It was nice to bookend this year's PuSh Festival with another international take on King Lear, this time a one-man version from Taiwan's Contemporary Legend Theatre, featuring Master Wu Hsing-Kuo in a virtuoso performance that mixes traditional Peking Opera singing and dancing with more contemporary martial arts and Western theatre techniques.
Wu tells Lear's story in three parts. In the first, "The Play," we are plunged immediately into the heart of the protagonist's megalomaniacal madness. In the second, "The Playing," we witness Wu's performative transformation between several roles, including the Fool, all three daughters, and a stunningly accomplished and very moving alternation between Edgar and his now-blind and repentant father, Gloucester. Finally, in "The Player," things are stripped down to reveal the actor behind the role, with Wu's own relationship to the play, its parts, and his own art the focus of deconstructive analysis.
A co-presentation with the Asian-Canadian Special Events Association and Taiwanfest, it was wonderful to see the cavernous Centre on Homer Street filled with so many audience members appreciative of this fusion of forms. It was also an honour to meet Master Wu and his wife at a reception after the show.
Then it was off to Club PuSh with Richard and PuSh Development Manager Jocelyn Macdougall for the Festival's closing party, always a riotously fun, karaoke-filled good time. We didn't stay long, but long enough to see Jocelyn and Human Library curator Dave Deveau kill their songs; to witness the cast of Ride the Cyclone each take a turn at the mike (and the cast of Prudencia a turn at the bar); to shake Martin Chaput's hand and have a brief word with Marcus Youssef; to debrief on the Club's successes with co-curator Tim Carlson; to greet Juniper Shuey in the lobby and talk with him about how taken he was with Winners and Losers; to speak briefly with Sad Sack, By Night curator Vanessa Kwan; and to give Executive Director Norman Armour a bear hug when exiting.
Twenty days, seventeen shows, eight receptions, four speeches, one talkback, and too many amazing moments of pure performance magic to count. I'm absolutely exhausted, but already I can't wait till next year--our 10th anniversary.
See you there.