A Note from Neworld Theatre

December 4, 2013

Dear Friends,

Three years ago, we at Neworld Theatre had an idea. In the wake of the great recession, with our friends at Theatre Replacement, we wondered about competition and the cut-throat nature of our economic system, and what it does to us as people. We got to work and 11 months ago we premiered Winners and Losers at the Gateway Theatre. It’s the most intensely personal work we’ve ever created. It’s also most clearly about Vancouver, about us, and our culture. In the year since, we’ve been invited to perform Winners and Losers in Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, the UK, Ireland, Iceland, Denmark, Italy, and the Netherlands, with more to come …

And that’s not all. Our now Ottawa-based Associate Artist Adrienne Wong and artist Jan Derbyshire had an idea – to start a conversation about civic responsibility and city living with our community’s newest members: children. It’s a project 2 years in the making involving dozens of kids, which will premiere at the Vancouver Children’s Festival in 2015.

Last year Vancouver’s smartest funny-guy and CBC Debaters star Charlie Demers had an idea: a show about what it has meant to be born the month Ronald Reagan was elected, and grow up as a socialist in the era of big capital and neo-liberalism. Sort of like Midnight’s Children meets the best of Rick Mercer … it’ll premiere 2015.

Toronto’s Theatre Centre had an idea: send Marcus to Egypt to ask the question, what is a revolution? The results of that research will be seen at the Free Fall Festival in Toronto in June 2014.

We all had an idea: bring a promising young producer who shares our aesthetic and political values in art into the company for 1-2 years and train them to thrive in the particular ecology we find ourselves in. Our resident producer program has so-far trained: Stephen Drover, now Artistic Director of Rumble Theatre, Chris Gatchalian, Artistic Producer of the frank theatre, Marisa Smith, Artistic Director of Alley Theatre and our current resident, Chelsea Haberlin, Artistic Director of ITSAZOO Productions.

This is what we do. They’re little ideas. But they’re also big. They’re based on a belief that the choices we make have consequences, no matter who or where we are. They’re a belief in the power of ideas not to change the world, but to change us. A belief that it is not the stories of the big and powerful and corporate that ultimately matter, but those of the people around us, in our communities and neighbourhoods.

We’re asking all of you to show your support for this belief. We’re asking you to support us by becoming a member of Neworld Theatre with a $20 donation. To demonstrate publicly that you believe in our work, and you want people to know that you’re a part of what we do. It’s both a practical step and a symbolic one. It means you’ve put your belief into a concrete action.

You can join for a little less than $20, or a lot more. No matter what the amount, it means a lot to us.  There are three ways to join us – you can mail a cheque to the address listed at the bottom of this message, come pay us a visit at our office, or sign up through Canada Helps.

We’re shooting for 500 new members of Neworld Theatre. 500 people in Vancouver and beyond who take the big small step of saying, we believe in Neworld. We believe in ideas, and now more than ever we believe in the need for all of us to stand together. And please remember, if you donate more than $20 you’re also supporting the membership of someone for whom that amount is too great.

We ask you to join us.

Marcus, Kirsty, Adrienne, Chelsea, Christine
and our board: Elvy (Chair), Kate, Bill, Sean, Alnoor, and Marita

PS. This year we are hoping to welcome some new members to our Board of Directors – if you or someone you know may be interested, please get in touch with us.

Progress Lab 1422

1422 William St

Vancouver BC V5L 2P7

Marcus A’s your Q’s on Winners & Losers

November 13, 2012

Marcus took questions from Richmond’s Gateway Theatre, who host the first run of Winners & Losers from November 22 to December 1 of 2012.  Read on for Marcus’ musings on capitalism, competition, and class.

Q: In a nutshell, what would you say Winners and Losers is about?

Marcus: How competition is part of everything we do, for better and for worse. And class – about how capitalism and money are defining features of that competition, and how that affects everything, even our closest friendships, whether we like it or not.

Q: What was the inspiration for writing Winners and Losers?

Marcus: A friend of ours got involved in a kind of pyramid scheme that promised money and spiritual satisfaction, which is so hard to find in this culture particularly, I think. It got us thinking about how where we are (late 30s, early 40s), maybe especially for men, is when you really start assessing whether you’re winning or losing, and sometimes taking desperate measures if you’re not sure.

Q: Which one of you came up with the concept for this play? Who wins at playwrighting?

Marcus: I can’t answer that. We were making a different play, about two Russian novelists competing to write the best novel, and also another one about two office workers. To warm up, we would play the winners and losers game (name a person place or thing and debate whether it’s a winner or a loser) and compete about who was better at stuff. We recorded and transcribed those warm-up games and after reading them went, This is way better and closer to what we’re after than the two fictional pieces we we’re working on.

I win at playwrighting. Jamie wins at acting.

Q: To what extent is this play autobiographical or an account of your (Marcus’ and Jamie’s) friendship?

Marcus: It’s all autobiographical. I think it brings to the surface currents that are there in our friendship, but were never explicitly admitted or spoken about. That’s what I like about the piece—it explores competitive questions and dynamics that are present (I believe) in all our relationships but that we rarely admit because it feels dangerous and wrong to acknowledge conflict and difference with people we care about. But is it surprising, given the centrality of competition to our entire cultural/economic/global governance system, that we experience it in our personal lives too.

Q: Why should people come see this play? What makes it a winner?

Marcus: It’s funny. It’s doesn’t feel like fake, ordinary theatre. It’s about something. And we’re really, really, really good looking. Jamie in particular. And I don’t look a day over 29.

Q: Why did you see it as important to include the characters’ economic backgrounds (1 vs. 99%) in the play?

Marcus: Because it’s true. Because we hardly ever talk about money in our personal lives or in our political discourse, yet it is the single most important social and political force in the world today. How can we begin to sort the current mess out if we can’t talk about money with our closest friends? But it’s hard to do.

Q: What do you hope audiences take away from seeing this play?

Marcus: Having had a good time, and laughed a fair bit, and also having witnessed something challenging and a bit scary. I also hope it’s something that makes them feel good—because it’s really honest and personal and tries something about how we try to live in the world. I always feel good when I see or read something that tries to do that.

Thanks Gateway for the great interview!  For pictures, ticket details and the like, head on down to Gateway’s website.

New Faces, Upcoming Events, and a Shiny New Website

September 13, 2012

As we launch bravely forward into Neworld’s 2012-2013 season, we welcome new members to our team and say goodbye (for now) to a few company members.  Artistic Producer Adrienne Wong will be taking her parental leave from September to March of 2013 – congratulations Adrienne!  In her absence, Resident Producer Marisa Smith joins us for several exciting projects.  We say goodbye to Naomi Sider, who leaves us to join the Electric Company as Artist in Residence.  We welcome Christine Quintana to our team as our new Operations Coordinator, and Josephine Gray as our Administrative Intern until November 30th.

Though our season begins in November with Winners & Losers at the Richmond Gateway Theatre, September offers three chances to get your Neworld fix.  The Cultch and Elbow Theatre present Nassim Soleimanpour’s provocative and challenging White Rabbit, Red Rabbit Each night an actor is handed a sealed envelope containing the script to the play and, sight unseen, begins.  Join Carmen Aguirre (September 19th) and Artistic Director Marcus Youssef (September 22) as they experience White Rabbit, Red Rabbit for the first time along with their audience.

On September 28th, Marcus will present readings of two of his works at the Historic Joy Kogawa House as part of Word on the Street Vancouver.  Attendees will get an early glimpse into Winners & Losers and How Has My Love Affected You.  For details on this special event, visit the Historic Joy Kogawa House website.  Meanwhile, Resident Producer Marisa Smith will take part in the Shadbolt 7 Series.  Witness one concept through the eyes of seven top-tiered artists from a variety of disciplines and see it come to life, seven different ways, in only seven days – intrigued?  Find details on the Shadbolt Center‘s website, or join Marisa on September 29th to see the final result.

We hope you’ll experience one of these fantastic events before our season begins with Winners & Losers, and that you’ll visit our newly renovated headquarters on the web at www.neworldtheatre.com.

Meet Linnea: Your Neworld Blogger

July 20, 2012

Dear Neworlders,

As we continue forward on these summer months, I would like to pause and introduce myself. My name is Linnea and I am interning at Neworld Theatre. Throughout the next couple of weeks, until August 10th to be exact, I am setting out to obtain and provide an insight into Neworld’s projects and looking behind the scenes.

A bit about me: I grew up in California and moved to Vancouver for UBC where I am studying Religion, Literature and the Arts with a Minor in Visual Arts, which basically means I spend lots of time analyzing art and its influences. I have been a life-long theatre lover, but being new to this city, am unfamiliar with the Vancouver scene. I am excited for the opportunity to explore Neworld’s projects and would love for you to come along for the ride.

Yours, for the next few weeks.

Bikes and Art: Neworld joins the Vancouver Tour de Biennale as an Official Charity Partner.

July 11, 2012

Photo: Josh Dunford from http://www.tourdebiennale.com/

Neworld is proud to announce that we are one of the official charity partners of The Tour de Biennale, the Vancouver Biennale’s charity bike ride. Experience the city’s public art installations by bicycle and half your registration fee is donated directly to Neworld Theatre.

When: August 19, 2012 7:00am

What: a 60km, 110km, or 125km ride, featuring public art installations

What is the Vancouver Biennale?

The Vancouver Biennale is a biennial public art exhibition that brings sculptures, new media and performance works by celebrated and emerging international artists to Vancouver area public parks, beaches and urban plazas, transforming the city into an open-air museum. Some popular works include: A-maze-ing Laughter by Yue Minjun at English Bay and Dennis Oppenheim’s Engagement rings at Sunset Beach.

What is the Tour de Biennale?

The Tour de Biennale is a unique, fundraising cycling event that brings Italian cycling culture to our beautiful city. Join pros and cycling enthusiasts on a 110km self-paced urban ride or a 125km challenge ride that will take you from Vancouver to Steveston, through parkland, seashore and glass towers, before a triumphant finish at the highest elevation in the city at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park. There’s also a non-competitive tour “medio” ½ route for those who’d like to ride at a more leisurely pace.

The ride takes place on Sunday, August 19, 2012.

Why register and ride?

The Tour de Biennale is all about connecting Vancouver’s outdoor lifestyle with its thriving arts and culture scene. The ride provides an amazing opportunity to see the city and the public art installations of the Vancouver Biennale – and to support Neworld!

Other perks and benefits include:

• Funds raised go to supporting community charities, including arts organizations such as Neworld.

• It’s the only ride that brings the arts together with Vancouver’s outdoor lifestyle – you get to cycle and see some amazing sights.

• There are special group registration rates (register a team of six riders and only pay for five).

• Charitable tax receipts for your registration fee will be issued post-event.

• And for all of you cycling enthusiasts, it’s the last great training ride before the Whistler GranFondo.

How is Neworld involved?

As an official charity partner of the Tour, we’re helping to sign up riders for this amazing event. To register, click here.

**Please use “NEWORLD” when you are prompted for a promo code! By registering with our unique promo code, you ensure that Neworld will receive 50% of the charitable proceeds of that registration. **

Thanks for supporting Neworld and the promotion and preservation of public art in our city.

For more information on the Vancouver Biennale and the Tour de Biennale, please visit www.vancouverbiennale.com.

Hot Tamales?

July 4, 2012

Hello Neworlders,

Neworld recently partnered with our friends from Toronto, Nightswimming, to bring Carmen Aguirre’s “Blue Box” to the Cultch. One patron, understandably, took issue with the use of the phrase “hot tamale” in the promotional materials. The following article was originally published in the PACT newsletter (Canada’s association of professional theatre companies) and we also wanted to share it with you. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below.

Thanks, eh.

“Hot Tamale” and Carmen Aguirre’s Blue Box
edited by Adrienne Wong

Toronto’s Nightswimming commissioned and developed Blue Box and produced a national tour in association with Vancouver’s Neworld Theatre to unndercurrents (GCTC, Ottawa), The Cultch (Vancouver), Panamerican Routes Festival (Aluna Theatre, Toronto), UNO Festival of Solo Performance (Intrepid Theatre, Victoria), and Magnetic North (Calgary). Shortly after the run of Blue Box in Vancouver, The Cultch forwarded an email from a patron unhappy with the use of the term “hot tamale” in the marketing materials.

Below is an excerpt of the dialogue between the artist and producers as we processed the complaint. Carmen Aguirre, Nightswimming’s Rupal Shah, and Neworld’s Marcus Youssef, Adrienne Wong, and Kirsty Munro participated in the dialogue. Our conversation happened privately (via email) and also publicly (on Neworld’s Facebook page).

The platform for the conversation highlights one of the benefits and uses of social media: undoing the need to hide dialogue/disagreement within organizations and allowing for multiple points of view. It’s in this spirit of dialogue that we share our conversation with you.

Marcus: (Facebook) They’re right. Didn’t catch it. Should have… (email) i don’t agree with the branding approach – don’t think it actually lands in any way.

Kirsty: (email) [I] am not sure I agree.  The term is complimentary and I don’t see the connection to stereotyping… And if it doesn’t bother Carmen herself, then who is anyone else to complain?  And why criticize this and not Ali & Ali for example?

Marcus: (email) for me it’s a clichéd sexualized image that depends on a history of hyper-sexualization of the latin american female as represented by clichés like ‘hot tamale’ and it’s quoted out of context, so the only meaning it has (in this context of promo) is the stereotyped cliché it is. it’s good marketing and bad politics. a quote that was something like “carmen is smart and unbelievably sexy” would not do that in my view.

for me ali and ali is a very different show – one that consciously and explicitly takes stereotypes and makes them bigger. it’s all about reversals of those stereotypes in the action of the play. blue box is a personal story of something ‘real’ that actually happened.

Carmen: (FB) Sweethearts, I’m the one who offered the hot tamale quote. From now on I will only offer hot empanada quotes, to quote the angry patron.

Rupal: (FB) Actually, Brian [Quirt] and I talked about that quote, way back but since Carmen was up for it, we included it in the literature… it’s interesting that Carmen’s the one least concerned about it.

Adrienne: (FB) As a ‘Steamy Wonton’ […] I want to point out that the show is billed everywhere as “Carmen Aguirre’s Blue Box.” The pun is intentional – ‘box’ standing in for ‘cunt’ if I need to spell it out. To me, this means that Carmen is intentionally sexualizing herself and the content; she’s using these phrases and images as entry points because they ARE stereotypes and therefore familiar and accessible. The play complicates these images and projections of self and part of the effectiveness of that complication is the simplistic starting point.

Carmen: (email to patron) First of all, thank you for writing and expressing your point of view. In the theatre world we are always happy to hear from patrons; we value the time and effort you have made to give us your opinion. I see your point when you speak of the ‘hot tamale’ reference being offensive. However, I would like to clarify that the quote came from myself, not The Cultch, and I offered it pointedly. That is to say, I did it on purpose (you may have noticed the that my e-mail address is northernspic. I did that on purpose.) You may have also noticed that the play self-consciously plays with icons, stereotypes, archetypes, and then turns them on their head. What I object to is that you seem to think that I am some kind of victim of racist stereotypes. If you saw the play, I hope that you were able to see immediately that I am the furthest thing from a victim, and that I have chosen the language in the play and in the publicity every step of the way, at times precisely for its racial overtones. In any case, thank you again for writing, and please know that the choices being made in regards to marketing the show have all come from me, and I stand behind them one hundred percent.

What’s interesting, to us, is the range of opinions about how the artist is portrayed, the artist’s agency in shaping marketing materials – which are often the audience’s first engagement with a show – and the usefulness (or not) of using cultural clichés and stereotypes when talking about a show. We still have not come to consensus about these issues, and I don’t expect we will. The ongoing dialogue underlines that decisions about cultural and racial questions in theatre are not as simple as being “politically correct.” Each incident is unique and complicated – as are the producers and artists who each bring their own perspectives and past experiences. We invite your perspectives. Search (and be-friend) Neworld Theatre Headquarters on Facebook to weigh-in.

We give the last word to (disgruntled?) patron, writer and comedian Charles Demers, who posted on Facebook, “I was disappointed that the show was not about recycling.”

Carmen Aguirre’s Blue Box will tour in 2013, traveling to GCTC in Ottawa, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and the Sandbox Series at the Globe Theatre in Regina.

Reviews of Blue Box at the Uno Festival

June 6, 2012

Carmen Aguirre’s Blue Box received positive reviews from it’s showing at the Uno festival in Victoria this last weekend. Click on the link to the blog to see the review.

Melanie Tromp Hoover from the Monday Magazine Blog said, “Blue Box is an unapologetic story of and told with power.  Its narrative bathes in it, bemoans the loss of it, fights it and fears it—all in one captivating solo show.”

Chelsea Rowley from West is West said “Drawn from real life events “Blue Box” spins together different times, places and people from Aguirre’s life to creates a vivid tapestry of love, loss and desperation. At times that love is manifested in the form of a handsome “Vision” while at others it is the unwavering devotion to a revolutionary cause much bigger than herself.”

Amy Smart from the Times Colonist said, “She describes her heart as a hummingbird beating its wings, her tongue as a dead fish. Her writing is definitely her strength and…she knows the power of a sustained silence.”

See Blue Box at the Magnetic North Festival in Calgary, June 14th-17th

January 10, 2012

Emma Middleton – a final year, and Courtney Shields – an intermediate year in the BFA Acting Program at UBC discuss their experience as students participating in The Idiot:

Being a part of The Idiot is a dream come true for this pair of acting students. Emma, who participated in a workshop of the show this past summer, was absolutely over the moon to be cast in the show. Courtney was equally thrilled, but didn’t really have a concept of what an ideal theatre experience she was walking into. That is, until she ran into Emma the day after her fitting, and Emma squealed, “Have you had your costume fitting yet?!”

Before rehearsals for the show began, we both made the trek to the basement at Langara College to meet with costume designer Mara Gottler, and assistant costume designer, Sydney Cavanagh, to be fitted for the show. The costumes are absolutely stunning and include vintage pieces that are actually from the 1860s! We’re wearing REAL CORSETS! Not to mention layers of petticoats, and dresses with hooks and buttons that make us understand why the wealthy had servants to dress them back in the day. After getting done up in our gorgeous dresses, we had the hilarious experience of attempting to sit down while wearing a bustle, to lace up our (beautiful) boots. In the corsets we couldn’t even reach our toes! The best surprise was probably after putting on our first outfits, when Mara turned to us and said: “Okay, that’s your winter look, now try on your summer dress”. We were both beaming at the thought of having multiple outfits in the show. That first fitting transported us back to our days of playing dress-up as little girls, but with a much more impressive costume box!

A lot of time has passed since our first fitting, we are now in our third week of rehearsals. The entire experience has been a thrill. The cast is so talented, and a joy to work with. They are all really generous with all the students, and make us feel completely welcome. Jimmy, our director, and Joelysa our musical director are creating something truly special. It is inspiring as students to be leaving class and coming to this project every day! We may never want to go back!

… just kidding.


-Emma & Courtney


Countdown to The Idiot

January 3, 2012

Just two weeks until The Idiot opens at the Frederick Wood Theatre at UBC, as part of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival!

Here are some quick facts about Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot, and our upcoming production…

Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky:
– born November 11, 1821
– died February 9, 1881
– was the 2nd of 7 siblings
he wrote
– 2 translations of other’s works
– 15 novels and novellas
– 17 short stories

The Idiot:
– published serially 1868-69
– the 26 year-old protagonist is Prince Lev Nikolaevich Myshkin
– 2 women win Prince Myshki’s affection
– among the film adaptations is the 1951 film by Akira Kurosawa

Our Production:
– 25 performers
– 18 in the design/production team
– 33 original songs written for the show
– 240 cups of coffee consumed per week of rehearsal (that’s 960 over the four week rehearsal period)
– 100+ beautiful period costumes

Podplays . Long arms . Collaborative Adaptation

September 27, 2011

In addition to creating amazing audio plays to listen to while walking the streets of Vancouver, this past summer Neworld has conducted a series of DIY PodPlay Workshops. We worked with local writer/artist/facilitators to identify and partner with different community and youth groups. The initiative was funded through the Telus Community Fund. I asked one facilitator, Hari Alluri, to share some of his experience teaching podplays…. Check it out…. —Adrienne


Podplays DIY Workshop

Podplays. Heidi Nagtegaal, creator of the Hammock Residency, dubbed them “movies that play in your ears while you walk around in them,” during a Hammock Free Podplay workshop. This was before she made one, and after the Hammock Free School (a participant-driven skill sharing project organized by G. Amani) participants and I had combined neworld theatre’s Podplay curriculum with the desires of those who showed up that day, freestyled sonically and vocally, and watched a video recording of Adrienne Wong’s Podplay, “Look Up.”

Um, back up. I first heard about Podplays though a callout that was forwarded to me by a friend. Imagining them as radio plays set to the rhythm of a walking tour, I was immediately interested. I had been thinking about how place carries stories, having recently returned from the Philippines for the first time since immigrating to South Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories over 15 years before. Thanks to jet lag and close quarters, my mom and I woke up at like 3am every morning in the house her soldier father had built, and from then till sunrise every night for a week she told me stories about the village, herself growing up, her family and her ancestors that I had never heard before, stories I felt she must have been dislodging from the physical space around us: the wood and concrete of the house, the plants whose names I didn’t know she knew, the land itself.

Long arms. I wanted to make one. So, I walked through a snowy Vancouver afternoon down to Granville Island. Conversations with amazing writers Adrienne Wong of Neworld Theatre and Martin Kinch of Playwrights Theatre Centre built the notion in my head and I was planning my first theatre piece, learning more about unfolding story, about the particular constraints of timing a play to contend with street lights, traffic and people’s different walking paces, about what it meant to work with a sound designer (Rupinder Sidhu) as part of creating a script’s backbone, about dramaturgy and adapting it to a moving stage that the writer essentially has to push along in front of the audience’s eyes and imagination without letting it get in the way. I never did quite figure out that last part in time for the Podplays’ deadline, but I did build certain skills that changed how I write and learn enough about the process to eventually facilitate workshops for community groups to make short Podplays.

Collaborative adaptation. Every workshop is. This has been especially so with the podplays workshops. From the Hammock Free School to Leave Out Violence (LOVE) BC, to Asian Arts Freedom School Coast Salish Territories. Whether the group included young adults, youth or both. Whether participants knew their aesthetic or were fashioning it through the process. Whether the characters were themselves or invented. Whether set in East Van or South Van. Alleys, parks, residential, commercial. Whether the route participants walked – searching for objects that could help tell a dramatic story – was new to them or heavily personal, a place for lightly transplanting memory and imagination or one already weighed down with personal stories making demands. Whether the Podplays ended up as relay-style pieces that led to each other along the route or a single piece that weaved between perspectives. Collaborative. Adaptation. Along the way, some pretty damn good stories travelling through spaces that have millions more to tell. Almost every participant said they’d do it again. One, holding up a recording device, threatened, “maybe right after you leave.”

Poplays, like the creative journey, are about making choices within constraints. Here’s a few of the choices a few people got to make. Take a listen. It might remind you of a story you’d like to invent. Or maybe one that was part of inventing you. Either way, maybe you’d like to make one.

Hari Alluri  has been invited to bring his spoken word to the stage of many venues, including Toronto’s Dim Sum festival, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival and Under the Volcano Festival of Art and Social Change. writer. performer. filmmaker: empower.

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