I was sad to not be able to join the 200+ people who gathered at the Vancouver Playhouse tonight at 7pm for the vigil/memorial/rally. I walked over to the Playhouse after my show came down tonight. When I got there shortly after 10pm there was no one standing outside, but the flowers, candles, signs and notes remained. A young couple leaving the Canucks game walked past. “What’s going on?” they asked. “The Playhouse is closing. Tonight is likely the company’s final performance.” “Oh wow,” they said, “We’ve never seen a show here but it should definitely stay around. Can we sign the poster?” “Of course.” Slowly others began to arrive – people who felt it was simply right to be there for what may well be the Playhouse’s final curtain call. And as we stood outside waiting, the Ballet BC show next door came down and we watched those patrons begin to file out. We listened as they walked past and in many cases found out for the first time that the Playhouse was closing. We watched them pick up the sharpies waiting to sign their names to the posters of support.
When the show came down and the audience began to leave, I saw many familiar faces among the crowd. They reported an amazing night of theatre, and a curtain call that made them cry. The cast of Catalyst Theatre‘s Hunchback took their bows and gestured to the booth as they have done every night in their run. And then they slowly turned 360 degrees, giving the applause and ovation to the company that has hosted them here.
I didn’t have my camera with me, but I did have my iPhone. Here are just some of the signs, flowers, and notes left outside the Playhouse tonight.[Galleries 2 not found]
Update: A handful of the folks on twitter have been looking for a copy of Morris Panych’s letter. Using my own photos and a handful of others’ I’ve transcribed it below.
The Vancouver Playhouse is more than just the sum of its parts. Yes, it employs hundreds of actors, directors, designers, administrators, ushers, builders, technicians; but it’s what the theatre gives back to the community that really counts. The Playhouse has been central to the cultural identity of the city, the province, and the nation, for fifty years. Without such cultural institutions as this, we are diminished collectively. Our very hearts and souls and the hearts and souls of our community are tied to this theatre. One should fight with all of the demise of this company or any other cultural organization that has been so central to the development of cultural life here, as it represents the very voice of Vancouver. Whether or not you are a regular theatre-goer in this community, you are a member of this community and this theatre belongs to you. It is through cultural institutions like this theatre that the collective voice is heard, that consciousness and art has a home and that life is breathed into the concrete and steal of this city. Vancouver needs culture to stay alive, vibrant, relevant; it’s more than just real estate.
Please call your City Councillor, your MPP, or your MP, and make your voice heard. Stand up for cultural life in this city; stand up for your city.