An Empowerment Cabaret is Coming to Vancouver


Wyatt Foesset

It’s an age of powerful movements. Unprecedented numbers are using age-old platforms to boost their voices -- coming from marginalized and imprisoned communities -- and they have finally begun gaining their rightful footing and amplification. Folks are stepping forward from the shadows in every industry the world over with their stories, with their struggles, and it’s not something that the universe of theatre is impervious too. Which is exactly what the Board of Directors at Fabulist Theatre has in the back of their minds as they set forth to give amazing artists a moment to express themselves as human beings, and tell their tales.

The cast of "Our Time: an empowerment cabaret includes": Brianna Suratos Clark (Once On This Island - Fabulist), Cecilly Day (Hairspray - TUTS), Jaime MacLean (Matilda - National Tour, Fun Home - Arts Club), Mandana Namazi (Sunday In The Park With George - United Players), Regi Nevada (Little Shop Of Horrors - Vagabond Players, Songs For A New World - Fabulist), Chelsea Rose (Les Filles Du Roi - Urban Ink/Fugue), and Sasja Smolders (Geekenders) on stage, with Kate MacColl (Title of Show - Play On Words, composer of This Is Now) as Musical Director.

We had a chance to talk to Fabulist Theatre regarding their upcoming revue, and to hear more about their goals in giving more stage-time and spotlight to their diverse cast, and underrepresented experiences. What can you expect from Vancouver’s first female empowerment revue?

OSB: Tell us why you chose a revue style event for your message rather than a narrative?

FT: We (the Fabulist Board of Directors) were brainstorming ideas for our next project, and a revue just made sense. It's fairly simple to put together, at least compared to a full-scale musical, and it gave us immense freedom in terms of casting and song selection. I think you'll find that the way we have strung the songs together makes a lot of sense - there may not be a narrative line, but certain songs definitely compliment each other.

OSB: How did you vet and put together this group of performers?

FT: Everyone you'll see in "Our Time" we had either worked with before or had always wanted to work with. We are so thrilled with the group we've assembled. They are all remarkable humans who have compelling stories to share.

OSB: We hear you're accepting donations during shows, tell us about what those are for, and where they're going.

FT: For every show we do, we try to find a charity or organization that reflects the theme of the show. At each performance of "Our Time", we'll be hosting representatives from Dress For Success Vancouver, the local chapter of the international not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

OSB:  This is an important purpose, extremely so. What do you hope the audience, or the actors, take away from Our Time?

FT:That we're all individuals, that everyone has their own unique lived experiences; because of that, empowerment looks different to everyone. I hope audiences will see the truth of these performers shining through these wonderful songs and be inspired by them.

OSB: How do you hope the stage evolves to help tell more of these stories? To change things?

FT: I think it's important to hear from people who have not had much opportunity to express their stories, their identities, with their own voices. Theatre asks an audience to feel empathy for someone else's struggle. So let's share that space, get uncomfortable if necessary, be moved, be allies, and foster dialogue.  

OSB: Vancouver's stage scene has done a lot, of late, (like Studio 58's "not in my space" program, and diversity committee), do you think Vancouver is pulling its weight? [Vancouver] is often considered ahead of the curve in a lot of communities, is that true with in this case?

FT: Based on some of the shows I've seen in Vancouver in the last few years, I think we're doing pretty well - but we can always do better! I still see so many extraordinary female and non-binary performers left looking for work because there just aren't enough parts out there in the shows that are currently being produced. At Fabulist we always try to think outside the box in terms of cross-gender/diverse casting, and I see that in a lot of the younger companies in the Vancouver theatre community. The big companies certainly appear to be taking notice and implementing changes of their own. It's an exciting time, to be sure, but there is still lots of work to do.

OSB: Any hints on whether or not a Vol.2 could be in the cards?

FT: It all depends on how this one goes! We would love for this to be the first of many. Once we see what kind of response we get, we'll see if it's feasible to do another. We certainly hope so!

Fabulist Theatre’s Our Time Cabaret will run three nights only, at the Kitsilano Neighbourhood House Hall (at 7th and Vine st) on the 17th, 18th, and 19th of August AT 8PM.

Donations are encouraged for Dress For Success Vancouver, a not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

Tickets and showtimes here: