VANCOUVER GREENROOM 9: Failure is essential

Vancouver Greenroom: theatre is community

Mike Bisbiglia stresses the importance of failure.

Mike Bisbiglia doles out tips on keeping it real. (photo: Robby Klein/Contour for Getty Images)


Comedian, actor, and filmmaker Mike Birbiglia offers some of the best artistic advice ever.

Highlights include, “Failure is essential. There’s no substitute for it. It’s not just encouraged but required.” And it’s probably the critic in me that makes me love this: “I’ve learned that harsh feedback, constructive feedback, even weird, random feedback, is all helpful, if you know the essence of what you’re trying to convey.”

Excellent! I will continue being weird and random.


Failure isn't an option for parents who are also performers.

Cassie Raine and Anne Ehnold-Danailov are cofounders of Parents in Performing Arts. (Photo by Jose Mosquera)


Kids are cute. Kids are Petri dishes. Having kids can give your life meaning. And, if you work in the theatre—especially if you’re a woman—having kids can put a major dent in your career: “Eight out of 10 self-employed theatre workers have had to turn down work owing to childcare responsibilities, a major new report suggests.”

Fortunately, there’s a move afoot in England to find solutions, including affordable childcare and more flexible work hours for theatre professionals. A number of institutions, including the Royal Shakespeare Company, have pledged their support for non-discriminatory practices.


Failure isn't an option for Marcus Youssef, artistic director of Neworld Theatre.

Sure, Marcus Youssef looks like a regular guy. But he’s a big ol’ Siminovitch nominee.


Go, Vancouver! 

Marcus Youssef, who is co-artistic director of Vancouver’s Neworld Theatre, is among the nominees for this year’s Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, which comes with a whopping $100,000 cheque.

Youssef counts Winners and Losers and Peter Panties among his many collaborative and solo projects, but it may be King Arthur’s Night, which he created with Niall McNeil, who lives with Downs syndrome, that caught the attention of this year’s jury. King Arthur’s Night premiered at Toronto’s Luminato Festival; we haven’t seen it in Vancouver yet.

The Siminovitch Prize operates on a three-year cycle, celebrating playwrights one year and directors and designers in subsequent phases. This year’s other nominees are Evelyne de la Chenelière, Hannah Moscovitch, and Donna Michelle St. Bernard.

The award will be presented on November 6 at the National Arts Centre.

In other news, Daniel MacIvor’s His Greatness, which premiered at the Arts Club in 2007, is about to be produced in Chicago. The Vancouver production featured Allan Gray as an aging playwright, David Marr as his assistant, and Charlie Gallant, as a young hustler. It was inspired by a visit that Tennessee Williams made to Vancouver in 1980, when his play, The Red Devil Battery Sign, received its premiere at the Playhouse.



There are two piping on hot shows sitting on the windowsill this week. They both open next week in venues operated by The Cultch. Let’s take a look at them one at a time.

Eat fruit. Love lust.

Let’s hear it for the female gaze—and female sexuality. The Goblin Market, which is playing the York from this Tuesday, October 3, until the 14th, promises cascades of both.

In The Goblin Market, The Dust Palace, a circus from New Zealand, embodies Christina Rossetti’s erotic poem, in which two sisters are tempted by goblin men and find redemption in one another’s arms.

The reviews are ecstatic. Get your tickets here.

Empire of the Son was a success. 1 Hour Photo may be a success or a failure.

Will Tetsuro Shigematsu’s new solo, 1 Hour Photo, be picture perfect?

Colour saturation

Tetsuro Shigematsu’s highly anticipated 1 Hour Photo premieres at the Cultch’s Historic Theatre on October 4 and runs to the 15th.

In 2015, Shigematsu and the presenting company, Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, enjoyed runaway success with Empire of the Son.

In 1 Hour Photo, the same team takes on the true story of Mas Yamamoto, who was born in a fishing village on the banks of the Fraser River, was interned during WWII, and guarded the Canadian arctic against Russian bombers during the Cold War.

The press release promises “a moving portrait saturated with the most vivid colours of our time.” If you want to soak up those colours, book your seats now.


Being an outsider can make you feel like a failure. But what if we're all outsiders?

What if we’re all black sheep?


If you just can’t get enough theatre reading, come on over to Colin Thomas’s Fresh Sheet on Theatre Wire. This week’s edition, which drops on Friday, is dedicated to the notion that we are all outsiders—which means you might not be as lonely as you think you are.

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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