VocalEye Newsletter, February 2018

In this issue:

Happy Valentine’s Dog!

Described Performances and Events:

Feb 11: Forget About Tomorrow at the Belfry

Feb 17: Onegin on tour at the Kay Meek Centre

Feb 18: Jitters at the Arts Club Stanley

Feb 27: Fun Home at the Arts Club Granville Island

Mar 3: Onegin on tour at the Surrey Arts Centre

Mar 17 and 24: Sequence at Presentation House


• White Cane Week

• Research 

• Save the Rio

Theatre Buddies | Ticket Access | Support | Reminders


This month we celebrate Valentine’s Day, the Year of the Dog and White Cane Week with some sloppy dog kisses, an Open House and lots of exciting described theatre!

For slices of real-life served with breathtaking honesty and humour, check out Forget About Tomorrow at the Belfry and Fun Home at the Arts Club Granville Island. Don’t miss your chance to catch Onegin as it tours to West Van and Surrey. And if your belly needs some laughs, Jitters will give it a workout at the Arts Club Stanley.

VocalEye is always thrilled to partner with Realwheels, but especially so on their upcoming production of Sequence, which stars our very own Amy Amantea playing the role of Dr. Guzman, a research professor who is legally blind. Congratulations, Amy! We can’t wait to describe your performance and this exciting production on March 17 and 24 at 8 pm!

Remember, our Ticket Access Program is designed to lower barriers for VocalEye members in financial need by providing a ticket rebate of 50% on a single ticket, or a free companion rate if a companion is needed. This program is offered for described performances in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland while funds last. Please contact Donna for details: buddies@vocaleye.ca

A separate ticket bursary program is being offered by our awesome friends at the Victoria Society for Blind Arts and Culture for described performances at the Belfry. Different rates and guidelines may apply. Please contact Linda Bartram for details: lbartram@telus.net

You may have noticed that we are offering two described performances of more shows than ever. This includes Mamma Mia coming up at the Arts Club Stanley, described on Sunday June 3 at 2 pm and again on Friday June 8 at 8 pm. As with all popular Arts Club productions, $29 tickets are limited and in demand. Please book early for the best seating options and ticket prices, 604-687-1644.

We are working hard to provide more accessible options so more people can experience live described theatre and events. Let us know what you think. I will have more exciting news for you next month.





Forget About Tomorrow, described by Rick Waines on Sunday February 11 at 2 pm at the Belfry Theatre, 1291 Gladstone Avenue, Victoria. VocalEye users are eligible for a discount. Please call 250-385-6815 to purchase. This performance will be followed by a Touch Tour.

“Theatre is a gift that can allow an audience an experience far above mere entertainment, offering a way to examine the human condition, with all its challenges and difficulties. Playwright Jill Daum, who for decades has been entertaining generations of theatre goers with the questions and antics of motherhood as one of the co-creators of the Mom’s The Word series, turns her pen to an intimate and personal story—her husband John Mann’s (Spirit of the West) diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s and the resulting changes within their relationship and family.” read more

The play features two songs written by John Mann especially for Jill’s play. John was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2014 at the age of 53.

“I began writing this play before my husband John publicly announced he had Alzheimer’s. I was attending a workshop, led by the Wet Ink Collective, and was secretly writing scenes about the difficult aspects of my life. Constructing a story about a struggling reluctant caregiver became a pain-relieving release for me. Then John got caught up in the idea of creating a piece of theatre while we were processing his diagnosis. It was the first time in our relationship that we collaborated on a script. Working on the music was as cathartic for him as the words in the play were for me. ” -Jill Daum, Playwright

“beautiful, uncompromising theatre” –Janis Lacouvée

ONEGIN, on Tour

Pronounced “oh-NYAY-gun”, this 10-time Jessie award-winning new musical is touring major cities across Canada. Rick Waines described the show in Victoria last October and will describe it twice on Saturday, February 17 at 2 pm and 8 pm at the Kay Meek Centre, 1700 Mathers Avenue, West Vancouver. Tickets are $29 for VocalEye users, while they last. Please call 604-981-6335 to purchase.

Rick will describe the show for the final time when it comes to the Surrey Arts Centre on Saturday, March 3 at 4 pm, 13750 88 Avenue, Surrey. Tickets are $29 for VocalEye users, while they last. Please call 604-501-5566 to purchase. VocalEye’s new Ticket Access Program provides rebates for those in financial need. Please contact buddies@vocaleye.ca for details.

“Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille’s contemporary musical, based on Alexander Pushkin’s 19th-century verse novel, does for the dusty Russian love tale what the 1990s Broadway hit Rent did for La Bohème. The Vancouver-based pair draw out the elements of the story that never get old — including the pain of young love, the allure of a bad boy and a lush esthetic. Throw in some rock ’n’ roll, a killer cast and seamless staging, and it’s clear why this production sold out in Vancouver when it premièred last year and swept up a string of Jessie awards.”Times Colonist

“Onegin is one of those rare theatrical moments you do not want to miss. Take advantage of second chances, or go again and fall in yublyu [love] with it all over again”Vancouver Presents


Jitters, a rollicking backstage comedy, described by Eileen Barrett on Sunday February 18 at 2 pm at the Arts Club Stanley, 2750 Granville Street, Vancouver. Tickets are $29 for VocalEye users, while they last. Please call the Box Office to purchase at 604-687-1644. VocalEye’s new Ticket Access Program provides rebates for those in financial need. Please contact buddies@vocaleye.ca for details.

Four actors, a director, a playwright, and one grand dream of Broadway-bound success. Anything from a forgotten line to a faulty wig may just make or break their new Canadian play. Can this motley crew set aside their egos and anxieties in order to make it to the big time? Find out in this raucous comedy that celebrates the ups and downs of life in the theatre.

“Opening night jitters are very real. And in this play, playwright David French has them vibrating at the upper limits of the Richter Scale. Anxiety, desperation, and fear are writ large in this smart and funny play about a group of theatre artists mounting an ill-fated production.

What I like about this comedy is that the characters are wonderfully flawed people—flawed by their insecurities and ego. Yet, they have no sense of entitlement; they are Canadian actors, after all. French makes them dedicated, talented professionals, on the cusp of the ultimate validation: a Broadway run. Of course, what happens next is an actor’s nightmare played out in real time.

We’ve set the play in the year it was first produced, 1979. The fashion lends itself to a level of nostalgia that may not only have you unwittingly longing for corduroy and polyester, but will also remind you of a time when Canadian-made theatre was beginning to flourish. 1979 was, in fact, the year Bill Millerd opened the new Arts Club Theatre on Granville Island, adding a second venue to produce more Canadian content alongside the legendary Seymour Street location.” -David Mackay, director

Ted Roberts’ marvellous set design echoes the old Seymour Street location and the cast of 9 includes many of our favourite Arts Club performers.

“Recommended as an excellent remedy for mid-winter blahs.”Burnaby Now


Fun Home, described by Eileen Barrett on Tuesday, February 27 at 7:30 pm at the Arts Club Granville Island, 1585 Johnston Street, Vancouver. Tickets are $29 for VocalEye users, while they last. Please call 604-687-1644 to purchase. This performance will be followed by a Talk Back with the cast. VocalEye’s new Ticket Access Program provides rebates for those in financial need. Please contact buddies@vocaleye.ca for details.

Based on the memoir of graphic novelist Alison Bechdel, whose character is portrayed by three performers at different ages: 9, 19 and 43, this new musical stars Sara-Jeanne Hosie, who plays adult Alison. VocalEye users may remember Sara-Jeanne for her practically perfect performance as Mary Poppins, also at the Arts Club.

Alison’s father was many things: a historical preservationist, a funeral home director, a distant parent, and… a closeted gay man. In the struggle to understand her father while also dealing with her own coming out, graphic novelist Alison documents the story of her life in coloured panels. This Tony Award–winning musical memoir is a heartbreaking and fiercely funny journey, punctuated with a refreshing score that frames the curiosity of childhood and the complexities of family.

“A book I wrote has been turned into a musical that’s opening on Broadway. This has been as exciting and as glamorous as you might imagine. But given that my book is about my coming out as a lesbian, my father’s closeted homosexuality, and his likely suicide…there is also a certain dissonance to it.

The “Fun” home of the title is the family funeral home my dad ran. It would be strange enough seeing fictional characters one had created brought to life onstage. But this is my actual family.

Another dissonant thing about the musical has been trying to understand my relationship to it. It’s not mine. I didn’t make it. But it’s my life. The playwright Lisa Kron and the composer Jeanine Tesori worked for years before I saw the script or heard any of the songs.

I guess I had been expecting that a musical version of the book would be a bit artificial – a lighter, arm’s length take on my childhood. I was not prepared for the opposite impact. Here was my distant repressed family brought close. I listened to the score over and over again.

It seemed to get to the emotional heart of things more directly than my book had. And certainly more directly than my parents and I ever had in real life. If you can get some brilliant artists to make a musical about your childhood, I highly recommend it. It’s very cathartic.

My parents met in a play, in college. Mom acted in summer stock and dad was on the theatre’s board of directors. They made regular pilgrimages to Broadway.

I can’t help wondering what they would make of seeing themselves turned into characters on the stage. But of course, if my parents could see the play, there would be no play.

For the occasion, flickering moment, though, I’m able to see past this paradox and imagine them in the audience. They scan the crowd. The house lights go down. My mother and father are rapt, excited to be in the theatre. My impossible wish is that the play can heal them, too.” Alison Bechdel Draws a Fun Home Coda

Fun Fact: the “Bechdel Test” originated as one of Alison’s comic strips titled “The Rule” where one woman explains to another that she only goes to a movie if it satisfies the following requirements:

1 The movie has to have at least two women in it,

2 who talk to each other,

3 about something besides a man.

These criteria have since been hailed by the mainstream as “the standard by which feminist critics judge television, movies, books, and other media”. 


Sequence, described by Eileen Barrett twice: on Saturday March 17 at 8 pm and Saturday March 24 at 8 pm at Presentation House, 333 Chesterfield Avenue, North Vancouver. Tickets are priced at $20 for VocalEye users with Promo Code SEQ2018. Please call 604-990-3474 to purchase. VocalEye’s new Ticket Access Program provides rebates for those in financial need. Please contact buddies@vocaleye.ca for details.

This award-winning thriller written by Canadian playwright (and eye surgeon) Arun Larka, explores the interplay between logic and metaphysics, science and faith, luck and probability, determinism and free will through two narratives that intertwine like a fragment of DNA.

A professor confronts a student who has defied probability by taking a multiple-choice exam, only to get every answer – 150 of them – wrong. Meanwhile, the “Luckiest Man Alive” – his status cemented by his uncanny ability to predict the winner of the Super Bowl coin toss for 20 years running – is confronted by a young woman who claims to know his secret.

Starring VocalEye Vice-Chair and The Blind Beader, Amy Amantea as Professor Guzman!



The first week in February is White Cane Week in Canada. White Cane Week was started by the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) in 1946. It’s a time when various groups make efforts to raise awareness of resources available to people living with any degree of sight loss as well as provide education to the community.

Celebrate White Cane Week and join us at this free Open House:

Thursday, February 8 from 10 am to 2:30 pm

Park Royal South, Centre Court

Check out the latest technology, assistive devices and resources available to people of all ages who are blind and partially sighted; service providers; peer support; arts, culture and entertainment; braille services; social clubs: recreation opportunities; guide dogs; and gift items. Connect with others living with sight loss, enjoy complimentary snacks and receive a free entry to win a $100 Park Royal gift card.

Stop by the VocalEye table and say hello!

Fellow exhibitors include:

Accessible Media Inc.

BC & Alberta Guide Dogs

BC Blind Sports

The Blind Beader

Blind Beginnings

Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired

Canadian Assistive Technology

Canadian Braille Services

Capilano K9 Collars

CCB BC-Yukon Division

CNIB British Columbia

Leash of Hope Assistance Dogs

North Vancouver District Public Library

Quest Foods

VCC Program for the Visually Impaired and more!

Sighted guides are available to escort those with sight loss from the Park Royal bus stop to the open house space and back (south mall, centre court). Please contact Amy Amantea 604-763-2695 for guides and inquiries.


Our colleagues are seeking participants for the following projects:

1) Seeking focus group participants: we are interested in hearing from anyone who has something to say about being blind, vision impaired, low vision, partially blind, partially sighted, etc, and wanting to be part of higher education/academia (as student, faculty, staff, etc). The purpose of the study is to explore your perspective regarding the inclusion of blind people in academia. In particular, we are interested in learning about how blind people build a sense of belonging in academic/higher education environments. Contact Laura Bulk, LBulk@mail.ubc.ca

2) The World Blind Union and the American Council of the Blind (WBU and ACB) are eager to learn more about the use of audio description by people who are blind or have low vision in its member nations, including some of the barriers to its use.

The survey takes 5 minutes to complete and is provided in four languages:

(English) https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6FNQGJ7

(Spanish) https://es.surveymonkey.com/r/6F8BXX2

(French) https://fr.surveymonkey.com/r/6FS2N8M

(Portuguese) https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6F25PP5

Your participation will assist the WBU and the ACB in better understanding the scope of audio description availability around the world.


The Rio is a fabulous 90 year-old art deco theatre at Broadway and Commercial that’s become a vibrant part of Vancouver’s cultural scene, showcasing first-run feature films, indie films, classic films, local & international films, hosting numerous International Film Festivals as well as a prime venue for live entertainment ranging from top class concerts, burlesque, comedy, improv, spoken word, variety shows and much more.

The building is up for sale, which, in this town, means demolition and redevelopment. The operators are trying to save it and have an online petition going. Deadline to sign is Feb 6. 


Theatre Buddies are available to guide VocalEye Members, 18 years of age and up, from a designated meet up location to and from selected theatres. To reserve a Buddy in Vancouver, please contact buddies@vocaleye.ca

In Victoria, contact Linda Bartram at 250-595-5888. Buddies must be arranged 3 days in advance.


VocalEye strives to lower barriers for members in financial need by providing rebates to reduce the price of admission to described shows. Members in Vancouver and the lower mainland can apply for assistance by contacting buddies@vocaleye.ca.

In Victoria, please contact lbartram@telus.net


VocalEye is now a registered charity (#80166 6702 RR0001) and able to issue tax deductible receipts for donations of any size. VocalEye’s season supporters are gratefully acknowledged on our website.




• VocalEye’s complete season of described performances can be found on our website

• Tickets and headsets must be reserved by calling the theatre, unless instructed otherwise. 

• Be sure to mention VocalEye when booking your tickets to receive any discounts offered and indicate whether you have partial vision, a guide dog or other seating preferences. Seating options may be limited.

• Arrive early to pick up your equipment so you can be seated in time for a sound check and to listen to our pre-show introduction that includes brief descriptions of the set, characters and costumes. These begin 10 minutes before curtain.

• Our handheld receivers come with a single earpiece that can be worn on the left or right ear, or you can use your own earbuds or headphones. The audio signal is mono, so it will come through on only one side.

• VocalEye Memberships are FREE for people with vision loss.

• VocalEye Members are eligible for Theatre Buddy assistance, ticket discounts and equipment pickup without a deposit. 

• VocalEye newsletters are available in your choice of formats: Plain Text or HTML with images. Both include a link at the top to a simple Word Doc format. 

• Help us spread the word about described performances and arts access for people with vision loss by sharing this newsletter with those in your network.

• VocalEye respects your right to privacy. We will not rent, sell or trade our list. Our mailings are intended to inform you of our events, programs, services and fundraising activities. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Thank you for reading through. See you at the theatre!

Images: Boaz Joseph/Surrey Leader, The Belfry (David Cooper), The Arts Club (David Cooper), Shutterstock and the interwebs


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.