PuSh Blog

From Puppets to Vegas: PuSh Youth graduate to bigger challenges

December 15, 2015

Amy Dauer (centre) at the 2015 Youth Assembly. Photo by Sarah Race

PuSh Festival’s Youth Program has come a long way from its single track origin as the Young Ambassadors program, to engaging a greater breadth of young people at various points of their artistic and professional journeys. Be they training performing arts professionals or budding arts connoisseurs, now, on the cusp of its adolescent years, the PuSh Youth Program is a 360-degree performing arts engagement road map for Vancouver youth, 16 to 24 years old. At the end of the road map is the Youth Advisory Council–a self-reflexive framework for the youth program open to all former participants. Amy Dauer is the first to graduate from the PuSh Youth Advisory Council. Holding a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Trinity Western University, Amy was a member of the Youth Academy in 2014–15. Here, she shares her experiences as a PuSh Youth.

I was a recent theatre grad and new to Vancouver when I joined PuSh’s Youth Academy, and it was exactly what I needed. I met a group of other young artists; a few of whom I have since worked with because of our connection through the PuSh Festival. We also had opportunities to meet with major members of Vancouver’s theatre society, which as an emerging artist was invaluable. In small groups, we got to know them and their work personally. I specifically remember meeting theatre critic, Colin Thomas of the Georgia Straight, who was kind enough to answer follow-up email questions, personally.

We’re so lucky to live in a city that hosts such great youth-artist programs; I seriously recommend getting involved!

Because the artists invited to the PuSh Festival are always unique and international, the shows we experienced and the discussions that followed were always lively. There were quite a few genres I had never experienced before, and having a soundboard group to discuss them with was artistically beneficial. Shows like The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik by Australian artist Tim Watts, a theatre for young adults puppetry and animation piece, really inspired me to try out mixed media in theatre. I had never seen anything like it before and probably never will again: a combination of live music, puppets, light show, and animation. It was not only fully engaging, the story was also completely tangible. It was as surprisingly touching as a Pixar movie!

Just as amazing was Cineastas, by Mariano Pensotti, which had a unique dollhouse format set with many floors and rooms of different colors, and multiple stories happening at once. It was really captivating. 

Photo by James Coomber

I am still friends with many of my PuSh Youth Academy members, and we all still invite each other to interesting events happening in Vancouver. We’re so lucky to live in a city that hosts such great youth-artist programs; I seriously recommend getting involved!

Amy Dauer is graduating from the PuSh Youth Advisory Council to pursue her professional film projects in Las Vegas. Her departure means opportunities for new members in the Youth Advisory Council. If you are interested in joining the PuSh Youth Advisory Program, or other components of the Youth Program, please contact our Youth Coordinator, Emily Neumann by email on youth@pushfestival.ca.

Amy Dauer Headshot

Amy Dauer
PuSh Youth Advisory Council member, 2015

Amy Dauer’s favourite acting credits include Foxface in The Hunger Games: The Musical (District 13 Productions), Kari in The Pavilion (Greenhall Theatre), and Schprintze/Grandmother Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof (SAMC Theatre). Her favourite directing credits include Agnes of God (Stonesthrow Theatre), Lunar Phases (Cultch Ignite Festival), The Emperor’s New Clothes (Jester’s Children’s Theatre), and Crimes of the Heart (SAMC Theatre – Assistant Director). She also created a film with DareU! called Leaving the House (The Only Animal) which won the Artistic Risk Award at the 2015 Vancouver Fringe Festival. Good luck, Amy!