New & Hot: Pecha Kucha at Park Theatre on Cambie

Say what you need to say in six minutes and 40 seconds of exquisitely matched words and images and then sit the hell down. The result, in the hands of masters of the form, combines business meeting and poetry slam to transform corporate cliché into surprisingly compelling beat-the-clock performance art.
- WIRED Magazine, August 2007

by Tom Graff

From Shanghai to Vancouver, Tokyo to Vienna, everyone is borrowing the Japanese slang sound-construct pecha kucha. It mimics and characterizes extended empty chatter sounds usually associated with crowds of wealthy Tokyo ladies who do lunch as their entire activity for the day.

But now two Europeans have transformed it to signify almost the opposite since it is the title of meetings in which its inventors believe that the strict rules have a liberating effect.

"Suddenly," observe Klein and Dytham, "there's no preciousness in people's appearances." Succinct and delicious short presentations evolve like lecture-as-haiku. Nothing bogs down into a lackluster business information session. No mind numbing here.

Next Vancouver Live Event at Park Theatre: May 21, 7PM $10 Tickets on line at

Pecha Kucha Night, originally devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham (Klein Dytham architecture of Tokyo), was conceived by them in Tokyo in 2003 as a place for young designers to meet, network, and show their endeavors in public.

Dytham and Klein invented the idea and the ironically chosen title for the events when they had the need to make use of an otherwise-unoccupied space they owned. They invented their now-famous 20 slides at 20 seconds per slide presentation rules so that no one sits on the microphone endlessly.

Dytham says “as we all know, give a mike to a designer, especially an architect, and you’ll be trapped for hours.” As WIRED Magazine discovered, “The key to Pecha Kucha Night is its patented system for avoiding this fate.”

This exchange of ideas works similarly to speed dating sessions. Each presenter is allowed only 20 slides at 20 seconds each, making available only 6 minutes and 40 seconds of time before the next presenter is on. Keeping presentations concise, the interest level high, this fun system gives more people the chance to show.

It has spread internationally partly because the original takes place in the area of Tokyo most frequented by resident foreigners, Shinjuku. Then the internet and the WIRED Magazine article helped it become internationally viral.

Pecha Kucha gatherings have tapped into a demand for forums in which creative work can be easily and informally shown, without having to go to high expense or spend hours finding a magazine editor who will pay attention to your work.

Seemingly a global need, particularly in Japan and other cultures where long-winded equals very important, it seems that Pecha Kucha events, without any pushing, have spread virally to over 100 cities across the globe. The Park Theatre on Cambie is Vancouver’s home for this informal experiment. The last Pecha Kucha Vancouver event at the Park in March was sold out and the next promises the same.

Pecha Kucha pronunciation:

It's pechakucha, not pechachka. Think Japanese, not Yiddish. Peh chalk chaw almost gets it.

Next Park Theatre Pecha Kucha
Plans to date feature presentations by:

Michael Green, Architect
McFarlane Green, Biggar Architecture & Design
Marian Bantjes, Graphic Designer
Marian Bantjes
Chris Bentzen. Freelance print designer, artist, art event organizer

This Is Plan B
Julia Kwan, Filmmaker, Fire Horse Productions
Toby Barratt, Designer/ Owner, Propellor Design
Jonathan Kassian , Economist, Vancouver Economic Development Commission
Linus Lam & Denise Liu, Creator / Editor,
Erin Boniferro, Artist + Educator , Western Front Society, Collage Collage
Jesse Savath, Director/Photographer, SALAZAR
Julie Gendron, Designer, Desiring Productions
Bill Pechet, Principal, Pechet and Robb Art and Architecture Ltd.
Jeff Hamada, Designer/ Editor,

Photo Dytham and Klein in an article about their imaginative and highly successful Tokyo-based retro-reference design company
Read More:

More in Deeply Vocal

Bye-bye, wallet: how to avoid pickpockets in Vancouver

Have you ever been pick-pocketed? I was, just a couple days ago. Having just finished my Sunday class, I was making my way up Granville street towards the SkyTrain station, slowly weaving through the...

The Passion Project: Joan’s Story is in the Room

Reid Farrington’s The Passion Project is an electrifying work that compresses the entirety of Carl Dreyer’s classic silent film "The Passion Of Joan Of Arc" into a 30-minute concentration of movement,

Norma and Richard Bonynge Celebrate Vancouver Opera’s 50th

Two-timing tenor causes all the fuss as opera creates Norma manga, passes out memory sticks to the media, and blogs the night away.
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.