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PuSh Festival Announces Rally Lineup And Reduced 2021 Program


PuSh Rally will take place January 28 to February 6, 2021.

PuSh Festival Announces Rally Lineup And Reduced 2021 Program

The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival has announced the lineup for the newly formed PuSh Rally, January 28 to February 6, 2021, a free online series designed to respond directly to this deeply uncertain moment in our cultural sector by connecting PuSh audiences, artists, and industry leaders in Vancouver and around the globe in vital and meaningful dialogue. Due to a number of artist withdrawals as a result of the continued unpredictability of the pandemic and provincial health and safety regulations, PuSh will not be proceeding with the 2021 Festival as planned. However, audiences will still have an opportunity to experience originally scheduled PuSh Festival Partner Presentations this winter.

"The heart of PuSh has always been community, collaboration, and partnerships. And while the challenges presented by the pandemic mean that we have had to cancel much of the original 2021 program, we continue to invest in the work of our partners and artists who were slated to be a part of the Festival," says Jason Dubois, Managing Director. "This will see PuSh co-presenting partner presentations, and providing online experiences, to connect artists and audiences. We also know the PuSh Rally - which will ask tough but essential questions at a critical time within our organization and for our cultural community at large - will be of interest to the PuSh audience."

The PuSh Rally, curated by two of Vancouver's most celebrated theatre artists, Theatre Replacement's Maiko Yamamoto and Neworld Theatre's Marcus Youssef, will provide a global platform for meaningful discourse and idea exchange about the challenges and possibilities inherent in conflict, and the future of live performance. The Rally will include a variety of artist encounters and conversations, international artist presentations, and surprise performances from some of the world's finest artists, thought leaders, and change makers.

"As we contemplate the possible end of the pandemic and being together again, the PuSh Rally leans into what long-time PuSh partner Erin Boberg, Co-Director of the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, calls this "season of reckonings," says Marcus Youssef, PuSh Rally Co-Curator. "The Rally's all-digital platform will offer Vancouver audiences an unprecedented opportunity to hear directly from some of the best-known and most provocative artists and thinkers, from New York to East Van to Sydney, Iqaluit, and Berlin."

Adds Rally Co-Curator Maiko Yamamoto: "We're thrilled to present playwright, novelist, social historian and world-renowned AIDS activist Sarah Schulman, best-selling writer and playwright Carmen Aguirre, Inuk creator-performer Laakuluk Williamson Bathory, Pulitzer Prize winner Jackie Sibblies Drury, grunt gallery director Vanessa Kwan, and Canadian theatre icon Ravi Jain, among many others."


All PuSh Rally Events are free of charge

State of the (PuSh) Union

Streaming Online January 28, 2021 at 10am PST (approx 40 min)

When a community has experienced divisive conflict, how much can its members speak openly about their perception of what happened, without making it worse? Is it possible to do so ethically, showing care and respect for all involved? In this performative conversation, Rally Curators Marcus Youssef and Maiko Yamamoto use their own subjective experiences of what's taken place at PuSh over the last six months to try to find out.

Reports from the Field

Online various times January 28 - February 6, 2021

After a year none of us could have predicted, we invited 11 artists, curators and presenters from across the globe - all in one way or another connected to PuSh - to answer a simple question: what are you thinking about most right now, in relationship to your work, the sector, or the world?

Artist Talks: Carmen Aguirre & Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory

Streaming Online
Laakkuluk: January 29, 2021 at 10am PST (approx 45 min including live Q&A)
Carmen: February 6, 2021 at 11am PST (approx 45 min including live Q&A)

Carmen Aguirre and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory are two of our country's leading performance makers. Their works grapple with conversations of identity and place, reflecting an influence of other cultural practices and histories that confront what western practices often don't know. We invite them to share their visionary practices with audiences at The Rally.

Trauma Informed Systems Change

Streaming Online January 30, 2021 at 12pm PST (approx 60 min)

If existing systems of presentation have been revealed as inadequate (ie: exclusionary) - then how do we do the necessary work of evolution? How deep does this go? And what might a trauma-informed approach to change in the arts look like? Vanessa Kwan, Caroline Liffmann and Justine Chambers expand upon this exploratory conversation.

Artist Encounters

Live Online various times January 30 and February 4 - 6, 2021

A series of live streamed Q&A's with artists who are programmed as part of 2021 PuSh Partner Presentations, including the creative minds behind Morag you're a long time deid, I swallowed a moon made of iron, Graveyards and Gardens, and Violette. Included in this series is a special panel discussion with artists who withdrew from the festival, inviting them to speak from their own perspectives about what happened, and the current moment for the arts. This conversation will also pose the question: What would we have seen if you had been at PuSh in 2021?

Supremacy Ideology and the Pleasure of Feeling Uncomfortable: A public conversation with Sarah Schulman

Live Online February 4, 2021 at 10am PST (approx 60 min including Q&A)

Join internationally celebrated American author, playwright and activist Sarah Schulman for an in-depth conversation with Marcus Youssef about her hugely varied work across many disciplines, the intersection between art-making and social change, the relationship between power, abuse, conflict and discomfort, the productive potential of difference, and the sometimes blurry lines between victim blaming and victimhood.

I've Been Trying to Talk to You: Jackie Sibblies Drury's Fairview and the power of the "white gaze"

Streaming Online February 5, 2021 at 10am PST (approx 60 min)

Join Jackie Sibblies Drury, Sarah Benson, Mimi Lien and Raja Feather Kelly, the creative team behind the Pulitzer Prize-winning, international mega-hit about race and the white gaze, Fairview. Marcus Youssef hosts a discussion about their unique, collaborative and interdisciplinary process, the challenges of stylistic innovation, contemporary theatre's future, and what it did and didn't mean to tackle this potentially incendiary subject matter in a close-knit, racially diverse creative team.


VIOLETTE (Canada) - Co-Presented with Théâtre la Seizième

Western Canada Premiere
Timed entry at Studio 16, January 27 - February 7, 2021 from 5pm-8:30pm PST

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 world-one realistic enough to convince, magical enough to enchant, and dark enough to serve as a shadowy likeness of our own shared reality.

Graveyards & Gardens (Canada) - Co-Presented with Music on Main

World Premiere
Online live stream, January 28 - 29, 2021 at 4:30pm & 7:30pm PST

Here is your chance to see an album emerge before your eyes-and to witness a unique, revelatory melding of movement and sound. This live-streamed performance features a mixture of archival and electronic sounds, and the aural component is joined to dance so creatively as to give each element whole new dimensions. Entrancing, enveloping, and ultimately liberating in its innovations, this is experiential art at its best.

SANCTUARY: The Dakota Bear Ancient Forest Experience (Canada) - Co-Presented with the Sunshine Coast Arts Council

Timed entry at Performance Works on Granville Island, February 3 - 5, 2021 from 3pm-7:15pm &
February 6 - 7, 2021 from 1pm-5:15pm PST

This 360° projection takes you to a place that has existed since the last Ice Age-and is now under threat. Inside a geodesic dome, viewers experience a wraparound view of an ancient forest, as well as an auditory mix of music and the sounds of nature. This is a transporting experience-a journey that will bring you to a new understanding, and a new sense of urgency.

I swallowed a moon made of iron ae?'a'?a??a??ae??e"?a??c??aeoe?a?? (Canada)
Online live stream - dates and times to be announced

In this haunting song cycle, composer and performer Njo Kong Kie sets the poetry of factory worker Xu Lizhi to song and delivers a lamentation for our digital age. Kong Kie's score for solo voice and piano is performed in Mandarin with English surtitles 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.

To register for the PuSh Rally or to book your tickets for PuSh Partner Presentations, visit: or call the PuSh Festival Audience Services info line at 604.449.6000.

About the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival (
The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is Vancouver's signature, mid-winter cultural event, taking place each January in theatres and venues across the city. PuSh presents groundbreaking, contemporary works of theatre, dance, music, and multimedia by acclaimed local, national, and International Artists.


Dates: January 28 to February 6, 2021
Tickets: Registration is free of charge
Location: Online via
Audience Services: 604.449.6000 /

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