the frank theatre company / Screaming Weenie Productions is a theatre company based in Vancouver, a non-profit society in British Columbia (registration S-44774), and a federally registered charity (86172 8061 RR0001).
Our mission is to produce and promote queer and sex positive performance, facilitating a stronger Queer community by creating and encouraging the performing arts and artists. We strive to create greater positive public awareness and acceptance, through the performing arts, of individuals and groups outside of sexual and gender norms.
We are committed to the development of queer and genderqueer artists and actively inclusive of all gender identities, sexualities and ethnicities.
Established in 1996, the frank is the oldest professional queer theatre company based on the occupied, stolen lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations, colonially called Vancouver, BC, Canada. We play a crucial role in this city’s theatre ecology: we are one of few theatre organizations in the country led by a genderqueer, immigrant woman of colour, and we collaborate with a large community of LGBTQ2S artists and arts workers. Through collective approaches, we create work that challenges Western, Eurocentric and Colonial aesthetics and storytelling. We subvert these methods by engaging collaborators whose practices are rooted in different disciplines, cultures, abilities, and languages. We strive towards a utopic world free of prejudices and assumptions. We believe in the power of storytelling to show the nuances and the complexities of human experiences, and we pursue this vision through award-winning productions and community-based activities. We explore what it means to be queer, and the place of queer individuals in society, by creating, developing, producing and presenting theatrical work.
-Prioritizing artists underrepresented within queer theatre (female, trans, Black, Indigenous, racialized, immigrant, disabled and neurodivergent artists.)
-Queering traditional theatre creation through interdisciplinary and media arts approaches
-Fostering the next generation of queer artists through mentorship
-Privileging process over product
-Adapting to the individual needs of participants
-Holding space for differences
-Decentralizing power through horizontal collaboration
The frank was conceived by founders Matthew Bennet, Ilena Lee Cramer, Dale Kohlmetz and Kären Matthews. From its inception in 1996 until 2008, the company was helmed by Ilena Lee Cramer and became a major voice in the city’s artistic community and a creative beacon in Queer Canada.
In 2008, Seán Cummings was recruited as the company’s next Artistic Director. The company soon gained national recognition as Western Canada’s professional queer performance company with the adoption of such ventures as the Clean Sheets development series, film and video projects, and a more text-based approach to theatre creation. C.E. Gatchalian’s served as Artistic Director form 2011 – 2017.
In our 2017/2018 season, when Fay Nass took over the artistic leadership of the company, she continued to expand the company’s vision and values. She comes with a long history of directing text-based work as well as creation through devised processes. She is a passionate advocate for equity and inclusion and part of her practice is giving tools to community members to be the driver and creator of their own stories. Fay’s vision for the frank is to create spaces for community conversations and artistic exchange, and to strengthen networks with queer arts organizations across the sector. This was exemplified by Fay’s leadership on the Year of The Queer declaration by the City of Vancouver in 2018, a project spearheaded by Fay in collaboration with Queer Arts Festival’s Artistic Director SD Holman, and Out On Screen’s Stephanie Goodwin.
2018/2019 was a landmark season for the frank. Our production of Camera Obscura (hungry ghosts) by Lesley Ewen with Queer Arts Festival was the largest project the company had ever undertaken. It received 7 Jessie Nominations, and won the award for Best Production in Small Theatre. We also staged a sold-out reading of Trans Scripts: Part I, The Women, with Zee Zee Theatre at the Cultch, produced a sold-out cabaret, Another Window, with Neworld Theatre, and co-produced a sold-out production of Poly Queer Love Ballad by Anais West and Sara Vickruck.
In 2019/2020, we continued engaging in partnerships with high-calibre artists and companies, such as our production of She Mami Wata & The Pussy WitchHunt by d’bi young anitfrika at the PuSh Festival, our co-production of Trans Scripts with Zee Zee Theatre at the Firehall Arts Centre, and our queer youth writing program, Telling It Bent, facilitated by Tawahum Bige at the Cultch. We also began the next stage of development of our community-devised project, Diaspora, working with a team of queer immigrant and refugee artists to rehearse and perform a reading at the 2019 Queer Arts Festival.
With the restrictions of COVID 19, the frank will be adapting Diaspora to the digital realm as our 2020/2021 mainstage show, working closely with collaborators Fay Nass, Megnha Haldar, Sammy Chien and his collective, CHIMERIK.
Some of our guest artists, collaborators & company members over the years:
|d’bi young anitafrika
Ilena Lee Cramer
Robert L. Duncan
Emelia Symington Fedy
Dean Paul Gibson
Marci T House
David C. Jones
Shane L. Koyczan
Dawn Wendy McLeod
Maggie Blue O’Hara
James Fagan Tait
Amy Lucille Wilding