Posted on by sarah

Tweed & Taffeta is a series from Laura Murray Public Relations that explores costuming in celebrated performances – the varying interpretations from one production to the next and the subtle yet sweeping influence of wardrobe on a show’s overall texture.


For our inaugural interview in Tweed & Taffeta, we spoke with Carmen Alatorre, kick-ass costume designer for ITSAZOO Productions’ site-specific thriller Killer Joe.


Originally from Mexico City, Carmen completed her MFA in Theatre Design at UBC in 2006 and – like so many of us – fell in love with Vancouver’s rich theatre community and decided to stay. Carmen’s worked with such theatre companies as Gateway Theatre, Pi Theatre, Arts Club Theatre, and the SFU Wong Experimental Theatre, just to name a few.


Killer Joe Costume

Killer Joe Cooper, costume design by Carmen Alatorre.

Q: Can you explain your design process? 


The first time I read a script, I try to do it without being in “designer mode,” that is to say with the least information possible and just to grasp what story the play is telling. Then I would usually do some research on context, history, the playwright’s biography, etc. and a second read imagining the design needs. After that, I’d start asking questions to the director: What is the concept, the time period, the play’s aesthetic? Once I get that input, I would put together a collection of reference and inspirational images, movies, both from the Internet and the library.


After several conversations with the director and the other designers, I would do a first set of sketches and if they seem to be right for the play, a final set of renderings. Once the design is approved on paper, its actual execution can start (whether it will be a shopped wardrobe or a built one).


Q: Where did you look for inspiration when designing costumes for Killer Joe


The characters of this play live in a dirty trailer home and they are awfully messed up. So after talking to Director Chelsea Haberlin, the idea was to extend the chaos, clutter and vulgarity of their lives into their costumes, in 1990s style.


I did some research on ‘90s fashion and how that would translate into this redneck kind of world. I also watched Killer Joe the movie as a point of reference. Although Chelsea’s staging ideas are unique, it is always helpful to see what has been done before.


Q: Any favourite Vancouver hot spots when it comes to scouting the perfect item for a character? 


It really depends on the show but I can say with confidence that Value Village is a costume designer’s hub, as well as thrift and vintage stores. Most large theatre companies do costume rentals as well.


Q: Why is it so important to get the costuming for a performance ‘just right’?


I believe a costume can affect or enhance an actor’s performance. The costume is an extension of the character, so if it doesn’t read properly, as an audience member one can sense there is something “off” and it will be distracting. People will possibly be wondering what the reason was for a particular costume choice instead of being immersed in the story, which is what we theatre artists aim for.


Experience Killer Joe from ITSAZOO Productions from April 15 – May 4 at a purpose-built trailer park at the Italian Cultural Centre (3075 Slocan Street).


Tickets are $25 (Students & Seniors: $20) and are available at


Posted on by Jesse Tanaka

CBC Cuts Deep

CBC announced significant cuts due to funding and revenue shortfalls this week. The cuts will result in a loss of 657 jobs and programming will be scaled back in sports, self-produced TV series, and live music performances.


The CBC continues to adjust its business model and operations following the loss of $115 million in government funding in the 2012 federal budget. Even prior to this, Canada’s per capita funding for public broadcasting was one of the lowest among industrialized nations.


Fred Herzog Wins Audain Prize

This year’s Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts was awarded to Vancouver photographer Fred Herzog. Herzog rose to prominence in 1950’s as a pioneer in street photography and one of the first to incorporate colour in his pieces.

fred herzog

Mike Daisey Takes on Rob Ford

Mike Daisey, a highly regarded and controversial monologist, announced the premiere of his next piece aimed at Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford. Daisy’s Dreaming of Rob Ford opens May 21 at Toronto’s Crow Theatre and aims to challenge societal issues of how we construct fame.


Trash or Treasure?

Police in Hong Kong have scoured their local landfill in an attempt to find a $3.7mil painting that was accidentally discarded. The chinese ink wash painting by Cui Ruzhuo was reportedly removed from the five-star Grand Hyatt Hotel by cleaners which led to fears that it had been carelessly thrown out.


Coachella Sets The Stage

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, one of North America’s premiere live music festivals gets underway this week. Fans lucky enough to score a ticket will get to take in some of the biggest names in music including Arcade Fire, Muse, Outkast, and Beck. Fans who didn’t manage to make it out to the festival will still get a taste of the action as they stream the entire event live though their Youtube Channel.


Posted on by sarah

The Client

Now in it’s 14th year, the Vancouver International Dance Festival (VIDF) is a social-profit, artist run organization that scours the globe, and its own backyard, each year to assemble a month of emotionally rich and intellectually stimulating programming. In doing so, VIDF advances culturally diverse contemporary dance, and acts as an important link between Vancouver and a vibrant international community of artists.


The Campaign

Laura Murray Public Relations was hired to provide a media relations campaign that would secure high-levels of public awareness and editorial coverage around the 2014 Vancouver International Dance Festival. In addition to publicity, LMPR played a key role in the festival’s social media strategy and online advertising.


The Results

VIDF took Vancouver by storm with a vast and vibrant

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presence in media outlets across the Lower Mainland. The enormously successful media relations campaign included interviews, articles, previews, contests, and reviews in many of the major outlets including: The Globe & Mail, the Vancouver Sun, The Georgia Straight, The Province, Vancouver Courier, North Shore News, World Journal, Ming Pao, Vancouver is Awesome, Vancity Buzz, Hello Vancity, and Vancouver Observer, among many others.


Campaign Highlights



Click on the image to read each article.








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Posted on by sarah

Vancouver Fooled

This year, April Fools’ Day rocked Vancouver with creative pranks from top-ranking organizations across Metro Vancouver and beyond. Highlights included the proposed Vancouver City Hall relocation to a futuristic-looking 43-floor building at Waterfront Station, SFU’s Semester in Space program, and HootSuite’s Oculus Rift integration – a make-believe dive into virtual reality.


Lions Rampaged

An iconic piece of Vancouver art was defaced this weekend, when vandals took chisels to two of Stanley Park’s stone lions. The statues are located near the south end of the bridge on the overpass above the causeway.


Lions Gate Bridge


Comings & Goings

David Letterman announcing his departure from The Late Show rocked the international entertainment industry this week, while closer to home Vancouverites were trying to imagine what the Arts Club will look like without Howard Jang. Having been Executive Director for the past 14 years, and lead the organization through a transformative time period, Jang leaves for a prominent

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position with SFU.


It wasn’t all departures this week however, as the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival announced that Roxanne Duncan would depart Toronto’s Theatre Centre to take the reins from Minna Schendlinger, who announced her planned departure as Managing Director last November.


Cross-Disciplinary Collaborations

Iconic Choreographer Crystal Pite is set to collaborate with Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre for the world premiere of Betroffenheit (working title), a comment on post-traumatic stress disorder.


Following its premiere at Panamania, the 35-day arts festival running parallel with the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, this performance already has plans to embark on an international tour.


Pite and Electric Company Theatre last collaborated on Studies in Motion: The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge which premiered in Vancouver in 2006.



Pemberton Counts Down

The Pemberton Music Festival continues to tease us and face backlash on social media in anticipation of

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their line-up announcement. Their Twitter feed has come alive with daily postings of numbers leading up to the big day. They’ll certainly have to pull out some big names to compete with this year’s Squamish Valley Music Festival.


CBC Enters the Summer Music Festival Market

CBC Music came out of left field with the announcement that they’ll be hosting a music festival of their own this summer. The one day event takes place in beautiful Deer Lake Park on June 14 and features Tegan and Sara, Spoon, Arkells, and Chad VanGaalen.



Posted on by Brian

It is a strange thing, the way programming can echo around a city. In the past year we’ve had two Measure for Measure‘s, two Odd Couples, and now- running concurrently- two edgy re-interpretations of Macbeth. Where Theatre UBC’s Ubu Roi (reviewed earlier this week) is an absurd retelling however, Leaky Heaven’s usage is not so direct.


At its core, To Wear a Heart So White is an invitation to reflect on colonialism as it pertains to the Pacific Northwest. It is an atmospheric and quasi-linear exploration that does not offer up a central commentary or conclusion. Rather, audiences must meditate on its various threads to distil their own meaning from an (occasionally quite bizarre) series of scenes and vignettes.



The story of Macbeth, or more specifically- it’s first three acts- form the most cohesive and continuous arc of the hour-long work, with alternate content woven into and around Shakespeare’s words. Before we even get to the Bard however, we arrive at the space by lighting a candle at the shrine of such explorers as Cook, Vancouver, and Strathcona. Once all are seated, there is a procession, followed by a welcoming and invocation.

This ceremony would seem to possess a two-fold meaning that touches on

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theatre’s ritualistic origins, as well as the role that proscribed Christianity played in colonialism.


The invocation, inspired by the various exchanges between Macbeth‘s Weird Sisters, seems to work – as the incantation sunders the room with thunder and lightning. At this point we are introduced to one of the show’s most spectacular elements: massive projections that, in this instance, shoot scenes from Shakespeare films onto four of the venue’s walls (later projections include breathtaking forests, dizzying geometric patterns, the deck of an aircraft carrier, and more). As the film runs, a voiceover describes the dissemination of Shakespeare’s work throughout the world, setting it up an analogous to colonialism.


This leads into the first actual scene from Macbeth- where he and Banquo meet the Weird Sisters on the heath (familiarity with the play is definitely an asset). This transitions into a sing-along of Jerusalem, followed by the Macbeths hatching their plot, followed by a group of birds discussing the Coquitlam Day Parade around a campfire, followed by the audience undergoing hypnosis, and so on.


These scenes are driven by a central trio of actors: Lois Anderson, Alex Ferguson, and Sean Marshall Jr. with support from a retinue of actors, singers, and children.


Presented in the round, in the Russian Hall, director Steven Hill’s staging is beautiful to behold but its stated theme is rarely immediately forthcoming. Instead, we the audience must craft our own conclusions out of the information presented.


For example: the narrative of Macbeth stops at the feast, right before things begin falling apart for the usurping king. One might interpret this as a statement that colonialism has provided all of the benefits of the Macbeths’ violent coup, but none of the downfall.


This and any interpretation however, could easily be debated (there is an almost David Lynchian quality to the work in this way). Having seen many familiar faces in the hall, I look forward to many such exchanges in the near-future.


To Wear a Heart So White runs until March 30 at the Russian Hall.


Click Here for tickets & information.



Posted on by Jesse Tanaka

World Theatre Day is upon us once again, and just like we’ve done in the past on Creatively Speaking, we’d like to share our love of the performing arts by offering up a prize to a lucky reader. This year’s winner will get to celebrate in style at the beautiful York Theatre this Saturday for Patrick Street Production’s performance of Floyd Collins.


Here’s how you can enter:

Happy World Theatre Day! Win #FloydCollins tix from @PeteratPSP & @LauraMurrayPR. RT to enter!

Floyd Collins runs until March 30 at the York Theatre, tickets are available on The Cultch website.