Highlights from the first PuSh Youth Academy
January 30, 2014
This year PuSh launched its first fully-rounded youth program; offering the PuSh Youth Passport to youth 16-24 years old, to enable their access to select PuSh shows for only $5; and the return of the Young Ambassadors program. But beyond that, I wanted to further engage youth who are just starting to initiate their exploration of the arts (unlike the Young Ambassadors), so we started the PuSh Academy. The PuSh Academy is designed for a select group of performing arts-minded youth representing various interests, including creative writing, theatre, music, and curation. Participants attend various performances to discuss and engage with the PuSh programming in greater depth, as well as meet special guests who facilitate conversations about working in the arts and with the Festival.
Our variety of industry guests started with PuSh Festival Associate Curator, Joyce Rosario, who spoke to the PuSh Academy about her role as a curator in a performing arts festival. We learned of the language surrounding performance and how the Festival itself comes together each year. We then welcomed Georgia Straight Theatre Critic, Colin Thomas, to talk about playwriting, being a critique , and different forms of theatre. Both sessions really helped shape the participating youth’s understanding of performance and got us in the mood for three intense weeks of shows!
The first two weeks of the Festival have been incredibly busy: the PuSh Academy joined me at the 10th Anniversary Gala Performance of Gob Squad’s Super Night Shot at the Vancouver Playhouse which painted a clear picture of the kind of cross-disciplinary work they could expect from PuSh over the coming weeks. Later we took in Coastal Sounds at Club PuSh which we all agreed fed our souls and spirits – choral singing just gets in the bones. On their own accord Academy members also took in The Pixelated Revolution and Gob Squad’s Kitchen, and some even showed up at Human Library, giving us a lot of different angles to talk about performance.
In week two we gathered at SFU Woodward’s for The Dragonfly of Chicoutimi. It left us all in a stunned silence – a tour de force work. We were able to hear about the piece’s inner workings through a great talkback with facilitator/translator/overall amazing guy Gilles Poulin-Denis. When we gathered this past Monday for our discussion/check-in over some nachos, we still could not stop raving about the production – its precision, its dreamstate, its stage magic. Once again Academy members took in a number of shows on their own including Seeds. And finally in the last week of the 2014 PuSh Festival we’ll be catching One at The Cultch and possibly even Inheritor Album.
Though the Festival comes to a close this weekend, our special guest discussions will continue beyond the Festival, with notable speakers such as Veda Hille, Club PuSh curator and all-around amazingly talented creator, joining us (amongst others). Cross-pollination is happening. PuSh Academy members will continue to attend shows together, and support local work (several PuSh Academy members have performances coming up in Spring, including two of mine this March), and we will continue this artistic conversation long past the three magical PuSh weeks.