“Perform for Pride” provides powerful performances for a purpose

Youth-centric cabaret fundraises for LGBTQ+ organizations for fourth year in a row

SFU student Reese Findler (pictured centre of the second row from the top) is the creator, organizer, and a performer in Perform for Pride. PHOTO: Mike Wakefield / North Shore News

By: Kyla Dowling, Staff Writer

Want to donate to an LGBTQ+ organization while also receiving access to a wonderful benefit celebrating youth performers? Look no further than Perform for Pride, a Vancouver-centric cabaret currently in its fourth year. The show features a multitude of performers, with some as young as 11, and performances include original songs, and queer musical theatre. With interviews from Broadway’s Jeanna de Waal and choreographer and Vancouver native Lyndsey Britten, the show is a non-stop whirlwind of heart-wrenching solos and delightful artists. Perform for Pride switched to a virtual format this year, premiering on January 9. 

Perform for Pride started four years ago, when creator and organizer Reese Findler, then a high school senior and now an SFU student, drew inspiration from Cabaret for a Cause and Concert for America, two musical theatre benefits raising money for various humanitarian organizations. The former, like Perform for Pride, centres around youth performers. 

“I walked out of the 5th Avenue Theatre in Downtown Seattle [where Concert for America was] and said ‘I’m gonna do that,’” Findler told The Peak. “Around six months later, in January of 2018, Perform for Pride was presented for the first time.” 

Findler, a theatre native, was not accustomed to working behind the scenes at first. “I relied on my instincts, on-stage knowledge, and advice from family, friends, and peers, and kind of dove headfirst into the process,” she said of her first year organizing the event. Now, Findler is in her third year at SFU. She majors in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies, but also took two semesters of stage management and another of production technology to gain more experience directing. 

The transition from an in-person cabaret to a virtual one was difficult but there were benefits. “When the show is live, whatever happens on stage is what happens,” Findler explained

The performers this year had the opportunity to redo their videos over and over until they were happy with the final product. Instead of rehearsals and collaboration, Findler spent the majority of her time editing the show. One of the few positives of the cabaret being virtual this year was the show’s accessibility. “Friends and family outside of Vancouver could watch it, audience size wasn’t limited by theatre capacity, and the video could be viewed on a different date than its premiere,” Findler explained.

This accessibility also benefits the fundraising work Findler is doing. Though she had to change her ticketing model due to the online format, there is technically an unlimited number of people who are able to buy tickets this year — and all of the proceeds go to Out On Screen, an LGBTQ+ organization focused on centering queer art. Not only have they created the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, but they also have youth-centric programs that use media to help educate on discrimination in schools. Findler noted that “Out on Screen’s missions aligned with what Perform for Pride is and does [and] there’s something full circle about youth raising funds for an organization that will then work with those youth to create inclusive environments.”

So what’s in the future for Perform for Pride? Hopefully an in-person cabaret for the fifth anniversary. Aside from that, Findler has sky-high goals. “I would love [Perform for Pride] to run for longer than one show a year and perform it in different theatres. I’ve also thought about curating Perform for Pride for schools — maybe partnering more with LGBTQ+ organizations and delivering some kind of performance-education hybrid to schools around the Lower Mainland.” To view this year’s Perform for Pride acts, visit their Instagram page @performforpride.