What, exactly, is Riel Hahn?
The Vancouver writer/actress/singer/"standup tragedian" has a whack of titles to attach to her name, and she prefers to keep it that way. "I can certainly say everything I do — whether it's an improviser or writer or doing comedy shows — comes back to being a story teller and a writer," Hahn says.
It was her improv show at the Vancouver Fringe Festival, though, that landed her on the bill for Creative 5 Eclectic, a cabaret-style mix of shows founded by Whistler's Stephen Vogler. He approached her after the production earlier this year about participating in one of his shows. "I've never performed in Whistler before," she adds. "I'm just going to do what I do. You'll get some songs, 90 per cent of which will be funny. A couple will not necessarily be comedy songs. I'm a very 'what's current for me' performer. I don't know how else to deliver material. I can write some jokes, but I feel best when I'm delivering the truth."
Hahn has a lot of real life material from which to draw. Her childhood, for example, is an unending source of inspiration. "My whole family was in the theatre," she says. "I grew up touring with a theatre company that toured from town to town by horse and wagon... Growing up was being immersed with actors, musicians, playwrights, lunatics, clowns. That was my education."
Those lessons have applied to real life, with Hahn landing roles in TV shows and films like the 2011 movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Battlestar Galactica's Caprica. "In terms of theatre, most of the stuff I've done is stuff I've created with colleagues," she adds. "I've had an improv theatre company for awhile. I like to do short deadline stuff."
Next up, Hahn is travelling to California to focus on her writing, including penning a solo show, a short story collection and songs. The common inspiration for all these mediums: people. "I just think humans are the most interesting, wonderful, beautiful things. I don't know how else to say it. I'm so blessed with a really full, rich world of people. I know the best people... I'm quite inspired by what I feel like is a desire for people to care about each other on a really local scale. I think that's really interesting."
"Like what?" you might ask with some skepticism, one eye on the dismal daily headlines. Well, pop-up libraries in Vancouver, for one, Hahn says. "It's just books you can browse and take. You can bring it home and keep it or bring it back and you can leave books there," she says. "I think it's easy to have a fatalistic view. The world is in some danger, but there are really small events that are so heartening."
Catch Hahn's many tales and talents at Creative 5 Eclectic Dec. 14 at Dusty's, beginning at 9 p.m. Monty Biggins of Whistler band, The Sociables, will open up the evening with a set of original songs and some covers. Admission is by donation.