PuSh Blog

PuSh Festival Presents Canadian Premiere of Graham Reynolds’ Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance

January 04, 2019

Avant-garde bilingual chamber opera draws on the life of heroic Mexican Revolutionary and explores issues of borders

Vancouver, BC — The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival (PuSh Festival) presents the Canadian premiere of Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance in a one-night only performance on January 31, 2019, at 8pm at the Vogue Theatre. Renowned composer Graham Reynolds collaborates with librettists Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol to craft an experimental opera inspired by the life of Mexican revolutionary general Pancho Villa. The cross-border, cross-genre production casts timely focus on the relationship between communities in Mexico and the United States, as well as the borderlands that separate them.

“I saw this work at Austin’s Fusebox Festival in 2017, not long after Trump was inaugurated and attempting to follow through on his promise to build a wall. Experiencing the power of this piece, I was immediately struck and reminded how connected we are despite being on this side of the border,” says Joyce Rosario, Interim Artistic Director of PuSh Festival. “The opera is shaped by the hands of incredible artistic collaborators from both sides of the American and Mexican border. The way in which they come together to examine their shared history offers a thought-provoking look into the intertwined social lives of two states.”

 Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance is the final installation of The Marfa Triptych — a series of three musical portraits by Reynolds commissioned by Ballroom Marfa, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping artists achieve projects that have significant cultural impact but would be impossible to realize in a traditional setting. The stunning production presents a non-linear collage of scenes inspired by the life of the enigmatic hero and legendary bandit of the Mexican Revolution. Born in 1878, Francisco “Pancho” Villa became notorious as a wrathful, yet sentimental leader. Raised on a farm as a peasant worker, he eventually ran away and turned to a life of banditry. When war broke out, he assembled a group of revolutionaries who would become an army of fighters. A figure shrouded in myth, he is memorialized today as a man who tore down borders.

The performance features mezzo-soprano Liz Cass and tenor Paul Sanchez. They will be joined by Jeremy Bruch on drums, Alexis Buffum on cello, Henna Chou on bass, Utah Hamrick on tuba, Adrian Quesada on guitar, and Reynolds on keyboards. Pre-recorded and live video projections are overlaid to create an avant-garde aesthetic that examines the Mexican and Mexican-American impact on West Texas politics and culture.

Mexico City-based Lagartijas Tiradas Al Sol (Luisa Pardo and Gabino Rodríguez) wrote the libretto after consulting biographies, interviews, films, and novels about Villa. The songs reflect on his legacy while capturing his multifaceted persona. The performance is directed by Shawn Sides.

The PuSh Film Series, which rounds out the festival’s performing arts experience with related screenings, will also show A Scanner Darkly (2006), directed by Richard Linklater and scored by Graham. The film is the first of four collaborations between the two creators, and offers a weirdly funny, inescapably prophetic Rotoscope-animated adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel of alternate realities, drugs, paranoia, and the surveillance state. A Scanner Darkly will screen at 4:30pm on February 3, 2019, at Vancity Theatre (1181 Seymour St).

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 presents:
Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance

January 31, 2019 at 8pm

Ticket Prices:
From $47.80

Vogue Theatre

Audience Services:
604.449.6000 |  tickets@pushfestival.ca

For further media information, contact:

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