The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival – without question a highlight of Vancouver’s cultural calendar – will kick off its 10th anniversary festival in January with a one-night-only, tailor-made performance by the Berlin- and Nottingham-based Gob Squad Arts Collective called Super Night Shot.
The performance – which was at Luminato in Toronto this year – involves members of the collective creating a film immediately before presenting it to the audience. Four of them head out into the city armed with video cameras, which begin rolling simultaneously exactly one hour before the audience arrives (at this case, at the Vancouver Playhouse). Passersby become co-stars, extras and catalysts for the action as one of the collective’s members, the film’s hero, tries to solve problems he or she encounters. (In other cities, this has included everything from marriage counselling to raising money for a homeless woman to buy milk for her baby to helping confused shoppers assemble IKEA shelves.) One hour later, the results are screened for the audience.
Gob Squad will also present Kitchen at PuSh, a “playful” work that “deploys an arsenal of live video and performance practices to celebrate the culture-bending heyday of Andy Warhold’s Factory circa New York City, 1965.”
The PuSh 10th anniversary lineup was revealed at a gala event in Vancouver on Wednesday night.
Other highlights include Lebanese actor/playwright/visual artist Rabih Mroué’s The Pixelated Revolution, which examines the use of camera phones and social media in disseminating firsthand experiences of the Syrian revolution. Mani Soleymanlou’s powerful one-man show One traces his life from Iran to Montreal (via Toronto) – and examines questions of cultural identity. The work was updated last year to include a reference to the Quebec student protests.
Also at PuSh, legendary Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq will create a live score for the 1922 silent pseudo-documentary Nanook of the North. Christopher Morris’s play Night sees the lives of a big-city anthropologist and an Inuk teenager intersect during the 24-hour darkness in Pond Inlet, Nunavut.
In Seeds, a work of docu-theatre starring Eric Peterson, a Saskatchewan farmer fights back against Monsanto, and a four-year landmark court case ensues. Another Canadian play, Asha and Ravi Jain’s A Brimful of Asha recounts the true story of a mother’s attempt to arrange her son’s marriage. And in a work of autobiographical theatre presented by Dublin theatre company Brokentalkers, a mother and son appear onstage together along with their real-life psychotherapist to examine the aftermath of a devastating family death in Have I No Mouth.
New York-based experimental theatre artist Phil Soltanoff will bring two works to PuSh. In An Evening with William Shatner Asterisk, Shatner’s Star Trek character Captain James T. Kirk speaks on the subjects of contemporary art and science. And in LA Party, narration of a short story about a vegan sliding way off the wagon one crazy L.A. night collides with live video in which six performers create a composite human being.
Among the more intimate performance experiences, The Quiet Volume will see participants, two at a time, follow recorded instructions through selected books and rediscover the magic of reading.
In all, the festival will feature more than 150 performances, including 20 main-stage shows and three weeks of performances at Club PuSh. The festival runs Jan. 14 to Feb. 2, 2014.