Come Alone in the Georgia Straight

Come Alone takes theatre-goers on an outdoor exploration of space and self

by Holly McKenzie-Sutter on August 8th, 2017 at 5:12 PM The Georgia Straight

Playwright Julia Siedlanowska in rehearsal for Come Alone, a site-specific immersive theatre piece running in the Vines Art Festival this week. 

Dinner and a show are a classic itinerary for a night out, so why not combine the two in an immersive theatre experience?

Come Alone, an original theatrical piece by Julia Siedlanowska and Ulla Laidlaw, invites its guests to sit down and share a plant-based meal together—but first, they’re sent on a guided audio exploration of the site. Presented as part of the Vines Art Festival, Come Alone will run on Wednesday (August 9) in Hadden Park, and Sunday (August 13) in Stanley Park.

Audience members sign up before the show, and receive an MP3 file with original narration that will guide them on their quest to explore the landscape and reconvene with the larger group. As the night continues, participants will meet the narrator—and each other—when they come together for a discussion about environmental conservation and living in Vancouver that, aside from the pre-recorded elements, entirely depends on who shows up at the table that day.

“People have to come with their own experiences,” Siedlanowska tells the Straight. “There’s this idea of Vancouver as a lonely city. We want people to come alone and hopefully leave with a community.”

The piece is transformed by the place it’s set, as well as the people who participate in it. The Hadden Park and Stanley Park scripts will diverge based on their unique scenic offerings. In fact, when Siedlanowska and Laidlaw first submitted Come Alone for Vines, they wanted it to take place on a barge, but the show was adjusted according to the assigned venues.

The narrator is will be anonymous for the first part of the performance, but Siedlanowska mentions that the script was inspired by the speeches of great historical orators like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. The two playwrights were also heavily influenced by the Leap Manifesto, a collaborative 2015 document that calls for Canada to explore sustainable energy alternatives.

There are historical influences, but Siedlanowska emphasizes that this is a piece about the experience of living in Vancouver now. She and Laidlaw will be on-site, but only to help gently guide the experience—the shape of the piece is really up to those who attend. 

More information on Come Alone and Vines Art Festival can be found here

A little green wanderer in the sun!

Green Wanderer teaching tolerance to kids through thoughtful theatre

The Vancouver Sun

The Green Wanderer

May 6, 12:15 p.m. | Port Moody Fingerling Festival

May 13, 3 p.m. | B.C. Children’s Hospital

May 25, 11 a.m. | Surrey International Children’s Festival

Tickets and info: All performances are free. To learn more visit:

If The Green Wanderer doesn’t sound familiar, there’s a good reason. You’d probably have to be well-acquainted with Polish children’s theatre to have heard of it.

Originally created by Polish writer Liliana Bardijewska, Julia Siedlanowska has translated the play from the original for English audiences.

“I’ve known it (Polish) since I can remember,” said the Vancouver actor/director. “I don’t really have a second language. My parents taught me Polish while I was growing up, and I would go to Polish school every Saturday. So I grew up in the Polish community here.”

The Green Wanderer is a presentation of King Matt Theatre, a Vancouver company that’s dedicated to producing English translations of work by Polish authors for young audiences.

An offshoot of Vancouver Polish Theatre, King Matt is named after Polish-Jewish playwright Janusz Korczak’s novel King Matt the First, an adaptation of which marked the company’s inaugural performance at the 2010 Vancouver International Chutzpah! Festival.

“I think there’s a huge tradition of taking children to the theatre in Poland,” Siedlanowska said. “From what my parents have recounted, they were always going to theatre. It’s ingrained in society in how you bring up kids.”

Described as a “poetic fairy-tale about friendship and the need for dreams,” The Green Wanderer is aimed at theatregoers as young as five. Its hero is a green inhabitant of grey Creatureland. In the King Matt version, the hero is referred to as the gender-neutral “they,” though the character is a boy in Bardijewska’s original.

“We cast it with a female actress,” Siedlanowska said. “And the story is all about tolerance and friendship. I think it’s important to include that, and broaden that. I don’t want to make it too political. But there are some messages there that are important to hear.

“And I feel like in so many classic tales, the boys are the ones who go on adventures.”

The creature is played by Sarah Roa, but the other characters are played by local actors-turned-puppeteers Elizabeth Kirkland and Lissa Neptuno. Neptuno plays a few different characters, but her recurring role is a hedgehog.

“I try to figure out what characteristic belongs most to each puppet in that particular scene, and from that characteristic I dig through the annals of my memory of who that would remind me of,” Neptuno said.

“Lately I’ve been playing with full-flight Woody Allen and Liza Minnelli, and Joan Rivers for some reason has popped up as well. My hedgehog voice is the closest to me, in the mornings actually.”

The story moves through different coloured lands, so there are several costumes changes for each puppet as they morph according to their surroundings. The puppets have been designed and built by Randi Edmundson.

The Green Wanderer, which is making its Canadian premiere in Siedlanowska’s translation, is a personal project for the director. “I direct for kids about once a year, and it’s always special,” she said.

Her recent credits include assistant-directing Classic Chic’s all-female Corleone: The Shakespearean Godfather and acting in Redcurrant Collective’s version of the speculative fiction play The Nether (with Neptuno).

She has only once performed in a play with puppets, when she was a dodo bird while studying theatre at the University of Wales.

“When you’re working in the world of adults, it’s nice to remember the young people who will be going to the theatre in the future.” is "THE feel good show of this Fringe."

From: The Vancouver Arts Review

We didn’t know what to expect from “”. We went in completely blind. Kara Nolte operates under Shakespeare Unchained and the show description included names like Vivaldi and Walt Whitman. That’s what got us. We waited for the show to start in jet black darkness and complete silence in the intimate setting of the False Creek Gym. Nolte appeared on stage under a spotlight and for a good five minutes dove into a modern dance piece with her back to the audience, without the help of any music. You could hear her breathe. She then turned around and broke the silence with a warm smile and her charming, personable aura. We understand now the importance of her initial, muted dance. Hearing her sigh and breathe as we watched her create movement with her body brought us closer to her than any amount of words could have. Nolte then recited Walt Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last In the Dooryard Bloom’d”, a poem about death, life, love and beauty. She then showed us a dance she choreographed to the words of the poem. For the rest of the show, Nolte performed the same dance to Vivaldi, Edith Piaf and the Backstreet Boys. Never before have we gotten goosebumps from a Backstreet Boys song as we did in this show.

Nolte is a highly skilled contemporary and modern dancer. Her choreography translates words into emotions and movement with wicked perfection. She has a gift. In her show, she tells the story of her own search for intimacy and connection. She once mentions looking for it in the Downtown East Side. Raw details like that take “” to an elevated level of connection. Nolte has a knack for beauty and poetry. She creates romance, nostalgia and melancholy with the unleashing of a smile, the drop of a wrist, the droop of her head and renditions of cheesy karaoke songs.

Nolte ended the show with a sweet, slow dance with an audience member, and filled the whole room with a cloud of love.

“” is short and sweet and THE feel good show of this Fringe.

Buy your tickets at the Fringe Festival website!

-Prachi Kamble

"Julia Seidlanowska’s performance as Iris is astonishing..."

Another review on the Vancouver Premier of The Nether.

Julia Seidlanowska’s performance as Iris is astonishing...
— Danielle Benzon, Plank Magazine

The Nether - Is This Our Future?

The Nether is a delightfully textured piece about catharsis, crime and how to navigate ethics and morality when reality isn’t reality any more. It will make you feel—disgust, temptation, anger, shock, love, sympathy, sadness, horror and pleasure; perhaps all at once—and it will make you think. Is this where we’re headed in our society? What would it mean for what we call our lives? Our identities? Is this “Nether” a blessing or a curse?

Written by Jennifer Haley, the Vancouver Fringe incarnation of The Nether was produced by Redcurrant Collective, a local company including many faces that will be familiar to you if you see theatre in Vancouver (or even this year's Fringe) on a semi-regular basis.

The Nether raises some very important questions. Initially, a virtual reality that engages all the senses and has no consequences sounds idyllic, but experiences are always real and that creates consequences in the unplugged world—perhaps not the ones that the porn police are expecting, but consequences nonetheless. Papa (David Bloom) makes a good case. He is providing a service to his clients and to humanity: a safe, consensual, cathartic environment accessible only to those over the age of eighteen (staff and clientelle alike) for paedophiles and those with more dangerous sexual proclivities. “It's about pure relationship;” that is, as long as you don't get too close. Someone always breaks the rules and as soon as real human emotions get involved, pain spills over into the waking world, where the stakes are high.

I was worried the staging would get static. And I did get a bit tired of the interrogation setup, but there was enough movement in time and space to keep it interesting. The ever-present table and light became ominous, providing a constant reminder of the context within which we experience alternate realities.

Julia Seidlanowska’s performance as Iris is astonishing and all of the actors managed a blend of ambiguity and intensity that was most titillating. I did find Lissa Neptuno’s Morris and Linden Banks’s Doyle a bit shouty and unsupported in one of the earlier interrogation scenes, but they both more than redeemed themselves later, revealing deep undercurrents of emotion... well, I really think you should just see it yourself. I daren’t give too much away.

The world of The Nether is murky and you’ll emerge from its depths changed. Experiencing live theatre changes us too and, just like life in the Nether, cannot exist without consequences. Neither can your life be the same after seeing all sides of this intriguing story.

By Danielle Benzon

Jo Ledingham on "The Nether"

The Nether
At Firehall Arts Centre
September 10-12, 15 and 17

There are some shows that bend your mind but The Nether turned mine right around. It makes a persuasive case for pedophiles keeping themselves and society safe by choosing to work out their sexual fantasies – including “The Act” – in a cyber world. Escaping into The Nether, ‘Papa’ indulges in his personal fantasy with a nine-year-old Alice-In-Wonderland-ish little girl. The bind, of course, is that fantasies like his must not “cross-over” into the real world and the jury is still out on whether the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’ worlds can remain mutually exclusive. When a do-gooder detective, in hot pursuit of Papa, closes down the operation, we have to ask: what will Papa do now that he’s on the real streets of Vancouver? Virtual reality as a safe place is not a new idea but the sympathy for Papa (David Bloom) that The Nether elicits is fascinating and more than a little unsettling.

A Christmas Carol: On the Air


A Christmas Carol: On the Air
By Peter Church
Directed by Sarah Rodgers
Pacific Theatre

"Julia Siedlanowska also impresses—with tender simplicity—as Belle and Tiny Tim"
-Colin Thomas, The Georgia Straight

"top notch"
-Mark Robins, Vancouver Presents

"The euphonic jingles showcase the tight harmonies of Julia Siedlanowska, Diana Squires, and Kirsty Provan."
-John Jane, Review Vancouver