SEPTEMBER 2020 | Volume 195


Production image

Virago Nation by Tiffany Ireland Photography.

The Cultch
Sept. 24-Oct. 3 or 604-251-1363

TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival is back—decolonizing the digital stage

WHEN: September 24 - October 3, 2020

WHERE: Presented digitally, show links will be sent to ticket buyers.

TICKETS: Tickets from $15. Single tickets on sale September 2. The Cultch's Box Office: 604-251-1363 or

Urban Ink and The Cultch are pleased to present the second TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival from September 24 to October 3, 2020, on the unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh).

Following the success of 2019's inaugural festival, festival co-curators Corey Payette (Artistic Director, Urban Ink) and Heather Redfern (Executive Director, The Cultch) are excited to present another groundbreaking festival to revitalize 2020. "This year's festival is everything that you remember from last year," says Payette, "only digital." Some of the most popular artists from last year return, joined by exciting new performers for this online festival that aims to decolonize the digital stage.

TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival prioritizes the work of Indigenous artists, and values collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists. Like last year, we are excited to have Musqueam Protocol Keeper, Quelemia Sparrow, leading the way with ceremony and celebration. IBPOC, queer, and non-binary artists and creators are centered in all the festival spaces—digital and otherwise. "I think what is really fantastic," says Payette, "is that Indigenous and non-Indigenous collaborations are leading the way [with online creation], and now some of the innovations are going to be tailored to Indigenous perspectives."  

Also, back again is Hot Brown Honey's Lisa Fa'alafi who—with her fellow Australian co-creator, Busty Beatz, and Vancouver's Pippa Mackie as Assistant Director—is directing a core group of artists: Quanah Style, Sierra Tasi Baker, Kimmortal, Leiah Luz, Chelsea Rose, and JB the First Lady, many of whom were festival favourites from last year. Together they have been working—remotely and physically distanced—to create exclusive material for the festival. These core artists will be the keystone of two weekly Bashes to kick off the two festival weekends. The Bashes will also serve to introduce the artists with feature shows happening in the subsequent weekends.

The first weekend of the festival will include three amazing full-length shows in addition to the Opening Night Bash. Kicking it off are returning favourites The Darlings, with a brand new digital show. New to the festival, is Black and bearded UK drag sensation, Le Gateau Chocolate with ICONS. And, wrapping up the weekend with some family fun is Vancouver's favourite Drag family, Peach Cobblah, Isolde N. Barron and some of their friends with another favourite from 2019's festival, Family Drag Brunch, Storytime & Dress-up!

Week two of the festival has two full-length shows on top of the second Opening Night Bash. Candy Palmater takes the digital stage for a special TRANSFORM episode of her APTN show, The Candy Show, featuring a lineup of star-studded guests—Kent Monkman, Jeremy Dutcher, Elvira Kurt, and Cameron Fraser-Monroe. Fan favourites, Vancouver's Indigenous burlesque troupe, Virago Nation close off the festival with a new show—Deadleh Indigenous.

"It was so important to us as makers to have this amazing project, to make this festival," says Heather Redfern. "But, most of all it is important that the artist and the audience have the opportunity to connect with each other. That is the most important thing—it is why we exist." A highlight of moving the festival online is that Vancouver audiences can now share the fun with their friends and families from all over. The Cultch is excited to introduce people from all over the world to TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival, and give them the opportunity to connect to this powerful group of artists. 

"I think it is really beautiful to bring together so many artists that are reclaiming their cultural heritage and understanding what it means to work ancestrally and showcase a living culture." — Sierra Tasi Baker, one of the 2020 Core Artists

"There is something exciting about creating art for a digital experience, where you are not just trying to capture a live performance with an audience, and so you feel like you are missing out on being in the room. But now the room is online, and there is something so exciting about knowing that that is the format that it was created for." — Corey Payette, Co-curator

TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival 2020 Events:

Opening Night Bash: First Week  
Sept 24, 2020 | 7pm PST

A virtual variety show that will light up your living rooms! 

First Week featuring: The Darlings, Le Gateau Chocolat, Sidonie Adamson, Connor Chee, and the 2020 festival core artists—Quanah Style, Sierra Tasi Baker, Kimmortal, Leiah Luz, Chelsea Rose, and JB the First Lady.

The Darlings III
Sept 25, 2020 | 7pm PST

Last year's TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival favourites return with their imaginative blend of drag and theatre.

ICONS by Le Gateau Chocolat 
Sept 26, 2020 | 2pm & 7pm PST

Opera and lycra loving award-winning cabaret sensation Le Gateau Chocolat bursts onto the screen to storm your living room with his internationally acclaimed work, ICONS

Family Drag Brunch, Storytime & Dress Up
Sept 27, 2020 | 11am PST

Gather round your TV, laptop, phone, or any other screen to enjoy this virtual brunch party and storytime with East Vancouver's infamous drag queens Isolde N. Barron and Peach Cobblah, plus Thanks Jem, Karmella Barr, Celestial Seasons, and Jaylene Tyme.

Produced by Zee Zee Theatre.

Opening Night Bash: Second Week
Oct 1, 2020 | 7pm PST

A virtual variety show that will light up your living rooms! 

Second Week featuring: Candy Palmater, Virago Nation, Sidonie Adamson, Connor Chee, and the 2020 festival core artists—Quanah Style, Sierra Tasi Baker, Kimmortal, Leiah Luz, Chelsea Rose, and JB the First Lady.

The Candy Show with Candy Palmater& Friends
Oct 2, 2020 | 7pm PST

Join Indigenous comedian Candy Palmater and a few of her very talented friends—Kent Monkman, Jeremy Dutcher, Elvira Kurt, and Cameron Fraser-Monroe—for a special edition of her multiple award-winning national variety TV show, The Candy Show.

Deadleh Indigenous, by Virago Nation 
Oct 03, 2020 | 7pm PST

Vancouver's very own all Indigenous Burlesque troupe returns to TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival with a digital offering sure to spice up your living rooms.

Sept 24–26 & Oct 01–03
9:30pm PST
Hangout live after each show with festival artists & DJ Kookum! 

Based on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl'ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples in Vancouver, Urban Ink Productions uplifts Indigenous and diverse voices through live performance. Across Turtle Island, Urban Ink is putting the power in the hands of Indigenous and Diverse artists to tell their own stories from their own unique voices. Founded in 2001, Urban Ink has always been a company where Canadian stories are told. Today, under the passionate artistic direction of Corey Payette, our company goes even further, promoting Intercultural understanding, igniting conversations from coast to coast, and celebrating the rich history of its land by bringing communities together in a national conversation that affirms diversity as a shared Canadian value.

Since 1973, The Cultch (formally the Vancouver East Cultural Centre) has been one of Vancouver's most diverse and innovative arts and cultural hubs. The organization operates three theatrical venues, a gallery, and various ancillary spaces in the heart of East Vancouver. The Cultch offers dynamic contemporary programming in theatre, dance, music, and the visual arts, bringing world-class cultural presentations to thousands of citizens each year through its own programming and through providing rental opportunities for community users. Our purpose is to provide a venue for performance that serves a diverse and engaged public and provides space for artistic experimentation and development, building an audience for local companies and presenting cutting-edge national and international work.






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