With Mother’s Day coming up, it’s no surprise that women are on top this month. From a history of gender through narrative dance to a Vancouver-based, Tokyo-born playwright’s multilingual homage to her late grandmother.
Women are the focus of their own stories and identities, and it’s refreshing to see so many of Vancouver’s indie productions embrace the topic front and centre.
Here are 9 of the hottest arts shows that you won’t want to miss in Vancouver this May.
Generation Y’s permanent quest for adventure is the theme of Napoléon Voyage, which traces the playwright’s own international journeys across England, Bosnia, Japan, and Norway. Montreal’s rising playwright Jean-Philippe Lehoux eventually comes to grip with the realization that life has only granted him a tourist visa.
How does a history of gender defined roles and behaviours continue impact us today? That’s at the core of the first full-length work by Meredith Kalaman, featuring three strong female dancers in a blend of narrative and contemporary dance. Femme Fatales gets to the heart of our gendered legacy, drawing together historical references from childhood nursery rhymes to remnants of the witch-hunt era.
The Brontë sisters have stamped their legacies in enduring classics like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Just like their oft-flawed heroines, Ties of Blood reimagines dramatic lives for the Brontë siblings. These literary icons have been completely recast—”ambitious” Charlotte, “passionate” Emily, “benevolent” Anne—sharing the stage alongside their mysterious brother, Branwell. It’s Game of Thrones meets “the tortured world of the Brontës”, and sure to be a rare treat for all literary fans.
There’s an interesting quirk to this production—String of Pearls stars Kelly Sheridan, otherwise known as the voice of Barbie from all of your childhood VHS tapes. The stories of more than 27 women, connected through a single pearl necklace, are portrayed by four talented actresses in this Mother’s Day weekend production.
Elvis Presley. Johnny Cash. Jerry Lee Lewis. Carl Perkins. Recreating the real-life moment where these four rock idols were brought together for the first and last time ever, Million Dollar Quartet is a ‘jukebox musical’ that covers all of their greatest hits. Explore a time of great diversity for the Memphis music scene as the artists are immortalized on vinyl together at the Sun Records Studio on December 4, 1956.
Inspired by First Nations music, this deeply Canadian story is one of redemption and family. Uncover the hidden history of residential schools and their deep impact on survivors and their families, as well as what this dark legacy means for all Canadians today.
Performed in both English and Japanese (with English surtitles), NeOn (ね音) shows the depth of multiculturalism here in Vancouver. Framed around a secret within playwright Mayumi Yoshida’s late grandmother’s arranged marriage, NeOn is essentially all about love. The production is part of the rEvolver Festival, an yearly showcase of sophisticated new work by emerging artists.
A dark thriller with stalker tendencies, The Hunger Room examines the inner crisis of a suburban high school under threat. No one’s safe from suspicion as a series of anonymous notes, written in blood, are delivered to select female students. Exploring themes of loneliness, disconnection and possible violence, Hunger Room preys on the secrets we keep and the lengths we will go to keep them hidden.
A highly sought-after choreographer, Wen Wei Wang returns with a new work, Dialogue, which features six male dancers expressing the basic desire for communication and understanding. Drawing on Wang’s non-English background when immigrating to Canada, Dialogue dwells on the loneliness that results when fundamental connections become unattainable.