It's a performing arts fest where Peking opera melds with King Lear, French artists lead participants through the city blindfolded, a Vancouver theatre company follows conflict photographers to far-flung danger zones, and musician Hawksley Workman enters the realm of the gods. You can even check out a "book" from a Human Library.
Known for groundbreaking and genre-bending theatre, dance, music and multimedia from Canada and around the globe, the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival has become a central stop on Vancouver's cultural calendar – and, according to artistic director Norman Armour, this year marks a series of firsts, including a new partnership with Ballet BC, and an appearance by New York Times journalist and novelist David Carr.
"He is an absolutely riveting guy to listen to, really down to earth, and he's got that sense of the everyday, of people wresting with serious things in very prosaic and ordinary ways, but at the same time in very triumphant ways," Mr. Armour says. "He's a fascinating guy."
This year also has a new collaboration between Vancouver artist Stan Douglas and the Turning Point Ensemble, and the fest's first work in Mandarin.
It has Taiwanese theatre legend Wu Hsing-Kuo presenting a solo performance of King Lear that fuses traditions from East and West – Peking opera and Shakespeare – and has won raves around the globe.
"We have a very large film culture for international work in foreign languages, so why not theatre? Peking opera is an extraordinary form in itself, and we also have a strong opera and singing culture in this town, and a great tradition of Shakespeare production," Mr. Armour says. "So it was just a lot of things coming together that seemed right."
The PuSh Festival runs through Feb. 3 (http://pushfestival.ca/)