PuSh Festival: Three Reasons To Attend

by Kenji Maeda on January 17, 2013

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The 9th Annual PuSh International Performing Arts Festival kicked off on Monday, January 14, 2013 at the opening gala. The evening was hosted by Juno award-winning musician Dan Mangan and CTV News anchor Mi-Jung Lee in Club 560 on Seymour Street. The evening was attended by what seemed to be most of Vancouver’s theatre community and so many more who are fans of PuSh and the type of work that they present. It was a fun evening celebrating the start of the 20 days of diverse, creative, artistic and entertaining performances happening around the city.

Before mentioning the three reasons why you should attend the festival, I want to first touch on one major piece that was addressed by PuSh’s Executive Director, Norman Armour as part of his opening remarks. Norman is a passionate advocate and leader when talking about the critical actions that need to take place around the funding for the arts. Recently, in Vancouver, there’s been a lot of movement and discussions happening about this critical issue, with momentum building after the initial announcement of the closure of the Waldorf Hotel, a “cultural institution” as some would say. Vancouver City Council voted this week to issue a 120-day protection order for the hotel to prevent any potential demolition.

Here’s an excerpt of Norman’s speech:

In the past year…. The Vancouver Playhouse, MusicFest Vancouver, the Hollywood Cinema, The Ridge, W2, and now the Waldorf. What is going on? In each of these cases, there is a myriad of reasons, causes, events and conditions behind the challenges that have faced these organizations and institutions, which I won’t even attempt to do justice to here.

If we are not talking about the under-capitalization of our arts community, then we are not talking about the “Problem.” If we are not talking about and devising strategies to address the dearth of appropriate financial resources, then we are simply avoiding the proverbial white elephant. And whether it’s on the short-term, or the long view, everyone who has a stake in the future of this arts scene must contribute to answering this issue.

I encourage you to read the longer excerpt of his speech here.

Now back to my three reasons why you should attend PuSh:  Entertaining, Impact, Unexpected. The three reasons are not exclusive and shows very well may encompass all three elements but I wanted to break them down a bit.

1. Entertaining

There’s no doubt that most people want to see a show and be entertained. I don’t really mean “jazz hands” type of entertained, although that could be what you’re looking for.  It could also mean laughing your guts out; crying until your eyes are red; being mesmerized by the visual beauty of a piece; or simply having a drink while listening to a great musician on stage (like one of my favs, Hawksley Workman). You’ll find ample opportunity to be entertained, not only PuSh’s Main Shows, but also at Club PuSh, “a dynamic space that is all about experimentation— cutting-edge performance suited for a less traditional, more informal venue.”

2. Impact

You know that feeling when someone punches you in the gut?  I don’t. But I do know when a show grabs hold of something in me that’s hard to get rid of.  There are many reasons why a piece might resonate with you. It’s different for each person.

  • Testament – “Rarely do the great questions of life present themselves on stage so spirited and full of feeling, so touching and allusive…. Absolutely remarkable – New Zurich Times
  • Photog: An Imaginary Look at the Uncompromising Life of Thomas Smith – Drawn from the real life accounts and using verbatim text from interviews with award-winning war photographers and international journalists.
  • Winners and Losers – Two Vancouver theatre artists sit at a table. As each one seeks to defeat the other, the debate becomes personal as they dissect each other’s individual, familial and class histories. And because one of these men is the product of economic privilege, and the other is not, the competition very quickly adds up.

3. Unexpected

PuSh presents shows that can be characterized as unexpected.

  • There those days when you’re sitting in the coffee shop, looking out the window as you gaze out to watch people go by. You don’t know what they’re saying so you fill in the blanks in your head. With Sometimes I Think, I Can See You, you experience a voyeuristic look of real life mixed with fictional story telling. A free event you don’t want to miss.
  • What would it feel like to be blind and exploring the streets of Vancouver? Take the 2.5 hour blind-folded journey through Vancouver with Do You See What I Mean? A rare experience, for sure.
  • Ever wanted to delve into someone’s brain and actually talk to someone about what it’s like to be a Refugee, Non-Binary Transgender, or a Cultural Pirate? Go borrow a book, in human form, at the free Human Library.

The PuSh Festival runs from January 15 to February 3, 2013. Start your year off with a selection of performances to be inspired by or entertained. Full program details are available at www.pushfestival.ca.

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