2022 PuSh Festival of International Performing Arts begins

A story about a black teenager’s experience told from the afterlife.

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PuSh Festival: Our fathers, sons, lovers and little brothers

When: 20.-22. January at 19.30; matinee, January 22, at


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Where: Firehall Arts Center, 280 E. Cordova St., Vancouver

Tickets and info: From $ 15 at firehallartscentre.ca

Slimm is a pretty typical 17-year-old kid in a hoodie when we meet him during the opening hours of Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers. That is, except that Slimm is dead.

Playwright Makambe K. Simamba’s 2019 Dora Mavor Moore award-winning one-act play is based on the fatal shot of Trayvon Martin in 2016, whose Twitter nickname was Slimm. Simamba, who also performs the role, introduces the main character in the afterlife. From there, the audience is taken on a journey through the teenager’s experience, without giving way to the violence that put an end to it. The author says the show is never easy to make.


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While ready to embark on his first cross-Canada tour, landing at the Firehall Arts Center as part of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in 2022, Simamba says the show has changed since its pre-COVID-19 formations after May 25, 2020, the assassination of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., and the global protests that ensued as a result of the assassination.

“There’s something about exploring the weight of the treatment of black bodies that sit very differently in my body in a post-George Floyd world,” Simamba said. “Part of what I discover when I come to the work two years later is that the intention with it is now more focused, as people have now seen these deaths, seen police bodycam footage and had the reality of what we already knew. , would enter their homes. The idea of ​​creating a space where blacks could come as they are and have the ‘hard scream’ “they do not really get is even more important now.”


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She notes that it is far too rare to find the chance to just feel the impact of a death in a context outside the next protest, the next hashtag and the next step towards correcting systemic racism, and she says, that the goal of the work is not so much to entertain as to experience. It is a difficult subject to define when doing current theater, where finding a word other than entertaining becomes the key.

“I want a black child in a hoodie to come through and get signals and messages that they are welcome in the room, which can be anything from pre-show music to the other people they see in the area,” she said. “I always say that this is more like a church than a play. I am not a religious person, but I want to gather around the spiritual experience.”


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In that sense, our fathers, lovers, sons and little brothers become more of a process of collectively reaching a better understanding of all the issues raised in the work. It will of course be very different depending on where the audience comes from. Of Zambian heritage, Simamba has had different intentions in each of his plays. But this theater for young audiences was always meant as both a prayer and a promise to her community that the lives of all blacks matter and that black life exists far beyond headlines.

“The hard thing about these heartbreaking events that nurture and turn into social movements is that every headline is an actual person, an actual life that we would still come together to honor and acknowledge in some way,” she said. “But the difficult thing is that so often we do not get the opportunity to hold a ceremony and keep room to mourn, mourn and process without having to explain. This one feels less like I wrote it, and more like I channeled it, like it was done for the benefit of my community. “


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Although the show has not yet been performed in the post-George Floyd world, it will certainly shape future appearances to witness a growing awareness of others who are caught up in trouble. This is an exciting development for the creator.

“It’s interesting, as the artist who created this year before the particular assassination took place, that it might seem in honor of Mr. Floyd, but it’s not,” she said. “It’s about every black body that has been lost due to racist violence, and different people are now starting to catch up with what has been well known to blacks. That story was inevitable and led to the conversation with non-black people becoming “I’m still figuring out how it will land in a human space because it’s sitting differently in my body when I try.”

Black youth is the future, and the author does not feel they are getting the nods they deserve. So celebrating and identifying with them was always the main goal of this piece. She asks everyone who is not in the demographic goal participating in the show to respect the ceremony offered to the young people and give them the space required to just be in the moment.


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Five shows to watch at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival

From dance and theater to music and more difficult to classify performances, the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival has a long history of presenting some of the most rewarding and adventurous creations coming out of Canada and elsewhere around the world. There is something for everyone at the multi-week event. Often, the show that catches you is the one you really had no fixed feelings for.

Art moves us in mysterious ways. So come with an open mind and see what happens. Here are five performances we recommend:

Tickets and info: pushfestival.ca

Due to the changed public health restrictions related to COVID-19, please contact individual venues and organizers for the latest event Information.


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AALAAPI is a deep dive into the world of two women living in Nunavik, looking at language, meaning and being.  (Anne-Marie Baribeau)
AALAAPI is a deep dive into the world of two women living in Nunavik, looking at language, meaning and being. (Anne-Marie Baribeau) PNG


When: January 29 at 19.30; January 30 at 16; February 1st, 2nd and 20th

Where: Waterfront Theater, 1412 Cartwright St., Granville Island, Vancouver

Enter the lives of two women living in Nunavik, where events take place on the basis of local radio. Explore the ways in which sound and sight intersect in an “interrogation” of the language itself. This collective creation comes from Collectif Aalaapi / La Messe Basse.

Public participation is part of Steve Lambert's wandering installation Capitalism Works for Me!  True / False (Steve Lambert)
Public participation is part of Steve Lambert’s wandering installation Capitalism Works for Me! True / False (Steve Lambert) PNG

2. Capitalism works for me! True false

When: January 20-24, different times

Where: Different places

Info: See the website for specific dates / times

In an interactive installation project, American artist Steve Lambert asks the old classic question: Does capitalism really work? Expect some interesting answers on this PC (post-COVID) planet.


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Do you mind if I Sit Here imagines the future Vancouver (James Long)
Do you mind if I Sit Here imagines the future Vancouver (James Long) PNG

Do you mind if I’m sitting here?

When: 26.-28. January, at 20; January 29 at 16.00

Where: Russian Hall, 600 Campbell Ave., Vancouver

In this multimedia allegory set in the 2050s, a trio of social planners discuss how to reuse the Russian hall, only to discover that a squatter has lived there for decades. No, they are not just throwing the person out and building “market rent” towers for offshore investors.

Vivek Shraya embarks on the rise and fall of pop star status.  (Habit)
Vivek Shraya embarks on the rise and fall of pop star status. (Habit) PNG

4. How to fail as a pop star

When: 1-2. February at 19.30

Where: Performance Works, 1218 Cartwright St., Granville Island, Vancouver

A singing, dancing, theatrical tale of a journey to near pop star status and back with the engaging and always entertaining Vivek Shraya.

Cliff Cardinal gives Shakespeare's As You Like It a native re-creation.  (Dahlia Kat)
Cliff Cardinal gives Shakespeare’s As You Like It a native re-creation. (Dahlia Kat) PNG

5. William Shakespeare’s As You Like It: A Radical Retelling, by Cliff Cardinal

When: 4-6 Feb, different times

Where: York Theater, 639 Commercial Dr., Vancouver

Join the Cliff Cardinal for a subversive update on Bard’s classic. Find out that the title of the work may be a lot harder, darker and rawer than in director Kenneth Branagh’s effervescent 2006 film adaptation.





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