PuSh Blog

15th Anniversary: PuSh International Performing Arts Festival Kicks Off New Year with Visionary Line-up

November 15, 2018

Club PuSh finds new home for 2019 at The Beaumont Studios and Annex

Vancouver, BC — The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival (PuSh Festival) celebrates its milestone 15th annual edition, January 17 to February 3, 2019, at various venues across the Lower Mainland. Featuring 26 works from 24 companies from 13 countries — including six world premieres — this extraordinary showcase of visionary collaboration and risk-taking is a highlight of the city’s cultural calendar.

“We launched in 2003 as a three-show series that drew 2,500 people to 21 performances at three Vancouver venues,” says Roxanne Duncan, PuSh Festival’s Interim Executive Director. “The inaugural festival opened a short two years later in 2005. Now as we prepare to celebrate our 15th anniversary, PuSh has welcomed more than 300,000 people to 366 productions from 30 countries.”

Joyce Rosario, Interim Artistic Director of the PuSh Festival, adds: Our programming ignites important, meaningful discussions about the world around us and is a reminder that we are a part of something bigger. The 15th anniversary holds personal significance to me. Not only does it mark the final iteration guided by the vision of Norman Armour, PuSh’s co-founder and former Artistic and Executive Director, but it’s also the sixth shaped by our collaboration together as a curatorial team. This year’s festival is the result of many such partnerships, amongst the intrepid team at PuSh and with our presentation partners — some of whom have been with us since the very beginning. In 2019, we bring audiences face-to-face with a broad range of thought-provoking works that subvert the dominant narrative by changing whose perspectives are centred.”

The six world premiere performances will be presented by contemporary dance organization Company 605; boundary-breaking dance company MACHiNENOiSY; composer and musical director Joelysa Pankanea; Dora Award-winning dub poet and actor D’BI; the performers of Kimmortal & Immigrant Lessons; and Guatemalan performance artist Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa. Almost half of the program — 11 performances — will be Canadian premieres, including a suite of three sound-based works from Japan by ASUNA, Marginal Consort, and Tetsuya Umeda; Dancenorth Australia featuring music from Indonesian band Senyawa; and a piece from Taiwanese choreographer Liu Kuan-Hsiang.

New for the 2019 season, Club PuSh — a platform for the festival’s most edgy and experimental work — will be located in multiple spaces across the city and home to Opening and Closing Night parties. Audiences can experience the avant-garde performances at The Beaumont Studios and Vancouver Civic Theatres’ Annex. The PuSh Film Series will present movies perfectly paired to the program, and PuSh Assembly will stimulate dialogue through free talks for the public and industry networking events.

PuSh Passes and tickets for the 2019 PuSh Festival are on sale at pushfestival.ca


 Word Sound Have Powah — D’BI (Jamaica/Canada/UK)

Jan 17 | Club PuSh at The Beaumont Studios

World Premiere

D’BI combines early Jamaican dub with dancehall reggae, as well as Afrobeat, punk, hip hop, and performance art. Recited over guitar, backing tracks or both, this new dub poetry bridges musical traditions from folk to funk and beyond with the wider art world.

X Marks the Movement — Kimmortal & Immigrant Lessons (Canada) / OPENING NIGHT PARTY

Jan 17 | Club PuSh at The Beaumont Studios

World Premiere

Queer Filipinx artist Kimmortal and art-fashion-dance collective Immigrant Lessons combine their respective media in selections from X Marks the Movement, a show that plays with the concept of map-making in order to reframe narratives of home and diaspora.

Corazón del espantapájaros (Heart of the Scarecrow) — Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa (Guatemala)

Presented with SFU Galleries

Jan 16–19, Jan 24–25 | SFU Galleries’ Audain Gallery

World Premiere

Visual and performance artist Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa has created an exhibition at SFU Galleries’ Audain Gallery, which will form the set for an intensely physical live presentation staged over four nights. The multifaceted work explores history, theatre, and the ethics of representation.

Attractor — Dancenorth Australia (Australia)

Jan 18–19 | Vancouver Playhouse

Canadian Premiere

This supremely rousing show begins with two musicians and eight dancers on stage. Indonesian duo Senyawa plays operatic, heavy metal-inflected music spiced with ritual and folk idioms from their native country. As the music builds in power, the dancers increase their abandon until they’re all moving in an atavistic frenzy.

 Ringo — Tetsuya Umeda (Japan)

Jan 18 | Performance Works

Canadian Premiere

The wildly inventive Tetsuya Umeda uses tin cans, dry ice, bowls, hot plates, and more to create an experience so beguiling and unique as to redefine those very objects. The rhythm of dripping water, melodic air vibrato, and mechanical groans make up his music; pulsing electric light and wall projection make up some of his visuals.

Asking For It — Adrienne Truscott (US)

Jan 18 | Club PuSh at the Annex

Western Canadian Premiere

Feisty, funny and very nearly naked, Adrienne Truscott stirs it up in this inventive, outrageous show about…rape. Stand-up comedy, dance, imagery and one very special whistle make up a show that elicits gasps, laughs and — make no mistake — some serious reflection on sexual politics, female agency, and the ethics of humour.

Adrienne Truscott’s A One-Trick Pony — Adrienne Truscott (US)

Jan 18 | Club PuSh at the Annex

Canadian Premiere

This show is about Truscott’s suspicion, following the runaway success of her previous piece, that anything she makes may disappoint. Through the lens of ‘failure’ comedy icon Andy Kaufman, Truscott mounts the critical feedback loop and rides it, hard.

100 Keyboards — ASUNA (Japan)

Jan 19 | Russian Hall

Canadian Premiere

In this captivating performance, sound artist ASUNA takes battery-powered, analogue keyboards and uses them to create waves of overlapping notes: the Moiré effect of superimposed patterns, here used musically.

Marginal Consort — Marginal Consort (Japan)

Jan 20 | Performance Works

Canadian Premiere

These four musicians come with enough instruments for an orchestra; some are acoustic, some are electronic, and quite a few are of the artists’ own invention. For three hours they make ambient, heavily manipulated music, far apart and fully independent of each other.

Loop, Lull — Company 605 (Canada)

Presented with The Dance Centre

Jan 21–22, 28–29 | Scotiabank Dance Centre

World Premiere

This hypnotic work begins with five dancers, each trapped in their own loop of motion and gesture. They change their movements in response to each other, while at the same time manipulating the space around them through control of the lighting and electronic sound score.

PALMYRA — Bertrand Lesca & Nasi Voutsas (France/UK)

Jan 22–24 | Performance Works

Canadian Premiere

In this prizewinning piece, the set is almost bare and broken crockery is the main prop. The situation can be described bluntly and simply: two men are onstage, and one of them has a plate while the other does not. From this, conflict emerges that ranges from the comical to the brutal.

Prince Hamlet — Why Not Theatre (Canada)

Jan 23–27 | Frederic Wood Theatre

Western Canadian Premiere

Shakespeare’s classic gets the update it needs in Ravi Jain’s wildly inventive, radically inclusive production. The production is bilingual, with integrated English and American Sign Language, making it uniquely accessible to both hearing and deaf audiences.

Race Cards — Selina Thompson (UK)

Jan 23–Feb 2 | Roundhouse (Exhibition Hall)

Western Canadian Premiere

“Why do people assume that racism will just passively die out if we wait long enough?” That’s number 307 of 1,000 questions that Selina Thompson has composed and put on cards; in this installation, visitors will enter the site and read as many of them as they wish. They are instructed to answer one card and copy one to take away with them.

salt. — Selina Thompson (UK)

Jan 24–26 | Roundhouse (Performance Centre)

Canadian Premiere

The Transatlantic Slave Triangle connected Africa with Europe and the Americas; it was the transport route for innocent masses stolen in the name of racism and greed. In this gripping performance, Selina Thompson recounts her journey along one stretch of the route by cargo ship, offering us large-scale history through the prism of one disquieted soul.

Kids — Liu Kuan-Hsiang (Taiwan)

Presented with The Dance Centre

Jan 24–26 | Scotiabank Dance Centre

Canadian Premiere

Liu Kuan-Hsiang goes for broke in this ecstatic tribute to his late mother; the dancer and choreographer’s catharsis is our reward. From the sentimental to the scatological, the artist makes the private public in a demonstration of strength, courage, and the deepest love.

Suddenly Slaughter — The Biting School (Canada)

Jan 25–26 | Russian Hall

Artist-In-Residence Work in Development

From PuSh Artists-in-Residence The Biting School comes this take on a major work of Iranian theatre. Abbas Nalbandian’s 1971 Suddenly, This God Lover Died in the Love of God, This God Slain Died by the Sword of God was too radical for acceptance in its home country; bringing it to Vancouver is an act of resurrection. The text is centred on a communal house in one of Tehran’s poor areas, and it’s a trenchant examination of greed, envy, and animus.

Bicycle Thieves — Joelysa Pankanea (Canada)

Jan 26–27 | Performance Works

World Premiere

Composer and musical director Joelysa Pankanea guides a group of six musicians and four actors as they provide live musical and voice accompaniment to the landmark neorealist film Bicycle Thieves. The score and voice work add vibrancy and a greater sense of urgency to Vittorio De Sica’s black-and-white images. A special PuSh Festival commission.

Muted — Monica Germino (US/Netherlands)

Presented with Music on Main

Jan 28–30 | Annex

Canadian Premiere

Violinist Monica Germino utilizes a number of acoustic instruments and her voice to transport audiences to the very thresholds of audibility. Mixing intensely theatrical moments, sung texts from 1920s “Archy and Mehitabel” newspaper columns, expressive lighting and design by Floriaan Ganzevoort, this is a performance that is hypnotizing and transcendent by turns.

This is the Point — Ahuri Theatre (Canada)

Presented with The Cultch

Jan 29–Feb 2 | The Cultch Historic

Western Canadian Premiere

This “play about love, sex, and disability” runs the gamut from joyous celebration to unflinching drama as it paints a collective portrait of real-life individuals whose lives have been touched by cerebral palsy. Questions of representation, the nature of companionship, whether people of different abilities can ever connect on equal terms — all are explored here.

Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools — Buddies in Bad Times (Canada)

Presented with Touchstone Theatre

Jan 30–Feb 2 | Performance Works

Western Canadian Premiere

A concert, a conversation, and a multimedia performance all in one, the work is a meeting point for two people — Inuk artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and queer theatre-maker Evalyn Parry — and two places: Canada’s North and South. These two powerful singers and storytellers, aided by music and video projection, give voice and body to the histories, culture, and climate we’ve inherited.

Copper Promises – Hinemihi Haka — Victoria Hunt (New Zealand/Australia)

Presented with The Dance Centre

Jan 31–Feb 2 | Scotiabank Dance Centre

Western Canadian Premiere

Solo dance artist Victoria Hunt uses movement, sound and image to tell a story. The themes are heritage, tradition, and reclamation; the subject is Hinemihi, both ancestor and a ceremonial meeting house that once stood in their native land Aotearoa/New Zealand.

ZVIZDAL (Chernobyl – so far so close) — BERLIN (Belgium)

Jan 31–Feb 2 | Roundhouse (Performance Centre)

Canadian Premiere

Antwerp-based art collective BERLIN and journalist Cathy Blisson spent five years filming Nadia and Pétro Opanassovitch Lubenoc, an elderly couple living deep within the irradiated Chernobyl exclusion zone in a place called Zvizdal. This deeply affecting documentary-installation is a portrait of loneliness, survival, poverty, hope, and unconditional love.

Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance — Graham Reynolds (US) & Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol (Mexico)

Jan 31 | The Vogue

Canadian Premiere

This bilingual, cross-border, cross-genre opera about the enigmatic general, legendary bandit and hero of the Mexican Revolution presents a non-linear collage of scenes from, or inspired by, his life. The piece melds an avant-garde aesthetic with political overtones and a blend of Tejano and Mexican music.

L’Homme de Hus — Camille Boitel (France)

Feb 1–2 | Vancouver Playhouse

An adventure for performer and audience alike, Camille Boitel’s raucous embodiment of the title character in this amazingly physical performance piece will have you laughing out loud one minute and staring in wonder the next.

Fragile Forms — MACHiNENOiSY (Canada)

Presented with the Anvil Centre

Feb 2–7 | Anvil Centre

World Premiere

Inspired by world-renowned Finnish theorist and architect Juhani Pallasmaa’s writings on architecture and the sensing body, MACHiNENOiSY’s most ambitious work to date is a site-specific, 360-degree contemporary dance performance tailored specifically for its venue.

Triple Threat — Lucy McCormick (UK) / FOLLOWED BY CLOSING NIGHT PARTY

Feb 2 | Club PuSh at the Annex

Get ready for a radical take on the New Testament…Post-Popular Prodigy Lucy McCormick present a trash-punk morality play made for the modern world. Lucy plays all the main roles in this subversive spin on the life of Jesus, which covers everything from the Immaculate Conception to the Resurrection.


Presented with Vancouver International Film Festival

A film series to round out the PuSh Festival experience of the performing arts. The darkened cinema mirrors the darkened theatre in illuminating and surprising ways.

The Children Are Watching Us (1944) — Director: Vittorio De Sica (Italy)

Jan 20 | Vancity Theatre

Five years before Bicycle Thieves, director Vittorio De Sica and screenwriter Cesare Zavattini collaborated for the first time (along with three other writers) on this heartbreaking tale of a family breakup witnessed through the eyes of a child.

Pripyat (1999) — Director: Nikolaus Geyrhalter (Austria)

Jan 27 | Vancity Theatre

A haunting, monochromatic vision of life in the not-entirely-abandoned radioactive “Workers’ City” of Pripyat more than a decade after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986.

A Scanner Darkly (2006) — Director: Richard Linklater (US)

Feb 3 | Vancity Theatre

Composer Graham Reynolds and director Richard Linklater’s first of four collaborations was this weirdly funny, inescapably prophetic Rotoscope-animated adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel about alternate realities, drugs, paranoia, and the surveillance state.


The PuSh Assembly is an open invitation to industry insiders and arts aficionados alike to gather, to connect and to share ideas and perspectives around the performing arts. The 2019 PuSh Assembly is designed in two series: Ideas (free and open to the public) and Industry (accessible with a PuSh Industry Pass). The PuSh Assembly events engage audiences and industry professionals with the Festival artists through artist talks, a dialogue series and networking opportunities.


PuSh Passes are the best way to experience the PuSh Festival. Pass holders save up to 25% off single tickets. PuSh Passes are flexible so Passholders can book tickets online at anytime. Limited quantities.

 FourShow Pass: $119

SixShow Pass: $176

Industry Six-Show Pass: $236

Industry Pack: $60

Youth Four-Show Pass: $20


Single tickets start at $25. To buy tickets, visit pushfestival.ca or call the PuSh Festival Audience Services info line at 604.449.6000.


Pick up the comprehensive 2019 program guide at any location of JJ Bean and other select locations. You can also reach us at pushfestival.ca, info@pushfestival.ca or 604.605.8284.

About the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival (pushfestival.ca)

The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is Vancouver’s signature, mid-winter cultural event, taking place over three weeks each January in theatres and venues across the city. The PuSh Festival presents groundbreaking, contemporary works of theatre, dance, music, and multimedia by acclaimed local, national, and international artists.

LISTING INFORMATION                  

PuSh International Performing Arts Festival

Dates:  January 17–February 3, 2019

Ticket Prices: From $25

Location: Various Vancouver Venues

Audience Services: 604.449.6000 / tickets@pushfestival.ca

For further media information, contact:

Ines Min | 604.558.2400 ext. 506 | imin@mpmgarts.com