Comedy goes unscripted at the Heritage Grill (with audio)

April 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Members of Unscripted Chaos, from far left Blake Cuthbertson, Luke Johnson, Andrew Job, Tracy Schut, Rachelle Tomm and Jessie Crabbe strike a natural pose. (Photo by Miranda Gathercole)

A new improv group has taken hold of the Heritage Gill, bringing a mix of laughs and occasional head-shaking to New Westminster on Wednesday nights.

Unscripted Chaos is a group of six acting students looking for a real-life setting where they can practice their classroom skills.

Rachelle Tomm, a Kwantlen student and the youngest member of the group, said being able to interact with a live audience is a rewarding experience that just can’t be matched.

“It’s a lot of fun. And when you get a larger crowd out, you just feed off the audience. The audience just works off each other. You get good laughs,” she said.

“And when an audience laughs at a time when you didn’t expect it and you can crack up the actors and get them to start laughing, oh that is golden, golden.”

The group starts the evening with a series of games, which provide rules for each scene. The audience is involved in each skit, and will chose the characters settings, occupations, personalities, themes and so on. Once these key elements are established, the actors make the rest up on the spot.

After a break, the final half of the show usually consists of a longer piece that lasts about 25 minutes.

So far, the audiences of their shows have been locally based, with many hearing about the show by word of mouth. But the group hopes to expand and create a rep for themselves.

“It’s exciting, because we are the founding members of the group,” said Tomm.

“It’s not like we had to audition to get in, so we’re growing with it. We’re learning what not to do some nights and what games worked and what games didn’t, because we don’t have any prior experience or older expertise on it. It’s all new to us.”

She says looking a year from now, anything could be possible.

“Maybe we will be well-known like Laugh Lines, or Granville type shows” she said.

Unscripted Chaos performs every Wednesday at 9 p.m. at the Heritage Grill, 447 Columbia St. in New Westminster.

For more information, visit their Facebook group.


Rachelle Tomm, Jessie Crabbe, Tracy Schut, Andrew Job, Luke Johnson and Blake Cuthbertson talk about their experiences so far as members of Unscripted Chaos.


Andrew Job and Blake Cuthbertson perform a skit.

Peering behind ‘The Show’

April 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Caitlin Butcher holds up a shirt from her collection, Patience For Now. The blue in the iris of the eye has been hand-dyed. (Photo by Lucas Meneses-Skoda)

After all the glamour and glitz displayed on the runway of The Show 2011, a fashion show produced by fourth-year fashion students, it’s hard to imagine the tears and sweat that made went into making the garments so fabulous.

In fact, there’s an entire years worth from a class of 32 students.

Caitlin Butcher, one of these fourth-year students, said the amount of preparation that goes into such an event is incredible.

“There’s so much to do and so little time,” she said.

The Show is the end product of the entire fourth year of the fashion design and technology program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

From September until April, students learn all aspects of what is needed to run a clothing line and a fashion show in the real world. They begin by creating a niche market and designing three complete outfits. The most important part of this step is proving that this niche exists and is underserved in the fashion world.

“A lot of people come into the program thinking ‘Oh, I love clothes, and I like to draw clothes’ and that’s kind of where I was in first year. I didn’t have much experience in the industry,” she said.

But by the time fourth year comes around, this all changes.

Everything becomes real-life based. If the instructors do not think your niche is developed enough, you have to repeat fourth year. It’s as simple as that.

“It can definitely get a little crazy,” Butcher said.

Caitlin Butcher sews a missing button back onto a hand-made slip before displaying it on a mannequin. (Photo by Lucas Meneses-Skoda)

The next step is hand-sewing each garment, a process which can take months.

Butcher created her pieces for “women working in the creative field.” She describes them as fun investment garments for artists and musicians.

With 11 separate pieces in the collection, Butcher said the most surprising thing for her has been “the details that go into producing garments, especially for production.”

“Before I came into the program, I used to make clothes for myself and would cover up any mistakes, and little holes, but I can’t do that anymore,” she said.

Her line, titled Patience For Now, is “a reminder to myself to take it slow and be patient.” Mistakes can happen and as she has learned, and freaking out is not always the best option.

She said one of her worst moments was during an assignment to make tailored coats for The Bay. Butcher had spent 80 hours sewing the garment and, just as she was finishing it, her arm slipped and she ripped a hole in the lining. Everything had to be re-done.

“It’s those kinds of frustrating things that bring you to tears,” she said.

In the end though, Butcher says it is all worth it.

“The process is always so fun, and actually seeing the final product when it becomes tangible — that is so rewarding,” she said.

“It starts as this little idea in your head and then you go through all these motions and it’s tons and tons of work and lots of sleepless nights and sometimes tears when things don’t work out, but it’s just really rewarding.”

Caitlin Butcher has sketched out complete outfits for her line, Patience For Now. (Photo by Lucas Meneses-Skoda)

A complete outfit designed and made by Caitlin Butcher. The sweater has been hand-knitted and hand-dyed. (Photo by Lucas Meneses-Skoda)

RELATED: High fashion night after months of hard work

Environmental film night promotes living chemical-free

February 15, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Sisters Doreen Dewell and Joyce Rostron form the Green Ideas Network, a non-profit organization aimed at creating healthier communities. They, along with Gary Jones, are the main organizers for Green Wednesdays. (Photo by Lucas Meneses-Skoda)

Saving the environment could be as easy as cleaning out the cupboard under the kitchen sink.

According to the Canadian documentary “Chemerical,” North Americans are poisoning themselves every day through the use of toxic chemicals in their households.

The documentary was shown last week as part of the monthly series, Green Wednesdays, held at the Kwantlen Langley campus on the second second Wednesday of every month. It follows the story of a family attempting to live chemical-free for 90 days.

The environmentally themed evening, hosted by Kwantlen’s School of Horticulture and the Green Ideas Network, is designed to show solution-based films to students and the general public about current environmental issues.

“The whole point of the Green Wednesdays is to give people some exposure to some of the kinds of issues around sustainability and the environment and our personal footprints on the planet, on whatever topic it happens to be,” said Gary Jones, horticulture instructor and event organizer.

In the documentary, there are many funny and emotional moments as the Goode family quickly realizes how dependent they are on chemicals in their home. According to the film, the average household has more than 40 toxic items that contain dozens of harmful chemicals known to contribute to health problems, including sterilization and cancer. The film suggests that this is directly related to studies showing that women who stay at home have a risk of cancer 43 per cent higher than those who work outside the home.

Products such as laundry detergent, window cleaner and even deodorant and cosmetics expose people to chemicals including trichlosan (a known carcinogen used in antibacterial products,) chlorine ( the number one toxic chemical in the home, used in bleach) and ammonia (used in cleaners) on a daily basis.

“I always try and buy green products, and it’s surprising just knowing that everyday products are pretty dangerous,” said Rachel Sproule, a first-time attendee to Green Wednesdays. “How are all of these products allowed on the market without any sort of warnings?”

Andrew Nisker, director of “Chemerical,” explores loopholes in the regulation system of the cleaner and cosmetic industries. Companies avoid labelling many ingredients in their products to protect “trade secrets.” Nisker reported on a study of 33 different brands of red lipstick that found 61 per cent of them to contain lead.

“If you can’t eat it, then you shouldn’t be putting it on your skin,” said an owner of a natural product company also showcased in the film.

Jones says that the point of showing these films is not to depress people, but to educate them and motivate them to make changes.

“It’s not just come here, listen to a movie about how there is going to be no oil here in 10 years time, go home and slash your wrists kind of deal. I like people to go home inspired enough to go find out about the subject and make their own informed decisions on what they are looking in to.”

The fifth installment this year of Green Wednesdays was held in the auditorium on the Langley campus. The night was presented by Kwantlen's School of Horticulture and the Green Ideas Network, who work together to put on the eco-friendly movie nights once a month. (Photo by Lucas Meneses-Skoda).

Nichole Marples, executive director of the Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) says “It all comes down to awareness. People saying, ‘Oh gee, I never thought of that before.’ I think these Green Wednesdays are awesome because they open the conversation, get people thinking about, ‘Oh gee, maybe that’s not the greatest thing’ or, ‘Oh, I’ve been using this for years and I didn’t actually understand it.’”

Jones says it is important that people begin to pay attention to the effects they are having on the earth and to make conscious decisions to change their habits.

“It’s life and death. How more important could it be? There’s some scary stuff out there, and we don’t know half of it. We have no idea. That’s what’s really scary, that we think we’re in control, but we have no clue really,” he said.

Joyce Rostron, vice-president of the Green Ideas Network, shares the same ideals.

“I do this for my children. They will really look to the future with open eyes. They won’t be so closed-minded about things,” she said.

Jones adds, “People come [to Green Wednesdays] for all sorts of reasons. My hope is that they go away a little bit more educated about some of these things. They’re not going to know everything about the topic, but if they can go away and get really interested they might go and do their own bit of research. Who knows?”

College-age students: taking the soulmate search on-line

November 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Emmeli Rosenberg Lassesen met her current boyfriend Adam Gill online using

By Miranda Gathercole and Sarah Casimong

Finding a soulmate can be tough.

When the club and bar scenes aren’t cutting it and Mr. Right hasn’t managed to pop up in everyday life, some, including university students, are turning to the internet for dating. In fact, last year the Boston Globe reported the use of online dating among college-age students is rising.

Emmeli Rosenberg Lassesen, 25, had a difficult time finding the right guy. She found that looking at options online allowed her to narrow the field down a good match.

“I’m tall, so I think for me that was one of the things that’s hard to find when [I] meet people, ’cause I like taller guys,” said Rosenberg Lassesen.

“I’m just slightly under six feet. So you know if you go out to the club with your girlfriends and you’ve got your high heels on and you’re 6’3, 6’4, you kind of don’t get approached by many guys.”

For four years she experimented with profiles at different on-line sites, including eHarmony and Lavalife. In the end, she found PlentyofFish to be the best option because of a variety of people and free profiles. (Lavalife and eHarmony offer some tools for free but require subscriptions that have a base rate of around $15 to $20 a month.)

“There really actually isn’t a difference [between free and paid sites],” said Rosenberg Lassesen. “Some people think that there would be a difference, because if someone was paying for the site, they’re more looking for something, but the quality of people between a free site and a paid site was the exact same. There was no difference at all, which I found out after spending the money.” is a free online dating engine, based in Vancouver, that matches couples based on their written descriptions of goals and aspirations, what makes them unique and their taste in music. The site boasts, “Over 32,000 couples have sent in a testimonial telling us how PlentyofFish helped them find their soulmate.”

Four months ago, Rosenberg Lassesen found success on the site when she met her boyfriend, Adam Gill.

“He messaged me first. I’ve done the online dating thing for a while and I’ve always just had a policy that if a guy likes me he’s gonna message me. I’m kind of old-fashioned,” she said.

“The big thing for me is I wouldn’t add someone on Facebook until I talked to them on MSN for long enough that I felt I had a good gauge of who they were. If you add someone on Facebook, they have your last name so there’s a safety issue with that.

“I actually wouldn’t give out my number very easily to people. I would sort of leave it. I’d actually talk to them for a couple of weeks on MSN and if we were going to meet up I’d [suggest] somewhere public. Even if they offered to pick me up, I’d always say ‘I’ll meet you there.’ It’s common sense that you have to use for safety. If you don’t use your common sense, what do you expect?”

Other popular dating sites include,, and

Dating: The best, and worst, of it

November 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Amanda Punshon, Meagan Gill and Miranda Gathercole explore some of Kwantlen students’ strangest and most memorable dates.

How Facebook has affected dating

October 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Meagan Gill, Miranda Gathercole and Sarah Casimong explore how Facebook has changed the dating world for university students, as part of a continuing series on life in the age of social media.

Welcome Week not so welcoming?

September 20, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Last week, as they returned to Kwantlen campuses for the fall semester, the KSA was busy welcoming new and returning students to school through a host of events at all four campuses.

However, not all of the students were feeling the love.

At each campus, the KSA had set up of free food booths, information tables, and activities for students to participate in, including a concert by Karl Wolf at Cram Jam 2010 in Surrey. Some students, such as Jenna Robson, felt that most of the events seemed to be concentrated in Surrey.

“I didn’t really notice anything here for Welcome Week,” said Robson, a first-year student at the Langley campus. “It seems like all the real stuff, like Cram Jam, happens in Surrey and it’s hard to get there between classes and work.”

Rachelle Tomm, also a first-year student, had a similar opinion about Richmond campus activities.

“I didn’t really actually participate. I looked outside and saw people jumping and stuff but I didn’t really know what it was for. I didn’t know it was part of welcome week so I just went on to my classes.”

But Tomm still enjoyed the events at Cram Jam.

“I went to the Karl Wolf concert in Surrey and loved it. His music is awesome, and plus it wasn’t too too busy so I got to go really close to the stage. I just wish the Richmond campus could have that same fun energy as Surrey did.”

Related: Welcome Week in photos.

The real success of the Vancouver Olympics

March 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

For the past two weeks Vancouver has been host to one of the largest parties in the world, and now with the Olympic high over, and the screaming and the frenzy and the painted faces and the flag capes moving out, the hangover is just beginning to settle in.

Finally, there is a moment to breathe, and a moment to take in this historic moment that we all just witnessed.


It was a whole new level of Canadianism.

How the hell did we manage to do this?

Credit the Own The Podium campaign or VANOC and the IOC, but the single greatest reason for Vancouver’s massive success was the local people.

No one forced thousands upon thousands of people out of their homes and onto the streets of downtown to embrace the Olympic Games — we chose to do that.

There wasn’t any memo in the VANOC guide that said we were required to high five every stranger we passed by. Or to walk around with “free hugs” signs and maple leafs plastered on every inch of our bodies — we chose to do that, too.

It seems that for the first time in decades, Canadians have rallied together in a strong patriotism and Vancouver became electric.

What else could harness people to burst out into the national anthem on the platform of a SkyTrain station at one in the morning? Or cause a group of Dutch visitors in bright orange jackets and hats to join in, humming the tune?

Of all the medals won, records broken and hardships overcome, it was that unexpected thrilling Olympic fever that really made the 2010 Winter Games what they were.