Never alone: Audience members share at PostSecret: The Show

This show has been a remarkable and intense experience, one of staggering honesty and undeniable human connection. We are proud of the bravery of our amazing audience members who put themselves out there, wearing their hearts on their sleeves and offering words of advice, understanding and candour. Here are some of the messages that audience members who’ve come to the show have shared.

We all struggle with something you are far more connected Today I saw you grab his hand This is my second time Just Breathe Its okay if you havent forgiven yourself It is just a thought I secretly hope i go before my sister Faith is no shame Depression Sucks Ass


PostSecret: The Show is on at the Firehall until March 5th 2016. Get your tickets now!



5 of the Funniest Secrets Shared at PostSecret: The Show 2016

The online movement of PostSecret has provided an anonymous platform for the public to release their secrets, ranging from deep heartbreaking burdens to silly and bizarre transgressions. Through sharing these secrets the hope is we can feel relief and a sense of connection, that we are not alone.

Audience members are encouraged to share their secrets anonymously, at PostSecret: The Show. We have collected 5 of the funniest, embarrassing, weirdest secrets submitted so far at The Firehall Arts Centre.

PostSecret: The Show is on until March 5th, 2016. Tickets are available here.

funny-phony wedding reverend funny-pooped in the yard funny-pregnant in the tub suprising-smelly ball of hair funny-farting at work



TJ Dawe + Kahlil Ashanti Share Their Meditations on PostSecret: The Show

TJ Dawe

TJ Dawe-Director of PostSecret: The Show

From TJ Dawe:

I’ve been involved in this show in various capacities for close to six years now. I’ve read and heard thousands of secrets. Certain impressions have been coalescing from it all. Here’s what I’ve learned:

-Anxiety and depression are very common, and might be a big part of the inner experience of anyone you know.

-Tell the people in your life you love them. Don’t put off opportunities to spendtime with them. They could be gone before you know it.

-People can be moved to tears at a confession of suicidal depression and in the next breath laugh uproariously at a fart joke.

-If you’ve made it to adulthood without suffering some kind of trauma or violation, consider yourself very, very lucky.

-People fear being alone perhaps more than anything.

-The healing power of a good, long belly laugh cannot be overstated.

-Many people harbour unrequited loves and lasting regrets for decades.

-Struggles with suicidal feelings are widespread, and often hidden.

-We think we’re alone with whatever we’re holding inside. We think it isolates us, makes us freaks and outcasts. Most of us feel this way.

-We’re not alone.

TJ Dawe

Kalil Ashanti-Co-Creator and Writer

From Kahlil Ashanti:

My family attended an early table read of PostSecret: The Show in Washington DC.  I think it was June 2012.  I was so excited for them to see what I was working on, hoping that they would validate my efforts with praise.  It was my Dad and one of his sisters. I don’t see them often and we’re not close (long story), but I’m not often on the East Coast so wanted to make an effort.

When I say this was early in the development of the show – I mean early.  Three music stands, a projector with a screen, three actors and three stools.   We were in a small room at the back of a conference room, reading off of scripts.  The creative team (myself, Sudds, Frank and TJ) had flown in from Vancouver a few nights before and Frank invited local PostSecret fans as well as some of the general public to attend and offer their feedback.

Folding chairs, dark room, and some snacks.  Nothing fancy.  We wanted the postcards to speak for themselves.

The gasps, tears and muted laughter from the small audience was overwhelming. Their feedback was encouraging and challenging.  We still had a lot of work to do.  We also realized that we were creating more than a theatrical piece – something bigger than ourselves.

My family left early.  They hated it.  My aunt just shook her head as she left the room.  And we have never spoken about it since.  That hurt.  But it also let me know we were truly on to something.

Why has PostSecret stood the test of time?  Because it forces us to face our innermost fears, doubts and hopes in uncomfortable ways.  It has been an exciting and difficult journey to translate PostSecret to the stage.   Larry Moss, the famous acting coach often says ‘the best theatre is when you feel like you shouldn’t be watching’.  I would add to that – ‘but you can’t stop’.

Frank Warren has created a safe space for people to share their secrets and that has now extended to PostSecret: The Show. Given the multiple distractions of social media and digital communication that eat up so much of our time, it’s easy to think we have more ways to communicate than ever before. I think we have more places to hide.  Yes, PostSecret is anonymous secrets. But the responses, the power and the community are not.  In a world of bloated hype about the next big thing, whether it’s a movie, an app, political candidate or a smartphone, PostSecret remains grounded in authenticity.  And that’s why it’s timeless.


-Kahlil Ashanti



PostSecret: The Show is on at the Firehall Arts Centre until March 5. Get your tickets now!


Everyone who knew me before 911



Little One stirs up Laughs, Chills and Conversation

Marisa Smith and Daniel Arnold, photography by Ryan Alexander McDonald

You can tell a lot about a play by the conversation in the lobby after the show.  Alley Theatre’s production of Hannah Moscovitch’s Little One (on till Sat, Feb 13) has folks asking questions; recapping its many twists and turns; and marveling at how this dark thriller had them laughing out loud.

After touring to New York and Montreal, Alley Theatre is back in Vancouver and runs for only two more days here at the Firehall.  You may have heard that they received critical acclaim while on tour, including a rave review in the New York Times.  But artistic producer, Marisa Smith is quick to point out that the play a very Canadian story.

At last night’s post show panel discussion, hosted by the Georgia Straight’s Janet Smith, there was a common theme among questions and comments.  Both audience and panelists (a foursome of clinical psychologists and social workers which included heavy hitters such as Carol Ross, Child Welfare Committee Chair of the BC Association of Social Workers) shared the sentiment that more needs to be done to help support adoptive and fostering families in Canada.  Perhaps, the most poignant moment came when a women in the audience shared her experience as a teacher working on Vancouver’s east side.  She lamented the barriers that her students face in seeking social supports.

Thursday night’s post show panel moderated by Janet Smith, featuring Naomi Kolinsky, Laura Dosanjh, Lara Wease and Carol Ross

It’s clear that this play packs a powerful punch (clocking in at under one hour) but we promise… it also entertains.  There are only a few chances left to see this “little” gem of a show.  We hope you will join us.

Here is what some local reviewers are saying about this week’s run of Little One:

“A polished and darkly suspenseful, beautifully realized exploration of familial love and trauma. …and is frequently laugh-out-loud funny!” – Vancouver Sun http://www.vancouversun.com/touch/story.html?id=11713478

“LITTLE ONE is one chilling ride — terrific performances. While there may be an underlying commentary … just like any good thriller/horror story, sometimes the ride is enough.” – Vancouver Presents http://vancouverpresents.com/theatre/review-little-one/

Little One

By Hannah Moscovitch

Directed by Amiel Gladstone Featuring Daniel Arnold and Marisa Smith

On till Feb 13th


Husband and wife team and stars of Little One at Vancouver’s Leo Awards.



Cliff Cardinal lands at the Firehall

Cliff Cardinal’s Huff has been touring across Canada and creating quite a stir with the critics as it makes its way across the country. This raw, powerful story about the injustices Indigenous youth face is on at the Firehall Arts Centre this week as part of PuSh Festival. Tickets are sold out for two performances, so make sure you don’t miss the show the Globe & Mail picked as one of 6 shows to see in the Winter Theatre Circuit.

“poignantly humorous… this is a dark and disturbing tale” – **** 4 Stars from The Calgary Sun

Huff took my breath away.”– J. Kelly Nestruck, Globe & Mail

“Huff is a heartbreaker” – **** 4 Stars from Torontoist

“mind-blowing theatre… creates an impression that will never fully leave you.” – Stephen Cooke, Chronicle Herald

Huff runs Feb 2 – 6 at the Firehall, with a Pay-What-You-Can matinee on Wed Feb 3, 1pm. Click here for more info.

Cliff Cardinal credit akipari

Cliff Cardinal, credit akipari



The Motherf**ker reviews are in!

Critics are raving about Haberdashery Theatre Company’s inaugural production!

The Georgia Straight “Spectacular… flows like a waterfall—full of startling images, equally startling humour, and crazy, pounding rhythms… The performances in this production ​are stellar“- Colin Thomas (Pick of the Week)

Vancouver Presents
  “as exciting as a roller coaster.”- Mark Robins (Pick of the Week)

Beyond YVR  “I expect this might be the most riveting play I see this year, and it’s only January.” – Lois Patterson.

Vancouverscape  “even Shakespeare would ​be impressed” – Cora Li

Fun! Fun! in Vancouver I felt like I was in New York City watching the show – that’s how good the caliber of this production is!” – Alan Woo

On until Jan 30th.

Get your tickets soon, as we are quickly selling out!

Theatre review: The Motherf**ker with the Hat transcends its story of addiction



Meet Social Studies’ author Trish Cooper

Opening tonight, Trish Cooper’s play Social Studies presents a distinctly Canadian play inspired by her own life.  Cooper and Director/Artistic Producer Donna Spencer talked with ubyssey’s Julia Wong to discuss the play and its timely nature.

A Canadian refugee’s experience of comedy and tragedy in Social Studies
By Julia Wong for ubyssey.ca

During the second Sudanese Civil War, an estimated 2 million people were killed. Over 20,000 young boys were separated from their families. The “Lost Boys of Sudan” walked more than a thousand miles in harrowing conditions to escape the violence and seek refuge.

This narrative forms the basis of playwright and actress Trish Cooper’s play, Social Studies. The script was inspired by Cooper’s own experience when her mother adopted a Sudanese “Lost Boy.” The play follows a family in Winnipeg who adopt a Sudanese refugee as they navigate their cultural differences.

“The story is about a family adjusting to someone from a different country to live in their home, someone who has just learned English,” said Donna Spencer, director of Social Studies and UBC theatre alumna. “It’s a comedy, but it’s also a tragedy of what this young man has gone through [and] the conflicts that come up when we don’t understand each other.”

The play explores what it means to be a Canadian refugee and the challenges that come with it.

Despite the serious issues that are tackled, the play remains lighthearted and dynamic. The decision to use comedy in the play was a natural one as Cooper’s own family used laughter as a coping mechanism.

“When looking at someone’s life that has been so tragic, that has been affected by war and loss of family, it is important to find releases,” she said.

Cooper pokes fun of confusing English expressions in her dialogue and explores the tensions that arise from a clash of different cultural ideologies. However, the play is centered closely on a family and how they learn to grow and accept one another.

“It’s a very pertinent play right now as we look at Canada bringing in Syrian refugees … and how we can approach differences in a positive way and build stronger relationships.”

Social Studies takes place around the Christmas season — a time that prompts reflection and the celebration of family no matter how unique and dysfunctional.

“Canada has a role to play in assisting refugee settlements and we have a lot to offer,” said Cooper.

Read the article here



Get to know the choreographer


We asked Daniel Léveillé some questions about his piece Solitudes Solo which is coming to the Firehall next week, October 28th-31st. Don’t miss your chance to see these fantastic pieces where Léveillé subjects the dancers to the test of the solo and to impossible choreographic scores. 4 days only!

Where did you get the inspiration for this show?
Inside myself.

How does Solitudes Solo fit into the development of your work over the years?
It represents the opening of a new cycle of creation.

How is the work relevant in today’s society ?
Nor sure it is.  It’s more timeless.

How has it been working with this group of collaborators?
Has always been and was also this time a huge privilege.  Forty years of experiencing these deep and peculiar relationships with my dancers, I’m a very lucky man.



Ready for some dance?

We are! Up next at the Firehall Arts Centre is Daniel Léveillé’s work, Solitudes Solo.

The Artistic Intention?

Because of its resistance to rational harmony, the body tends to fall toward the ground and the project of many of today’s choreographers is to pursue a movement realizing a sort of elated dionysism, positioned as a revolt against the symmetry associated with the classical quest for perfection in form. Daniel Léveillé explores a different avenue, that of form.

Léveillé has for a long time committed himself to an effort of going beyond time and, in these solos, the forms he proposes attain immateriality. Purity or starkness are here less important than the research – taken to its very limits – on how “the simple” can give access to the immaterial. The dancers are certainly alone, in the movement of their existence, but they are mostly pointed toward an expression made possible by this solitude.

Solitudes Solo runs at the Firehall October 28th-31st, all performances are at 8pm.



Love Bomb opens our 2015/2016 Season

The Firehall Arts Centre can’t wait for shameless hussy’s production of Love Bomb to open our Season!

To break the ice, we asked Director Reneé Iaci a couple of questions.

What excites you most about this production?

The music. Steve Charles did an amazing job of composing and Meghan Gardiner‘s lyrics are poetic and, at times, painful. I love how the story unfolds like a mystery and clues come out in the songs.

Tell us about working with this cast and creative team.

Amazing! First off, I get to work with one of my best friends, Deb Pickman. And we have found a truly talented hussy in Sara Vickruck. We’ve got the best people possible working on this, some I’ve played with before and some new to me. I feel so supported by everyone connected. I thoroughly enjoy coming to work. I’ll have an idea and my team makes it better – way better! It’s so collaborative.

Why are the themes in this play relevant to audiences today?

This play tackles an issue that most Vancouverites don’t have a clue about. (Sorry about the secrecy, but this issue gets revealed as the play unfolds. To know exactly what prevalent themes Love Bomb addresses, you’ll need to see it for yourself!) This show is relevant because they (the themes) are happening right here, right now to OUR children!

What’s next for you?

We’re booking our 7th tour of Dissolve which will head out at the end of January to mid February. I’m still filling dates. I am also working to bring Love Bomb to 5 inner city schools in March along with WAVAW and the Vancouver City Poice.  And we are percolating a new idea with Meghan Gardiner, seeds are just being planted. But right away I will head back to my restaurant, Neverland Tea Salon, release our seasonal teas and prepare for the fall/winter madness.
Thanks for Reneé for answering our questions!

Love Bomb starts previewing this Saturday, September 26th. It opens on September 30th and runs until October 10th.