PuSh Blog

The 2015 PuSh Assembly (Part 3): Community

February 02, 2015

Here we go: the home stretch of the 2015 PuSh Festival!

Within our office walls, we lovingly describe the experience of the Festival as a series of weddings celebrated night-after-night. Some are of the more casual variety, barefoot in the park; while others are altogether more elaborate affairs. This coming week of the PuSh Assembly is of the latter: a multi-day extravaganza involving guests from all over the world.

Tim Etchells, Joyce Rosario, Norman Armour, 2014 PuSh Festival
Photo: Liesbeth Bernaerts

Weddings are a fitting comparison for the kind of community we want to build around the Festival – celebratory, convivial, centred on the relationship between the performances we present and the artists who create them. It’s a time to re-connect and make new connections among peers in the contemporary arts scene.

The final week of the PuSh Festival features the PuSh Assembly’s ‘visiting presenters week’, and amongst our international guests is a French delegation supported by the French Consulate, Institut Français and ONDA (Office national de diffusion artistique / French office for contemporary performing arts circulation). ONDA organizes scouting trips to encourage French presenters to discover the artistic realities of other countries or continents and to support the presentation of foreign artists in their programming. We are very honoured that ONDA has chosen the PuSh Festival as a window to the Canadian scene!


Winners and Losers, Jamie Long, Marcus Yousseff, 2013 PuSh Festival
Photo: Simon Hayter

We’ll also see some familiar faces from previous editions of the PuSh Assembly, folks who have visited Vancouver in the past and have since programmed Canadian work beyond the lower-mainland:

  • Raphael Martin from Soho Rep in NYC most recently presented Theatre Replacement and Neworld’s production of Winners and Losers (PuSh 2013) this January.
  • Erin Doughton and Angela Mattox from Portland’s PICA and T:BA Festival respectively, just presented Tanya Tagaq in their most recent edition of their festival.
Kris Nelson headshot
Kris Nelson Photo: Jim Verburg

It’s also going to be a homecoming too, as we welcome back:

  • Sherrie Johnson, who was the PuSh Festival’s Senior Curator from 2008-12. She returns as a producer at Canadian Stage and to lead our Touring Intensive workshop.
  • Kris Nelson, now director at Tiger Dublin Fringe, was my PushOFF collaborator from 2011-13. He held my post at PuSh as Associate Curator and Curatorial Advisor for several years, and founded Antonym. Kris returns as a visiting presenter.

One of my favourite editions of the PuSh Assembly was the Open Space format in 2008, facilitated by Phelim McDermott from UK’s Improbable Theatre. There hasn’t been an Open Space since, but I still recall key tenets: whoever comes is the right people; wherever it is, it’s the right place; whatever happens is the only thing that could have been, be prepared to be surprised!

Above are just examples of the kinds of connections to be made at the PuSh Assembly during visiting presenters week. Think of the potential in the room at any Assembly event, next week! The final week of the Festival will offer formal and informal opportunities to meet with local and international artists, producers and presenters. Meeting new people is fun, but it can be intimidating – so think of it as wedding, and remember that everyone’s there to have a good time, and celebrate future possibilities.

Joyce Rosario
Associate Curator

Don’t miss the final week of the 2015 PuSh Assembly! Book Assembly events on your free PuSh Assembly Pass, and network to grow your  performing arts community.