The Georgia Straight
The 18th PuSh Festival transforms perspectives
Big news for the Vancouver arts scene: the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival has just announced the lineup for its 18th annual edition, which takes place from January 20 to February 6 next year.
The event will happen at various venues across the Lower Mainland, featuring 14 works of theatre, dance, music, and multimedia by local, national, and international artists.
Canadian companies and artists taking part in the festival include Crow’s Theatre/ Cliff Cardinal, Tarragon Theatre and Black Theatre Workshop, Theatre Replacement, Joe Jack et John, Lion Lion, Collectif Aalaapi/ La Messe Basse, Vivek Shraya and Canadian Stage, Leah Abramson, Aphotic Theatre, ITSAZOO Productions, the Talking Stick Festival, the frank theatre company, Immigrant Lessons, Music Picnic/Njo Kong Kie, MAYDAY Danse, and Ruby Singh.
“PuSh has always been an accelerator, animating our imaginations and transforming our perspectives,” lead programmer Gabrielle Martin said in a news release. “The 2022 PuSh program is a timely catalyst, facilitating an emergence from our social hibernation with works that incept, evoke, activate, and confront.
“In a time when we are all making sense of where we are after what has come to pass,” she added, “this year’s festival lineup helps us situate ourselves in the complexity of human experience.”
Martin joins Margo Kane and Jason Dubois in the newly formed PuSh Collaborative Leadership Team, which will manage the organization and lead the 2022 festival. Kane will also contribute to programming, Indigenous arts community relations, and decolonization initiatives.
“At this crucial time in history,” Kane said in the release, “we need to embrace ways to truly engage in right relations, both new and old, and affirm a willingness to find ways to work together that honours the contribution of all and that exemplifies ‘good medicine’ for our many communities.”
The festival will feature three world premieres from Canadian artists and companies—Do you mind if I sit here? by Theatre Replacement, The Café by ITSAZOO Productions and Aphotic Theatre, and Leah Abramson’s Songs for a Lost Pod. There will also be two Canadian premieres from international companies: Capitalism Works for Me! True/False by the U.S.’s Steve Lambert and Born to Manifest by Joseph Toonga of the U.K.’s Just Us Dance Theatre.
Club PuSh, the festival’s platform for outside-of-the-box work and interactive experiences, features three nights curated by Vancouver collaborators the frank theatre company, Talking Stick Festival, and Immigrant Lessons from February 2 to 4 at 9 p.m. at Performance Works.
“Club PuSh is a spot where you can enjoy drinks, connect with our artists, and party with your fellow PuSh-goers,” the news release said. “It’s also the venue for fantastic performances in a relaxed, casual atmosphere: drag artists, DJs, musicians, and street dancers are all throwing down here.” Other highlights of the festival include:
• Ruby Singh’s Vox.Infold, presented with the Indian Summer Festival. It runs January 20 to 23 and January 25 to 30 at Lobe Studio and features Singh with a powerhouse vocal ensemble that includes Dawn Pemberton, Inuksuk Mackay, Russell Wallace, Tiffany Ayalik, Tiffany Moses, and Shamik Bilgi.
• Vivek Shraya’s How to Fail as a Popstar, which runs February 1 and 2 at Performance Works, is a theatrical memoir—mixing anecdote, movement, and music—of singer Shraya’s trip to the edge of fame and back.
• Cliff Cardinal’s William Shakespeare’s As You Like It: A Radical Retelling, which runs February 4 to 6 at the York Theatre. It is described in the release as “a subversive updating of the Bard’s classic that exults in black humour, difficult subject matter, and raw emotion.”