THE FLAME: History
The Flame began in Deb Williams and Bruce Kennedys’ eastside Vancouver living room in 2009. Together with co-creator Joel Wirkkunen, they invited 20 people to each share a personal true story. In return, the tellers were offered wine, cheese, and a warm place to gather. The storytellers, mostly professional performers, arrived self-conscious with acute stage fright. They told their stories, heard others, and left exhilarated; filled, and wanting more.
The Flame caught fire.
The monthly live storytelling event found a home and sold out at Main Street's iconic Cottage Bistro, home of live music and spoken word.
The Flame expanded; a Flame started in Victoria with the Belfry Theatre, in New Westminster with the Massie Theatre, in Surrey BC with Surrey Civic Theatres and in the Okanagan Valley with the Ryga Festival. The Flame produced 5 holiday TV specials with Metro Vancouver, based on the theme of "creating memories, not garbage." Many Flame stories were played on stories on CBC Radio and became a series hosted by Martin Strong on Railway Radio.
The Flame continues to grow and change; co-founder, Joel Wirkkunen, moved on to other creative projects. The pandemic forced live performance online and Eugene Dong to sell the Cottage Bistro. Deb Williams began to teach and produce The Flame online in conjunction with even more arts organizations and partnering with other not-for-profit groups, including Here Magazine, Victoria Public Library, Na'amat Canada Vancouver, Chutzpah! Festival, 411 Seniors Centre, UBC Mandarin Face Drama Club, Theatre as a Second Language, The Ryga Festival, Vancouver Fringe Festival, Metro Vancouver, ZeeZee Theatre, Projeto Ciranda, Canadian Immunodeficiencies Patient Organization (CIPO National), TaiwanFest, Vancouver International Children’s Festival, SFU, Studio 58, Surrey Fringe Drama Festival, WomxnLed, Good Will Shakespeare Festival, University of Victoria MBA program.
CBC’s Cultural Secrets.
“As anyone who has attended the local storytelling phenomenon known as The Flame at its regular home at the Cottage Bistro on Main Street can tell you, The Flame is one of the hottest tickets in the city…”
The buzz is only exponential
“…Watching the CBC radio celebs on stage, it was hard not to think, ‘Wow this would make a fantastic CBC radio series.”- MARK LEIREN-YOUNG, Vancouver Sun 2012