PuSh Performing Arts Festival brochures

Although I have lived in Vancouver for 11 years, this is my first time attending the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. (Embarrassing, right?) This year the festival has been impacted by COVID with 50 per cent capacity seating, streaming options and some cancellations, including the much-anticipated “Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers.”

However, there is still much to see. (This blog post will be updated during the Festival.)

What Is the PuSh Performing Arts Festival?

The PuSh Festival is a multi-disciplinary performing arts festival that was launched in Vancouver in 2003. You’ll find dance, music, theatre and other modes of contemporary performance that promote risk-taking, collaboration and dialogue. 

Capitalism Critique

“Capitalism Works for Me! True/False” is an art installation by Steve Lambert, that will be at the Vancouver Public Library from January 20 to 24. Accompanying the installation is a free online panel discussion called “Is Capitalism Working for Us?” on Jan. 20, the first day of the festival. The discussion featuring Lambert, Broadbent Institute’s Alejandra Bravo and UBC Law Professor Joel Bakan promises to be wide ranging including discussions about climate change and the pandemic. This is the first thing on my calendar, so I will definitely listen in and hopefully get to the library that day. You can register for the online discussion.

Day 1: Capitalism Deep Dive

It’s not that capitalism doesn’t work for anyone. It’s that we need to be open to the broad range of economies, typically called “mixed-market” economies. The simplistic response to critiques of capitalism is often, “Well, would you prefer oppressive dictatorship?” However, artist Steve Lambert pointed out in the Vancouver Library’s online discussion that laissez-faire capitalism and pure communism are not the only two possibilities.

However, that’s not to say that capitalism doesn’t have its issues. Joel Bakan who wrote the classic book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, which also became a documentary, focused on the inherent problem with capitalism, which is that its primary value is capital, above all other values that humans might have.

What is the solution to this problem? Alejandra Bravo said the focus needs to be taken off away from technocrats like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk who use their status to try to dictate what we should value and placed on to the true innovators who are working in the public interest. More effort needs to be made to ensure that people have sufficient say and to create more solidarity between workers (both paid and unpaid).

(I did try to visit the art exhibit that spurred this discussion; however, it was postponed to Saturday and Sunday only.)

Day 3: Immersive Sound Experience

Ruby Singh’s immersive musical experience Vox.Infold evokes all of the emotions in your body during the course of about 40 minutes. From joy to sorrow and from fear to being wrapped in a warm embrace, you’ll feel these pieces in every part of your body as you lie on the soft pillows provided. The room is not completely dark as there is a half-setting sun projected on the wall, but you may as well close your eyes and let the compositions move you from deep inside. 

Although the music is pre-recorded, the sounds you hear are alive as they enter the room and travel from all four corners thanks to “4DSound technology.” 

The venue is small with the pillows socially distanced for a very solitary group experience. If you can’t make it to the floor there are two chairs, but due to the vibrating floor panels, the experience is best lying down. 

As for the compositions, they are inventive but harmonious incorporating deep resonant voices mostly without words. They incorporate elements from diverse traditions. Singh collaborated on the performance with Dawn Pemberton, Inuksuk Mckay, Russell Wallace, Tiffany Ayalik, Tiffany Moses, and Shamik Bilgi.

Performances continue at the Lobe Studio until January 30.

Urban Affairs

The next show I plan to attend in the festival is the PuSh Festival is Theatre Replacement’s Do You Mind If I Sit Here? This show is held in the Russian Hall and is also about the Russian Hall albeit 30 years in the future. It incorporates urban themes of displacement and transformation of public spaces using multimedia techniques. It runs until Jan. 29. 

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PuSh Performing Arts Festival Diary


Shella Gardezi is a writer, editor and marketing specialist living in Vancouver BC. Off Course West is her lifestyle blog about her passions for vegetarian food, fitness and travel.

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