PuSh Blog

The Idiot- Curatorial Statement

November 17, 2011

By Norman Armour, Executive Director, 
PuSh International Performing Arts Festival

The PuSh Festival has had several watershed moments throughout its brief history. These have been times in the Festival’s life when something defining occurred, something that changed how PuSh was viewed by people within and without the organization. These were points along the grid of history when the outer edge of certain limits was shifted. Last year’s La Marea (The Tide) in the streets of Gastown was such a moment. The Electric Company Theatre’s collaboration with Theatre at UBC on Studies in Motion was also such a moment. Another one was the premiere of a local production back in 2005, the very year when PuSh became a stand-alone organization, moving on from its founding organizations Rumble Productions and Touchstone Theatre. The Roundhouse Arts and Recreation Centre played host to an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment that was simply astounding, breathtaking, remarkable, stunning, jaw dropping—and a host of other well-worn clichés.

There was the sheer scale and vastness of the work’s theatrical vision. There was the large acting ensemble cast with members from the Downtown Eastside—all of them artists in their own right—teamed up with regulars from the ranks of Vancouver’s professional acting pool. There were the words—often spoken almost as song with a haunting live score, on a stage of the barest scenic elements and brilliantly illuminated. And yet, what struck me was the tender humour, the wit and the assuredness with which the production cradled the novel’s pained themes and world weary sensibility. I remember to this day, with absolute clarity, the final image of Raskolnikov, the play’s protagonist, being swallowed up by the crowd and the audience feeling that they had participated in something on a grand scale that they might never encounter again.

For this year’s staging of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, they are back at it again. Once again Neworld Theatre is working with Vancouver Moving Theatre. Once again, director and adapter James Fagan Tait is collaborating with composer and musical director Joelysa Pankanea. Once again, a group of Vancouver’s finest designers join a group of actors from diverse communities and neighborhoods being brought together for what promises to be another watershed moment.

The Idiot is as big as it gets. This is big theatre. This is theatre that tackles big questions. This is theatre that fills the stage. It breathes. It heaves. It’s symphonic. It’s monumental. And it’s completely human. This is work that deserves to be on any stage, anywhere in the world. The PuSh Festival is fortunate to be a commissioner. Theatre at UBC is fortunate to have it students involved. All of us are fortunate to have the chance to witness its premiere. Please, come join the crowd and be one of the fortunate.