PuSh Profiles – Board Members
PuSh Profiles is a new series where you can get to know the names and faces of the people that make this festival so great.
* Who are you/ what do you do?
Jessie Johnson. I am a Vancouverite who left the city at the age of 17, vowing never to come back except for the occasional sushi-filled visit. After a decade-long tour around the world (living in 7 cities in 5 countries on 4 continents), I broke that vow, and have been happily re-integrating myself back into my hometown ever since. Most of my career has been spent in magazine publishing. My background is primarily in editorial (writing, editing, blogging, fact-checking), but these days I’m exploring the business side of things, selling advertising for a collection of independently published Canadian magazines, most with a literary or cultural bent.
* How long have you been involved with the PuSh Festival?
I’ve been involved with PuSh as an audience member and fan since 2009, the first festival after I moved back to Vancouver. I’ve been on the board since this past July.
* How or why did you get involved with PuSh?
Having grown up in Vancouver’s theatre community, I always loved work created here by my family and friends, but was also hugely envious of the kind of shows I would see when my family traveled to London and New York. Knowing about PuSh is one of the major reasons I felt Vancouver was a place I could call home again. I knew it was something I would want to be a part of. It also helps that my mother was a founding board member, so I’ve had access to her insider’s perspective from the very beginning.
* What is your favourite memory of PuSh?
I fell madly in love with Taylor Mac during the 2010 festival. I fell madly in love with him again in 2012. It is my hope that PuSh will give me the chance to fall madly in love with him every other year for as long as we both shall live, Amen. The man is an international treasure.
* Which PuSh shows/ experiences have stayed with you?
It would probably be a shorter answer to list the PuSh shows that haven’t stayed with me. I’ll limit myself to three. KAMP definitely sticks out, for its innovation, detail, and harrowing beauty. I thought No. 2 this past year was just transcendant. And I could have happily spent the entire 2011 festival going to Floating night after night after night.
* What shows/events are you looking forward to at this year’s festival?
Again, it’s really tempting to say everything. I can’t imagine what a one-man production of King Lear from Taiwan will be like, so I’m excited for that. Do You See What I Mean? is sure to be a once in a lifetime experience. I always love to see local companies’ contributions to the festival, and this year is no exception with Photog and Winners and Losers. Somehow I’ve missed Tim Crouch’s past appearances at the festival, so I’m really looking forward to I, Malvolio. And The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Heart promises to be massive amounts of fun.
* Outside of PuSh what do you do with your time?
It’s not unusual for me to be out at the theatre once or more each week. I sing second soprano in the City Soul Choir, and attempt to attend hip hop classes at Harbour Dance on a regular basis. I spend a fair amount of time mucking about in my garden, DIYing projects around my heritage house by the Drive, and baking pies. I also help organize a group of Jews and Muslims who have been collaborating for more than 7 years to serve a meal to residents of the Downtown East Side at First United Church once a month. When I find the time, I like to run away from Vancouver to explore the rest of the wide world, and then come home and appreciate the good things we have here. And right now, just to keep life exciting, I’m producing my first play — Vancouver’s first production of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters since 1979, featuring some of our city’s most beloved theatre artists. It will open at the Cultch’s Culture Lab at the beginning of April.
* What does ‘crossing the line’ mean to you?
Crossing the line is about exploring new territory, experiencing things I wouldn’t necessarily seek out or be able to find under my own steam. It means entering other worlds, in which I may or may not be comfortable, but in which I will absolutely grow my understanding of what it means to be human