Five shows to see at the 2019 PuSh Performing Arts Festival in Vancouver!

Attractor. Gregory Lorenzutti photo.

Is it too soon to be thinking about experimental theatre and performance art in 2019?

The 2019 edition of the annual PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, now in its 15th year, opens Jan. 17 2019, and runs until Feb. 3. As usual, it features a potpourri of world premieres, Canadian premieres, and more. See below for some highlights from the schedule of 26 works, representing 13 countries.

Attractor (Jan. 18-19, Vancouver Playhouse, 600 Hamilton St.)—Described as “a trance-noise odyssey that transcends all borders,” Attractor is a collaboration between Senyawa, operatic, an Indonesian duo that plays heavy metal-inflected music with ritual and folk idioms from their native country, and contemporary dance troupe Dancenorth Australia. As the music builds, pre-selected members of the audience join in with the dancers and musicians. The artists call their creation a “secular ritual.”

Asking For It (Jan 18 at XY, 1216 Bute St.)—Theatregoer beware: Adrienne Truscott’s one-woman performance is a no-holds-barred show about rape. The American performer uses stand-up comedy, dance, imagery, “and one very special whistle” (according to the PuSh program guide) to talk about sexual politics, female agency and the ethics of humour. Add booze and nudity to the mix—a beer-imbibing Truscott is nearly nude for portions of the show—and you have a show that is bound to push audience buttons.

Adrienne Truscott. Photo by Sara Brown

Palmyra (Jan. 22-24 at Performance Works, 1218 Cartwright St., Granvill Island)—The set is almost bare and broken crockery is the main prop: two men are onstage, and one of them has a plate while the other does not. Conflict emerges, and the small-scale war onstage becomes a meditation on revenge, world politics and the positions from which we judge them.

Bertrand Lesca of Palmyra. Alex Brenner photo.

Bicycle Thieves (Jan 26 & 27, Performance Works)—Composer Joelysa Pankanea guides a group of six musicians and four actors as they provide live musical and voice accompa-niment to the 1948 Italian film classic Bicycle Thieves. The film is projected with no sound; onstage, four actors provide live voiceovers in Italian while the musicians perform Pankanea’s score.

Joelysa Pankanea. Photo by Shain Roe

Pancho Villa from a Safe Distance (Jan 31 at the Vogue Theatre)—Six musicians—playing keyboards, drums, violin, cello, electric guitar and bass/tuba—accompany two singers, who in turn are aided by both pre-recorded and live video images, in this bilingual opera about Pancho Villa, the hero of the Mexican Revolution. Collaborators include Austin-based composer Graham Reynolds and librettists Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol of Mexico City. According to the PuSh guide, the opera melds “an avant-garde aesthetic with political overtones and a blend of Tejano and Mexican music.”

Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance at its premiere in Marfa, Texas. Photo by Alex Marks.

For a full schedule and ticket info, visit

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