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PuSh International Performing Arts Festival

Festival of adventurous, multimedia and multidisciplinary performances, including theatre, dance, and installations, founded in 2003 by Norman Armour and Katrina Dunn as a joint venture of Rumble Theatre and Touchstone Theatre. Since 2005, it has been a stand-alone festival. Programming includes a broad curated selection of local, national, and international works, including commissions. The Festival is staged in found and established venues throughout Vancouver for three weeks at the end of January.

The first year featured three shows, including Jimmy by Marie Brassard. In 2008, PuSh hosted 133 performances, and provided writing workshops, lectures, exhibitions, and a cabaret. Productions included The Black Rider from Edmonton (dir. Ron Jenkins); Clark and I Somewhere in Connecticut co-produced by Vancouver’s Rumble Productions and Theatre Replacement, combining film with stage action and imagery in an investigation of the family history of photograph albums abandoned in an alley; and My Dad, My Dog, a commissioned work by Vancouver’s Boca del Lupo.

The 2010 festival included: Catalyst Theatre’s production of Nevermore by Jonathan Christenson and Bretta Gerecke; and The Edward Curtis Project by Marie Clements. PuSh was a major partner in the 2010 Cultural Olympiad.

In 2013, PuSH hosted eighteen mainstage shows from eleven countries in sixteen venues. In 2018, there were 150 performances and events in 18 venues over 20 days.

The Artistic and Executive Director until 2017 was Norman Armour. In 2019, Franco Boni, the AD of The Theatre Centre in Toronto was appointed to the position. He was terminated without cause by the Board in July 2020, a decision that resulted in local and national controversy, particularly since it closely followed the termination of Joyce Rosario, Associate AD for seven years, and Janelle Wong-Moon, Audience Director.

The Festival's home base has been in SFU Woodward's, where its productions were sometimes at odds with the ideologies of Simon Fraser University's School for the Contemporary Arts and its donors. In the fall of 2014, PuSh relocated to a shared arts space, The Post at 750 on Hamilton St. in Vancouver.

On the occasion of its tenth anniversary, Board Chair, Peter Dickinson explained “PuSh is the credo that best describes not just the boundary-crossing work to have appeared on its stages over the past ten years, but also how profoundly that work — and the curatorial and organizational vision behind it — has moved this city forward culturally" (PuSh website).

Website: www.pushfestival.ca.

Source: Richard Simas. “Vancouver’s PuSh 2008 and the Phenomenon of Festival,” Canadian Theatre Review 138 (Spring 2009): 43-47.

Further reading: Peter Dickinson. "PuShing Performance Brands in Vancouver," Theatre Research in Canada 35.2 (2014): 130-150.

Last updated 2020-07-09