MARCH 2023 | Volume 225


Production image

The War Being Waged. Tracey Nepinak, Emily Solstice Tait, photo by Joey Senft.

TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival
Urban Ink and The Cultch
Mar. 28-May 28

TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival—The Digital Remix 2023 is here and it's FREE!

Urban Ink and The Cultch are proud to present an all-digital TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival featuring new works and past favourites, March 28 - May 28, 2023. 

With a focus on empowering Indigenous artists and encouraging collaboration with non-Indigenous artists, this unique festival builds relationships and brings communities together to create lasting social change and groundbreaking performance. Over the past three years TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival has presented new works from some of the most exciting talents from Vancouver and around the world. Now in its fourth year, the international festival is being presented online, free to watch for all. 

TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival was started in the autumn of 2019 with over a dozen in-person shows, a cabaret club, artist talks and workshops. After a successful inaugural festival Urban Ink and the Cultch were excited about the 2020 festival. The realities of the pandemic put their hopes to the test, and instead of hosting an in-person festival, they decided to innovate to bring a groundbreaking digital festival to hungry at-home audiences. This digital pivot broke new ground in the theatre community and TRANSFORM developed a reputation for being a place for some of the best digital performance in the world. 

The 2023 TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival offers a selection of new shows, including powerful works from local artists—Kim Senklip Harvey's Making The Mystics: An Artistic Ceremony Documentary and Urban Ink's Guide My Way, a concert film by Corey Payette—as well as some big Canadian and international shows including a new show from Manitoba's Darla Contois (The War Being Waged), and powerful interdisciplinary cabaret and circus shows from Australia's Polytoxic and Aotearoa New Zealand's TeRēhia Theatre and The Dust Palace (Demolition, and the documentary TeTangi ā teTūī).

On top of these new shows, this free digital TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival will offer viewers the option to revisit some of the festival's past favourites. People can watch the digital Opening Night Bash that brought TRANSFORM online in 2020, a compilations show of some select moments of the late Candy Palmater'sThe Candy Show, contemporary drag from Vancouver's favourite non-binary drag collective, The Darlings, and Connective T/issue - Classical Cirque, collaborations between contemporary classical musicians and circus artists.

With so many exciting shows available at no cost, Urban Ink and The Cultch hope TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival—The Digital Remix 2023 gives people the opportunity to experience world-class performances from wherever they may be.

Watch the 2023 Launch Video
Details at


The War Being Waged 
By Darla Contois
Prairie Theatre Exchange (Winnipeg), in partnership with Native Earth Performing Arts

An Indigenous mother becomes an activist while her brother becomes a soldier. A grandmother raises a child with love, in community. A granddaughter full of turmoil, finds her voice. Three generations of Indigenous women are woven into this new work by Winnipeg-based theatre artist Darla Contois. And three performance genres tell their story - monologue, poetry with video and movement, and contemporary dance – all tied together by the playwright's story and an all-encompassing set design that has built a world for all three to live inside.

TeTangi ā teTūī 
TeRēhia Theatre (Aotearoa New Zealand) in partnership with The Dust Palace (Aotearoa New Zealand), Commissioned by Urban Ink and The Cultch

This documentary is a look inside the development of TeTangi ā teTūī, a fantastical and allegorical tale of loss of tereo Māori and its reclamation.

Tūī soaks up the world around it & responds in song. Though beautiful, his tune now is a faint echo of what it once was when Aotearoa was blanketed in the ngāhere, flutes of patupaiarehe filled the trees & Māori alone walked gently upon their mother.  

This new work brings together Kaupapa Māori theatre & cirque theatre to create an evocative narrative of love & loss between Māori, Patupairehe& the natural world in the face of colonial impact. Our story speaks in parallel to tereo Māori, the voice of the tangata whenua & grave significance of kaitiakitanga of Aotearoa around climate change & the world-wide loss of biodiversity.

Making The Mystics: An Artistic Ceremony Documentary 
A Kim Senklip Harvey and Green Thumb Theatre Production

Making The Mystics is a 55 min documentary honoring the transcendent nature of Tsilhqot'in culture explored through Kim Senklip Harvey's artistic constitution. This feature film weaves through interviews with Interior Salish community members and select scenes from Senklip Harvey's first story for young audiences to illuminate the mystical powers of connecting with the land and ourselves. In Harvey's signature style of fusing humour and hope, we are invited into intimate conversations, community places and cosmic spaces to honor the feisty fortitude of the Tsilhqot'in Nation. This documentary ignites a fire for the youthful parts of all of our spirits, encouraging us to have the courage to honour the emotional complexities of living a full life. Come voyage into Senklip Harvey's journey into cultural guardianship and artistic legal orders in, Making The Mystics.

Polytoxic (Australia) 
Created and written by Lisa Fa'alafi& Leah Shelton (Polytoxic)

Two digital offerings for one:

Tick Tick Boom ... Time's Up Motherlovers!
The detonator is rigged, the fuse is lit, and these fierce femme tradies are taking a sledgehammer to the system. DEMOLITION is an explosion of cabaret, theatre and activism set to rebuild the world from the ashes-up filmed in front of a live audience.

DEMOLITION: Staging A Protest
Take a peek behind the curtain in this fast-paced yet intimate film documenting Polytoxic's radical and inclusive process as they bring their production "DEMOLITION" to the stage.

Guide My Way
A Concert Film By Corey Payette
Produced by Urban Ink (Vancouver)

Guide My Way, a concert film, featuring music by Corey Payette and additional new music by Inuk singer/songwriter Kelly Fraser. The concert shines a spotlight on some local musical talent, including Jason Sakaki, Chelsea Rose, Merewyn Comeau, and a feature performance by the JUNO nominated singer-songwriter Desirée Dawson. The live concert recording features dancers with choreography by Shion Skye Carter. 


TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival 2020 Opening Bash
A collective creation hosted by Lisa Fa'alafi and Busty Beatz

The cabaret that launched TRANSFORM into the digital world returns! Hosted by renowned cabaret artists Lisa Fa'alafi and Busty Beatz (Hot Brown Honey), the 2020 Opening Bash brought together 14 interdisciplinary artists and challenged them to create explosive performances across three continents to celebrate the creativity and resilience of contemporary Indigenous artists and their collaborators. This is a joyful outpouring of creativity that you don't want to miss!

TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival Opening Bash 2020 launched the first-ever digital season. 

The Best of The Candy Show
Produced by Victor Pokinko and Archipelago Productions

On Christmas Day 2021 the world lost Candy Palmater, one of Canada's greatest treasures and a groundbreaking Indigenous comedian and TV show hosts. In this compilation of the 2020 and 2021 TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival productions of The Candy Show, Candy shares the spotlight with the legendary Kent Monkman,Tom Wilson and Buffy Sainte-Marie, as well as newcomers Keenan SimikKomaksiutiksak and Cameron Munroe-Fraser. Candy was an artist, a collaborator, and an inspirational auntie loved by TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival. This show is a tribute to her and her lasting legacy.

Connective T/issue - Classical Cirque
Curated and hosted by CrisDerksen and Sido Adamson
A reprise of the 2021 TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival production

Six pairs of artists from across the continent present collaborative digital works that explore our common threads and the barriers that divide us. Combining award-winning Indigenous composers and world-class circus performers, Connective T/issue is a collection of short films and digital performance pieces shown through the various lenses that keep us connected.

The Darlings III
The Darlings (Vancouver)
A reprise of the 2020 TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival production

The Darlings are a multidisciplinary, nonbinary drag performance collective based in Vancouver, BC. Their work challenges the boundaries of conventional drag, and explores genderqueer, nonbinary, and transgender experiences through the use of movement, poetry, performance art, theatre, and immersive/interactive installation. For the 2020 TRANSFORM Cabaret Festival, the collective created The Darling III, a collection of jaw-dropping and imaginative drag performances filmed in the York Theatre.

WHEN: March 28 - May 28, 2023


TICKETS: All shows will be available for FREE!

For over 20 years, Urban Ink, and its circle of artists have broken barriers, through stimulating story, performance, and media. As we look ahead to the next 20 years to come, we strive to continue an Indigenized practice that centres Indigenous and diverse voices, making space for our communities across Turtle Island.

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 organisation operates three theatrical venues, a gallery, various ancillary spaces in the heart of East Vancouver, as well as their RE/PLAY digital platform that reaches international audiences. 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. Their 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.

The Cultch is located on the unceded Indigenous land of the xwməϴkwəýəm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil‑Waututh) Nations.




get in touch with vancouverplays:

Vancouverplays: Vancouver's arts and culture website providing theatre news, previews and reviews


Vancouver's arts and culture website providing theatre news, previews and reviews