The Rio Theatre stole my heart years ago with a little Force and a few scantily clad Jedis. Purveyors of independent theatre, The Geekenders, were staging a burlesque retelling of Star Wars: A New Hope, and I realized how much I needed sexy Stormtroopers in my life.
I now depend on the The Rio for a regular fix of the city’s finest, sometimes freakish, stage performances. From androgynous, glitter-smeared Batman villains to circus performers doing things to their bodies you really need to see to believe, I leave every show at The Rio knowing that Vancouver is still a wonderfully whacky, marvellously magical place that has not yet succumbed to mass sterilization.
As you might have heard, The Rio is in danger. Developers want to tear down this 80-year-old stronghold of independent culture and community gathering. We’ve seen this happen to many institutions in our beloved city, but we won’t stand idly by as it happens to this corner of Broadway and Commercial.
Thanks to a passionate campaign led by The Rio’s fearless owner, Corinne Lea, we have a chance to save this landmark from becoming another casualty to the systematic homogenization of our streets. Tens of thousands of people have lent their support to #SaveTheRio, including the likes of Kevin Smith and Ryan Reynolds. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised, but more is needed before the April 16 deadline. We need your help to #SaveTheRio—please make a contribution here.
I believe that the people of Vancouver will save The Rio, but this is only the beginning. Our cultural institutions will continue to be under attack by those with dollar signs in their eyes. Our theatres, and the arts scene that relies on them, are vulnerable even if The Rio remains standing.
How do we protect them?
Go see a show.
Do it this month, or this weekend, or today.
Go to The Cultch, which hosts some of the city’s most inventive performances at two historical gems on the East Side. The History of the World (Based on Banalities) opens April 25. Go see it.
Head over to the Firehall Arts Centre the next time you can’t find a reservation in Gastown, and listen to the sounds of Leonard Cohen at the current production of Chelsea Hotel, on now until April 21.
Plan your next date night with the Arts Club. If your date is a little twisted (like me), Misery is playing at the Granville Island Stage until May 5. If your date is more of a dance-like-it’s-the-70s type (also like me), then Mamma Mia! opens May 10 at The Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage.
The best way to protect our theatre spaces and organizations is to enjoy them. Instead of going to a Canucks game or to the movies, catch a live performance. Dance to a live band at The Wise Hall. Spend a summer evening at Theatre Under The Stars. We won’t have to save our theatres if we love them on a regular basis.
Let’s not let the developers win. Let’s make our cultural scene stronger and louder. But first, let’s #SaveTheRio.