5 exciting shows to see at 2020 PuSh Festival

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Cuckoo features artist Jaha Koo (South Korea/Belgium), who will tell a bittersweet narrative with aid of talking rice cookers at 2020 PuSh Festival.


2020 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival

When: Jan. 21 to Feb. 9

Tickets and info: From $15, at pushfestival.ca

Six world premieres from local artists and companies, one North American premiere from the UK, and five West Coast Canadian premieres will be featured at  2020 PuSh Festival.

In what promises to be one of the more lit up and lively years of the annual event, PuSh executive and artistic director Franco Boni notes how contemporary world events have led to increasingly charged artist responses.

Associate artistic director Joyce Rosario notes: “This year, PuSh looks to subversion in its many forms — from the playful to the political — to remind us of our shared humanity, to encourage us to wonder, and to reignite a sense of curiosity about the world around us.”

Always a great place to find the kinds of unique performance to leave you questioning and engaged, PuSh stands in sharp contrast to stay-at-home-and-stream society. Getting out to take in live performance experience in all its myriad methods of presentation fires up the mind in often surprising ways.

It’s not at all unusual to come to a show expecting to be entertained only to exit transformed. Go slow and peruse the program to make your picks.

Here are five shows that we think sound awesome:

1. Cuckoo

(Jaha Koo, South Korea/Belgium)

A trip through the past 20 years of South Korean history courtesy of one highly alienated artist and his close companions, relaying a tale of troubled times and often truly bizarre incidents of the recent past. That Koo’s crew is comprised of a trio of talking rice cookers could provide some insight into how atypically this tale is told.

2. BERLIN: The Last Cabaret

(City Opera Vancouver, Canada)

A trip back to those heady days of 1934 and the politics of intimidation, censorship and fear. The Nazi takeover of Germany is well on its way as a socially conscious cabaret troupe faces the challenges of how to, or whether to, continue as those setting out to make Germany great again vanish freedoms as quickly as they do people.


(Animals of Distinction, Canada)

Choreographer Dana Gingras and her company present a new work featuring her avant-garde vocabulary of movement combined with live music from Constellation recording artists Fly Pan Am and lighting set design from acclaimed U.K. crew United Visual Artists. Gingras’ work has always been heavy on concept and razor-sharp in execution. A dance show for underground rock fans.

4: Gardens Speak

(Tania El Khoury, Lebanon/UK)

One of two works by this conceptual artist, Gardens Speak is an immersive sound installation that spotlights the misery of contemporary Syria, a place where the very act of burial and honouring the dead has become a subversive act. Visit the sites of 10 people who have died in the continuing conflict and hear their stories, understanding their history, up to its last moments.

5: KISMET, things have changed

(The Chop, Canada)

In 2010, four artists in their late 20s crossed Canada to ask 100 people aged one to 100: “What do you believe in?” Their answers became the content of a lauded work of theatre. A decade later, the group goes back to the surviving interviewees with a new query: “How do you cope?”




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