10 years of crossing the line – 2005 PuSh Festival: Year One
January 23, 2014
In 2005 Canada introduced the Civil Marriage Act, making Canada the fourth country to sanction same-sex marriage. The 2004-2005 National Hockey League was in lockout, and Larry Campbell was the 37th Mayor of Vancouver.
Something else was rumbling in Vancouver.
The city of approximately 2,174,158 citizens was about to feel an important cultural shift. Over the course of one month, the inaugural PuSh International Performing Arts Festival would embed itself as a new touchstone for Vancouver’s performing artists and audiences alike. The first PuSh Festival presented local work from Vancouver and Edmonton to distant international cultural hubs, including London and Edinburgh.
For Artistic & Executive Director, Norman Armour (pictured right with Katrina Dunn at the 2005 PuSh Festival), Saying Nothing said enough to stand out for him one decade later:
“Two guys standing on a small patch of grass in a single suitcase, taking the audience through an unforgettable roller coaster ride of language, character and story—spinning like a top on the pin of the Irish Peace Process. It re-defined the meaning of ‘virtuosity’ for me and many Vancouver theatre artists of the ‘devised’ inclination.”
Local artists sitting the first audience recalled other shows too. Long-time PuSh passholder, Sarah Hayward, recalled her first PuSh experience watching late legendary British choreographer and performer, Nigel Charnock, in Frank:
“His full frontal assault on the audience was both compelling and audaciously sexy.”
PuSh also turned expectations, theatre traditions and genre on Vancouver’s head. Founding board member and former vice president (2005-2012), Jane Heyman, recalls the lasting effects of Crime & Punishment in her recent 10th anniversary article:
“This production still epitomizes crossing the line for me in so many ways: who else would dare to think about, let alone turn Crime and Punishment into a piece of musical theatre? How wonderful that an international festival was not only bringing work from abroad to Vancouver audiences, but also supporting and encouraging local artists to create work that pushed their boundaries; how exciting that the cast featured mature artists, students still attending theatre school, and people from the Downtown Eastside – and they all worked perfectly together; how thrilling that Vancouver audiences responded so overwhelmingly (selling out, as I recall), showing that when artists take risks, audiences respond wholeheartedly.”
Do you recall the first PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in 2005? Where were you and what did you see? Download the 2005 PuSh Festival program guide to relive 10 years of crossing the line.