Sunday, February 6, 2011


There's been an amazing international performance festival happening in Vancouver these past few weeks, called the PuSh Festival. And while we haven't had an opportunity to see LOTS, we have been able to catch a couple of shows by local companies. The first was a site specific, ambulatory show by Boca del Lupo, called La Marea (The Tide). Mister Man and I headed out one Thursday night, along with Shayne and Lori to wander the streets of Gastown. Essentially, nine scenes unfold in storefronts, windows and (sometimes literally) on the street. Each scene lasts ten minutes and all scenes are performed concurrently, with each being repeated ten times. We moved from scene to scene, putting together our own narrative. Sometimes, the results were quite startling. This is from their website:

At night and in real time, moving from the pavement to illuminated windows, from balconies to café terraces, La Marea presents nine different stories-the secret stories and private emotions that bring Gastown to vivid life before your eyes. Without seeming to be aware that they are being observed by the audience, we hear the character's thoughts and see them carrying out day-to-day actions. The work does not rely on spoken text but instead makes use of projected subtitles to reveal the characters' thoughts and life-story.

Mister Man and I arrived a little early, so we wandered around. The stage was set. And here are some of the images I snapped.

I was ready, camera poised....

A volunteer helps some audience members navigate a map of the performance.

The evening was clear, so it was a perfect night to wander the streets, peering into other people's thoughts, circumstances, and literally, into their worlds..... Some stories were duets.

Some were solos.

Some were about missed opportunities and love lost.

And some were about love gained.

The audience rushed from scene to scene every ten minutes.

And then stood, suspended in our shared cocoon of voyeurism.

Sometimes, the actors were close enough to touch...

But instead, we read their thoughts and watched them struggle.

My favourite piece took place in the window of a second floor window where we watch a man stand on the sidelines of a party as music pumps out into the street.

His performance was quite riveting and I was so pleased that Lori and Shayne were with us. We went for a glass of wine after the performance and talked about what we'd seen.

Then, a few nights ago, Mister Man and I also attended PodPlays, produced by Neworld Theatre and Playwright's Theatre Centre, in which audience members download a podcast to your mP3 player, prior to going to the show. And then, you're sent off on a guided narrative experience as a voice leads you through the streets of the downtown eastside. From their website:

PodPlays-The Quartet is a series of site-specific radio plays that take participants on a walk through the geography of the city and the urban obsessions of four of its residents. Much like you would listen to an audio guide in a museum, audience members load the plays onto portable media players and are guided on a walk by narration that combines story, music and directional cues. This is an intimate theatrical experience that will reveal a Vancouver you won't find in the tourist brochures.

"We are interested in redrawing the map, tracing the liminal space between here and there and overlaying history, dimension, geography, fact, imagination, sound and motion." – Adrienne Wong

Unfortunately, yours truly forgot her camera. Nor did I have my nifty iPhone with it's camera. So I am sadly lacking in any image to accompany this part of the post. I can tell you that it was really interesting to be directed through the streets "walk briskly towards the little brick building on the next corner.....Now stop. Stand between the black lamppost and the brick house. Look down...." It made me look at these streets I've traveled so many times before, in a completely new light. And I loved that experience.

My only regret is that I didn't see more of PuSh this year. But last night, we went to a birthday dinner and Susan G. and I made a pinky pact: next year, we're buying passes to the PuSh Festival because I want a bigger slice of the action.


  1. DAMN to missing this, and YES to a festival pass next year - I saw Floating and Happy Birthday Teenage City (i *heart* you Veda Hille!) and both were great...

  2. Can I pinky promise pass too?