ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE, PART II: Finding family at the Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret

Following up on last month's feature, ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE: It's not easy to make friends in Vancouver, reporter Elizabeth McSheffrey finds the city's up and coming "social inclusion rock stars."

Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret, Strathcona, East Vancouver, Vancouver arts, theatre
Kat Single-Dain welcomes everyone to be a part of her shows regardless of background or experience. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey.

At first glance, the Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret studio is a room full of misfit objects — assorted costumes, musical instruments, antique furniture, and a peculiar chandelier made of fabricated lace. 

Speak with director and co-founder Kat Single-Dain, however, and the room suddenly seems far less random. Like the props, her cabaret members come in all shapes and sizes, but when brought together, create a beautiful and comprehensive performance.

Props aside, Single-Dain will tell you that the Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret (DFC) is a place where people, no matter who they are and where they come from, can become part of a family. 

“If they're interested in what we do, then yes, there’s a place for everybody,” she says from the steps of the studio in Mount Pleasant. “If you can walk, you can dance and if you can talk you can sing. The more people who do it, the better my life is.”

Single-Dain created DFC in 2006 with a cohort of local artists and in 2007 they opened their very first show. Since then, she’s helped with six original productions, a variety of small performances, and helped organize the annual Parade of Lost Souls around Halloween.

One of the spectacles, Hard Times Hit Parade, sold out its held-over show in less than 15 minutes, and 100 people were turned away at the doors.

“I think that just impressed people,” Single-Dain says of DFC’s success. “[Our] positive perspective made something so big happen with no money.” 

It’s not only Single-Dain’s creativity on a budget that impresses, however; it’s the fact that anyone and everyone is welcome in her shows.  

With a company policy of basically saying “yes to everyone,” the director is helping pave the way for social inclusion initiatives in Vancouver.

An all-inclusive theatre company

“It’s great,” says cabaret member Rye Faliszewski, sitting on the studio steps next to Single-Dain. “It feels like there’s a lot of possibility and momentum that can be tapped into.” Faliszewski performed in DFC’s most recent musical, The Scarlett Queen of Mercy, and has been part of the company since 2013. 

“There seems to be a shared undercurrent of playfulness, creativity, and emotionality that I really admired,” he explains. “Those are things I have been seeking to cultivate in my life, so seeing that clicked with me and drew me in.”

Last month, Vancouver Observer ran the story, ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE: It’s not easy to make friends in Vancouver, which focused on social isolation in one of Canada’s biggest metropolitan cities. According to the article, one in four Metro Vancouver residents is “alone more often than they would like to be,” and one third have difficulty making new friends. 

Even Faliszewski’s says it can be tough to make friends in the city, especially during the winter months when everyone wants to “hibernate.” That’s where DFC comes in he says, and drags its participants out of their shells. 

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