'm not happy…but maybe I could be," determined, unfettered Loretta, played...

Berlin Waltz is a masterful blend of musical storytelling that left echoes in my head and heart for hours after I left the Cultch. I wandered around Vancouver, feeling Weltschmerz (literally ‘world pain’—you even learn some German in the show), pondering the invisible walls within my mind and seeing the outside world with different, more wistful eyes until I entered my next show to be transformed again and again.

Not only did this piece give me some insight into Berlin’s amazing history and the “admirable theory and questionable practice of socialism,” but it also made me want to travel. And...

I managed to misread the synopsis for The Girl Who Was Raised by Wolverine, so I was expecting a dystopian future made bearable for a teenager through the influence of comic books...

In reality the Wolverine mentioned in the Fringe Program Guide is of First Nations, not Marvel, fame. It is a narrator/trickster/guardian figure that facilitates the action of the plot. Wolverine presents the "case"  to the audience, asking us to decide the characters’ fate at the end. Not a bad premise. It takes audience participation up a notch while allowing the play to stay a drama, and it encourages us to look at the whole experience as a social...

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