SURREY — The city of Surrey promotes the arts under their “AH” campaign – that stands for arts and heritage. Add in culture and there we have a mix of just about everything. We could have lengthy discussions about what is art. What do we include as heritage, and whose heritage? And by culture do you mean opera and ballet, or are you more flexible and include social mores and customs under the culture banner? Well, lucky me. I take it all in. Our creativity, heritage and history are the foundation for our arts. To me, if it is something creative, it is art.
Peace Arch Weavers and Spinners are fabric artists. This domestic craft is centuries old, and now that we have machines to do the work, handwoven and handspun items not only represent our culture and heritage, they are truly works of art. Fibre Flare 2016 is the 33rd annual sale and celebration for the weavers and spinners. It is this weekend, on Friday, Nov. 4 from 2 to 7 p.m. and again on Saturday, Nov. 5, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be a silent auction, demonstrations of weaving and spinning and a guest artisan, Silver & Stones. It all takes place at Semiahmoo Arts Centre, 14601 20th Ave., Surrey.
This year is special for Peace Arch Weavers and Spinners as they celebrate their 50th anniversary. The guild was founded in 1966 at the home of Elizabeth Keeling on the hillside in White Rock. Since then, the group has moved around the community, including Elgin Heritage Park and Historic Stewart Farm and its current location, Surrey Museum. Meetings are held every Wednesday, for anyone who would like to join. Guild members also volunteer in the museum’s textile studio and hold workshops and lectures during the year.
Spinning and weaving is an old-fashioned art, for sure. Vaudeville is also an old-fashioned concept of performing arts that was very popular in the U.S. and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. This live variety-show format includes singers, dancers and sometimes even magicians and animal acts. Variety was the key.
Keeping this performing art genre alive is a group of seniors called The Vaudevillians. The entertainers, based in Surrey, are often considered “B.C.’s #1 Seniors Entertainment Troupe,” and they will bring a lot of laughs, songs and dance to Surrey Arts Centre’s Mainstage on Nov. 12 and 13 for daily shows starting at 2 p.m. All reserved-seat tickets are $22, available at the box office (604-501-5566 or Tickets.Surrey.ca). This year’s show, the group’s 13th at the arts centre, is called “Reflections of Vaudeville” and will bring you an insight into vaudeville, with some of the most popular numbers from past years, along with new, exciting numbers guaranteed to bring great enjoyment to the audience.
The biggest appeal about this vaudeville troupe is that all the performers are definitely senior citizens, with an average age of 77. The “baby” of the troupe is 67, and the oldest performing member is 85. I love it! Stage moms, take note: your stage career can begin at 70, so you can relax and let your five-year-old enjoy childhood.
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Costuming for The Vaudevillians always gets rave reviews, and troupe co-founder Pat Trimble says, “we have everything from bustles to can-can costumes.”
In addition to awesome costuming, Trimble says this year’s show includes lots of funny stuff, as “people like to laugh.” Absolutely.
Although in their senior years, the members of this troupe give 25 to 30 performances every year at a variety of places. They rehearse 10 months of the year at Kennedy Seniors Recreation Centre in North Delta, and usually twice a week – more for the dancers among them. Now that’s commitment.
And here’s more: The annual show at Surrey Arts Centre is a fundraiser. As of 2016, more than $100,500 has been raised in support of a bursary for performing-arts students at Douglas College, which is invested in a perpetual fund with the Vancouver Foundation. More than 30 students in the arts have benefited from this bursary. That’s art, that’s heritage, and that is the future with help from the past. You can be a part of The Vaudevillians – on stage or off. New people are always needed, and there is no age restriction. Check out the website at Thevaudevillians.com.