PuSh Blog

The 2015 PuSh Assembly (Part 1): Dialogue

January 15, 2015

Originally established as an “arts industry week” during the final week of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, in recent years the PuSh Assembly has expanded to include additional one-off Festival programming, and reduced barriers to access by introducing the free registration Assembly Pass, while opening up Assembly events to eager members of the general public craving further engagement with the artists, the ideas behind their work, and each other.

In fact, my favourite part of the Assembly is seeing people connect–whether they’re an artist, presenter, Festival volunteer or audience member. The key to programming a successful PuSh Assembly is to facilitate as many opportunities for anyone to engage in dialogue.

Photo: Liesbeth Bernaerts
Photo: Liesbeth Bernaerts


PuSh Conversations, our post-show chats, are right in the moment: after the show, sweat still on the artists’ brows; moderated by Vancouver-based dance, theatre and performance makers. The moderators dig deep, conversing artist-to-artist. And if you’re willing to follow them, to dig deeper still, the PuSh Assembly offers several series of events that might just reward that curiosity.


The Breakfast Series

Festivals can be hectic, running around the city catching as many shows as possible, so these Saturday morning talks (with breakfast treats included) are a great way to cap off the week, as well as start the weekend, by catching Festival artists outside the theatre for off-the-cuff and intimate conversations.

This year, we’ll be hosting the Breakfast Series at the PuSh Festival’s new home at 750 Hamilton Street. Join me for the first instalment of the Breakfast series with Voetvolk’s Lisbeth Gruwez and Maarten van Cauwenberghe (It’s going to get worse and worse and worse, my friend) on January 24.

Lisbeth Gruwez, It's going to get worse and worse, 2015 PuSh Festival
Photo: Luc Depreitere


Case Studies

In partnership with SFU’s School for Contemporary Arts, this time we pair academics with Festival artists. They tackle conversations with a scholarly lens, from theory and practice delving into training and artistic background. The first of these Case Studies feature Sylvain Émard, a ski instructor-turned-choreographer, who now sows the steps of his public dance piece Le Grand Continental® in communities of amateur dancers across the world.

Sylvain Émard Danse, Le Grand Continental, 2015 PuSh Festival
Photo: Robert Torres



No PuSh Assembly would be complete without a workshop or two. Workshops enable  local practitioners to learn from visiting industry professionals, further developing their repertoire through dialogue and hands-on experience. Misuse/Displace: Strategies for installation and performance with Kate McIntosh is the first Assembly workshop running over two days (January 31–February 1). I’ll let Kate speak about her ideas for herself; here is a video trailer for Worktable, an installation-based piece which shows a different side of her practice from Dark Matter, a theatre performance at this year’s PuSh Festival.


Our second and final workshop for 2015 is: Touring Intensive with Sherrie Johnson and guest panel of international presenters. This three-day workshop is totally about people, starting with those in the room. Sherrie Johnson is currently producer at Canadian Stage in Toronto, and was also senior curator at the PuSh Festival from 2008-12. She will be joined by Fenn Gordon and Tommy Kriegsmann, who will work with her as workshop leaders with invited panelists from PuSh’s visiting presenters.

If I wasn’t already busy working during the PuSh Festival, I’d be at both! Limited spaces currently exist in both workshops. Register soon to avoid disappointment.



Not to overstate the obvious, the 2015 PuSh Festival also fosters a series of dialogues in various forms, including the Presenters Roundtable on February 7, at CBC Studio 700. Our feature Artist Talk with Dries Verhoeven will take place January 30, at Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. His work Fare Thee Well! is twinned with Lotte van den Berg’s Cinema Imaginaire under the thematic Dis/Appearing City. Read Artistic & Executive Director Norman Armour’s curatorial statement on these twinned works as a primer to the discussion.

Photo: Rene den Engelsman
Photo: Rene den Engelsman



To really cap things off, the PuSh Festival will also host a “visiting presenters week” during the final week of the Festival. This year, we welcome 37 international guests including a French delegation supported by the French Consulate, ONDA, Institut Français and the Audience and Market Development Office of the Canada Council. If you want to connect, here’s an inside tip for other events happening at the Assembly:

PuSh Assembly at the Fox Cabaret

This is the late-night pop-up event to kick off the PuSh Assembly visiting presenters week! Join us at the Fox Cabaret for a social networking opportunity.

Date: Wednesday, February 4
Venue: Fox Cabaret, 2321 Main Street, Vancouver



Presented by Theatre Replacement. In partnership with 605 Collective and in association with New Works.  Check out the 5th year of this independently curated and produced platform of tour-ready works and projects in development, followed by the PushOFF mixer co-hosted with the PuSh Festival on February 5.

Dates: Thursday, February 5 (Program A) & Friday, February 6 (Program B)
Time: 12:30-4:30pm (Program A) + PuShOFF mixer (4:30-5:30pm) & 1:00-4:30pm (Program B)
Venue: The Cultch, 1895 Venables Street, Vancouver


This Stays in the Room

The run of This Stays in the Room includes special late night performances that compliment the PuSh Assembly schedule. A collaborative project, this play recruits from the true life stories of its cast and creative team. It is a bold exploration of what it requires to face ourselves and others as we grapple with shame, forgiveness, vulnerability and hope.

Dates: February 5-7
Time: 10pm
Venue: Waterfront Theatre 1412 Cartwright Street on Granville Island
Tickets available online

Let the dialogue created during the 2015 PuSh Assembly consume you; offer you in-depth access to the PuSh Festival, and create opportunities to engage with artists and their works. Register for your free Assembly Pass (to book into Assembly events), and take advantage of three-weeks of intensive performance arts-based dialogue.