This chilly November, get your inner fangirl on with the large-scale musical production of Jersey Boys. Or head out to the ever-popular Eastside Cultural Crawl for the very best of the city’s local artists.
On the smaller stage, there’s plenty of intelligent material for you to chew on, as brave productions work through race and privilege in new and thought-provoking ways.
Here are 11 of November’s hottest arts shows.
Ballet BC’s opener focuses on “visual storytelling” through the work of two choreographers. The company’s resident choreographer, Cayetano Soto, will premiere a piece incorporating movement, costume, and lighting. The other premiere, by Johan Inger of Walking Mad fame, brings new work B.R.I.S.A. to this side of the world for the first time ever.
Set on the historical night of Obama’s first election, this underdog production of Smart People explores race and identity in the best way possible—controversially, of course. Four ‘intellectuals’ (doctor, actress, psychologist, neurobiologist) embark on a modern-day comedy of manners, with one crucial twist: what happens when race is tossed into the mix?
Getting up close and personal with a story you probably knew but never thought too deeply about, Missing honours over 1200 murdered and missing Aboriginal women and girls. The first-ever opera libretto by Canadian Métis playwright Marie Clements, the story is set in both the Downtown Eastside and the notorious Highway of Tears. Highlighting the devastation to communities of First Nations, Inuit and Métis, the opera is sung in both English and the First Nations language of Gitxsan.
Ever wondered about the stories behind the moss-covered, venerable Sylvia Hotel in English Bay? Here’s your chance to relive a part of Vancouver legacy, with two original one-act plays that trace the origins of the 100+ year old hotel. You might recognize more than a few of the characters, including lifeguard extraordinaire Joe Fortes and the immortalized Sylvia Goldstein.
A satirical modern mashup of Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now, this German play has swept across Europe and will be having its North American premiere right here in town. Understanding ‘the other’ in a comical journey of discovery by two soldiers, the play begins on Remembrance Day and ends, fittingly, on the UN-sanctioned World Toilet Day.
Back in the sixties, Aboriginal kids were taken away from their families and ‘adopted’ into white households and schools. Thus followed a systematic (and state-sanctioned) obliteration of Native language and culture, coupled with themes of abuse, abandonment and identity. Written by Indigenous playwright Drew Hayden Taylor, the play was originally produced by the Firehall in the nineties and is now back for another go-around.
Before boy bands were a thing, there was Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The original heartthrobs from Jersey are at the core of this award-winning musical, bringing their classic radio hits to a whole new generation. Get ready for some magical harmonies and off-stage drama with this timeless hit about crooners from the wrong side of the tracks.
In this long-running Eastside tradition, 500+ artists will welcome 30,000 visitors to their studios over the course of four days. Stretching across 80 different buildings around East Vancouver, the bustling festival environment is a great way to discover new local artists in the hood.
In a direct reflection of the times, Satellites touches our tangible anxieties about local housing and real estate. Abound with cheating realtors, housing activists, and teenagers living in monster mansions, the play examines the disappearing soul of our city, and the loneliness of the people living within it.
Six teens are sent off for ‘rehabilitation’ at a remote therapy camp in the great outdoors. In every teen’s worst cellphone blackout nightmare, Wilderness is all about connection—or the struggle to connect—between parents and their kids. Each story deals with the universal pressures of growing up in modern society, including mental health, addition, gender, and sexual identity.
Looking unlike anything else on stage this month, The Shipment will shake up your perception of race and identity. Five Black actors play out a host of bad cliches, challenging our traditional narratives of Black culture. Raw, challenging, and decidedly unpreachy, The Shipment might just be the production our city needs at this particular time.