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Canadian Premiere of ANGEL'S BONE to be Presented at The Annex Theatre as Part of IndieFest

The gripping opera features bold, multimedia design elements and a story that will spark action from audiences across Canada.

Canadian Premiere of ANGEL'S BONE to be Presented at The Annex Theatre as Part of IndieFest

The country's most innovative music and opera organizations are coming together to present the Canadian premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Angel's Bone from November 25-27, 2022 at The Annex Theatre as part of IndieFest. The contemporary opera by Du Yun and Royce Vavrek about two young angels who fall to earth aims to generate conversation and awareness around child and youth trafficking and sexual exploitation. The Vancouver production - presented by re:Naissance Opera, Sound the Alarm: Music/Theatre, Turning Point Ensemble, Arraymusic, and Loose Tea Music Theatre - brings to light the urgency of the issue in cities across Canada.

"Many people don't realize that trafficking and sexual exploitation of youth happens in our local communities at an alarming rate," says Debi Wong, founder of re:Naissance Opera and IndieFest. "It is the result of many intertwining systems and behaviours that we all unknowingly contribute to: racial and gender stereotypes, hyper sexualization of women and girls, and toxic masculinity. We hope Angel's Bone will help people recognize how these issues perpetuate dangerous power dynamics that make it easy for children to be unseen and at-risk in our societies, especially those who are Indigenous or racialized, female-identifying, trans or gender diverse, and those who are living in poverty. To change the future trajectory of at-risk children and youth, we need to see a collaborative effort from everyone."

Angel's Bone was created in 2015 by Chinese-American composer Du Yun, who became the first Asian woman to win the Pulitzer for music, and Canadian librettist Royce Vavrek. The upcoming newly imagined, all-Canadian production follows two youth who, while seeking safety and stability, are lured into exploitative relationships by their traffickers, Mr. and Mrs. XE. While the story paints a picture of the realities of child and youth trafficking, it also depicts the resilience of survivors and the journey of reclaiming one's power. The production will use bold multimedia design by James Nesbitt to help focus the narrative back onto the victims. The music, overseen by music director Naomi Woo, incorporates a blend of medieval chant, electronic sound design, dance music, punk-inspired arias, and standard classical new music.

There is also a key interpretive change from the original opera that better reflects the reality of women and girls being disproportionately affected by human trafficking in Canada: the character of Mrs. XE is nuanced from being one of the central antagonists to being a survivor and victim herself. This change, and the production as a whole, was developed in collaboration with a "social context" committee. The committee is headed by Brenda Lochhead and includes youth workers, survivors, lawyers, human rights activists, sex workers, and opera artists.

Awareness and education are fundamental components of the production. Each performance will be preceded by a 30-minute pre-show chat that highlights a different theme addressed in Angel's Bone: the root causes of human trafficking and exploitation of youth; the systems that at-risk children and youth and survivors intersect with and how they perpetuate imbalanced power structures; and the lasting effects of trafficking and exploitation, including how trauma can be perpetuated without access to lifelong supports. Meant as open conversations, the pre-show talks will provide viewers with a lens through which to think about and experience the work. A Q&A with members from the social context committee and the artistic team will follow each performance.

Further reflecting the need to find new systems of power, Angel's Bone is presented in a unique, non-hierarchical partnership of five Canadian companies. The leadership team features an equal sharing of roles in the creative process and project management. The project was conceived by Debi Wong (re:Naissance Opera) and Brenda Lochhead (Director of the Social Context Committee) and is co-directed by Alan Corbishley (Sound the Alarm: Music/Theatre) and Alaina Viau (Loose Tea Music Theatre). Holly Meyer-Dymny is the set and lighting designer, and Joline Rath is the costume designer.

The cast includes: Asitha Tennekoon (boy angel), Winona Myles (girl angel), Eliza Bagg (girl angel), Alyssa Samson (Mrs. XE), and Alexander Dobson (Mr. XE).

Angel's Bone is being presented as part of the third annual IndieFest, open from November 16-27, which showcases genre-defying musical performances that highlight stories that have been overshadowed by history and tradition.

For more information on Angel's Bone tickets, visit Tickets from $45.

For tickets and information on IndieFest, visit

Angel's Bone will travel to Toronto in spring 2024. The production is made possible through generous support from Vancouver Foundation, BC Arts Council, Creative BC, City of Vancouver, Vancouver Civic Theatres, and the Hamber Foundation. It is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Performance dates and times

Friday, November 25 at 7:30pm (pre-show chat at 6:30pm)
Saturday, November 26 at 7:30pm (pre-show chat at 6:30pm)
Sunday, November 27 at 2pm (pre-show chat at 1pm)

Show runtime is approximately 80 minutes.


The Annex Theatre
823 Seymour St, Vancouver, BC V6B 3L4

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