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PuSh International Performing Arts Festival 2022 Presents A Vibrant And Dynamic Line-up Of Innovative Artists

PuSh International Performing Arts Festival (PuSh) presents its 18th annual edition from January 20 to February 6, 2022 at various venues across the Lower Mainland and select programming online. PuSh is Vancouver’s signature, mid-winter cultural event, taking place each January in theatres and venues across the city. PuSh delivers groundbreaking, contemporary works of theatre, dance, music, and multimedia by acclaimed local, national, and international artists.

Featuring 14 works from three countries including two world premieres and two Canadian premieres the festival line-up is dedicated to creative risk-taking and dynamic interdisciplinary collaboration. With an emphasis on artists from across Canada this year, PuSh will also present works from the United States and the United Kingdom.

International companies/artists being presented for PuSh 2022 and Club PuSh include: Steve Lambert (USA); Joseph Toonga of Just Us Dance Theatre (UK). Canadian companies/artists include: Crow’s Theatre/Cliff Cardinal; Tarragon Theatre and Black Theatre Workshop; Theatre Replacement; Joe Jack & John; LION LION; Collectif Aalaapi|La Messe Basse; Vivek Shraya and Canadian Stage; Leah Abramson; Aphotic Theatre, ITSAZOO Productions; The Talking Stick Festival; the frank theatre company; Immigrant Lessons; Music Picnic/Njo Kong Kie 楊光奇; MAYDAY; Ruby Singh, and more.

We are excited to be working alongside long-standing and new partners including The Dance Centre, Full Circle: First Nations Performance, Indian Summer Festival, The Talking Stick Festival, Music on Main, Touchstone Theatre, The Firehall Arts Centre, SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs, Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, and others.

In August 2021, PuSh was thrilled to announce that Gabrielle Martin was newly appointed to lead programming and community initiatives for both the 2022 and 2023 festivals. She notes: “ PuSh has always been an accelerator, animating our imaginations and transforming our perspectives. The 2022 PuSh program is a timely catalyst, facilitating an emergence from our social hibernation with works that incept, evoke, activate, and confront. In a time when we are all making sense of where we are after what has come to pass, this year’s Festival line-up helps us situate ourselves in the complexity of human experience.

Several of the 2022 Festival works make personal the economic structures that define us, through interactive and interdisciplinary forms. In dialogue with this content are a series of shows that offer nuanced and experience-driven perspectives on the social structures we navigate, while others focus on our subjective experiences and the subconscious as a site of inception. Overall, we hope that the 2022 PuSh Festival will stimulate, shift, inspire, and compel.”

Martin joins Margo Kane and Jason Dubois, in the newly formed PuSh Collaborative Leadership Team, which will manage the organization and lead the 2022 festival, while the organization continues its structural review process and evolution. Margo Kane will also contribute to Programming, Indigenous Arts Community Relations and Decolonization Initiatives saying, “At this crucial time in history, we need to embrace ways to truly engage in right relations, both new and old, and affirm a willingness to find ways to work together that honours the contribution of all and that exemplifies good medicine’ for our many communities.”

PuSh presents two world premieres, both from Canadian artists and companies: Do you mind if I sit here? by Theatre Replacement, in a multimedia extravaganza that dares us to imagine the future in terms of our most important hopes, fears, and beliefs; and The Café by ITSAZOO Productions & Aphotic Theatre, a collection of plays as an invitation to indulge your inner voyeur.

The Festival also includes two Canadian premieres from our international companies: Capitalism Works for Me! True/False by Steve Lambert (USA), a pointed, provocative installation project; and Born to Manifest by Joseph Toonga of Just Us Dance Theatre (UK), a kinetic expression of pride and defiance, channeling the lived experiences of young Black British men in this dynamic dance performance.

This year the always anticipated program Club PuSh, the festival’s platform for outside-of-the-box work and interactive experiences, features three nights curated by Vancouver collaborators the frank theatre company, The Talking Stick Festival, and Immigrant Lessons from February 2-4 at 9pm at Performance Works.

If you’re looking to keep the PuSh vibes going into the night, this is the place to be. Club PuSh is a spot where you can enjoy drinks, connect with our artists, and party with your fellow PuSh-goers. It’s also the venue for fantastic performances in a relaxed, casual atmosphere: drag artists, DJs, musicians, and street dancers are all throwing down here. We’re thrilled to offer a convivial, comfortable, and COVID-safe place for our audiences to gather, and we hope to see you here!

The Closing Night Party and the final Club PuSh will take place at Performance Works on February 5 at 9pm.

After a Festival of in-person performances, this is your chance to party those lockdown blues away in a relaxed, COVID-safe setting!

PuSh Assembly returns to stimulate dialogue through free talks for the public including an industry networking series and youth program events. The 2022 Industry Series is an opportunity to come together, to re-engage with colleagues and the movements they’re driving, and to reconnect with PuSh and participate in the relationships that define it. It is an opportunity to recharge with creative stimulus, to rethink through exchange, and to reimagine by collective ideation.

PuSh 2022 is a poignant reminder of art’s power to bring communities together and effect change.

All tickets will be on sale for the 2022 PuSh Festival starting on November 24, 2021 at pushfestival.ca


Capitalism Works for Me! True/False Steve Lambert (USA)
Jan 20-24, see website for times | Various Locations throughout Vancouver
Presented with Vancouver Public Library, Living Things Festival, and The GRAND
Canadian Premiere

With this pointed, provocative installation project, Steve Lambert poses a question that is too often buried in our public discourse: Does capitalism really work? The artist has constructed an interactive, street-level billboard that allows citizens to vote on the issue; one could call it an ideological scorecard, with tallies refreshed each day and hosts on-site to engage in conversation with participants.

Ruby Singh ‘s Vox.Infold (Canada)
Jan 20-23 & Jan 25-30 (Weekdays: Jan 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28 at 6:30pm, 7:45pm, 9pm + Weekends: Jan 22, 23, 29, 30 at 2:30pm, 3:45pm, 5pm, 6:15pm, 7:30pm, 8:45pm) | Lobe Studio
Presented with Indian Summer Festival

This powerhouse vocal ensemble is the work of seven artists, and it employs 4DSOUND technology, vibroacoustic floor panels, and speakers placed across the ceiling. The artists have created compositions that you can inhabit as well as hear, and in its sheer range, their vocal music evokes human existence in all its wondrous variety.
Vox.Infoldbrings together musical luminaries Dawn Pemberton, Inuksuk Mckay, Russell Wallace, Tiffany Ayalik, Tiffany Moses, and Shamik Bilgi.

Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers by Makambe K. Simamba Tarragon Theatre and Black Theatre Workshop (Canada)
Based on the world premiere production produced by b current
Jan 20-21 at 7:30pm + Jan 22 at 3pm & 7:30pm | Firehall Arts Centre
Presented with Touchstone Theatre and Firehall Arts Centre

This show is a journey through the unknown, a spiritual inquiry, and a protest for Black life that goes beyond the headlines to examine the reality of injustice. Telling the story of a Black teenager and his experience in the afterlife, it portrays both a rich human life and the violence that took it away. What emerges is a prayer for the bereaved and a proclamation that Black Lives Matter.

The Café ITSAZOO Productions & Aphotic Theatre (Canada)
Jan 25 29 & Jan 31-Feb 5 (Jan 25-27 at 6pm + Jan 28-29 at 6pm & 8pm + Jan 31-Feb 3 at 6pm + Feb 4-5 at 6pm & 8pm) | Vancouver Location TBC
Presented with ITSAZOO Productions and Aphotic Theatre

This collection of plays is an invitation to indulge your inner voyeur. In groups of 20, audiences sit in a coffee shop; there, at various tables, a series of dramas plays out. The affair has the semblance of real-life café staff sell food and beverages, and you’re free to wander from table to table as the scenarios unfold before your guiltlessly watchful eyes.

Born to Manifest Joseph Toonga of Just Us Dance Theatre (UK)
Jan 25 27 at 7:30pm | Performance Works, with Select Online Presentations
Canadian Premiere

Joseph Toonga channels the experiences of young Black British men in this dynamic dance performance. Set to an original score by Mikey J and marked by the idioms of krump, popping, and other urban styles, the show is a kinetic expression of pride and defiance.

Do you mind if I sit here? Theatre Replacement (Canada)
Jan 26-29 (Jan 26-28 at 8pm + Jan 29 at 4pm) | Russian Hall
Presented with Theatre Replacement
World Premiere

Three social planners visit Vancouver’s Russian Hall roughly 30 years from now; they intend to repurpose it for common use, but they soon discover a squatter who has been living there through decades of environmental catastrophe… Eclectic in style and shrewdly metaphorical in its narrative, this is a multimedia extravaganza that dares us to imagine the future in terms of our most important hopes, fears, and beliefs.

VIOLETTE Joe Jack & John (Canada)
Jan 26 30, shows are at 10-minute intervals (Jan 26 28 from 5pm -9pm + Jan 29 from 12pm-8:30pm + Jan 30 from 10am-6pm) | Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre
Supported by Théâtre la Seizième & RealWheels & Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre

This site-specific work mixes Virtual Reality and live theatre to create a powerful, even transformative, experience. One by one, viewers are greeted by the mysterious Violette and invited into her apartment. There awaits a 360° story worldone realistic enough to convince, magical enough to enchant and dark enough to serve as a shadowy likeness of our own shared reality.

Se prendre LION LION (Canada)
Jan 29 31 & Feb 2-4 (Jan 29 & 30 at 7pm + Jan 31, Feb 2 4 at 6pm & 8pm)| Waterfront Estate, Deer Lake, Burnaby
Presented with Shadbolt Centre for the Arts

The venue for this performance is a historic estate; in this space, two women come together in an acrobatic dance that evokes tenderness and tension. Erotically suggestive, athletically impressive, and emotionally resonant, this is a psychodrama played out in physical terms a truly haunting experience.

AALAAPI | ᐋᓛ Collectif Aalaapi|La Messe Basse (Canada)
Jan 29 & 30, Feb 1 & 2 (Jan 29 at 7:30pm + Jan 30 at 4pm + Feb 1 & 2 at 8pm) | Waterfront Theatre

This collectively created work takes us to Nunavik, and into the lives of two women who live their lives against the sonic backdrop of radio. Collectif Aalaapi combines the aesthetics of vision with those of sound; their aim is to interrogate language itself, and their invitation to the audience is to join them in thatendeavour.

How to Fail as a Popstar Vivek Shraya (Canada)
Created by: Vivek Shraya
Commissioned and Produced by: Canadian Stage
Feb 1 & 2 at 7:30pm | Performance Works

To the edge of fame and back that was Vivek Shraya’s trip, and in this theatrical memoir she tells all! Mixing anecdote, movement and music, the singer takes us from her youthful top-40 dreams to her brush with stardom; it’s a poignant, funny pop adventure laced with vulnerability and hard-won wisdom.

Songs for a Lost Pod Leah Abramson (Canada)
Feb 2 & 3 at 7:30pm | ANNEX
Presented with Music on Main

This nine-song cycle makes spectacular use of orca vocalizations, transforming them into rhythmic beats in a musical exploration of historical trauma, environmental crisis, and communication between species. Creator Leah Abramson folds marine mammal history into a larger narrative of survival and human oppression, and her juxtapositions are telling and provocative. Innovative, lyrical, and deeply moving, this is musical theatre at its most creative.

the frank theatre company @ Club PuSh (Canada)
February 2 at 9pm | Club PuSh at Performance Works

After How to Fail as a Popstar, come join us for a celebration of the queer art of failure! This soir ée features a One Hit Wonder costume contest, as well as musical acts, a DJ, and some drop-dead-gorgeous drag artists strutting their stuff and doing loving renditions of pop classics. The style is immersive and casual, with performance spaces placed throughout the space to blur the line between audience and artist. It’s the perfect cure for the late-pandemic bluesa chance to laugh, lament, and let loose.

Talking Stick @ Club PuSh (Canada)
February 3 at 9pm | Club PuSh at Performance Works

This evening of genre-blending madness mashes the music of Indigenous ancestors with the breaks, cuts, and booming bass of contemporary dance grooves. Full Circle Performance’s Rob Thomson and Nimkish Younging, co-curate an excitingly eclectic mix of styles, honouring traditional Indigenous idioms while presenting them in a thoroughly modern context. Enjoy the diverse lineup of artists Talking Stick are offering up, in a vibrant, party-friendly environment, with drinks and visuals to complement the propulsive rhythms.

I Swallowed a Moon Made of Iron 我咽下一枚 铁做的月亮 a Music Picnic Production, in association with Point View Art and Creative Links (Macau) / Created by Njo Kong Kie 楊光奇 (Canada) set to the poetry of 許立志 Xu Lizhi
Feb 4-6 (Feb 4 & 5 at 8pm + Feb 6 at 2pm) | Waterfront Theatre

In this haunting song cycle, composer and performer Njo Kong Kie sets the poetry of factory worker Xu Lizhi to the song and delivers a lamentation for our digital age. Kong Kie’s score for solo voice and piano is performed in Mandarin with English subtitles and combined with imagery, ambient sound, and more; it is an act of political witness, a vital human document, and, not least, a work of great beauty.

La Goddam Voie Lactée MAYDAY (Canada)
Feb 4-6 at 8pm | Scotiabank Dance Centre
Presented with The Dance Centre

Five women conduct a pagan mourning ritual in this emotive, wildly eccentric performance. From the rich colours, trance-like dance movements, animalistic utterances, and musical ferocity, something of deep public value emerges: a secular mass in which our discontents can be expressed. MAYDAY’s vision is dark, but ultimately celebratory: their act of reckoning is also one of self-imagination, and in that endeavour lie joy and hope.

William Shakespeare ‘s As You Like It: A Radical Retelling by Cliff Carindal Crows Theatre (Canada)
Feb 4-6 (Feb 4 at 7:30pm + Feb 5 at 2 pm & 7:30pm + Feb 6 at 4pm) | York Theatre

The title of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It holds a double meaning that teasingly suggests the play can please all tastes. But is that possible? In this subversive updating of the Bard’s classic, Indigenous creator and cultural provocateur Cliff Cardinal exults in black humour, difficult subject matter, and raw emotion.

IMPACT @ Club PuSh Immigrant Lessons (Canada)
Feb 4 at 9pm | Club PuSh at Performance Works

This dance tournament takes the ethic of street battling and adds a crowd-sourced mix of styles; the result is a thrilling, genre-defying spectacle. The contest is open to all; battlers sign up in teams of four to square off against each other in competitive brackets. For participants, it’s a chance to show and prove; for the audience, it’s a chance to unwind, have a drink, and see urban dance at its wildest.

Closing Night Party @ Club PuSh (Canada)
Feb 5 at 9pm | Club PuSh Closing Night Party at Performance Works

It’s party time for PuSh-goers! Join us for an evening of drinks and DJs in a relaxed, COVID-safe setting. The venue is spacious and the vibe is set for versatility: you can lounge at the bar, relax at a table, or mingle with your compatriots against a backdrop of fabulous visuals. The pandemic has been rough on us all; here, after a festival of in-person performances, is your chance to party those lockdown blues away.


PuSh Passes are the best way to experience the PuSh Festival. Pass holders save 20% on single tickets.

PuSh Passes are flexible so Passholders can book tickets online at any time. Limited quantities.

Four  Show Pass 20% discount on 4 shows of your choice

Youth Four-Show Pass $20


Single tickets start at $20. To buy tickets, visit pushfestival.ca or call the PuSh Festival Audience Services info line at 604.449.6000.

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