PuSh Blog

Inaugural PuSh Youth Assembly Conference—Young Minds on Art

February 27, 2015

The PuSh Festival is pleased to offer the PuSh Youth Program for 16- to 24-year olds, to nurture budding dance, theatre and music enthusiasts of Vancouver—from the cautiously curious to emerging pre-professionals. The PuSh Festival has created a program that ushers young people through to the rich world of the performing arts by making it accessible, engaging and entertaining.

We asked Ally Baharoon, 2015 Youth Academy participant, to share her highlights of the inaugural PuSh Youth Assembly conference, held on February 1, 2015 at the Vancouver Public Library.

Hello everyone!

My name is Ally! I have been in Vancouver for about three years now and will be soon wrapping up my Bachelor degree in Business and English at Simon Fraser University. Apart from writing short stories, poems, and one scene plays, I also spend an embarrassingly significant portion of my free time studying comedy writing. I do this by rewatching Seinfeld, The Colbert Report, Black Adder, and clips of Jim Carrey summoning the universal superpowers of awesomeness.

When I joined the PuSh Academy, I was expecting to be introduced to the arts community in Vancouver as well as to be exposed to various forms of performances and discussing them in our weekly meetings. I got exactly that plus an amazing opportunity to meet variously talented people who are interested in doing great things for our Vancouver community.

2015 Youth Assembly
Photo: Sarah Race

In particular, I loved the PuSh Youth Assembly conference held on February 1 at the Vancouver Public Library where we were introduced to Stephen Drover, artistic director of Rumble Productions, and Shawn Macdonald, artistic associate at Green Thumb Theatre and instructor and program leader of the LEAP Playwriting Intensive for Teen Writers at the Arts Club Theatre Company. I was inspired to apply for the LEAP program which starts their next intake in September; I have always wanted to enroll in a playwriting program and this is such a nice opportunity to test out my writing. The Youth Assembly keynote speaker was Anita Majumdar, creator and performer of The Fish Eyes Trilogy.

The part of the PuSh Youth Assembly that intrigued me the most as a student who is trying to stage a play at SFU was when Jocelyn Macdougall, Development Director of PuSh Festival, spoke about getting funding for projects. It interested me because when I first brought the idea to the higher-ups at SFU, their first instinct was to see whether it would a profit-generating event but slowly, they liked the idea of having a theatre event for arts’ sake.

In addition to having a lovely learning experience in all our Youth Academy meetings and at the Youth Assembly conference, I was especially moved during one of the Academy meet-ups with Georgia Johnson. I loved being introduced to a John Berger article, Ways of Seeing, which talked about how we are always showed a slice of reality that the artist wishes to expose. This simple yet profound revelation immediately sent a shot of clarity across my brain. In the midst of the great variety of arts going on around us, we can forget ourselves and begin thinking that a perspective has miraculously managed to capture whatever it is we are trying to witness. We also saw photography by Sasha Arutyunova, For Ever, a theatre piece by Dimitris Papaioannou, and another theater piece by The Open Program of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards.

I am so grateful to have joined the 2015 PuSh Youth Academy and, if I find a job in Vancouver, I will be signing up again next year. Yay!

Ally Baharoon
PuSh Youth Academy Participant