PuSh Blog

PuShy Questions with Elysse Cheadle from High Water

January 18, 2020

Elysse Cheadle is the co-creator and director of High Water, showing at The NEST on Granville Island from February 1-5. Click here for tickets and more show information.

1) What motivates your work as an artist?

Collaboration! I get so much out of the surprises and revelations that arise when you put a group of playful, creative, curious people together. I love devising – it feels like putting together a puzzle without knowing what the final image is supposed to be. I also like the type of thinking that devising requires of me; I have to think laterally and with lots of flexibility. When collaborating in a devised process, ideas are always evolving and shifting, so you need to pay a lot of attention to keep up. I love being surprised by my collaborators, and I always make an effort to learn something new with each process.

2) What does being part of PuSh 2020 represent for you?

Some of my very favourite theatre experiences as an audience member have happened at PuSh. I am so excited to be a part of the Festival this year as an artist!

3) Is there anything you want audiences to keep in mind while experiencing your show?

Don’t be afraid to lean in! The show works on a small scale and asks the audience to pay attention to details, and sometimes to wait patiently for a “punchline” or “denouement.” As creators, we have fallen in love with every single object that we use in the show, and we want you to see what we see in them! Many of the objects present a sort of ambiguity; they can be viewed as more than one thing at a time. I would love for audiences to let those conflicting images exist, rather than trying to wrestle the ambiguity into a singular image or idea. Also, feel free to move and make noise!

4) What other PuSh show would you most like to see?

Oh boy, there are so many I want to see! I hope to get to as many as my schedule allows. However, if I have to spotlight a few, I would say I am most curious about: Cutlass Spring (Dana Michel), Idealverein (Mike Bourscheid and Justine Chambers), The Fever (600 Highwaymen), Footnote Number 12 (Spreafico Eckly and Theatre Replacement), and She, Mami Wata & The Pussy WitchHunt (The Frank Theatre).

5) What qualities do you most admire in other artists?

Rigor. Bravery. Gentleness. Silliness. (In no particular order).

6) What do you do when you’re not working or making art?

I spend a huge part of my free time walking – I do my best thinking on foot, and am happy to walk for hours on end. I try to go hiking once a week. I listen to a LOT of podcasts, I read short stories, and books of poetry. I spend time with friends. I just started playing chess, and it turns out I really like it! I am learning to drive. I want to join a community choir. I have plans to start a sewing club.

7) What about Vancouver most entices you?

I moved to Vancouver about a decade ago and felt immediately at home upon arrival. Since then, I have definitely had a complicated relationship with the city: I have met such wonderful people here who are incredibly kind, engaged, passionate and curious, who have really impacted me and opened my eyes to the world in a new way. I also love the fact that I can walk out the front door of my house and in an hour be hiking in the mountains or at the beach. I really love the ever-growing connected web of commuter bike lanes. However, Vancouver is also a tough place to live; it is expensive, housing is limited and unstable, and there is a dramatic, visible economic divide. These factors are very real and have wide-spread repercussions. Out of this struggle is rising some very powerful voices and serious demands for change. I have hope that support will continue to grow around these voices and communities, and that the city will change for the better as a result.

8) What is your biggest art-making wish or fantasy (if money were no object)?

I just satisfied a long-standing art-fantasy in a recent show I made called “Big Bang Bang.” In this piece, I had a piece of music composed for and performed on a Velcro Piano (hooks on the piano, loops on the gloves of the pianist). I have big dreams of an orchestra piece for similarly affected instruments and players, but for now the Velcro Piano will have to do.

Click here for High Water tickets and more show information.

Elysse Cheadle (elyssecheadle.com) is a theatre writer, director and performer. She holds a BFA in Theatre from Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts and a Diploma in Acting from Mount Royal University. Elysse focuses on collaborative creation and writing practices. Her work is physical, playful, poetic, and absurd. It uses collaged narrative, and rhythmically-driven dramaturgy and delights in the tensions of incongruous genres, characters, objects, and texts.

Her work has been presented at The Array, The rEvolver Theatre Festival, The Vancouver Fringe Festival, Shooting Gallery Performance Series, Choreography by Non-Choreographers, Dancing on the Edge, BC Buds Festival, IGNITE! Theatre Festival (Calgary), BLOOM, Art for Impact, HIVE: The New Bees, Blink, The Accordion Noir Festival, and The Illuminares Lantern Festival.

— (Show photo by Ash Tanasiychuk)