Tag Archive: Push Festival

10 PuSh Memories for 10 Years of PuSh

I’m looking forward to attending the PuSh Festival’s 10th anniversary gala opening tonight, but in my excitement this week I’ve spent a lot of time thinking back on my history with the festival as a patron, volunteer, donor and artist.  I wanted (originally) to compile a “top 10″ list, but realized that I couldn’t rank my memories of the festival because my experiences – like the festival itself – are multi-disciplined and genre-bending.

  • I first connected with the festival in 2007 as a volunteer. I was in my final semester of university and not taking a lot of credits and I knew I wanted to (but couldn’t afford to) see the shows that PuSh was advertising. So I signed up as a volunteer and drove myself in from Langley something like six times to sit outside the art gallery where there was an installation or to see shows. But I got really excited about what PuSh was doing, and have been involved in some way every year since.
  • Sitting in the library courtyard during small metal objects in 2008 and watching the general public’s reaction to a bank of people watching day-to-day life through a pair of headphones.
  • The addition of Club PuSh in 2009. That year all of my volunteer shifts were at the club and I remember falling in love with the 20-minute musicals programme which, of course, went on to give birth to Do You Want What I Have Got: A Craigslist Cantata but the image of Andrew McNee in Distant Second: A Steve Fonyo Story still sticks in my head sometimes.
  • Taylor Mac’s opening show at Club PuSh.
  • Attending The Show Must Go On  in 2010 when one of my friends stood up in the audience and started dancing along with the cast.
  • Walking through gas town in 2011 as La Marea was happening. I went the first night and saw all the pieces in one order. And then I went back after each other show I saw that week to walk through it from other angles, partly because I enjoyed the piece so much and partly because the experience of having that many people on a car blocked street enjoying a show was so exciting. I still have the red PuSh festival umbrella I was given during that event.
  • Attending Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner and The Farewell Speach in 2012 after so strongly disliking the first Cheltfish show I had seen (in 2009 I think?) and then falling in love with this one.
  • Arriving with the cast of Ride the Cyclone at the hotel in 2013 and being handed a giant welcome package by the concierge (a volunteer role I filled many years) complete with a handwritten note of welcome and enough food to have a party.
  • Participating in A Western at Club PuSh in 2013. Shooting the bad guys and watching audience members die.
  • Finding myself in a financial position to make a donation of more than $20 and getting to take ownership of the festival in yet another way.

Really though, my favourite thing about the PuSh festival is that every year I fall in love with some shows and hate some shows and can’t wait to hear from the people whose opinions are so opposite mine over a glass of wine at the end of the night. Because that’s what PuSh is here for: to push our boundaries and keep us coming back for more.

What have been your favourite & least favourite PuSh festival shows over the years?

2013: Shows I Saw

It’s that time again – time for the official list of all the shows I saw over the past year. I had to wait until today as I had one last show to see yesterday and I wouldn’t want to miss them from the overall list.

The numbers, you’ll notice, are down this year. And not just by a little bit. It’s over half fewer than last year. And I’m actually really happy about that. If you recall, I’ve suggested that I need to spend less time in the theatre so that I don’t burn out on it, and I think this year helped with it.

Also of note: 25/80 shows I saw were at a Fringe Festival in either Vancouver or Toronto.  That’s huge!  Thank you Fringe’s of Canada for making affordable opportunities for great talent to visit our cities.

2013 Shows Seen List

1. CÉDRIC ANDRIEUX (Jérôme Bel at the PuSh Festival)
2. Winning (Cerca Irish Theater Festival, Edmonton)
3. The Kite Runner (Theatre Calgary/Citadel Theatre)
4. Romeo & Juliet (National Ballet of Canada)
5. Ching Chong Chinaman (Fu-Gen)
6. The Seagull (Upstart Theatre)
7. Medieval Times Toronto
8. My Best Friend’s Boyfriend (New Ideas Festival)
9. Bashir Lazhar (Theatre Projects Manitoba)
10. Daddy Long Legs (Manitoba Theatre Centre)
11. Sexy Laundry (Persephone Theatre)
12. Nanaimo Burlesque
13. Tea: Mirror of Soul (Vancouver Opera)
14. El Jinete (Puente Theatre)
15. Vincent Transitional (Stacy Sherlock at rEvolver)
16. Craigslist Cantata (Arts Club)
17. Sea of Green (at rEvolver)
18. How to Write a New Book for the Bible (PT)
19. Chernobyl: the Opera
20. Dissolve (Shameless Hussy Productions)
21. Kayak (Alley Theatre at rEvolver)
22. Brief Encounters Revisited (at rEvolver)
23. Mump and Smoot in “Something” (Mump & Smoot at The Cultch)
24. Obstructions: Don’t Do Dick (Rumble)
25. You Are Very Star (The Electric Company)
26. Hamlet (Bard on the Beach)
27. Passion Play (Convergence/Outside the March/Sheep No Wool)
28. Genesis & Other Stories (Aim for the Tangent at FringeTo)
29. Polly Polly (Jessica Moss at FringeTo)
30. We Are the Bomb (Theatre Brouhaha at FringeTo)
31. Big Metal Box (at FringeTo)
32. Bad Guys Finish First (at FringeTo)
33. The Truth About Comets (at FringeTo)
34. Jacquieries
35. The Light in the Piazza (Shaw Festival)
36. Merry Wives of Windsor (A Company of Fools)
37. Waiting for Godot (Stratford)
38. Tommy (Stratford)
39. How to Disappear Completely (Elbow Theatre)
40. Seven Important Things (at SummerWorks)
41. The End is Pie (at VideoFag)
42. Miss Shakespeare (MusicalWorks in Concert)
43. Avenue Q (Arts Club Theatre)
44. Hockey Night at the puck & Pickle Pub (Monster Theatre)
45. Dear Life (at VanFringe)
46. Radio: 30 (at VanFringe)
47. My Hole Life (at VanFringe)
48. This is not a Porno (at VanFringe)
49. Meanwhile (at VanFringe)
50. The Troll and the Three Lesbians Gruff (at VanFringe)
51. The Adversary (Andrew Bailey at VanFringe)
52. Ca.Sandbar (at VanFringe)
53. Little Pussy (John Grady at VanFringe)
54. Dirk Darrow: NCSSI (at VanFringe)
55. Threads (at VanFringe)
56. Unpossible (Travis Bernhardt at VanFringe)
57. Kitt & Jane (SNAFU at VanFringe)
58. This is my Room (at VanFringe)
59. Strapless (at VanFringe)
60. Butt Kapinski (at VanFringe)
61. Innocent When You Dream (at VanFringe)
62. Searching for Dick (Tara Travis at VanFringe)
63. 6 Guitars (at VanFringe)
64. The Foreigner (Pacific Theatre)
65. Armstrong’s War (Arts Club)
66. Obstructions: A Certain Kind of Darkness (Theatre Replacement)
67. Of Mice & Men (Hardline Productions)
68. Bulletins from Immortality (Margie Gillis Dance at The Cultch)
69. Communion (Ruby Slippers at PT)
70. Tosca (Vancouver Opera)
71. The Rap Guide to Evolution (at The Cultch)
72. People Like Us (Firehall)
73. Relatively Speaking (Western Gold)
74. The God that Comes (2b Theatre at The Cultch)
75. Cool Beans (Solo Collective)
76. It’s Snowing on Salt Spring (Arts Club Theatre Company)
77. The Daisy Theatre (Ronnie Burkett at The Cultch)
78. Jack & The Bean Stalk: East Van Panto (Theatre Replacement/The Cultch)
79. Little Brother, Little Sister (Caravan Farm Theatre)
80. Uncle Vanya (Blackbird Theatre)

2012 in Review: Shows I Saw

For the last four years I’ve been keeping track of what I see, and each year the number has been growing. This year I saw a staggering 174 different productions (some of them more than once) spanning the performance art disciplines in 10 cities and five countries. I saw a high school production and a West End Musical. I went to the Vancouver Fringe and the Paris National Opera. I saw magicians, musicals, and modern dance; ballet, busking, and butoh; Shakespeare, site-specific, and SummerWorks.

As with every year there are shows I regret missing, but there are way less this year. There were things I wanted to see in London that I didn’t make it to. I couldn’t see every show at PuSh. I missed Terminus at SummerWorks.But overall, I saw more great theatre this year. Of course, I also walked out of two shows this year (something I rarely do) and wanted to walk out of at least three others that I couldn’t walk out of due to political reasons or logistics.

Here they are, the 174 shows I saw in 2012 in something close to chronological order:

  1. Waiting for Godot (Blackbird Theatre at the Cultch)
  2. Never Swim Alone (TWU)
  3. All The Way Home (Electric Company)
  4. Red (Vancouver Playhouse)
  5. The Idiot (Neworld/UBC at PuSh)
  6. Amarillo (Teatro Linea de Sombra at PuSh)
  7. Glory Days (The Boys Upstairs Equity Co-op)
  8. Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner (Chelfitsch Theater at PuSh)
  9. Gunmetal Blues (Playhouse)
  10. El Pasado un animal grotesco (Grupo Marea at PuSh)
  11. Craigslist Cantata (Arts Club Theatre at PuSh)
  12. Almighty Voice and his Wife (Native Earth Performing Arts/Touchstone Theatre at PuSh)
  13. Calendar Girls (Arts Club)
  14. No. 2 (Silo Theatre at PuSh)
  15. Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (Pacific Theatre)
  16. Bride on Credit (TWU)
  17. Tempting Providence (Gateway Theatre)
  18. Problem Child & The End of Civilization (Theatre at UBC)
  19. I Love You Because (Intimate Productions)
  20. Intimate Apparel (Arts Club Theatre)
  21. The Silicone Diaries (Nina Arsenault at The Cultch)
  22. Hunchback (Catalyst Theatre at The Vancouver Playhouse)
  23. All Shook Up (Chemainus Theatre Festival & Gateway Co-pro)
  24. Ignorance (Old Trout Puppet WorkShop at The Cultch)
  25. Doubt (Pacific Theatre)
  26. Goodness (Volcano theatre at the Firehall)
  27. King Lear (Honest Fishmongers)
  28. Kismet 1 to 100 (The Chop at Gateway)
  29. A Vessel of Ruins (Taketeru Kudo – Tokyo)
  30. Barber of Seville (Vancouver Opera)
  31. Importance of Being Earnest (Arts Club)
  32. Importance of Being Earnest (Gallery 7)
  33. Flop (Delinquent Theatre)
  34. Snooker (Camillo the Magician)
  35. Fresco (BellaLuna Productions)
  36. The Bombitty of Errors (20-Something)
  37. Scar Tissue (Arts Club)
  38. Henry & Alice: Into the Wild (Arts Club)
  39. EndGame (Main Street Theatre)
  40. A Last Resort (Rough House Productions)
  41. Trial by Jury (VSO & Vancouver Opera Ensemble)
  42. Aida (Vancouver Opera)
  43. The Exquisite Hour (Relephant Theatre)
  44. 100 Saints You Should Know (Pacific Theatre)
  45. Blue Box (Neworld Theatre)
  46. Bliss (Ballet BC)
  47. High Society (Arts Club)
  48. Godspell (Christ Church Cathedral)
  49. Obstructions – Boca Del Lupo
  50. Shelter from the Storm (Touchstone/Firehall)
  51. Fantasticks (Gallery 7)
  52. MacBeth (Bard on the Beach)
  53. Wolf at the Door (Pacific Theatre)
  54. Not Everything You Are (Stones Throw)
  55. Obstructions – Felix Culpa
  56. UnBoxed (Scarlet Satin)
  57. Reasons to be Pretty (Matchbox Theatre)
  58. The Alchemist
  59. Xanadu (Arts Club)
  60. Titanic (TUTS)
  61. The Music Man (TUTS)
  62. King John (Bard on the Beach)
  63. Merry Wives of Windsor (Bard on the Beach)
  64. Alter Boyz (Arts Club)
  65. Armed (Xua Xua)
  66. Mary Poppins (Broadway Across Canada)
  67. Stationary (Delinquent Theatre at Neanderthal)
  68. Coercion (Hardline at Neanderthal)
  69. God is a Scottish Drag Queen (Delcon Entertainment.at Neanderthal)
  70. The List (Bouchewhacked! at Neanderthal)
  71. Tyumen, Then (Groundwater Productions at Neanderthal)
  72. House of X (Wild Excursions at Neanderthal)
  73. The Taming of the Shrew (Bard on the Beach)
  74. Obstructions – Beautiful Karrats (Radix)
  75. Sunday Service (Neanderthal)
  76. Exhibit A (411 Dramaturgy at Neanderthal)
  77. The Marraige of Figaro (Summer Opera Lyric Theatre)
  78. My Pregnant Brother (Freestanding Productions at SummerWorks)
  79. France or the Niquab (Old Pirate at SummerWorks)
  80. Haunted (The Haunted Group at SummerWorks)
  81. Artaud: un Portrait en Decomposition (TheatreRUN at SummerWorks))
  82. Medicine Boy (Native Earth at SummerWorks)
  83. Purge (Brian Lobel at SummerWorks)
  84. One/Un (Orange Noyée at SummerWorks)
  85. The God that Comes (2b Theatre at SummerWorks)
  86. When it Rains (2b Theatre at SummerWorks)
  87. Petrichor (Kitchenband at SummerWorks)
  88. Barrel Crank (Suitcase in Point at SummerWorks)
  89. Extinction Song (Voodoo Theatre at SummerWorks)
  90. Dutchman (lemonTree Creations)
  91. Wondermart (Rotozaza at SummerWorks)
  92. Marine Life (Theatre Crisis and Aluna Theatre at SummerWorks)
  93. Captain Ron’s Ship of Friendship/Atomic Vaudeville Cabaret (Atomic Vaudeville at SummerWorks)
  94. The Frenzy of Queen Maeve  (Live Lobster Theatre at SummerWorks)
  95. Breath in Between (Breath Collective in Association with Crow’s Theatre at SummerWorks)
  96. 40 Days and 40 Nights (Nina Arsenault at Summerworks)
  97. Your Side, My Side and the Truth (Compass and Trying Science Co-Production at SummerWorks)
  98. Peachy Coochy (Summerworks)
  99. We Will WeeTube (An Experiment with Theatre Replacement’s WeeTube at SummerWorks)
  100. Iceland (The Iceland Collective at Summerworks)
  101. Speed the Plow (SoulPepper)
  102. Motor Vehicle Sundown (Andy Field at SummerWorks)
  103. Midsummer Night’s Dream (CanStage)
  104. Mojo (ItsaZoo)
  105. Eurosmash! (Die Rotten Punkte at The Cultch)
  106. My Marvellous Melcher Machine (James Melcher)
  107. Pirates? (Quimera Collective)
  108. Just Bust a Move (Nathaniel Roy)
  109. Home Free (Staircase XI)
  110. Riverview High: The Musical (Entrance Theatre)
  111. In the Time of the Dream Warrior (Golgonooza)
  112. The 1812 Event (Just Push Play)
  113. Romance (Queer Arts Society)
  114. Adult Entertainment (Squidamisu Theatre)
  115. ReLapse (And the Other Leg)
  116. Miss Cosmos (Bright Young Theatre)
  117. Felony (Dreams Beyond 30)
  118. First Day Back (10 Foot Pole)
  119. Alpha (Compassionate Bone)
  120. Three More Sleepless Nights (o.o.o.o.)
  121. Weaksauce (Sam Mullins)
  122. You Are Here (Allentina Francesca)
  123. Hip Hop Shakespeare Live Music Videos (411 Dramaturgy)
  124. Tales Told by Idiots (Not The Mermaid)
  125. Lost in Twine (Looking for 143 Productions)
  126. Underbelly (Jayson MacDonald)
  127. Zanna, Don’t (Awkward Stage)
  128. Psychopomp (Psyche Theatre)
  129. Smudge (Two Wrongs That Write)
  130. God is a Scottish Drag Queen (Delcon Entertainment)
  131. Peter ‘n’ Chris Explore Their Bodies (Peter ‘n’ Chris)
  132. Loon (Wonderheads)
  133. Gadfly (Theatre of the Beat)
  134. Guernica (Hidden Harlequin Theatre)
  135. Fishbowl (Mark Shyzer)
  136. How to Love (Idea Factory Entertainment)
  137. Welcome to my Wake (INC – Ingrid Nilson Collective)
  138. Little Lady (Sandrine Lanford)
  139. The Histories AKA Will Shakespeare’s ImproMusical (GrinkeInk)
  140. Riot (Carson Graham Secondary)
  141. The Missing Piece (Theresa Hamilton)
  142. The Best, Man (Urban Rogues)
  143. Risk Everything (Squidamisu Theatre)
  144. No Tweed to Tight (Ryan Gladstone)
  145. Vincent (Spitfire Productions)
  146. Bookworm (Corin Raymond)
  147. Blind Date (Rebecca Northan at the Cultch)
  148. Post Secret: The Play (TJ Dawe, Kahlil Ashanti & Frank Warren)
  149. The Spitfire Grill (Midnight Theatre Collective at Pacific Theatre)
  150. Capslock: The Musical (Pipedream Productions)
  151. Master Class (Arts Club)
  152. White Rabbit, Red Rabbit (Elbow Theatre at The Cultch)
  153. A Beautiful View (Ruby Slippers)
  154. Zombie Syndrome (Virtual Stage)
  155. The Unplugging (Arts Club)
  156. Initiation Trilogy (Electric Company/Boca del Lupo/Writers Fest)
  157. Debts (ItsaZoo)
  158. La Boheme (Vancouver Opera)
  159. Dancing at Lughnassa (Capilano University)
  160. Chelsea Hotel (Firehall)
  161. Cozy Catastrophe (theatre Melee with Rumble and the Cultch)
  162. Gold Mountain (Les Deux Mondes & unity theatre at The Cultch)
  163. Dickens’ Women (Miriam Margoyles at The Cultch)
  164. Go Back for Murder (SAMC Theatre @TWU)
  165. Tomb with a View (Genus/Up in the Air)
  166. Far Side of the Moon (Ex Machina @ SFU)
  167. Matilda the Musical (Royal Shakespeare Company in the Westend)
  168. Twelfth Night (The Globe)
  169. NSFW (Royal Court)
  170. The Effect (National Theatre)
  171. Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Zurich Opera House)
  172. Jultrad-i-tion (Gotenburg Opera)
  173. Don Quixote (Ballet of the National Opera of Paris)
  174. Le Retour (Odeon Theatre of Europe)
  175. La Cenerentola (National Opera of Paris)

PuSh is Back!

Photo from El Pasado. Photo by Almudena Crespo. Used with permission.

In the midst of Vancouver’s grey, rainy “winter” I’m fairly certain that the three weeks the PuSh Festival is in town are three of my favourite weeks of the year.  As artists from all disciplines arrive in Vancouver from all over the world, I get ready to see some of the best theatre/dance/music/film/performance art that I will see all year. This year the festival has 16 main offerings plust Club PuSh is back with over 15 different acts between Jan 17 – Feb 4.

Two of the shows on my “best of” list for 2011 were from PuSh and I’ve got a list going of shows I’m looking forward to this year. Ready?

Shows I am excited about at PuSh 2012:

1.  Do You Want What I Have Got – A Craigslist Cantata. 

When the 20-minute version of this show debuted at Club PuSh in 2009, I referred to it as “one of the funnest nights of theatre I’ve had in a while” and then included the show on my top 10 for the year. With the kick ass team of Bill Richardson and Veda Hille and a promise of songs entitled “Six Toes in Langley”, “Free Man’s Toupee” and “You Dropped Your Bible” I can’t imagine the show being anything less than hilarious.

2. El Pasado Es Un Animal Grotesco (The past is a grotesque animal) – Mariano Penscotti

This is the artist behind 2011′s La Marea (One of my best of 2011), is back, but this time the show is inside a theatre and will be performed entirely in Spanish with English surtitles.  The set? A slowly spinning turntable. Bonus: Today you can buy a groupon that will get you half price tickets to El Pasado Es Un Animal Grotesco (or two other shows in the festival).

 

2011 in Review: Theatrical Excellence

I’m not a critic or reviewer.  That has never been my goal in writing this blog. If you’re looking for some of the critics 2011 lists, I’ve found the one for The Georgia Straight, The Globe and Mail, Gay Vancouver and The Vancouver Courier.

Each year I wonder how to recognize the truly excellent work I see each year. I’ve tried a top ten list (2009). I’ve tried a top six list (2010). Neither felt quite right for what I wanted to say. So now I try again. Another year. Another format. Let’s see if I can’t take some inspiration for the annual “Best of Vancouver” and make my own “Best of Vancouver Theatre” list.

The cast of Ride the Cyclone. Photo from the official Ride the Cyclone blog

Best Show that Everyone Agrees is the BestRide the Cyclone (Atomic Vaudeville)
I am a stingy standing ovation giver, but this show had me on my feet before the curtain call lights even came up. Why is this little show from Victoria topping critics list across the country? Biting humor. Vivid characters. Song and dance numbers so varied in tone/style/content that you never know where you’ll be next. The best “turn your cell phones off” speech ever. EVER. A cast that takes the quirky and makes it both heart-breaking and hilarious, all the while singing and dancing. The show uses low-tech/budget tricks to great result and the indie feel is definitely part of its charm. I went into this show having been told that it was fantastic, but I remember saying to myself, “Okay.  Now you know it might not be everything you’ve been told it is.  Let go of your expectations.”  And the best part was that it exceeded every one of those expectations.

The Best “Theatrical Experience” - La Marea (Boca del Lupo with Mariano Pensotti for the PuSh Festival)
Walking into the zero-block of water street for that week in January was like nothing else I have experienced in going to the theatre. Both ends of the busy street closed down. People everywhere. Giant flood lights light the street and then like the flip of a breaker the flood lights go out and music begins, theatre lights pop on to unexpected places, and projected surtitles appear. Each of the nine scenes were only 10 minutes long, but you had to walk the whole block to see them, and depending which end of the street you started at you had a different experience.  I’m sure it was a logistical challenge (kudos to the stage management/production management team for pulling it off!) but the effect was so stunning I went back down to the block two more nights just to watch people interact with the piece. My favourite thing was seeing people who had no idea that their favourite restaurant’s patio was now playing home to a play and that by eating there they had inadvertently become extras. Or people who just happened to be out walking in the Gastown neighbourhood asking a volunteer what exactly was going on and deciding to stay and see what all the fuss was. Most of the nights the block was wall-to-wall people and when it threatened to rain they were ready – volunteers were standing by handing out branded umbrellas. Free. Outdoors. Huge. La Marea redefined the possibilities for me.

Honorable Mention – Party This Weekend (The House Party Collective) – Was it a show or a house party? It was really a bit of both. With four intertwining story lines, a house and its yard for the set, and lots of audience interaction it was a fantastic experience!

Circa. Image provided.

Best Show I Still Can’t Categorize - Circa (Circa at PuSh Festival)
This wasn’t my first time seeing Circa perform as a part of the PuSh festival, but as always they defy being easily labelled.  The Australian company defines themselves as “circus that moves the heart and soul” but their performance lends itself to comparisons to both theatre and dance.  No matter what you call it though,  it elicited an audible response from myself and from others in the audience as the performers flung themselves through the air at each other or moved a single muscle so specifically that it could be noticed from the back of the theatre. It was an absolutely stunning night.

Honorable Mention – Dress Me Up In Your Love – Theatre Replacement – Part story-telling, part fashion show, part music, I found this show at times hilarious, at times moving and I never need to see Andrew McNee in a tight dress again.

The Best Piece of Dance for Sitting on the Edge of Your Seat - Emergence (Crystal Pite for the National Ballet of Canada’s 60th Anniversary Tour)
My dance knowledge is really very limited, but I take whatever opportunity I can to attend dance. Crystal Pite’s Emergence, the final of four pieces on the National Ballet of Canada’s 60th Anniversary Tour had me on the edge of my seat the moment it started. Intricate. Precise. Stunning. It was one of those pieces where I didn’t want to blink because I was afraid that I would miss something amazing.

Honorable Mention – Moth (Donald Sales for Ballet BC‘s 25th Anniversary) – A bare bulb dangling on stage. Sign Language and Silent Screams. This ballet exploration of grief was breath-taking.

Ingrid Hansen acting with Celery. Photo by Al Smith.

Best of the Fringe Fest - Little Orange Man (Snafu Dance Theatre)
The Fringe is a funny festival in the sense that it really is a free for all.  Anyone can do a show. You can end up seeing ANYTHING on stage. But when Ingrid walked on stage and began using a piece of bread to tell us a story, I wasn’t prepared for how touching this show would be.  Yes, it had celery sticks as characters and involved Ingrid climbing out of a giant suitcase.  It had some of the funnest low-tech magic that I’ve seen on stage in a while, and its not every day that you watch an audience hold tiny shoes in the air and conjure up small children.  The show left me feeling wistful for childhood and delighted to see what Ingrid will think up next.

Honorable Mention – Peter ‘n’ Chris and the Mystery of the Hungry Heart Hotel (Peter ‘n’ Chris) – C’mon….they have flashy jackets, can do a slow motion car crash, and are funny.  What more do you need from your Fringe experience?

Best Show for An Audience of 15 or Less - Tape (Alley Theatre)
Crammed into a small room at the Waldorf Hotel with 11 other audience members plus this cast of three, being in the room as they fought was an exhilarating experience.  It’s what site-specific theatre does when at it’s best – puts you right there with the characters, knowing that there is no other place in which this story would have as much impact.

Honorable Mention – Whale – Kyle Jespersen – In the intimate Anderson Street Space, writer and performer Kyle Jespersen took us door-to-door selling Bibles and waiting for a sign.  I believe it was a show in progress and the note I wrote to myself that night after the show was “I can’t wait to see what this turns into.”

Rumble Productions' Community Dinner. Photo provided.

Best ReInvention of Genre - Community Dinner (Rumble Productions with Boca del LupoElectric Company TheatreNeworld Theatre & MOSAIC)
This was not like any “dinner theatre” you have ever been to before, I would guarantee it. The four companies who share the Progress Lab space teamed up with MOSAIC – an organization that seeks to empower recent immigrants – and for three months prior to the show teams comprised of professional actors and newcomers to Canada met up, learned how to prepare various ethnic recipes, and created a short piece of theatre connected to the recipe.  Each of the four pieces was as diverse as the companies they came from, and at the end of the night the cast and audience sat down to a meal of the food that had been prepared in front of them.

Honorable Mention – Visions of Vancouver – Pi Theatre - Performed for a live audience these radio plays were also recorded for FREE release as podcasts. With a simple staging and at times with script in hand, these four actors performed in a way that worked live and that works in an audio-only medium.

Best Show to Make Me Want New Toys - Wicked (Broadway Across Canada)
I don’t know how, as a person who cares about the technical side of theatre at all, it is possible to see a show like Wicked and NOT want to play with all their toys. The choreography of the set pieces alone was stunning and the costumes were so intricate. The sheer calibre and artistry of all involved made it such a visual feast to go along with such a well loved musical. The whole experience was so lovely.  I enjoy seeing the big broadway shows when they come to town, but this one topped many of them for being so on the ball technically.

Honorable Mention – Penny Plain – Ronnie Burkett at the Cultch – With 24 custom made marionnettes, I don’t think you can see one of Ronnie’s shows and not want to play with them, or at the very least examine the intricate strings that allow the performer to make even a pinky finger move.

Best Show to Give Multiple Standing Ovations – Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (Glass City Theatre)
As someone who rarely gives a standing ovation, it is even more rare for me to do so more than once for the same production.  Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train got two or three from me during its three week run. It was a heart-breaking ride that moved me over and over again as I saw it and that continues to challenge my opinions.

 

Other Year In Review Posts:
Hard Work
What I Saw 

 

2011 in Review: Shows I Saw

Last year when I wrote about all the shows I had seen, I set forth a two part goal.  I wanted to achieve balance in my hobbies and I wanted to end the year with no regrets in regards to my theatre viewing.

Now here we are at the end of the year and even though I saw more shows than ever I’d say I did do better in finding balance.  Part of the reason that makes sense is that instead of stage managing all year I spent 5 months working for the Vancouver Fringe.  For the most part it was a day job which left my evenings free to see some awesome theatre.

But I do have a handful of shows that I regret not seeing.  I missed the work of the guys at Main Street Theatre for the second year in a row.  I missed Death of a Salesman at the Playhouse. I didn’t go see Ride the Cyclone more than once. I didn’t see Wonderheads during the Fringe (but lucky for me they won an award and will be at the Cultch next year!). I missed Wicked Shorts. 

For the first time in a couple of years, my list is entirely West Coast – I didn’t make it out to Edmonton or Toronto this year, which I regret, but I’m looking forward to more travel in the coming year – including my first ever trip to Europe!

Here they are – the 155 performances I attended in 2011, in something close to chronological order.

La Marea at the PuSh Festival. Photo by Flickr user jmv

  1. Wee Tube (Theatre Replacement)
  2. La Marea (Boca Del Lupo/PuSh Festival/Mariano Pensotti)
  3. The Pavillion (Osimous Theatre/Firehall Theatre)
  4. Iqualit (Berlin/PuSh Festival)
  5. Circa (Circa/UBC/PuSh Festival)
  6. 100% Vancouver (PuSh Festival/Rimini Protokoll/Theatre Replacement)
  7. Tuesdays With Morrie (Gallery 7 Theatre)
  8. Dead Man’s Cell Phone (UBC)
  9. Floating (Hugh Hughes/Arts Club/PuSh Festival)
  10. Bonanza (Berlin/PuSh Festival)
  11. Whale (Boca del Lupo/Kyle Jesperson)
  12. Gloria’s Cause (Club PuSh/Donya Hansen)
  13. City of Dreams (Roundhouse/PuSh Festival/Peter Reder)
  14. My Name is Asher Lev (Pacific Theatre)
  15. Hard Core Logo: Live (November Theatre/Touchstone Theatre/Theatre Network/PuSh Festival)
  16. Avenue Q (Touring Broadway Production)
  17. August: Osage County (Arts Club)
  18. Peter Panties (The Cultch/PuSh Festival/Leaky Heaven/Neworld)
  19. Clemenzia di Tito (Vancouver Opera)
  20. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Blackbird/Arts Club)
  21. Nocturne (20 Something Theatre)
  22. The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Fighting Chance Productions)
  23. Swimmy, Frederick & Inch by Inch (Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia)
  24. Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (Glass City Theatre)
  25. Quiet in the Land (Gallery 7)
  26. Cinderella (Vancouver Opera in Schools)
  27. Wild Honey (UBC)
  28. Cinderella (Exit 22 at Capilano University)
  29. Chairs (Itsazoo)
  30. The Philanderer (Arts Club)
  31. 1984 (Virtual Stage/Studio 58 at the Cultch)
  32. Evelyn Strange (StairCaseXI)
  33. The Last 15 Seconds (MT Space Theatre/Firehall Arts Centre)

    The Last 15 Seconds at the Firehall. Photo from http://bikesbirdsnbeasts.blogspot.com/

  34. Under The Influence Cabaret (20 Something)
  35. The Bacche (TWU)
  36. Another Home Invasion (Arts Club/Tarragon)
  37. Jake’s Gift (PT/Juno Productions)
  38. The Forbidden Phoenix (Gateway Theatre)
  39. Rosmershom (United Players)
  40. Letters from a Soldier; My Name is Aslam (Stones Throw Productions)
  41. The Trespassers (Vancouver Playhouse/Belfry)
  42. Ballet BC’s 25th Anniversary (Ballet BC)
  43. Scared Scriptless (Vancouver Theatresports League)
  44. Dress Me Up In Your Love (Theatre Replacement)
  45. The Graduate (Arts Club)
  46. The Wiz (Fighting Chance)
  47. My Funny Valentine (Zee Zee Theatre)
  48. Tape (Alley Theatre)
  49. Side Show (Pacific Theatre)
  50. Mambo Italiano (Firehall/WCT)
  51. Prodigals (20-Something Theatre)
  52. Love/Stories (Kineticism)
  53. Beautiful Problems (Radix Theatre)
  54. The Great Divorce (Pacific Theatre)

    Pacific Theatre's "The Great Divorce" Photo provided.

  55. Eurydice (Secretly Women)
  56. Macbeth: Nacht Shakespeare (Theatre Conspiracy)
  57. Hairspray (Arts Club theatre)
  58. What we leave behind (Lamondance)
  59. Community Dinner (Rumble Productions)
  60. Wicked (Broadway Across Canada)
  61. A guide to Mourning (Genus/Enlightenment Theatre)
  62. Merchant of Venice (Bard)
  63. A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline (Arts Club)
  64. BridgeMix (Itsazoo)
  65. Matchmaker (Gallery 7)
  66. Verona Project (Stones Throw)
  67. Bash: Latter Day Plays (Hardlines Theatre)
  68. Bye Bye Birdie (TUTS Vancouver)
  69. The Casino/The Disappearing (Stones Throw)
  70. Party This Weekend (The House Party Collective)
  71. Project X (Faust) (Leaky Heaven Circus)
  72. Other Side Through You (Cat Main)
  73. Visitors (Walking Fish 2011)
  74. At First I Thought It Was (Walking Fish 2011)
  75. Armed  (Walking Fish 2011)
  76. The Gas Heart (Gas heart Theatre)
  77. Homecoming King
  78. Chairs  (Itsazoo) (The revised version)
  79. My Pregnant Brother (Freestanding Productins)
  80. Compassion for Killers (Whirlwind Productions)
  81. Anything Goes (TUTS Vancouver)

    Anything Goes at TUTS. Photo credit unknown.

  82. Troika and The Troubles (Some of the New Bees/Resounding Scream)
  83. Flop! A one man musical (New Hands Theatre)
  84. Bare: a pop opera (Fighting Chance)
  85. When I Was (Les Petite Taquines)
  86. Richard III (Bard on the Beach)
  87. Kunst Rock (Die Roten Punkte/The Cultch)
  88. Sea of Sand (The Only Animal)
  89. As You Like It (Bard on the Beach)
  90. Cativo (Hardline Productions)
  91. Tough (20-Something Theatre)
  92. The Selkie Wife
  93. Trouble in Tahiti (VanCoCo)
  94. Archy & Mehitable
  95. Yum/Yuck
  96. Oh That Wily Snake!
  97. Jigsaw
  98. The Sparrow and the Mouse
  99. Phone Whore
  100. Screaming Silently
  101. wreckage

    Nita Bowerman's Fringe show "wreckage". Photo by Brendan Albano.

  102. This is Cancer
  103. Jesus In Montana
  104. Short & Sweet
  105. The Progressive Polygamists
  106. The Animal Show
  107. Rove
  108. Stay Away from my Boat, @$$hole (ItsaZoo/Vancouver Fringe)
  109. The Razzle Tassel Tease Show
  110. Lost in Place
  111. Duck Off
  112. Fruitcake
  113. The Mystery of the Hungry Heart Hotel (Peter ‘n’ Chris/Vancouver Fringe)
  114. Smile (Awkward Stage Productions/Vancouver Fringe)
  115. Tinfoil Dinosaur
  116. The Other Side
  117. Houdini’s Last Escape (Monster Theatre/Vancouver Fringe)
  118. Night of the B Movie
  119. The Devil & Billy Markham
  120. Giant Invisible Robot
  121. Sally Lives Here
  122. Mr. Kinski’s Cabaret of Bullshit (Vancouver Fringe)
  123. Acrobatic Daredevils

    The Acrobatic Daredevils at the Fringe. Photo by flickr user arianec

  124. Oh My God (Delinquent Theatre/Vancouver Fringe)
  125. Fortunate Son
  126. Willow’s Walk: Ripples in Time
  127. Arnie the Carnie’s House of Fun
  128. Next To Normal (Arts Club Theatre)
  129. Tuesdays with Morrie (Gallery 7 at Pacific Theatre) (The Remount)
  130. National Ballet of Canada’s 60th Anniversary Tour (National Ballet/Ballet BC)
  131. Little Orange Man (Snafu Dance Theatre/Vancouver Fringe)
  132. The Light in the Piazza (Patrick Street Productions)
  133. Circle Mirror Transformation (Arts Club Theatre)
  134. Ride the Cyclone (Atomic Vaudville)
  135. True Love Lies (Touchstone Theatre at the Cultch)
  136. A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum (Fighting Chance Productions)
  137. Visions of Vancouver (Pi Theatre)
  138. Love Lies Bleeding (Alberta Ballet)
  139. West Side Story (Vancouver Opera)
  140. Romeo and Juliet (TWU)
  141. 50 Words (Mitch & Murray  Equity Coop)
  142.  Falling in Time (Screaming Weenie)
  143. Vimy (Firehall Arts Centre)
  144. The Outsiders (Gallery 7 Theatre)
  145. Penny Plain (Ronnie Burkett)
  146. Mary’s Wedding (Gateway)
  147. Blood Brothers (Arts Club)
  148. The Patron Saint of Stanley Park (Arts Club Theatre)
  149. A Christmas Carol (Pacific Theatre)
  150. La Cage aux Folles (Playhouse Theatre)

    The wonderful Greg Armstrong Morris in La Cage aux Folles. Photo provided.

  151. Hotel Bethlehem (Ruby Slippers Theatre)
  152. Sound of Music (Gateway Theatre)
  153. Christmas Carol Project (Brass Monkey Productions at the Cultch)
  154. The Gift Horse (Caravan Farm Theatre)
  155. Christmas Presence (Pacific Theatre)

I am already excited about what is to come in 2012.  My first booking of the year is for Blackbird Theatre’s Waiting for Godot.

Club PuSh 2011


When club push launched in 2009 it was one of my favorite new pieces of the festival: a small, cabaret style venue providing a space for experimental work that didn’t have a home elsewhere in the festival and for live music that people could attend after that evenings show. Last year club push went on hiatus, but this year it is back with a vengeance. Every night is a different line up, so check the push festival website or program and pick the night that interests you most then grab a friend and head on down for a drink and a performance that is sure to get you talking, whether you like it or not!

#PuShFestival: Week One

Goofing around with friends in the PuSh Gala Photo Booth

It’s been a crazy week of arts in my world.  I’ve seen something like seven shows this week and taken in a number of additional events.  But that’s week one of the PuSh Festival for you.

The week and the festival both kicked off on Monday night with the Opening Gala at club 560. Part performance art and part concert, it was all party. Everywhere I turned there was someone else I knew – friends & colleagues, some of whom I hadn’t seen in quite a while. And in every corner of the building there was something different going on. I finally got to see WeeTube, Theatre Replacement‘s awesome little show where the comments of a popular youtube video are performed as a piece of theatre.

Tuesday night I met a friend in gastown for dinner and then we spent the evening taking in La Marea.  In talking to her this week and other who spent an evening taking in the vignettes on the streets and in the windows of gastown, the descriptions that comes up most often are breathtaking and inventive.  I attended a special lecture about La Marea on Friday afternoon (I was the volunteer there directing people where to go, but I got to sit in on the conversation as well) and one of the things that really stuck with me was when Jay Dodge, artistic producer of Boca del Lupo was talking about being paired with the creative team for La Marea who were up from Buenos Aires and that they had found a project that really melded the two faces of the company.  Previously Boca del Lupo’s work has focused on outdoor, site-specific pieces that have been quite low tech – lots of ropes and pulleys! – or indoor high tech shows.  This show was outdoors, site specific and high tech. Jay said, “It will change what we know we are capable of doing.” Love it.

A glimpe of Circa

Wednesday afternoon I walked down to SFU Woodwards and took in Iqualit – the video installation about Canada’s smallest capital city.  In the course of an hour I learned a lot about our north eastern territory and the people who live in it.  Iqualit is FREE and continues throughout the festival. I followed that up by heading out to UBC with the wonderful Deb Pickman to see Circa’s self-titled best of show.  I saw Circa when they were last here (in fact, their The Space Between was on my top 5 list for 2008), and knew what to expect when I saw them this time. I knew that it would be physical and that with only their bodies they would take my breath away.  But the people I was with had no idea what they were about to see and the first time that the guys threw one of the women across the stage I could hear the collective gasp from the audience.  I was certainly not disappointed and gave out my first standing ovation of the year.

Thursday night I didn’t have plans so when I got an e-mail inviting me to the dress rehearsal of 100% Vancouver I jumped on the opportunity.  The whole thing sounded a little odd to me – a play based on statistics? 100 volunteers on stage? Yipes.  But what I was not prepared for was the way that these people’s stories would touch me – that I would laugh and cry and genuinely feel that I had learned things about this city that I call home.  Now that’s a night of theatre.

As I said above, I spent Friday afternoon at the La Marea artist talk and then after that I went out to Abbotsford to see a community theatre production of Tuesday’s with Morrie.  And to my great delight it was absolutely wonderful. A totally different pace than the things I saw seeing at PuSh and I needed that.

I had grand intentions of going out Saturday night to take in “In the Solitude of Cotton Fields” but by the time I needed to head to Granville Island to make that happen I was exhausted – it had been a huge week of theatre! – so I went home and went to bed instead.

But that’s only week one and there are still two more weeks to go.  Tonight I might go check out I can’t wait to see what the PuSh Festival still has up its sleeves!

Images from #PuShFestival 2011

Now that I finally have a “fancy phone” (read: iPhone 4) I thought it would be fun to take some photos as I attend various PuSh Festival events to give a bit of a sense of the atmosphere. I refuse to take pictures during shows: that has been so ingrained in me as a “no-no” that I now wouldn’t dream of it. However, these photos taken at La Marea and Iqualit hopefully can give you a sense of what you will find when you decide to check them out for yourself.



La Marea (The Tide) presented by Boca del Lupo takes over the zero block of water street every night this week with a free show. Nine different ten minute vignettes are presented in windows and on the streets as surtitles give you an inside glimpse at the lives of these people. It is beautiful and is a mix of heartwarming and heartbreaking. The technology they use is surprisingly simple: at one end of the block a breaker is flipped and the flood lights go off while the music, scene lights and projections begin. Stunning in simple moments. Glimpses.



Iqualit is a free video installation in the atrium of the SFU Woodwards building. The six videos, each seven minutes long, explore various aspects of Canada’s smallest capital city. Before you enter the metal igloo you are given a box to wear around your neck with a pair of headphones plugged into it. As you move around the installation the box picks up the sound from the various screens. It’s a fascinating bit of technology that I am sure has a myriad of uses.

Last Night’s #PuShFest Gala in Tweets

The Push Festival "Bat Signal"

We lost our wifi at club 560 mid-way through the event last night, so instead of returning to blogging, I kept up with things from twitter. Below, in chronological order (starting from the beginning of the night) is what I had to say about the party in tweet form:

Executive director Norman Armour is giving a speech, but I can’t hear any of it over the party. #push2011

They’re talking about the necessity of having an @Vancouver125pin to get back in, but I never got one. Boo. #PuShFest

Lots of fun meeting twitter folks IRL here at the #PuShFest Gala: Am sitting beside @niftynotcool and @don4n

So many people to talk with at #PuShFest is making blogging hard. I promise I will write more than one sentence by the end of the night

RT: @chriswaltsPretty cool blogger area at #push2011 love the initiative http://twitpic.com/3r2ayn

RT: @PuShFestival Cool! #vancouver‘s own Zapato Negro takes to the stage#pushfestival I like it :-)))

Let’s get this party started! The #PuShFest gala is going strong – here’s what you’re missing: http://bit.ly/dSHI2F

Time to go join the party for a bit, but I’ve got my iPhone, so I’ll still be tweeting #PuShFest

Curious what @niftynotcool and I have been up to? Here’s the photo evidence: http://yfrog.com/h7f66tj #pushfest

Sadly our wifi connection has gone down here at #pushfest. Not sure what we will do now.

Check out the dancers taking the floor at #pushfest:http://yfrog.com/h04bmmgj

Adrienne Wong from @NeworldTheatre Is about to play a ukelele ditty for us: http://yfrog.com/h8ebjcj

They’re performing Poker Face on ukelele. It’s fantastic.http://yfrog.com/h8he6mnj #pushfest

Seeing @THTRreplacement‘s WeeTube in the lounge at #pushfest

Quote from @thezolas: “This song is about sexual frustration. I hope none of you can relate to it.” #pushfest

I am wiped. Time to call it a night and head home from #pushfestgala. Tomorrow I will be seeing one of the shows.