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The Big Gamble! to bring Whistler's (drunk) history to life

The Point's annual fundraiser will feature theatre, food, music and art on Saturday



Let's get one thing out of the way: Isobel MacLaurin does not get drunk ... but she can be persuaded to get tipsy.

The well-loved Whistler artist and octogenarian recently agreed to take part in the Whistler version of Drunk History as part of The Point Artist-Run Centre's annual fundraiser, set for Saturday, June 16.

"She would've preferred we call it 'Tipsy Whistler History,'" says Stephen Vogler, artistic director at The Point. "I was over there the day Michele (Bush) and Angie (Nolan) interviewed Isobel at her place. She made lunch for us and had so many great stories. I had to leave early, but Angie said she was there for over four hours; they ran out of memory on the camera before she ran out of stories."

But fear not, the other star—Pique's own Brandon Barrett—balanced out MacLaurin's mild Prosecco buzz by living up to the event's name.

"When I heard Isobel wasn't going to get wasted, I knew I had to pick up the slack," Barrett says. "That's how committed I am to historical accuracy. I had the pleasure of talking about John Millar, early Whistler settler, trapper, possible murderer and stew aficionado."

The unusual—and perhaps slightly edgy—performance is based on the web-series-turned-Comedy-Central hit TV show called Drunk History. For those unfamiliar, the show features one person who—really, truly—imbibes and then recounts a story from American history while under the influence. Then big-name actors recreate that story by acting out their often-slurred words.

For The Point version, MacLaurin and Barrett recounted a piece of Whistler history and recorded it on video. Actors will perform the story live at the event, this year called The Big Gamble!

The media-meets-theatre production was something that Michele Bush had wanted to produce for several years. "It's great," Bush says. "After a while you get tired of saying, 'We've got to do it.' We nailed it down and did it and it's fun. It's sitting around getting drunk and telling drunken stories. It's great fun. I recommend it to anybody."

The fundraiser event will also feature the music of Doc Fingers who pitched the idea for a "Pianorama" show this year. "It's two piano players throwing it back and forth and then they have a drummer with them as well," Vogler says. "Doc Fingers is also playing an early set on our upright piano we restored."

Rather than the traditional sit-down dinner, the event will feature food stations and canapés by chef Karin Civitella. "That fits with the gambling and lively party atmosphere," Vogler adds.

While there will still be the traditional silent auction of paintings—and live painting by Suzanne Minogue Johnston with that painting also up for auction—this year, there will also be some gambling. That will include blackjack and spin the wheel—which can potentially earn you a cryptic prize.

"If you pay or win enough through the gambling—it's a buck a bet—you earn your way to a special upstairs room where I'm not sure all of what is going on," Vogler says.

All that money will go towards supporting programs that The Point runs—ranging from The Flag Stop Theatre & Arts Festival to children's art camps and adult theatre mentorship programming.

"It's big and important in terms of keeping the wheels turning at The Point," Vogler says. "We raise more money (at the annual fundraiser) than any single grant we get. It's critical to the organization putting on all the programming ... We're stepping it up a little bit each year."

The Big Gamble! Annual fundraiser takes place on Saturday, June 16 from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m.

Tickets are $55 each available at Armchair Books or online at www.thepointartists.com/events.html.


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