PuSh Youth Assembly 2022 – *Virtual Event

Join us online on Saturday January 29, 2022 10:00am – 3:00pm PST

*Given our current pandemic context, we are pivoting this year’s Youth Assembly to a virtual event.

In partnership with SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs and Solid State Industries

The 2022 PuSh Festival Youth Assembly is a FREE, one-day virtual performing arts conference for youth 16-24. This event will highlight, creative producing, ethnographic storytelling, socially-engaged practice and XR creation. Whether you are pursuing a career in the performing arts or simply curious, this is an opportunity to share ideas, network, and build community with emerging and established arts professionals – and to be part of the PuSh Festival! 


10:00 – 10:15  Land Acknowledgement, Welcome, Community Guidelines

10:15 -11:15 Creative Producing with Rob Thomson, Anthony Gray, Bek Berger

11:15 -12:15 Ethnographic Storytelling with Lisa Marie DiLiberto 

12:15 -12:45 Break

12:45 -1:45 Open Access: Accessibility As Temporary Collectively-Held Space with Carmen Papalia

1:45 – 2:45 XR Creation for Live Performance with Chloe Payne, Alex Dault and Charles Douglas

2:45 – 3:00 Closing words 

Following the Youth Assembly join a free virtual showing of a 20-minute excerpt of DBLSPK: 菠蘿麵包Pineapple Bun by Howard Dai, followed by a post-show discussion – Register HERE

The World Art Centre is wheelchair and scooter accessible. Please note this event is a scent-free space.

Visit Youth Program for details, or contact Youth Program Coordinator Fiorella Pinillos at youth@pushfestival.ca.


10:15 AM -11:15 AM PST

A creative producer makes things happen; they sit between the creative process and the operational process in a project, orchestrating ideas, resources, and people to turn the seed of an idea into reality. Creative producers shape how a work is realized, which often impacts how the work is experienced. They combine attention to detail with an ability to see the big picture and can make connections between the two. More than project managers, they realise the vision of a project and make it possible for a creative team to achieve their best. In this panel discussion, Rob Thomson (Full Circle: First Nations Performance and the Talking Stick Festival), Bek Berger (New Theatre Institute of Latvia and International Festival of Contemporary Performance, Homo Novus), and Anthony Gray (Fuel Theatre) share how they got into producing and what they’ve learned along the way. Moderated by Gabrielle Martin (PuSh Festival).

Rob Thomson 

Robert Thomson is a musician, artistic producer and a proud member of the Haida Nation. Robert is an Artistic Producer at Full Circle: First Nations Performance and the Talking Stick Festival music programmer. In 2019, Robert received the “Emerging Performing Arts Leader” award presented by the Canadian Association for Presenting Arts.

Outside of producing, Robert is currently the electric bass player in the projects Emily Best, Ostwelve, Bitterly Divine, a sound designer/performer/live looper in the experimental musical Morag, You’re a Long Time Deid, and board member for Canadian New Music Network.

Bek Berger

Bek Berger is the Artistic Director of the New Theatre Institute of Latvia and curator of the International Festival of Contemporary Performance, Homo Novus (Riga). Originally from Melbourne, Australia she has worked in festivals across the globe such as American Realness (NYC), Dance Massive (AU), Darwin Festival (AU), Fierce Festival (UK) and Forest Fringe (UK). As a curator she has (co)/initiated projects such as Critical Futures, Convergence, La Discorso and Possible Futures Forum. As a Dramaturg/producer, Bek has collaborated with Choreographer James Batchelor since 2017. Their work HYPERSPACE was selected for Aerowaves19 and has been presented in 17 countries.

Anthony Gray 

Anthony has worked as a cross arts producer and programmer for the last eight years supporting artists to create work and push their practice across a number of schemes that he has delivered in different organisations. As a trained classical singer who has worked in organisations such as the Royal Opera House, Barbican Centre and The Lowry in Salford, his career to date has primarily been about making the sector as accessible to as many unheard voices as possible.

As the Senior Producer (maternity cover) within the Programming department at Fuel Theatre (UK), Anthony leads the strategic approach to artist development and delivered The Lowry’s programme of in-house schemes. These programmes helped to identify artists and companies that fit with the artistic vision of The Lowry and enabled him to commission them to create new work. This post was focused on the delivery of an ambitious and nationally visible model of artist development that sits within the heart of The Lowry’s creative and artistic ambition. Previous to this role Anthony worked as a Producer at the Barbican Centre for their Creative Learning department where his main responsibilities were the strategic overview, management and delivery of two main programmes; Creative Careers and Development of Emerging and Practising Artists.

11:15AM -12:15AM PST

The Tale of a Town: B-SIDE 

~ behind the scenes, beyond the stories, between the shows

This auto-ethnographic performance lecture will link personal anecdotes with theoretical concepts to recount the genesis of The Tale of a Town to tell the story of how a storefront performance evolved to become national multi-year initiative encompassing hundreds of artists, a training program, two storymobiles, a digital storymap

and a tv series.  A project that required a herd of babysitters, countless pit stops and laughable logistics for the two children that were born along the way.  An adventure where doubt followed me at every turn along with the fear I was forgetting things, missing people, moving in the wrong direction… and how the only reason I did not drown was because, at heart, I am a clown.

Lisa Marie DiLiberto

Lisa Marie is the Artistic Director of Theatre Direct, one of the country’s leading companies for young audiences. She is the founding Artistic Director of FIXT POINT, a nationally renowned theatre and media company where she was also co-creator of The Tale of a Town – Canada and Main Street Ontario, an animated series on TVO.  Lisa Marie is a mother of 2 wild children, an advocate for parents in the performing arts, and the founder and Executive Director of Balancing Act, a national artist-caregiver support initiative. Lisa Marie is a graduate of George Brown Theatre School and Ecole Philippe Gaulier in Paris, France. She holds an MA from York University where she is currently pursuing her PhD while also conducting research through PULSE at Concordia University. Lisa Marie’s expertise include site-specific, community engaged, participatory and immersive and devised theatre practices.

12:45PM -1:45PM

In this workshop about creative and justice-oriented accessibility practices, nonvisual artist Carmen Papalia will share how he has addressed the biases and barriers of ableism in the art world since 2009. Participants will be introduced to key ideas such as disability as political identity and how the principles of Disability Justice can serve as a guide for care in the midst of multiple intersecting oppressions.

Carmen Papalia

Carmen is a nonvisual social practice artist with severe chronic and episodic pain. Since 2009 he has used organizing strategies and improvisation to address his access to public space, art institutions and visual culture. As a convener, he establishes welcoming spaces where disabled, sick and chronically ill people can build capacity for care that they lack on account of governmental failure and medical ableism. His work, which takes forms ranging from collaborative performance to public intervention, is a response to the harms of the Medical Model of Disability, a framework that erases disability experience by reinforcing ableist concepts of normalcy.

How VR Dance Parties, Puppets and Video Games ‘Collided’ to Make Canada’s First Remote Virtual Reality Theatre Ensemble Production

1:45PM – 2:45PM

Virtual Reality is an exciting new way for theatre to engage audiences. Making performances within this medium is also easier than you may think! Over the course of six months, Canada’s Single Thread Theatre Company worked with six actors and two directors entirely in Virtual Reality using Oculus Quest headsets to develop Collider VR. Over the course of this development period, the company developed an approach to scenography and performance. This presentation will include a live demonstration of movement and design workflows within the AltSpaceVR world. It will be delivered synchronously over Zoom. Single Thread artists Alex Dault, Chloe Payne, and Charles Douglas will be presenting.

Chloe Payne

Chloe is a physical theatre performer, creator and arts educator based in Vancouver. She is a graduate of École Philippe Gaulier and uses physical theatre, improvisation, devising along with text-based creation styles to produce theatre that is funny, relevant and poignant. She teaches physical theatre for various institutions, including: Rumble Theatre, The University of Toronto, Havergal College, The Storefront Theatre, The County of Simcoe and Sweet Action Theatre Company. Follow Chloe: @payne.chloe

Alex Dault 

Alex is a video game writer, playwright and producer. He currently works on the narrative team at Archiact Interactive in Vancouver, BC. He was Artistic Director of Theatre by the Bay in Barrie, Ontario from 2014-2018. His works have included Collider VR(2021), Caribou Cave (2019), Northern Lights (2018) The Five Points (2017), Turkey Shoot (2016) He is also the founder of PXR. 

Charles Douglas

Charles is an actor, movement director, teacher, and researcher. A graduate of The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, he has worked internationally on major theatre productions, AAA games, award-winning short films, and XR experiences. Recent credits include: Movement Director for Firmware (Short) and Movement Assistant on the world premiere of Mervyn Millar’s The Hatchling (Trigger Stuff). Charles presently teaches at Simon Fraser University and the Vancouver Film School, where he leads performance capture. He is a Fellow of the RSA and a Chevening Alumnus. Visit: www.charlesdouglas.ca 

This will be a free public showing of a 20-minute excerpt of 菠蘿麵包Pineapple Bun,  followed by a discussion with the audience.

4:00PM – 4:50PM

菠蘿麵包Pineapple Bun is inspired by the ceremonial procedure and sheer spectacle of a powerball draw (the gamble our parents make by sending their kids oversea), the clicking of oven timer and smell of the pineapple bun (a popular baked good originally from Hong Kong that contains no pineapple), and the intergenerational urban legend of the copper horse statue in my elementary school playground that runs laps in the middle of the night. It is a tribute. A futile gesture. A testament of blind faith. A celebration of everyday hope.

Howard Dai

Howard  is a Taiwanese actor, writer, and theatre artist. As a multilingual artist, he was most recently a co-creator/performer of 蝦仔 Little Shrimp, a bilingual audio play about intergenerational relationships within Chinese culture (Carousel Theatre).  He is currently writing a new play 菠蘿麵包Pineapple Bun that explores nostalgia and diasporic guilt set in quotidian Taiwan, supported by rice & beans theatre, PuSh Festival, and UK’s Royal Court Theatre.  Some other co-creation/performance credits in 2021 include: Passenger Seat, a theatre-concert (Library Performance Co.); Collider, a VR devising ensemble (Single Thread Theatre). He also went on a digital tour across Canada as a co-creator, performer, and digital programmer of New Societies (re:current theatre). Howard works on the unceded land belonging to the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Skxwú7mesh, and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ  Nations; colonially known as Vancouver. He is currently an Associate Artist with rice & beans theatre, and is a graduate of Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts