Reviewers love PROUD

Andrew Wheeler & Emmelia Gordon in the 2014 production of PROUD, image Pink Monkey Studios.
Andrew Wheeler & Emmelia Gordon in the 2014 production of PROUD, image Pink Monkey Studios.

As a new federal election nears, we are delighted to bring last season’s runaway hit, PROUD, back for another term due to popular demand. This witty and intelligent satire had audiences rolling in the aisles and critics chuckling over their notebooks at Andrew Wheeler’s hilariously deadpan Prime Minister and Emmelia Gordon’s sassy MP. It was even featured on the cover of the Georgia Straight! To give you a sense of what’s in store, here’s what people have been saying about this hit comedy.


“Comic gold… brimming with gags … it’s a real pleasure to be able to laugh at Canadian politics in the theatre.” – Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight

Andrew Wheeler “nails the PM’s deadpan demeanour and shows his comedic chops in Healey’s particularly funny speech about the things he secretly doesn’t care about.” – Vancouver Presents
“clever & funny… buried in all the Rick Mercer-style lampooning, there’s some truth… A WINNER” –
Jo Ledingham / Vancouver Courier
‘A big part of the fun is watching Andrew Wheeler channel the character referred to only as “the Prime Minister,”’ – Jerry Wasserman, The Province
“fierce and funny” – VancityBuzz
“Stephen Harper = Comedy magic? Who knew!?” – Fun Fun Vancouver
“Emmelia Gordon is wickedly funny” – Beyond YVR
“Mr. Wheeler owns the role of Prime Minister. ” Vancouverscape

PROUD runs April 7 – 25 at the Firehall Arts Centre, with a half price preview April 7, 8pm. Click here for more information.

Straight cover

Chelsea Hotel goes on tour

Rachel Aberle, Steve Charles, Benjamin Elliott, Marlene Ginader, and Lauren Bowler. Photo by David Cooper.
Rachel Aberle, Steve Charles, Benjamin Elliott, Marlene Ginader, and Lauren Bowler. Photo by David Cooper.

It’s written on the walls of this hotel, you go to heaven, once you’ve been to hell
—Leonard Cohen

The Chelsea Hotel cast are checking out of Vancouver and heading off on a Western Canadian adventure that will see them perform this smash hit show in Saskatoon, Winnipeg and the Lower Mainland. We are excited to be taking this Jessie-nominated show on the road and bringing it back to Vancouver in March next year for an encore run at the Firehall.

Right now the six multi-talented cast members are tuning up their seventeen instruments, warming up their vocal chords and filling the theatre with the sounds of Leonard Cohen’s iconic music as they rehearse for the tour. It’s great to have them back!

If you have friends in any of the below cities, be sure to let them know this eclectic cabaret of loves won and lost is headed their way.

Read more about Chelsea Hotel.


Persephone Theatre, Saskatoon: October 30 – November 17, 2013

Prairie Theatre Exchange, Winnipeg: January 23, 2014 – February 09, 2014

Lower Mainland Tour presented by the Arts Club Theatre Company

Kay Meek Centre, West Vancouver: February 18&19, 2014

Surrey Arts Centre, Surrey: February 20 – March 1, 2014

BlueShore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts, North Vancouver: March 3, 2014

Evergreen Cultural Centre, Coquitlam: March 4-8, 2014

Shadbolt Centre for the Arts: March 12 & 13, 2014

Clarke Theatre, Mission: March 14, 2014

The ACT Arts Centre & Theatre, Maple Ridge: March 15, 2014

Firehall Arts Centre, Vancouver: March 18 – 29, 2014

Donna Spencer’s Response to Colin Thomas

In this week’s issue of the Georgia Straight, critic Colin Thomas reviewed Kid Gloves and took fault with Firehall Artistic Producer Donna Spencer’s choice to produce an “unpolished” play. This is her full response, a portion of which was sent in to the Georgia Straight as a Letter to the Editor.


Letter to the Editor

Re: Kid Gloves Stylistically All Over the Map, November 22, 2012

In closing his recent review of Kid Gloves, Colin Thomas takes me to task in my role as the Firehall Arts Centre’s Artistic Producer for producing this new play, advising that “Spencer’s biggest mistake was at a programming level … she should have looked beyond the historical and contemporary relevance of the subject matter and recognized it for being the artistic grab bag that it is”. One would assume from this statement that he is suggesting that the play should have never been produced. I am not writing to respond to his criticisms of the play, as they are his personal opinion, but rather to take Mr. Thomas to task for his cavalier and dismissive comments which seem to suggest that only polished and perfect plays should be produced. As a playwright himself, surely he does not truly believe this and if he does, what is it about theatre that keeps him drawn to writing about the imperfections of theatre? Is he questing for the perfect play, which frankly may only exist in the minds of academics and playwrights who have become critics? If only perfect plays should be produced, why are we still enjoying Shakespeare 400 years later?

One of the mission statements of the Firehall is to give voice to new and emerging works from both established and emerging theatre artists which have relevance to Canadians. That indeed is a risky business and one that allows for failure and success. Our thirty-year history reveals that we take our mission seriously, with the most recent evidence of that being our highly successful production of Chelsea Hotel.  Not a perfect play but indeed a highly imaginative artistic expression. And our production of Kid Gloves is a continuation of that mission.

I would remind Mr. Thomas of the purpose of theatre through two quotes from playwrights whom I am certain he has admiration for:  “I regard theatre as the greatest of all forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being”- Oscar Wilde. In response to his suggestion that the perfect play should take precedence over relevance, I remind him of the words of Dario Fo, famed Director, Playwright and Activist whose plays are recognized for their criticism of organized crime and political corruption,  “A theatre, a literature, an artistic expression that does not speak for its own time does not have relevance”.

Sally Stubbs’ Kid Gloves is indeed an artistic expression that does speak for its time, has relevance and does share with another the sense of what it might have been like to be the first women in Canada sworn in with full police powers.  It does “hold a mirror up to nature” (Shakespeare) and reminds us that women still go missing; gender bias still exists and good people still fight for positive change.

Donna Spencer Honoured with BC Community Achievement Award

Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Ida Chong, Donna Spencer and Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Steven Point

On April 25th, the Firehall’s fearless leader Donna Spencer was one of thirty-six individuals honoured with a BC Community Achievement Award. The ceremony, held at Government House in Victoria, recognizes people who go above and beyond to make a difference in communities across the province.

It was inspiring to hear the stories of the award recipients; each one has made a huge impact in their communities working to strengthen the people and the cities and towns they live in. It was an inspiring ceremony. Visit the BC Achievement Foundation website for a full list of the recipients.

Donna speaking on behalf of the award recipients

Congratulations Donna and all her fellow recipients, you help make British Columbia the wonderful place it is!

Firehall Fact #30: Congratulations Donna!

Donna Spencer, our Artistic Producer, has been with the Firehall Arts Centre since the beginning thirty years ago, and has been honoured for her work in theatre as well as her commitment for community over the years.

She won Jessie Richardson Outstanding Direction Award for both Urinetown The Musical and Reading Hebron as well as a Jessie Richardson Award for Multicultural Innovation in the Theatre. Donna received the City of Vancouver’s 1999 Cultural Harmony Award and was honored with YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the Arts And Culture category.  She was previously awarded the 2003 ExplorAsian Heritage Award for Community Building and the 2003 Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance Career Achievement Award. Donna was also inducted into BC Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2009.

We are thrilled to announce that Donna Spencer has been recognized this year for her dedication to community building through the arts and will be one of the recipients of the BC Community Achievement Award!

Congratulations Donna and to the other award recipients for their work to make BC a stronger province through community engagement!

Today is the final day of our $30 for 30 Campaign, and the last day Capital One Canada will donate an extra $10 when you donate through Canada Helps and take their quick 5 question survey! If you’d like to donate through our website, click here!