Coming up in 2016/2017

 So, what’s up at Firehall next season – A LOT!

The season will open with a presentation of Stranger to Hard Work, written and performed by Cathy Jones, one of the funniest people on television (This Hour Has Twenty-Two Minutes). Familiar and beloved faces from the past season will return with Tracey Power’s Miss Shakespeare making its Firehall debut and the hard-hitting but funny The Motherf..ker with a Hat will be back. Nicole Nattrass’s Mamahood: Turn and Face the Strange explores the good, bad and ugly alongside the funny, absurd and joyful side of motherhood.

From Toronto, Theatre Passe Muraille’s Dora Moore Award nominated ELLE, adapted from Douglas Glover’s award-winning novel, tells the story of a French noblewoman abandoned on the Isle of Demons (off the coast of Newfoundland) in 1542. Mary Vingoe’s eye-opening and powerful play, Refuge tells the emotional story of a child soldier from Eritrea and his experience as a refugee in Canada. Circle Game created by Andrew Cohen and Anna Kuman and inspired by the songs of Joni Mitchell features six young hipsters in search of meaning.

The Firehall Arts Centre dance programming is full of rich treats as well with Out Innerspace Dance Theatre bringing their trail blazing movement to the Firehall in Major Motion Picture andCompany 605 creating an intimate double bill program with Brussels-based long-time Ultima Vezcompany member German Jauregui. The Mars Hotel (first premiering at Dancing on the Edge 2015) and a new work Kwan Yin features the choreography of Ziyian Kwan (dumb instrument dance) and the music of Peggy Lee. Hong Kong Exile will premiere a new work, ROOM 2048 and finally BC BUDS, Firehall’s Spring Arts Festival will be back for its 13th year with readings, theatre, dance and music performances throughout our 109 year old heritage building.

We invite you to join us and become part of the Firehall family of friends. We look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

Donna Spencer, Artistic Producer



September 27-October 8
Stranger to Hard Work
Written and Performed by Cathy Jones
A Firehall Arts Centre Presentation

Canadian cultural icon, comedienne and one of the funniest women on television, Cathy Jones (This Hour Has Twenty-Two Minutes) brings her one woman show to the Firehall stage.  In this funny, thought provoking look at what she’s learned in life so far, Cathy gets personal as she shares her unique perspective on food, money, troublesome people and the benefits of laughter.


October 12-15
Major Motion Picture
Out Innerspace Dance Theatre, Vancouver
A Firehall Arts Centre Presentation

Exploring themes of surveillance, territory, propaganda and belief through the creation of eccentric and lawless characters, Major Motion picture draws on influences from Charlie Chaplin to Orson Welles.

With trail-blazing movement seven dancers fight for control of space, losing and gaining the grounds for their power, identity and desire.


October 19-29
Mamahood: turn and face the strange
Written and performed by Nicolle Nattrass
A Firehall Arts Centre Presentation

“Now Mary, she was a good mother huh?  Yup. Why? She had the perfect baby. Jesus. You can bet Jesus slept through the night” – an excerpt from Mamahood: turn and face the strange.

Nicolle Nattrass is the mother of a pre-schooler, playwright and actress.  In this witty and moving ode to motherhood, she explores the good, the bad and the ugly and the funny, absurd and joyful side of motherhood.


miss shakespeare early bird image 2

Tracey Power in Miss Shakespeare

November 5-26
Miss Shakespeare
Written by Tracey Power with music by Steve Charles
A Firehall Arts Centre Production in association with The Escape Artists

It’s the 1600’s and women are banned from the stage, but the suppressed female mind is difficult to stay …well, suppressed.  Daddy’s had his turn and the mind of Judith Shakespeare explodes in a saucy new musical as six women explore the seductive power of theatre behind the dingy walls of The Cage Tavern.

“With humor and heart, Miss Shakespeare imagines an underground world of women who broke the rules, first quietly and then brazenly, changing the landscape forever.”- Vancouver Sun


December 7-10
Company 605
A Firehall Arts Centre Residency Presentation

Company 605 unveils their newest commissioned collaboration with Brussels-based, long-time Ultima Vez company member German Jauregui within this intimate double-bill program


John Cassini and Lori Triolo2

John Cassini and Lori Triolo in The Motherf**ker with the Hat

January 11-28
The Motherf**ker with the Hat
by Stephen Adly Guirgis
A Firehall Arts Centre production in association with Haberdashery Theatre

When this production opened with controversy, audiences flocked to see what was up in this funny but hard-hitting story of Jackie, out on parole and newly sober and his childhood sweetheart and unrelenting coke addict Veronica.

“The language is spectacular and so is the acting”. -Georgia Straight


February 7-18
Adapted from Douglas Glover’s novel by Severn Thompson
Theatre Passe Muraille
A Firehall Arts Centre presentation

Elle is the story of Marguerite de La Rocque de Roberval, a French noblewoman who set out in 1542 for Canada with her uncle, Jacques Cartier to colonize the new-found country.   However, she finds herself abandoned on the deserted Isle of Demons (off the coast of Newfoundland) as punishment for taking a lover during the voyage.  In the lead role, Thompson “holds the audience’s attention in a vice grip with her precision, depth and hilarity. Her script is beautifully poetic, and is a master of delivery”. -Mooney on Theatre


early bird web banner

Noam Gagnon and Ziyian Kwan in The Mars Hotel

February 22-25
The Mars Hotel & Kwan Yin
dumb instrument dance
A Firehall Arts Centre Presentation

Based on a short story by P.W. Bridgman, The Mars Hotel was commissioned for the 2015 Dancing on the Edge Festival and received rave reviews.  Set to the music of Peggy Lee and performed by choreographer Ziyian Kwan and performer Noam Gagnon, the work is humorous and highly enjoyable work.  Kwan Yin, a new choreography, will complete the program.


March 18-April 1
Written by Mary Vingoe
A Firehall Arts Centre Production

What happens when you come to Canada from a war- torn country expecting to be welcomed and discover that things are very different from what was imagined?  Refuge tells the emotionally riveting story of a former child soldier from Eritrea who seeks out his mother, a recent immigrant to Canada, and meets people who try to help him.  “An important, powerful and eye-opening play”- Halifax Chronicle Herald.


April  8-29
Circle Game
Created by Andrew Cohen and Anna Kuman
Inspired by the songs of Joni Mitchell
A Firehall Arts Centre Production

The enduring music of Joni Mitchell is re-imagined in this energetic musical experience. Conceived and Directed by Vancouver’s theatrical powerhouses (and spouses) Andrew Cohen & Anna Kuman, CIRCLE GAME reintroduces Mitchell’s iconic songs like “Big Yellow Taxi”, “River”, “California”, and “A Case of You through the eyes and ears of a new generation.


June (dates TBA)
Room 2048
Hong Kong Exile
A Firehall Arts Centre Residency Presentation

This multi-media dance theatre piece explores the socio-political realities of the Cantonese diaspora, sourcing themes of loss, nostalgia and desire that re-occur with selected works of Hong Kong filmmaker Wong  Kar Wai. From the creators of NINEEIGHT.



How to Survive an Apocalypse


Photo of Sebastien Archibald and Claire Hesselgrave by Emily Cooper.


How to Survive an Apocalypse by Jordan Hall

A Flying Start Play – Giving a Stage to New Professional Playwrights

June 2 – 11, 2016             

Produced by Touchstone Theatre in Association with PTC and the Firehall Arts Centre

A young and successful urban couple becomes convinced that their lifestyle is coming to an end. They become ‘preppers’, hoarding supplies and learning to hunt. But their obsession takes its toll, and they are both forced to imagine the apocalypse without the love of their life. A romantic comedy about the end of days, showcasing the talents of our fifth Flying Start playwright.

“Whether we’re peeling away moral, sexual, economic, political, ecological, religious or scientific orders, our fascination with the Apocalypse seems to be fuelled by our inevitable fascination with our own mortality— we all have a personal Apocalypse waiting somewhere in our future…”
Jordan Hall, Playwright




Survivalism is a movement of individuals or groups (called survivalists or preppers) who are actively preparing for emergencies, including possible disruptions in social or political order, on scales from local to international. Survivalists often acquire emergency medical and self-defense training, stockpile food and water, prepare to become self-sufficient, and build structures (e.g., a survival retreat or an underground shelter) that may help them survive a catastrophe.


  • Alpha strategy: The practice of storing extra consumable items, as a hedge against inflation, and for use in barter and charity.
  • Crunch: A general term for a major, long-term disaster.
  • EDC: Everyday carry. What one carries at all times in case disaster strikes while one is out and about. Also refers to the normal carrying of a pistol for self-defense, or (as a noun) the pistol which is carried.
  • Goblin: A criminal miscreant
  • Golden horde: The anticipated large mixed horde of refugees and looters that will pour out of the metropolitan regions when the apocalypse happens.
  • O.O.D.: Get out of Dodge (city). Fleeing urban areas in the event of a disaster.
  • Pollyanna or Polly: Someone who is in denial about the disruption that might be caused by the advent of a large scale disaster.
  • Prepper: A synonym for survivalist that came into common usage during the early 2000s. Used interchangeably with survivalist much as retreater was in the 1970s. Refers to one who is prepared or making preparations.
  • SHTF: Shit hits the fan. A term used generically by survivalists to describe disaster situations.
  • WROL: Without rule of law. Describes a potential lawless state of society.
  • Zombie: Unprepared, incidental survivors of a prepped-for disaster who feed on the preparations of others.
  • Zombie apocalypse: Used by some preppers as a tongue-in-cheek metaphor for any natural or man-made disaster and a clever way of drawing people’s attention to disaster preparedness. The premise of the Zombie Squad is that if you are prepared for a scenario where the walking corpses of your family and neighbors are trying to eat you alive, you will be prepared for almost anything. (Though there are some who are seriously preparing for a zombie attack.)

Source: Wikipedia

Photo of Sebastien Archibald and Claire Hesselgrave by Emily Cooper.



BC Buds Update

BC Buds: Spring Arts Festival
May 4 – 7, 2016

Join us for the 12th annual festival of invbcbudsentive, original site-specific works and new play readings by BC artists in and around the Firehall’s heritage building. Showcasing the exciting and innovative, BC Buds provides a platform for genre bending and multi disciplinary emerging and established artists.

This year’s festival is “Going Green” and creators explore works with a focus for
zero-waste by reusing or up cycling. Using personal, cultural and political stories to inform the work, pieces explore climate change and an appreciation for our earth. The Firehall will host nearly 30 different theatre, dance and music
micro-performances and staged readings.

Alastair Jamesy Knowles & Stéphanie Morin-Robert, Anna Kraulis, Leslie Kennah & Hannah Carpendale, Ashley Whitehead, Billy Marchenski & Diego Romero, Brad Muirhead & Sharon Kallis, Carolina Bergonzoni, Deanna Peters (Mutable Subject) & Paul Paroczai, Dylan Ctk Jones, Elysse Cheadle, Hong Kong Exile, Iris Lau, Itsazoo Productions & Savage Society, Isabelle Kirouac, Jennifer Mcleish-Lewis, Karissa Barry, Katie Cassady, Leisl Lafferty, Lily Cryan & Derek Copley, Lisa Waines, NOW! Theatre, rice & beans theatre, Robert Azevedo and Con8 Collective, Sally Stubbs, Sasha Singer-Wilson & Ulla Laidlaw, The ASSEMBLY, Wendy Atkinson Experimental Bass Player, Wet Ink Collective

Friday, May 6 from 5:30pm to 6:30
Join us for a discussion with Kendra Fanconi (The Only Animal), Kevin Kimoto (Uproot) and Elaine Avila

The full schedule is available here.

All performances are by donation.



The Chaos of Dead Metaphor

Where do you see yourself in five years?

That groan-worthy, cliché interview question that begs for an equally gag inducing answer painting an ‘everything is peaches, roses and unicorns’ picture to mask the stink of desperation. Perhaps, ‘is this where you saw yourself five years ago?’ being the more appropriate question. George F. Walker’s play Dead Metaphor asks you to take a look at the world around you; how the (insert flowery language here) did we get here? How can you strategize for the future if you don’t know what brought you to the present?

“One of the ways of making the world less chaotic, I guess, is to show that it is chaotic.” – George F. Walker

Comedy is a medium to observe the absurdity of the world and offer it up to the masses at a safe distance from reality. Walker serves his view on the world at war; militarily, politically, socially like the palatability of a BBQ wiener on a warm spring evening… until you stop to think ‘what’s in this’?

“… that’s what my plays are doing, talking about what I see.  That’s why they are comedies.  They are dark because I think that’s the world, and they’re comedies because I don’t want to go insane – or anyone else to go insane.”

Walker introduces us into a young ex-sniper Dean (Mike Gill), who has recently returned home from a tour of duty and is struggling to find work in a sluggish job market where his experience as a sniper is unmarketable and non-transferable. At home Dean struggles with his pending future as the son of ageing parents Hank (Alex Willows) and Frannie (Donna Spencer) and as a father with his ex-wife Jenny (Carmela Sison) pregnant.  With the persuasion of Oliver (Jovanni Sy), a veterans job councillor, Dean lands a job as an assistant to a contemptuous politician Helen (Meghan Gardiner), Oliver’s wife, who has more use for him then just someone to get her and her extreme right-wing political strategists coffee. Dean finds himself riddled with freelance opportunities for his particular set of skills.

If there is one certainty, the critics and audiences are loving what they are seeing in the Firehall Arts Centre production of Dead Metaphor.


Meghan Gardiner, Mike Gill, and Carmela Sison in Dead Metaphor. Image by Emily Cooper.

The extreme characters of Helen and Hank drive the comedy, and both Gardiner and Willows shine.” – Jerry Wasserman, Vancouverplays.com

Meghan Gardiner, who plays Helen, knocks it out of the park. Somebody give her an award. Right now. Comedy is all about dedication to illogic, and Gardiner commits every cell of her being to Helen’s Machiavellian lunacy.” – Colin Thomas, The Georgia Straight

“…directed with precision by Chelsea Haberlin…”

“Very impressive set and light design by Lauchlin Johnston.” – Ed Farolan, reviewvancouver

” …when she (Donna Spencer) has her moment to erupt, she shows some powerful chops.” – Erika Thorkelson, Vancouver sun

“You will laugh.” – Jo Ledingham

Walker asks you to step into this world; strangely foreign, but uncomfortably close to home and watch the race between physical and moral decay – will anything/anyone stay standing?

Step into this world before the end of the run – Dead Metaphor runs until Sat Apr 23rd


Jovanni Sy and Mike Gill in Dead Metaphor. Image by Emily Cooper.

Jovanni Sy and Mike Gill in Dead Metaphor. Image by Emily Cooper.




The Out Vigil is wowing critics and audiences!

Zac Scott, Christina Cuglietta, Matthew MacDonald-Bain and Alison Jenkins Credit: Emily Cooper

The Out Vigil is in the end of its first week here at the Firehall and has been impressing audiences and critics alike, with its unique musical score and compelling story. Here are some highlights from the recent reviews.

“The Out Vigil sings with passion and humour”
“Stephanie Izsak makes an impressively passionate, funny and credible Lizzie.”
“…showcases the strength of McIsaac’s writing, which can be lyrical… and bluntly funny.”
-Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight

“The Out Vigil sizzles in the right places”
“brassy and fun… they (Izsak and MacDonald-Bain) sizzle with youthful passion”
“Izsak gives her character a particular depth and strength”
-Erika Thorkelson, The Vancouver Sun

“Izsak’s voice is pure and strong and the harmonies are heart wrenching”
“rollicking, rousing music composed and arranged by the playwright, an amazing, multi-talented young actor/composer/writer (Julie McIsaac)”
-Jo Ledingham

The Out Vigil closes this Sat, the 26th, don’t sleep on this one! Get tickets here.



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.