The Firehall is Releasing a Podcast!

In a new initiative to keep engaging our wonderful patrons, we are releasing, “Dramatic Pause: Conversations about the Arts.” Donna Spencer, our Artistic Producer, will be interviewing Canadian artists, covering an array of topics from each artists lives, to the role of art, and it’s importance, especially now, in the current climate.

As an homage to many years of collaboration, our first interviewee will be David Diamond, Artistic Director of Theatre for Living. Theatre for Living has produced many shows at the Firehall over the years, the last being šxʷʔam̓ət (Home).

Our podcast is hosted both on PodBean and iTunes for free.

We will be posting new episodes every other Tuesday night, so stay tuned!

Have a listen today!




An Update on the Firehall and our 2020/2021 Season

Every year many of patrons purchase Early Bird passes to Firehall season’s offerings. They are a great deal with savings ranging from 10% to 28% depending on which pass program purchasers subscribe too and allow purchasers to chose which shows from the Firehall season of between ten to twelve different productions that they wish to attend.

In this uncertain time, the Firehall is asking patrons to take a leap of faith with us and invest in the 2020-2021 upcoming season. And what will that season be? That is a great question and this is the part where the leap of faith comes in. Artistic Producer Donna Spencer is planning a fall season of events entitled the Salon Series. This series will feature primarily theatre but will, also, include music and dance designed for audiences of 50 or less. Reflective of the current public assembly guidelines of 50, not including staff and crew, set by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry this number allows for a creative team of artists and customer services staff of ten. Through undertaking this scale of programming not only will the Firehall be able to ensure our audiences, artists and venue support staff are safe within the current physical distancing and PPE’s guidelines but will provide opportunities for audiences to enjoy the live performing arts again in an intimate setting. When public assembly limits are increased, which we hope is sooner rather than later, the venue seating will be increased accordingly.

So while we are still in programming stages for the 2020-2021 season, we are planning ten to twelve different productions including our production with Savage Society of Taran Kootenhayoo’s White Noise; Touchstone’s production in association with the Firehall of Adam Grant Warren’s Lights , which unfortunately, were postponed because of the pandemic. Other works could include Manami Hara’s Courage Now ; a remount of our co-production with Puente Theatre of Elaine Avila’s FADO, The Saddest Music in the World ; Rice & Beans’ Yellow Objects ; Yvonne Wallace’s Utzan; more stories from the East side in Opening Doors ; a work in progress showing of Starr Muranko’s Chapter 21 and Allan Morgan’s I Walked The Line, just to name a few. More details will be released about programming as contracts for productions are confirmed.

Early Bird passes come in two flavours: The Full Pack for $79 which allows you to attend four productions through the season and the Four Pack Flex for $100 which allows you to mix and match as you please allowing you to bring guests with you or see your favourite show more than once.

Should the Firehall be forced to shut down operations because of COVID-19, any passes or tickets left on passes purchased will be refunded.

Early Bird passes are available beginning June 8th until July 31, 2020.



Spring Cleaning Finds: George Ryga Photoset

As we plan for our return to performances and to dive in to spring cleaning in our offices and the theatre, we, inevitably, have come upon a few treasures lost in the mess, or as we’d like to call it, “creative build-up.” One such treasure is this beautiful photo set of iconic Canadian playwright, George Ryga. Why do we have these shots was the question and it came up that we think they were taken when the Firehall was producing his one man show for his great friend, Dick Clements, called One More For The Road just prior to Ryga’s passing in 1987.

This was the beginning of the Firehall’s relationship with Mr. Ryga, who is recognized as an essential part of Canadian literary and theatrical history. Ryga was born in Deep Creek, Alberta to poor Ukrainian immigrants. Both the nature of his upbringing, and the variance of his cultural identity pushed Ryga to the margins of larger Canadian society, and it was from this otherness that he was able to draw inspiration for many of his works, including, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe. Written in collaboration with Chief Dan George, chief of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe was one of the first plays in Canadian history to place at the forefront indigenous characters, plights, and realities, in a manner that provided both visibility and agency. The play does not skirt around structural and colonial violence being at the heart of its characters problems in its raw delivery through songs, montages, and tableaus.

First premiered at the Vancouver Playhouse in 1967, the Firehall Arts Centre had the pleasure of producing this unique piece twice, in 1992 and again in 2007, working with some of Canada’s most accomplished Indigenous artists in both productions. Artistic Producer and Director Donna Spencer directed both productions and notes it was the play The Ecstasy of Rita Joe which sparked her first interests in the theatre. “This was the first Canadian play I read that actually addressed contemporary Canadian issues which I could see happening around me in small town Alberta. Unfortunately, now working at the Firehall, we still see the impact of residential schools, the 60’s scoop up and racism towards Indigenous peoples. Things have improved in many ways but in others it has stayed the same or gotten worse. I recall George coming back from lunch one day ,when we were in rehearsal for One More For the Road, and saying ““ I can’t believe it – I just saw someone pulling food out of a dumpster – this in a country as rich as Canada? How can this be happening? “” And in remembering that, I wonder what he would have to say about the current state of affairs in the city with the ongoing Drug Crisis and its impact on the community. And now with the COVID-19 emergency compounding things – I imagine, after using some very colorful language, that he would write a pretty potent piece of theatre.”



Donna Spencer: Had/Has a Vision

In 1982, when this photo was taken, my vision for the Firehall was to create a cultural venue that would not only work in partnership with the resident companies at that time but, also, would be a producer and presenter of theatre , dance, and multi-disciplinary works reflecting the diversity of Canadians. And Firehall staff and board have worked continually to realize that vision starting in 1985-86 as one of only two professional theatre companies in Canada actively working towards inclusivity on stage.

But here and now in 2020, the theatre is closed and only the “ghost light” lights the stage at night and I contemplate what the new reality will be when we are safe to assemble in public once again. Will our audiences have gotten so used to being encouraged to watch all of their entertainment on screen return to live performances? Will they have any money in their budget to go out and enjoy a play or a dance performance? And what is it that we do or can do to bring them back to our wonderful intimate little venue for a performance?

And I return to the original vision of so many years ago and recognise what really was being envisaged was a place where people could gather to share in the witnessing and enjoyment of good stories and good storytelling through live performances, be it theatre or dance. The true goal was to create a safe space where people who might not know each other could gather and share laughter, tears, thoughts and experiences together. A place where artists and arts workers could share their talents with an audience that would breathe with them in the serious moments and laugh with them in the lighter moments.

And while the world has indeed been changed and will for some time continue to be impacted by this pandemic, when it is safe people will come out of their houses and they will want to share communal experiences. That is who we are as human beings – we like to be with and do things with others. So as we wait in anticipation of welcoming audiences back to the theatre, we are considering many ways to enrich audiences experiences at the theatre while also considering how we engage with the artists we work with and all of the different ways we can undertake live performances. And in the meantime, we will stay in touch until such time as we can meet again in the theatre.

Stay safe, laugh as much as you can, and remember you are not alone – we are all in this together.

– Donna



Firehall Suspends Operations

Artistic Producer, Donna Spencer announced today that the Firehall Arts Centre is suspending all productions and presentations until such time as it is deemed safe for the public to meet and enjoy live arts performances.

We are, of course, disappointed that we will not at this time be able to share productions like Trans Scripts, Part 1: The Women and Artistic Fraud’s amazing Between Breaths with you. Our upcoming production of White Noise is being postponed until Fall 2020 and we are hopeful that by mid-May we will be able to resume the balance of our programming for the 2020-2021 season.

Our box office staff will be in contact with all of the patrons who have purchased tickets for these three productions with further information regarding pre-purchased tickets.

As a not for profit charity, the Firehall is reliant on box office to cover a large portion of our annual operating budget and we are working to minimize as much as possible the impact of losses from box office revenues on the Society’s financial health. If you are able, the donation of your ticket back to the Firehall Arts Centre would be greatly appreciated and would help us immensely. All donations of $20.00 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt.

We are also working to minimize as much as possible the impact these cancellations and postponements will have on the freelance performing artists and part-time customer services and technical staff, with whom we work as they too must have the means to support their living expenses.

Thank you from the Firehall for your support and stay healthy.
Firehall Arts Centre Staff



Steps We’re Taking to Keep Everyone Safe and Healthy

Dear Valued Friends of the Firehall,

The Firehall is committed to providing a healthy safe environment for our audiences, the artists we work with, our volunteers and our staff. We are closely watching COVID-19 developments and looking to the Public Health Agency of Canada, HealthLink BC and BC Centre for Disease Control for their guidance. Currently, all Firehall performances are proceeding on schedule as our venue only seats 134 individuals. We are implementing ways in which to ensure that our venue is sanitized and clean and that our audience and the artists we work with feel safe within the venue. As a live performance not-for-profit charity we are highly dependent on the ongoing support of patrons and donors such as yourself.

We have put in place the following measures to ensure that your health is protected and that your ticket purchase is secure.

  • We have capped attendance at 70% for all Firehall performances until further notice, allowing for greater space between patrons.
  • High-touch services such as handrails, door handles, pin pads and seat arm rests are being cleaned between performances.
  • We have increased the presence of hand sanitizers in our lobby and will ensure soap in the washrooms is regularly replenished.
  • Our staff and volunteers are following official advice and are staying home if they feel unwell.

How you can play your part:

  • If you are feeling ill, please stay at home. We will happily change your ticket to a future date or performance at no charge, give you an account credit or refund your purchase. Email boxoffice@firehallartscentre.ca or call the box office at 604-689-0926 Mon-Friday between 9:30-5pm.
  • Frequently wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water or use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol if you’re unable to wash your hands.
  • If you need to cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with your arm or a tissue.

Our website and social media channels will be updated with information as required.

We value your support and hope to see you at upcoming performances at the Firehall.

For more information about your health and COVID-19, please visit the following websites:

Public Health Agency of Canada


BC Centre for Disease Control



Firehall’s Response to COVID-19

As a live performance theatre, the Firehall Arts Centre undertakes its productions and presentations for our audiences and we are very dependent on your support at our events.  We are, also, very aware of your concerns with regard to COVID-19 and its potential to be spread in public gatherings.  We are working to keep our venue as safe as possible through sanitizing our stair rails, counters, and other public areas. We encourage you, also, to protect yourself when attending a performance by using hand sanitizer, washing your hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds and covering your mouth and nose with your arm when coughing and sneezing. We want to thank you for your consideration of others and we appreciate your ongoing patronage greatly.

Please check out the interview below from CBC with Dr. Abdu Sharkawy.

Infectious diseases specialist warns of ‘overkill’ when cancelling events over coronavirus fears



Special Announcement: A Hanky Panky Party to Benefit the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and Firehall Arts Centre!

Cast of Talking Sex on Sunday by Emily Cooper

Want to experience a party like the one in Talking Sex on Sunday? After the show on Sunday, March 1st we’ll be having our own Hanky Panky party to benefit the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and Firehall Arts Centre in the studio! Hosted by Hanky Panky Adult Home Parties! There is a $5.00 registration fee in order to attend – everyone is welcome! The registration fee and a portion of the sales from the party will be split between the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre and Firehall Arts Centre. Snacks will be provided and our bar will stay open for the party!

Book your Hanky Panky ticket now! Space is limited!



Up Next: Spooky Action!

Spooky Action

by Lesley Telford/Inverso Productions

Click the photo to watch the trailer.

Playing from October 16 – 19 at the Firehall Arts Centre! Get your tickets HERE!

“An interdisciplinary dance project inspired by particle entanglement”

Spooky Action is inspired by Einstein’s famous phrase referring to particles that are so closely linked, they share the same existence. A collaboration with poet/performer Barbara Adler, this interdisciplinary work weaves together visual art, contemporary dance, poetic storytelling and original composition to extend the theory to human connections. In the full length work, all mediums are exploring the quantum property of entanglement by turns intricate, mysterious, refined, and dryly witty. Spooky Action brings together thought-provoking dance and engaging narrative to probe the mysterious ways we act on each other’s lives.

Telford has a profound way of tapping into emotional and intellectual landscapes. She’s an exciting voice to watch as we go forward in this next generation of choreographers.” – Emily Molnar, Ballet BC

Lesley Telford and Inverso use quantum physics as their conceptual seed. …The resultant performance was just as intriguing as the premise. The piece was beautifully choreographed and gracefully executed. The ebb and flow of energy from one dancer to another was tantalizing.” – Vancouver Arts Review


Performers: Stéphanie Cyr, Eden Solomon, Brandon Alley, Lucas Wilson-Bilbro
Apprentices: Anya Saugstad, Beth Durnie
Text- Barbara Adler
Composer- James Meger
Lighting- Alan Brodie
Production Manager: Heidi Quicke


Inverso Productions
Founded in Madrid in 2012 by choreographer Lesley Telford, Inverso is now a Vancouver-based company. It is a platform for exchange, creating dance through the lens of other art forms. This platform aims to develop collaborative ventures with the goal of creating and building interdisciplinary works alongside other artists. Inverso focuses on choreography as a method of conversation and exchange; between art forms, between dancers, dancers and the physical environment on stage, words and movement, movement and light, collaborators and technologies – fundamentally with the goal of pushing the artistic practice.

Lesley Telford
Lesley Telford is a Vancouver-based choreographer who has returned to her hometown after a career in Europe spanning 20 years, where she danced and choreographed with Netherlands Dans Theater 1 and Compañia Nacional de Danza. She is the artistic director of Inverso Productions and also leads the Performance Research Project for emerging artists at Arts Umbrella. Lesley has refined a choreographic approach that is sensitive to the minute relationships between performers and between performers and their environment. Her work brings together a technically rigorous vocabulary with devotion to an unforced ‘liveness’ that embraces in-themoment reactivity and attunement to sensation. She has choreographed over 20 dance works internationally, including one full length work that she produced through her company Inverso Productions along with Korzo Productions. She has been commissioned to create works for Ballet BC, Netherlands Dans Theater 1, Hubbard Street Dance Company 2, Compañia Nacional de Danza 2 (Spain), Ballet Vorpommern (Germany), International Project for Dance in Rome-DAF (Italy), Butler Ballet (US) and an upcoming work with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.


Ria Girard by David Cooper



Up Next: The Shipment!

The Shipment

by Young Jean Lee

Photo: Ryan McDonald

Playing from September 24 – October 5 at the Firehall Arts Centre! Get your tickets HERE!

“A provocative comedy to shake the woke”

-The Georgia Straight

The Firehall Arts Centre is thrilled to launch its 37th anniversary season with SpeakEasy Theatre’s powerful and provocative comedy, The Shipment.

Written by Korean-American playwright Young Jean Lee, The Shipment is a subversive modern minstrel show about Black identity meant to wake the world to the ridiculous narratives in dominant media. Five Black actors – Andrew Creightney, Chris Francisque, Omari Newton, Adrian Neblett, and Kiomi Pyke – play a roster of characters that reads like a bad b-list of Black iconography: Video Ho, Crackhead John, Bad Cop, Standup Comedian, Drug Dealer Mama, Grandma from Heaven, and Record Company Executive, to name just a few. The brazen mash-up of these stereotypes with clichés, distortions, and brilliant sleights of hand all force us to go beyond the lampoon and shift the lens through which we perceive race in order to confront our own bias.

“Young Jean Lee is one of America’s most fearless and exciting playwrights,” says Firehall Arts Centre’s Artistic Producer, Donna Spencer. “In her writing, she is not afraid to tackle difficult subject matter and does so with humour and intelligence. When SpeakEasy Theatre first produced The Shipment, I was privileged to sit in a sold-out performance and watch the audience shift in their seats, uncomfortably, and then laugh out loud a few moments later. The work engaged them and made them consider. I am proud to share this playwright’s work and this talented company of artists with Firehall audiences.”

Garnering five Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards nominations and a Best Actor win for Omari Newton, The Shipment is biting satire at its very best.

“Bold, honest and hilarious.” – Vancouver Presents!

“…a surrealist collage.” – Colin Thomas


Credits for The Shipment

Written by:  Young Jean Lee

Performances by:  Andrew Creightney, Chris Francisque, Omari Newton, Adrian Neblett, and Kiomi Pyke

Directed by:  Kayvon Khoshkam and Omari Newton

Set & Costume Design by:  Markian Taraskiuk

Lighting Design by:  Itai Erdal

Produced by:  Markian Tarasiuk



Young Jean Lee has been called “hands down, the most adventurous downtown playwright of her generation” by the New York Times, “one of New York’s smartest, thorniest, and most knockdown hilarious playwrights” by The Guardian, and “one of the best experimental playwrights in America” by Time Out New York. She has written and directed nine shows in New York with Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company and toured her work to over thirty cities around the world. Her plays have been published by TCG (Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven and Other Plays, The Shipment and Lear) and by Samuel French (Three Plays by Young Jean Lee). She is currently under commission from Plan B/Paramount Pictures, Lincoln Center Theater, Playwrights Horizons, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She is a member of New Dramatists and 13P, and has an MFA from Mac Wellman’s playwriting program at Brooklyn College. She has received grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Creative Capital, NYFA, NEA, NYSCA, the Jerome Foundation, The Fox Samuels Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, and the Rockefeller MAP Foundation. She is also the recipient of two OBIE Awards, the Festival Prize of the Zürcher Theater Spektakel, a 2010 Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and a 2012 Doris Duke Artist Award.


It’s with great urgency our present culture needs the live experience to help connect, question and remember why we are alive. SpeakEasy Theatre is committed to creating an environment where communities come together to celebrate. We are driven to foster stories created by diverse artists who are immediate, honest and unforgiving.

Check out some press and reviews from when The Shipment originally played at the Vancity Culture Lab:

http://vancouversun.com/entertainment/theatre/the-shipment-is-full-of-subversive-skewering-of-black- stereotypes

https://www.vancouverpresents.com/theatre/shipment-modern-day-minstrel-show/ http://outtv.ca/blogs/shipment-coming-soon-vancouver/ 


Colin Thomas Review

The Georgia Straight Review

Vancouver Presents Review

Vancouver Plays Review

Broken Leg Reviews

Photo: Ryan McDonald