I illustrated the set for the 2015 East Van Panto again this year. This is far and away one of my favorite projects. This year, instead of individual backdrops, the set was designed to look a little bit like a child’s pop-up book. Here are some of the pieces and the local references.
The East Van Panto runs until January 3, 2016 and it will likely sell out as it did last year. Get tickets early here: https://thecultch.com/events/hansel-and-gretel-an-east-van-panto/
East Van is all about the mountains, the cross, and the cranes. Especially the cranes: they are visible from almost everywhere. They are the personification of labour and hard work because they lift heavy loads. The tough don’t-mess-with-me side of East Van is also represented by darkly silhouetted industrial buildings, ominous transformer towers, and a barricade of chain-link fencing.
People who grew up in East Van remember the East Van Cross as a symbol of rebelliousness with a shady gang history. East Van youth would proudly scrawl the symbol on washroom walls as a way of saying, “We are here, don’t forget about us, and don’t mess with us.”
Hansel & Gretel’s Apartment
The building is based on the 1912 Del Mar Inn at Hamilton and Dunsmuir.
The Del Mar is a 30-room residential building in the 500 block of Hamilton Street. It is known for its inscription, “UNLIMITED GROWTH INCREASES THE DIVIDE,” which was installed in 1990.
The story behind the Del Mar is that the owner who ran the boarding house for years rejected many attempts by various companies, notably BC Hydro, to purchase the building. The Del Mar always had a reputation for being clean and affordable in a neighborhood where that was scarce. It remains not for sale, ever.
Stanley Park Trees
One tree flat is based on the old Hollow Tree at Stanley Park. The Hollow Tree is a 700-800 year old Western Red Cedar tree. After the big windstorm in 2006, it is more of a stump than a tree but it is still one of the most well-known and photographed landmarks in the park.
The other tree flat is based on the many tall Douglas Firs in Stanley Park. These ones are meant to resemble Emily Carr’s dancing trees.
The witch cottage is based on the Rose Cottage in Stanley Park. The food festooning the cottage is a wide variety of sweet and savory treats and the overall color is that irresistible Doritos orange.
There’s also a bit of a piggish look to the whole cottage: the sandwich door is the snout and the cherry and chocolate are the pig eyes. There’s a hint of a cigar, too.
Witch Cottage Interior
The visual joke is that the interior of the cottage is vastly less appetizing than the exterior. In fact, it is cartoonishly gross. The witch is a hoarder! There are dirty dishes towering out of the sink, years of recycling piled up as well as an assortment of odd objects like a box of yoga mats, a skull, dead plants, obsolete electronics, and years and years of Styrofoam egg cartons piled up because, let’s face it, no one knows what to do with those.
The oven is based on the enormous wood-burning sun oven at Marcello’s Pizzeria on Commercial Drive. The Panto’s version is less devilishly scary and more dumb-looking.