So long, summer. With the imminent threat of rain hanging in the air, it’s time to huddle indoors for some great Arts & Culture. Fall is traditionally Vancouver’s strongest season for performing arts, and while the lion’s share of shows won’t hit the stage until next month, it’s a great time to get (re)acquainted with the city’s thriving scene.
An iconic play about the AIDS epidemic gets a refresh. Vancouver Fringe Festival is coming, loud and weird. Filipino culture and food are on display like never before, in two brave new productions out this month.
Here are our picks for the hottest arts shows in September.
While everyone else seems to be preparing for fall, the brightly coloured tents over at Vanier Park belie the changing of the seasons. Bard is conventionally a summer thing, so it might be easy to forget that some of the shows have been held over this month, due to popular demand. One of the two, Pericles, is a rarely-performed play set in an ancient mythical world and follows a prince’s quest to find love. We’ll let the images remind you of parallels to another massively popular fantasy series.
When: Until September 21
Where: Vanier Park (Kits)
A time-honoured tradition going 17 years strong, SWARM17 presents a different narrative of the vitality and longevity of local artists within East Vancouver. Move from gallery to gallery, taking in a variety of mixed media, music, alongside a few new murals in the neighbourhood.
When: September 8 and 9
Where: Mount Pleasant & Downtown Eastside
Every year, Vancouver Fringe Festival takes over Granville Island and other venues, putting on the province’s largest (and possibly most offbeat) theatre festival. All artists are randomly selected by lottery, giving a wide range of veterans and novices the chance to perform unconventional material to a large audience – 40,000+ people take in the shows over the 11 days. Weird, wonderful and usually done on a shoestring budget, Fringe always dominates arts headings in September, and with good reason.
When: September 8 to 18
Where: Granville Island, South Granville, and East Vancouver
For one night, both in-person and streaming online (tune into the live-stream for free), local singer/songwriter Veda Hille and her 46-piece orchestra will honour three Canadian female artists: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Emily Carr, and Hille herself. Remixing Buffy Sainte-Marie songs and presenting original pieces inspired by Emily Carr, Plastic Acid Orchestra is, as the name suggests, a modern-day symphony orchestra for the present. Notably, the group has gained massive nerd-cred in playing support at concerts like Legend of Zelda and Video Games Live here in Vancouver.
When: September 10
Where: Vancouver Playhouse
Filipino culture is on display in the bodies of seven dancers from Vancouver and Manila, in local dance company Co.Erasga’s new work on Asian indigenous roots and culture. The contemporary dance company continues working to bring much-needed diversity to the local arts community, memorably with last year’s explosive Unwrapping Culture, about the ramifications of Thai traditional culture turned plastic commodity. Collected Traces and Still Here seems to follow that trend, both introducing and heralding the erosion of indigenous cultures in the face of globalization.
When: September 14 to 17
Where: Scotiabank Dance Centre (Yaletown)
Foodporn + multiculturalism, Vancouver’s unofficial fixations, blend together in this theatre-meets-cooking-class, part of the annual Gateway Theatre Pacific Festival. Derek Chan balances stories of imperial conquest with cooking a traditional Filipino dish, all in real time. The bitter legacy of colonialism may very well be tempered by Chan’s ultimate display of hospitality, through the preparing and sharing of a meal.
When: September 15 to 17
Where: Gateway Theatre (Richmond)
Video game + costume party + music and dance performance + installation. Digital Folk will run three looping shows each evening, with the audience invited to stay as long as they’d like for the night. An interactive and interdisciplinary adventure, the show updates how communities tell stories in the wake of video game culture and accelerating technologies.
When: September 21 to 25
Where: SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts (Gastown)
Thug life, Vancouver-style, is the subject of this brand new play by local playwright Cara Norrish. Joey, hardworking mechanic turned biker gang member, is struggling to break ties for the sake of his own family. Somehow, we don’t think all this will go out quietly.
When: September 23 to October 15
Where: Pacific Theatre (South Granville)
Wondering how the local music scene has developed throughout the decades? Sonic Elder, a living tribute to Vancouver’s youth culture pioneers, is an on-stage documentary following the lives of six notable musicians who lived, played and partied through the heyday of the original club scene. Performed in Penthouse Night Club, one of the few remaining live music venues from the era, the show combines Vancouver’s disappearing musical history with heady questions of aging and legacy.
When: September 27 to October 2
Where: Penthouse Night Club
Iconic theatre show turned equally iconic HBO miniseries, the 1993 landmark play is back with tomorrow’s up-and-comers of Langara’s Studio 58. Led by sought-after director Rachel Peake, Angels in America transports us back to New York under the Reagan-era, following the relationships of two couples in an examination of the AIDS epidemic, faith, life and death, and of course, politics. Images from the TV series are still etched into our collective memory, so it will be telling to see how Peake adapts this one for Vancouver audiences today.
When: September 29 to October 16
Where: Studio 58 (Langara College)