Tuesday, January 18, 2011

PuSh's Tidal Launch

It sure was a swell party last night at Club 560, where the 7th annual PuSh International Performing Arts Festival was launched at a Gala event also inaugurating the official celebrations of the 125th anniversary of Vancouver's incorporation as a city. Lots of people, great buzz, loads of media coverage (courtesy of CTV and others), and of course our distinguished (and so, so pretty) Mayor, who among other things, declared Chinatown the newest hip neighbourhood.

PuSh got lots of plugging from Board President Max Wyman, looking as distinguished as ever, and of course from Executive Director Norman Armour, whose inspired remarks about this year's PuSh theme of "cityness" let everyone know whose idea this dual launch really was.

I could only stay for the first part of the ceremonies, but that was long enough to catch Veda Hille leading her Vancouver Complaints Choir in a rousing and hilarious paean to all that could be better about our city--as well as all that is good, but about which we still like to kvetch. Catch Veda and gang at Club PuSh at Performance Works on Granville Island on January 29th at 8 pm, where full-length show Happy Birthday Teenage City will be unveiled.

After the speeches and a few canapes, it was over to Water Street, between Abbott and Carrell, for a tech preview of La Marea (The Tide), the site-specific collaboration between local company Boca del Lupo and Argentinian writer and director Mario Pensotti. La Marea tells nine different stories concurrently in 10 minute cycles that repeat over the course of two hours every evening between 7 and 9 pm from tonight through this Saturday. Spectators can come and go at their leisure, moving from scenes performed in various storefronts, in an apartment window, outdoors on two corners and, in one case, in the middle of the street. The characters (all acted by students from SFU, UBC, and Langara's Studio 58), in pairs and occasionally alone, are working through mini-dramas involving various states and stages of connection, with couples just getting together, and others about to break up, and still others fantasizing about what wasn't or what will be said in relationships that have already dissolved or are as yet to be imagined. In all cases, this is communicated to the spectator through projected subtitles, and part of the drama of the piece is not just piecing together the connections between the various scenes, but also in establishing the relationship between text and embodiment in terms of each "performance."

Then, too, there is the site of the performance. While the street has been closed off to traffic during each night's performance, pedestrians and members of the community still wander the sidewalks, and one's encounters with them can be just as interesting and powerful. Last night, for example, I was given a number of condoms from a local women's support network, and was also serenaded by a Scotsman named George, who sang a couple of traditional Irish (!) ballads.

Talk about cityness! A fantastic beginning to what promises to be a fabulous PuSh Festival.


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