03/02/2016 19:21 EST | Updated 03/03/2017 00:12 EST

Gay Heritage Project aims to pass down queer history

A play that delves into the history and significance of gay culture opens tonight at Vancouver's Cultch Theatre.

Canada's queer community has a rich and fascinating history but much of it hasn't been captured or passed down by previous generations. Queer heritage isn't passed on in the same way that other cultural heritages are passed on, said one of the Gay Heritage Project's co-creators.

"You're not necessarily going to learn about queer heritage from your family. You have to find that out in the world," said Andrew Kushnir.

Actors in the play will portray more than 100 characters.

Lesser known stories

The play is a collage of stories the creators hope will shed light on the lesser known moments in gay Canadian history.

"It keeps shifting from the extremes really, of celebratory and joyful,  to mournful serious. We think it's important to include both sides of the spectrum in order to honour our history," said playwright and actor Paul Dunn.

Kurshnir says the play celebrates queer heritage but it also digs into some of the deeper issues the community is still facing today.

"There are lots of communities and facets of the larger queer community that are still struggling for their dignity, for acceptance, for their rights."

A cathartic experience

Dunn came up with the idea of the play after reading an account of the history of gay men that upset him. Writing and performing in the play along with co-creators Kurshnir and Damien Atkins is his way of doing something with that anger, he said.

"I approached by my colleagues and tried to look for some sort of solution — some way we could filter through these feelings of lost, these feelings of a lack of connection and create something that was community building."

Creating the play was a cathartic experience, said Dunn.

"I learned that besides having a fascination with the activism and generations of the past, I am hopeful about the present and the future."

The play opens tonight at The Cultch Historic Theatre at 1895 Venables Street and runs until March 19.

Opening night is already sold out.

To listen to the full interview, click the link labelled: The Gay Heritage Project play.